Swigian - An Epistolary Postmortem

Some anecdata to back up CMG’s and craiglocke’s claims: Recently I helped demo some IF games to an audience that mostly had not played IF before. They kept wanting to do silly plot-inappropriate things like burn Grunk’s pants. And they loved it when the game gave an intelligent response.

The parser does seem to be an invitation to try anything.

An invitation to be immature, I’d say. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but “being able to do anything” rarely translates into “being able to do the responsible thing” in a parser game. It’s always EAT PANTS or KISS TRASHCAN, etc.

I don’t think you’re being cynical. Maybe the opportunity to be immature is part of the appeal of parser? If you want, you get to simulate acting stupidly with no real-world consequences.

Opportunity to catch the author out, more like. And then if the author turns out to be ahead of you, it’s a strongly positive experience.

I think this relates directly back to what Adam Cadre said, some twenty years ago, about the joy of IF being the ability to “wander around in someone’s world and knock over the vases while [you’re] there”.

The thing is, I don’t personally agree with that being the joy. I think it’s a concession you have to make because you know players will do silly things, and this funnels the medium at large toward absurdity.

It occurred to me I’d accidentally succeeded with Midnight. Swordfight. because KISS is a main verb. My later games weren’t as silly, and down they went. So I picked a silly verb this year: EAT. And what do you know.

Well, what do I know. I wasn’t playing text games five years ago, let alone twenty.

I meant, the joy as a player. Why else would a player try silly things, if they didn’t derive some sort of joy from it?

Me too. As a player, my joy in playing IF doesn’t come from typing gags and hoping the author implemented them. But I know I’m in the minority, and I know other people like doing that. I try to write with it in mind now. I think it’s the reason why “light comedy” is the default parser genre.

It’s not about the gags. It’s about the reward of the game accommodating the player. Gags are simply the most obvious reward when the actions themselves seem absurd. If you can find a serious, sensible way of rewarding a player who wants to “burn pants” in a serious drama, I guarantee that people will just eat it up.

IMO, “light comedy” is the default for point-and-click adventures, too. (Even games that aren’t primarily about comedy tend to have a lot of gags.)

Those games have a similar problem: what are you supposed to do when the player clicks on the torch and then clicks on the pants?

Inventory in adventure games is almost always absurd. How am I carrying all of this stuff? Why did I take these things? Why do I have these things? Why can’t just go to a hardware store and buy normal, general-purpose tools? Why am I able to solve all of the puzzles with this random stuff I found along the way?

I think this is an inevitable outcome of puzzle-story adventure games. To have a feeling of solving a puzzle, there has to be a reasonably large number of possible solutions, but some of the options will be absurd. So the author’s only options are to answer absurdity with absurdity, or to try to punish players for their absurdity with a boring negative response.

I dunno about the result of this experiment.

What I know is that Swigian had an unique, intense, nightmarish atmosphere in it. I know nothing of Grendel and I don’t think the setting was important. The voice was. And the way all those very short responses were written is what won me over.

I understand it was incidental. Or so that’s what many say. I think a good writing skill is there, working, even if the author himself doesn’t notice.

PS: reducing text to a basic form - avoiding too many words anyway and pinning the important things only - is a trick in writing mastery. That’s what I am aiming to since the release of Awakening. In novels too. It will be a long road.

If you ever did do graphics, I would totally go for it.

I offered myself, so yes, of course. Although 50 graphics can take one year to be done… :slight_smile:

Let’s get in contact.

Here’s the style I’m working on these days. I suppose your game could go with a much more restricted palette. If you have any reference image to send, feel free.

Ah, and you could set my English straight for the twine game I did for the Ectocomp, what do you think? :slight_smile:

PS: how come you know Italian?

What are you talking about graphics guys?

I said somewhere that I would do the pixelated graphics for this game for free. Mathbrush scans the internet like a CIA computer, so he found out and now wants payback!

That’s a really great idea. And an excuse to me for waiting for that Swigian Ex version :XD

Now, seriously, you don’t need to make up to 50 pictures, you can for an “illustrations approach”, that only shows the picture depicting a certain scene or mood. There’s no need to portrait extensively every location in a traditional way.

There are other tricks. Like reusing parts of the graphics or shuffling them in similar places. This is how it was done when memory was a luxury and I’m a fan of the old ways. :slight_smile:

Very nice graphics! I’ve sent you a pm.

I don’t know if I trust myself with translation, but I’ll give it a go. I have a shameful secret: I revised the translation of Living Puppet and The Fifth Sunday (someone else revised Murder in the Fog). Every time a review of Living Puppet said “This could use a good once-over by a native English speaker” I cringed.

I did the pass-through of “Murder in the Fog”, and the thing is, I only provided suggestions for better phrasings where their idioms didn’t quite make sense in English. I didn’t feel it was my place to completely rewrite what they had, as much as I was tempted to at times, so I had the same cringe when people said it needed an editor once-over.

Reading the final version, I’m pretty sure there were suggestions of mine they did not adopt. Which is fine; the author has the last say.