"Readthrough" mode

Hi all… just batting another idea around. I’ll explain the idea momentarily, but my question will be: would you ever use something like this for a game that is large/complicated but the story or the reviews intrigue you? Do you know of people that might be more inclined to play through a parser game in this mode where they wouldn’t otherwise?

The mode is sort of like a slideshow: I’m sure people have implemented similar things for various reasons. All you have to do is hit ‘Enter’ with an empty command line, and the game will perform the next step in the walkthrough. Not a strict walkthrough, however, as the mode would include commands that a real player would need to do to get clues as to why they are doing the solution actions (most prominently, but not limited to 'x’ing things to get descriptions, and asking NPCs about things, which a normal walkthrough wouldn’t need). And some fun commands would be included as well.
There are two twists that prevent this from being a mechanical slideshow: firstly, at any time they can enter ‘readthrough off’, and play autonomously from that point on. Secondly, even within slideshow mode, they can type as many autonomous commands as they like, to see what happens, and play around, with the caveat that (unless they explicitly exit the mode) the next time they enter an empty command line, the game state will back up to the last point they left off in the “slideshow”, and proceed with the next command from there. (Naturally it also prints firstly which command is being performed.)

I have already implemented the system in TADS3/adv3, so it’s not a question of whether I should do it or not, but of whether it might be of more general interest. I’d be happy to work/collaborate on an adv3Lite version if so. With the system in place all an author needs to do is supply a file with (or hard-code) the command list.

I originally implemented this thinking of my own parents, because I will want them to see my work when it’s done, but I don’t really have any expectation that they’ll try to crack their brains through 20+ hours of puzzling gameplay.
I also have several friends who know I have been working on this a long time, and whom I wouldn’t necessarily expect to have interest in playing a novel-length parser game, but who might be curious enough to play through something like this.
A second motivation was in anticipation of needing some testers to test the latter half of my game, where they could use this mode to sort of “skip” playing the already-tested portions, but still get the early story and atmosphere before testing later portions.
Thirdly I think of the people who do play parser IF willingly, but whose ‘to-play’ lists are already so long they may never crack the game open otherwise. Possibly the awareness of being able to play brainlessly just for an immersive experience would bring in a few extra players.

Anybody else feel or recognize a similar need?



Y’all can burn me at the stake if you’d like! I’ve heard “git gud” more times than I can count; I don’t care!!

I don’t have a lot of time that I spend on playing games, and my brain is often occupied with other things 24/7, so I’m not the sort of person who mulls over puzzle solutions in my head throughout the day. If a game is significantly-hard enough to get through, I am probably going to just put the game down, which really hurts to do when I get invested in the worldbuilding and story. Sometimes story motivation just isn’t enough of a reason to finish a game.

The visual game culture (in particular) absolutely trashes “tell me a story mode”, but I will die on this hill in defense of such a feature! (Not sure how this would be received in the IF sphere. People seem to be a lot more chill here.)

If you choose to add this to your game, I wholly support and defend you. People should be allowed to interface with games in whatever way they’d like to!


Honestly, I’d love something like this! I’m a very passive consumer of most media- I really love reviews because it allows me to quickly take in content I might not have the patience, time, or energy to grapple with. It’s more of an issue with visual games, but I also don’t have the reflexes for things like quick time events or the physical capability to perform button mashing combos in a lot of fighting games: there’s a skill threshold that I never developed and have little interest in doing so/lack the ability to (as my physical disability can cause debilitating pain or physically limiting injuries.)

With parsers, I really often want to get into the story, and am often haunted by a sense of missing out on big chunks of the narrative due to just being sort of bad at playing them- there are a lot of little conventions and tricks you just have to pick up by playing them. Awhile ago, I got really frustrated when I managed to progress all the way to the end of a parser game, (which I was very proud of myself for, even with the handholding on the author’s behalf to prevent you from walking off a cliff edge repeatedly on accident with the cardinal directions) and I really was getting invested in the story and characters: only to be completely bewildered by how to progress in a fight. I had to quit the game after frustratedly trying out redos and undos and all sorts of actions on every object in the room, for about thirty minutes- and so missed out on the ending of the story, which was really agonizing. If there was a sort of narrative mode, especially one you could toggle on or off, I’d have finished the game happily and been able to write a lovely review about it- as it stands, that final encounter really soured the mood for me.

