Penalizing for Stupidity (for the lolz of course!)

I come to an idea that sometimes I do some stupid stuff when playing games that innovative with even parser if not hypertext. So if I do it, no doubt others done it. So I decided, and for something like my game Castle Macbeth, I will add a penalization routine of when you do at least three stupid things by mistake, you carry an undroppable membership card of the Jackass Club. :stuck_out_tongue: And of course you do get message saying “You done 3 out of 3 stupid things… Congrats! You are now a Card Carrying Member of the Jackass Club ™! Aren’t we proud of ourselves?” Kinda like some of the stuff Infocom did on Leather Goddesses… What do you guys think?

I guess it would depend on the overall tone of the game. If you are going for the very serious, tragic tone of the original, it might not fit. But if it’s a lark, it might.

Here’s an idea that builds on that: make it an “achievement” of sorts; so, there is a list of a dozen (or however many) stupid things that the player can do, and if they do all of them, then they get the Jackass Club card. It could be an amusing thing for players to do on a second playthrough, especially if you have entertaining responses for the stupid actions.

Rewarding imaginative input by the player is always welcome. Penalizing for “stupidity” isn’t unless the game is very clear about what a stupid action is, and when you say “stupid” you don’t mean just doing something wrong inadvertently.

“D’oh! You forgot to pick your lantern back up after harvesting cave mushrooms and now can’t retrieve it!” should never be a thing.

“The drawbridge crosses a moat which is not filled with water, but upturned spikes which are here and there decorated with the skeletons of unfortunate adventurers who fell into the moat previously. Each skeleton writhes internally with a furry mass of venomous spiders who are picking the microscopic remains of flesh clean from the bones.” Sure, make fun of the player who jumps into the moat.

Perhaps your card could have an extended list of “stupid” things to try as a secondary quest. As Suho said, this would, of course, need to fit the “vibe” of the game. If you’re in full classic Infocom snark mode, go ahead.

I like Suho’s idea - it keeps the snark but, as the Jackass Card has become an achievement of sorts, you’re laughing with the player rather than arbitrarily mocking them.

Psychic bug report:

“I did SIX stupid things but the game recognized only two of them, depriving me of my Jackass Card. How unfair! The stupid things I did were much more creative than the stupid things other people have done to earn their cards.”


There’s a fine line between acknowledging the player’s intentional goofing around (usually appreciated) and making them feel bad about a failed puzzle solution (often not so welcome). There used to be a default answer in Inform’s library of “Is that the best you can think of?” if the player tried something like >PUSH WASHING MACHINE WEST, moving an object not designed to easily move that way; and I got a sad/indignant email from a player of Metamorphoses saying that this was a mean thing to say to the player who was just trying to solve the puzzles. (This default response has since been taken out.)

So some players won’t love this, and a lot depends on communicating in the style of the game that that’s what they can expect. I’d probably also refrain from awarding the card for walking into walls: I don’t know if you were considering this, but I usually get turned around and try to use an unavailable exit dozens of times per game, making it a not very inventive form of stupidity…

Oh yes, of course, I understand those “hurtful” terms only hurts people who are soft hearted… Which will definitely will have warning label for those kinds of people so I don’t get their grief ugggh. But of course the Jackass Club will be like for achievements of a spoof game, and I did mention in past threads, in case people did not see my WIP title “Castle Macbeth,” which only at best loosely based off of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but at best a comedy at the spiel of National Lampoon and other such over the top spoofs… I mean, come on! King Macbeth asks you to come to the castle only to be an audience with him to charge to solve that he has been murdered by Queen Macbeth and you have to solve the case… In that sentence alone it’s rhetorical if absurdly hilarious at best. Not to mention he also one of the main antagonists when he assumes an identity of the “Trademarked Super Spy Movie Villain (enter Super Spy Movie Theme fanfare)!” Equipped with evil villain tux and eye patch and all! :stuck_out_tongue: And the traps are so haphazardly made that the player can escape them with no difficulty (that is for comedic intentions of course). But I figure, and due to this, I will have to make this an adult audience rating, that Queen Macbeth being a cougar on the hunt, troupe noir vixen, if you do not gain her interest, you get penalized, and of course you get three strikes for each penalizing until you are the Card Carrying Member of the Jackass Club ™ (note I used the tm symbol as a nod to Infocom when they did their comedic gimmicks. Of course I am giving props to them). Kudos to HanonO for the list of jackass achievements… I would definitely list in an individual basis… In fact, I might make a future title where you want to be punished with this item, and you just print screen to show your achievement like a trophy system for then Gen and Next Gen console games, at least in pseudo. Thanks again for the responses!

Isn’t that pointlessly reductive though?

As a rule, players prefer their entertainment to not insult them. Given the limitations of the parser, I definitely want my game to not act as if it thinks I’m stupid because in most cases it’s the parser that’s dumber than a sack of Pepsi adverts. When the parser misunderstands me, it’s forgivable if frustrating. When it then proceeds to laugh at me on the basis of its own stupidity, that’s something else.

Having the game insulting player actions is a fine line. Whenever I do something reasonable and the game mocks me for it, “author is a sniggering dipshit poorly using mockery to cover up his lack of design chops” is usually my takeaway. Because let’s face it, that’s the most common denominator: most players have a reason for doing what they do at a given time, and the game failing to understand them needs no additional frustration piled on top.

So not everyone wants a faceful of scorn when playing a game. I think that’s completely reasonable, and don’t really see how jeering at them for their weakness helps.

