Hi! So a problem I have sometimes with interactive fiction is players are often given a specific character to play for (and the reader might be disconnected from that character), or player characters are too blank in an attempt to be immersive. (This might also be a problem for only me specifically, as I’m neurodivergent and struggle with identifying with a lot of book characters, but I ask you to hear me out on this.)
I have some experience in TADS 3 (and a LOT of general coding experience), but I want some feedback on some initial ideas I had for addressing this minor problem, and ask if anyone knows of a better way to handle these ideas, before I drown myself in doing something the hardest-possible way (which my wife will attest that I often do).
All help and insight is appreciated!
The idea I want to implement in TADS 3 (adv3Lite library) is that the player is coordinating someone through a cellphone (without ever being in the world themselves), and so all commands entered into the story are messages being sent to this character through the phone. Effectively, you as the player have a goal, but you need to get another fully-realized character to achieve that goal for you, and so the character’s reactions to the situation can be both dynamic and described in detail, without the risk of ever feeling jarring to an immersed reader.
As another fun plot moment, I would like for the cellphone to eventually be handed off to another character, and the player begins messaging commands to them instead.
My initial ideas are as follows:
First idea is that the character you’re messaging is simply the player character described in third person. That would make it so you don’t have to constantly type in “Mida, take apple” or “Mida, push box north”, instead of the simpler “take apple” or “push box north”.
I know there’s also a way to change player characters, and I could just abort any action to give the phone to someone else until the story requires it.
The main obstacle with this is I want to do something like the classic text adventure called Lost Pig, where the action responses are all re-written to sound like something the main character would say, like “Grunk no see that”, etc. For example, if you enter in the command to jump, the response would describe Mida (the first main character) reading your message, chuckling, and replying back that the action sounds silly, and that she declines to jump. I would need to figure out how to change these action responses based on who the player character is, though, and I’m not sure how to do that (I’ve been reading a lot of the books that came with TADS 3 and adv3Lite).
Second idea is to make the cellphone item actually be the player character, and somehow reroute all commands to whatever NPC is currently carrying the phone in their inventory, so that the reader does not need to specifically mention the cellphone-holder by name every time they submit an action. I feel like this might be a more natural way of creating per-NPC responses for actions that cannot be taken, but I don’t have enough experience to be certain. I also am not sure how to reroute all commands this way. I’m assuming this might be a case of creating an exhaustive reroute list to a cellphone-holder object variable of the player, so that things like the undo command are not forwarded to the carrying NPC.
If anybody can shed any light on this, or provide any feedback, I would be extremely grateful!