I play interactive fiction games specifically for story, not so much novel mechanics or puzzles, so being able to dig into games I don’t quite have the experience to play through and still be able to enjoy them and possibly recommend them to others would be awesome. It’s why I’m such a huge fan of reviews, since it allows for a vicarious experience.


Nah, I don’t like it (personally).

But I can see the potential of this idea. It’s simply a story, nothing more (which can be very entertaining).

And I could imaging me using it if I don’t crack a hard puzzle over several days but are captured by the story.

So I clear “maybe” from me.


I would call this Let’s Play Mode, because let’s-plays are how I like to experience this sort of thing (a game that’s not my style or too difficult for me in the gameplay but that I want to get the story or feel of).


It’s okay, you don’t have to like it! It’s less directed at already-players and more at authors as in “do you know more people who would ‘play’ your game with this mode?”

Not sure if you saw though, if the read through takes them to a new location, they can play around and explore all they want before entering the next readthrough step. So not strictly reading.


Sounds like an interesting idea. Essentially like a TEST ME command that runs through the game. I’d say it should only be available before the player takes a turn, unless you can figure out how to make it understand the context of where the plot is at a later moment.


Is there already a mode out there like this?


Actually no, as just noted above, the player can enter real commands during the readthrough. But unless they exit the mode, the game will back up to the next step if they use empty command again.


@HanonO also yes, currently a player has to start the game in readthrough mode. There would be a huge amount of complexity to analyze an in progress game and sync it to a readthrough step (game is nonlinear)


Let’s Play is a common term for usually a video of someone playing a game and commenting on it as they go for entertainment, though there are audio LPs (like Clash of the Type-Ins) and we’ve had some textual annotated Let’s Plays here on the forum.

I might suggest this type of feature could be cool as bonus content, especially if it also included extra author annotations about the game, like a “Director’s Cut” with commentary.


I certainly see the value, but I’m not sure there’s a lot more value than just providing a separate walkthrough. It’s always been the case that a player doesn’t have to solve more of the game than they have to.

If people think this is better, great.


In mine I was planning on adding comments,but more pertinent to the player and the mission


Again I’ll point to my parents, who wouldn’t want to type in 900 commands even if they’re spelled out for them… all they have to do is hit Enter!

EDIT: I secretly hope they’ll at least try a little bit to play some of it


That is kind of the hypothetical unreachable ideal though: if a player could type >WHAT DO I DO NEXT and the game would enter the next command to step them toward the current goal.


I’d be all over that if I had a second lifetime to implement it :joy:


Also, most of our parents (on average and on assumption) probably aren’t aware that parser games generally come with walkthroughs.


It sounds like the optimal way to provide a walkthrough.

Would be useful to games that can become unwinnable. You could restart and “readthrough” until the point where you got permanently stuck. Though they hardly make games like that anymore


I like this idea. I know the Great Ace Attorney games have something like this called Story Mode where you can just let the game tick through the puzzles automatically for you, and people appreciated it there, not least because you could switch Story Mode on and off as you pleased so that it smoothed out the pain point of having to go find a walkthrough if you got stuck. This sounds like the other side of the coin - instead of switching on Story Mode to solve a puzzle automatically, you would switch off Readthrough Mode to pause the game so you can ransack the room and poke at the NPCs.


You actually don’t have to switch it off, you simply enter real commands instead ‘Enter’ing with a blank command line. The game jumps back to the readthrough sequence automatically on the next blank command. But you can use this mode to whisk yourself as far as you want and then turn it off fully, also.