Anyway, on a more positive note, an award would probably work best. We don’t want to push the player away from experimenting, and if the game invites weird stuff rather than spits on you for trying, players will embrace it. Achievements are a good fit for that. It’s the old difference between being laughed with (which people generally enjoy) as opposed to being laughed at (which nobody likes).

It is not really scorn, it is just a tongue in cheek gimmick to laugh at the game. The premise of the game will either be you want to do silly stuff that is akin to the show Jackass but more Jackass-lite. It is not be a mean or spiteful game. Nor would it be unforgiving, at the same time not hold you by the hand. By no means I want it to be unforgiving like most puzzles from Infocom where you have to have feelies or the math-games of Topologika/Acorn Soft/Pheonix UK (ie Giant Killer, Brand X/Philosopher’s Quest and the like, not sure if they were unforgiving, but the prospects of math in a game seems to be a daunting one, but then again, most IF titles were made for those who were mostly in college anyways back in those days), also my goal is not to punish the players unnecessarily but rather to reward them with funny gists rather then being totally bashing them. Again I am of course going to place a warning label not to download it if someone is that type of sensitive in confidence due that it players being players, they want to unlock achievements no matter what… Not to mention some players (as well as authors) in the IF community are known to be rather sensitive of this thing. Last thing I need is for someone to download my title and they turn down the next which has none of these achievements, let alone have none of the aspects of the concurrent WIP due I insulted them. But anywho, I understand your message Eleas, but it is not a malicious way of getting at players, it is just humor more rather than being viciousness by all tense and purposes, and due to that it is not going to be harsh on the achievements such as the Jackass Club ™ membership card award. But thank you for your reply! :slight_smile:

Sure, I get that. And if you communicate that right off the bat – that is, if the tone of the game is set already – I would agree that the audience wouldn’t have cause to complain. But much like constructing logical puzzles is harder and not quite as obvious as the author might intend, so this could be as well.

In other words, please don’t take my critique as condemnation. It’s mainly meant as a cautionary note.

[quote="grimjerr"] But anywho, I understand your message Eleas, but it is not a malicious way of getting at players, it is just humor more rather than being viciousness by all tense and purposes, and due to that it is not going to be harsh on the achievements such as the Jackass Club (tm) membership card award. But thank you for your reply! :slight_smile: [/quote] Thanks for taking the time to address it! But really, I think it's not so much a message for you personally as an attempt to address an existing tendency of (beginner) authors as a whole.

I like that. It’s exactly the kind of vivid characterization of the protagonist that parser IF does well.

Thanks. I appreciate it.

As people have pointed out, there’s a world of difference between mocking the player and laughing with the player. In the current environment, there are more games looking to be played than people looking to play them - so if you lose your audience, they’re gone.

I think this can be done, and even done well, but I’ recommend stepping very carefully here.

I think this is very tough to pull off. The player is always smarter than the parser. It is too easy for the player to make the game the jackass.


Not a problem Eleas. It’s all good. Don’t get me wrong I love the prose of “old skool” IF back in the day, but unfortunately, due that the prose can get sophisticated due to memory management being a lot more easier due to more RAM, it tends to make a IF developer/author into developing just as or even more sophisticated puzzles… This often leads to the temptation of those authors create “clever, if not more innovated, if not sophisticated puzzles (hint hint! BABEL FISH and THE KING’S CHAMBER, INFOCOM! Almost ALL puzzles in BRAND X/PHILOSOPHER’S QUEST… TOPOLOGIKA/ACORN SOFT! >.<)…” Which in the end makes the puzzles unforgiving in actuality, and also very much a unbeatable title. That does not do… I believe it was Get Lamp (the film docu on IF that most of we IF lovers and developers, if not fanboys, especially myself, have already watched, once, if not twice, if not three times, which I did :stuck_out_tongue: ) that had someone address that the puzzles were created without the player in truly, which is not always intentional. Which I intend to address this problem by having a IF players that are more “newbies/rookies” if not one who hasn’t played for the first time. Create a scene or use a piece of my game that has the easiest puzzle, which is basically a classical lock and key puzzle (but all tense and purposes I try not to use puzzles in my game, I want people to play my game to enjoy it, not be frustrated with my lack of puzzle creating skills :stuck_out_tongue: ), and have a premade document (most likely one made by Zarf that is basically universal with even parser structure I use while programming with ZILF) so they can understand how to use the game. Unfortunately, in this day in age, manuals are not like they used to be with next gen consoles, they are either in game or you have to learn for yourself on how to play due that the game holds you by the hand through it… Sure I will possibly make a HELP command to get a list commands to use in the game of course, but also I would think it optimal to place documentation with it. It is very beneficial to do this mostly, and for good measure. Anyhow, I will get the tester to try it out, and if it is meant to be puzzle that is done with in a set of 5 moves, and he has to do 20, I know I did something wrong. Like I pointed out, I suck at puzzle building, and it would be dismal for my game to create one, and it was not a beatable puzzle. So if I do puzzles, it will be simple, and it will not truly affect the story if anything. The worse I want to make is a locked door and you have to find the key, that is puzzle enough for even kids today. I am not underestimating them of course, but let’s face it, they have very little patience for games we used to play, and are apt to solving puzzles with 3d bump mapping then let alone a text based adventure. I even get frustrated at that. But yes, I understand Eleas it was cautionary and not rebuking on my behalf about the penalizing. No harm no foul. I rather people be on the up and up and know my intentions before my actions are misunderstood. That is just the way I am. Thanks again! :slight_smile:

LOLZ HanonO only a person with OCD would understand that and laugh as hard as I do XD Man, do I have OCD :stuck_out_tongue: I see something out of whack, like a pattern out of sequence it bothers me to no end >:( >.< XD