Survey for my IF dissertation

I totally named my own game!

I’m surprised at the age demographics–I had the middle of the bell curve to be between 18 and 25.


precisely the game that puzzled me…

I voted for Spider and Web for being the quintessential great IF work in my book, with fine prose, an intriguing plot, puzzles and an urge for agency and ingenious use of the media for great effect. But in fact, I have no single favorite… it’s still better than “No single answer” :laughing:

I’m surprised there’s not more oldies. well, guess they moved on…

I named my favorite as inhumane by Andrew plotkin.

If you’re doing something academic about IF, you absolutely must reference the book Twisty Little Passages by Nick Montfort. It’s the best source. Not definitive, doesn’t cover everything, but it’s the best we have so far.

True, when I wrote the survey they hadn’t been released! I’ll add them

Yeah, good point, I’ve changed it to refer to the OS.

Dissertation question is:

“Back in the old days, communication with the computer was in terms of text input and output - no mouse, no windows and certainly no touch screen. Text adventure (or interactive fiction) games were common: classic examples are Colossal Cave and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now games are much more sophisticated, but the simplicity of the logical puzzles and mazes presented in these games is harder to recreate. The popularity of e-books and iPad apps such as The Wasteland (TS Eliot) shows that a product which is still predominantly text-based can be successfully adapted for a touchscreen device. The aim of this project is to investigate the state of the art in such games, what made them popular, and explore the potential offered by a device such as the iPad to provide a enhanced text adventure game which maintains the spirit of the earlier games yet is playable and engaging. A simple prototype game would be developed either on a touchscreen device or an emulator.”

Yeah I’ve ordered it, looks perfect for my needs. Should be here over the next few days!

I don’t know about the iPad app, but the poem is called “The Waste Land”, with a space. Be sure to post your dissertation here when you’ve finished it!

I think that’s a cool topic and I wish you good luck with the dissertation!

Two minor nitpicks concerning the survey:

  1. When you ask about shortcuts for the text commands, one could differentiate between the usual abbreviations and other possible shortcuts (by graphical means, for example). I guess many people here agree that abbreviations like x for examine, n for north etc. are quite essential. As for other shortcuts, in my opinion that would really depend on the implementation. It might be undesirable to have the screen cluttered up with buttons for the commands, for example.
    (But of course, it’s probably not easy to accommodate all these possibilities in the survey.)

  2. In one question, you ask about the inclusion of puzzles/mini-games. Maybe one would want to distinguish between puzzles and mini-games. Without wanting to attempt a definition here, I’d say that when I think of puzzles in IF, I mostly think of tasks which are reasonably well integrated into the story, which make sense in the model world and often involve inventory items (or dialogue choices) - basically, the puzzles typical of IF as well as point-and-click adventures. (So, actually, one might additionally make a distinction between these puzzles and riddles, pure logic puzzles, sliding-block puzzles and suchlike; though I’m not saying you need to do that in the survey.)

In contrast to that, mini-games usually have gameplay mechanics that differ from the main game. For example, in some graphical adventures and RPGs there are casino games, shooting gallerys, whack-a-mole and match-three games and so on. These can be fun and might sometimes provide a nice break from all the combat and the dialogue in RPGs, but they are rather inessential.

As might be apparent from my descriptions above, I prefer puzzles to mini-games, so in a new IF game I’d want to see the former rather than the latter.
(Although a beautifully written story with a gripping plot would not necessarily need a lot of puzzles of any sort.)


I saw the reference for this book again and it reminded me it’s one book I still need to read. So, it’s now on my Kindle. :slight_smile:

there are so many things wrong here…

“Now games are much more sophisticated”

yeah, right. Most games nowadays are back to Spacewar! play mechanics: multiplayer mayhem by dodging bullets and shooting. That most certainly beats taking your time to ponder about the situation at hand, explore possibilities, dialogue with characters to get useful knowledge or their help.

I’m always reminded by how anti-violence most IF is. The default answer comes to mind: “Violence isn’t the answer.” BTW, about this, check out this fine CYOA:

Graphics are getting pretty good. Perhaps one of these days it gets even better than my imagination can afford.

“The popularity of e-books and iPad apps such as The Wasteland (TS Eliot) shows that a product which is still predominantly text-based can be successfully adapted for a touchscreen device.”

holy crap!
now a poem
is an app!

yeah, must’ve been hard to port page turning to a touchscreen device…

“explore the potential offered by a device such as the iPad to provide a enhanced text adventure game”

let’s get this straight: that potential is the same as the potential to get fighting games, FPS games, platform games and others to a touchscreen device: you get the gameplay profoundly dumbed down given the absence of real buttons or keyboards.

In other words:

you get only timed jump challenges from platform games in the so-called endless runners
you get swipe your finger in different motions to perform combos in fighting games, don’t care for defense
you get back to Doom in FPS: shoot directly ahead and go
and you get CYOA links for IF

I don’t care how successful Apple got and changed the industry forever: it’s still dumbed down.

namekusejin…what are you running from?

come again? I have an XPeria ZL is that’s what you’re asking. and a PS3

Er. I don’t know what you’re playing, but this is like saying “most fiction” is urban fantasy. First off, it’s wrong, and second off, calling “most games” anything is far too big to be meaningful.

I was under the impression that most games nowadays aspired to a degree of sometimes ridiculous complexity. I was unable to get into Deus Ex 3, for instance, because I couldn’t figure out what on earth it expected me to do (and yes, I know it’s supposed to be a sort of “you can do what you like”. It really didn’t work for me). Conversely, I’m adoring Bioshock Infinite…

That depends entirely on how you sample the space of “all games”.

So it does. I’ll shut up now.

Juhana’s point, which I agree with, is that ideally there’d be an option for “other,” which is subtly different from “undisclosed,” though people in the former category could opt for the latter.

true, bad wording

let’s call it: “what most people play these days”

you know: the blockbuster military training simulator, like CoD; the casual gangsta free killing spree, like GTA; the casual multiplayer RPGs, like WoW (where you enter, chitchat for awhile with your pals, the geek elf and the boobalicious dwarf, and then kill some big yawning dragon-like boss); and a quick play of Candy ™ Crush Saga ™ while you take a dump

sure enough, nowadays there’s plenty of indie options for weird IF-playing geekos like us too… but we’re peanuts…