What if I want to be unoriginal?

Also, because I forgot in my last post:

Me! Anyday! Except for one thing:

Could you change “medium-length” to “ridiculously long”?


I thought puzzlefests are what the average parser game was. Is that not the case?

I’ve actually had the opposite problem of wondering whether people would be interested in a game that has almost no puzzles. Probably not since that removes the game part of it, so then I need to gamify it in some other way. Such is my conundrum.

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I tend not to play many ridiculously long games, for the same reason that I avoid ridiculously long novels - because I’m always impatient to start the next one! IFComp length is ideal for me.

Well, kneejerk reaction to this is: Photopia!

Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter - Details (ifdb.org) is also almost puzzleless story-IF. You will note in my review that I hold that against it. Not the lack of puzzles per se, but the lack of interactivity.

I find that if I feel complicit in the PC’s actions and if the implementation is well handled, just moving through a story can be plenty Interactive Fiction for me. It’s all about the feeling of complicity and agency.

A better example might be The King of Shreds and Patches - Details (ifdb.org), at least until the endgame. It’s a very well-guided story-driven IF where the puzzles serve more as pacing devices to ensure the player reads the story in approximately the right order.


I go to the library with a brick to compare. If the book doesn’t measure up, I’ll leave it on the shelf.


You mean like A Mind Forever Voyaging? One of the big changes since the 90s has been an evolution away from the presumption that an IF game has to be a puzzlefest.

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I don’t know. I never played it. The reviews make it sound like an interactive art film though, which is not really what I’m going for.

The games I’ve played that aren’t puzzle focused usually seem to have some deep meaning that they’re trying to convey. If they weren’t attempting to do that, would they still be accepted as a good piece of IF, or would they be criticized for not having a purpose?

If the game doesn’t have puzzles and also doesn’t have any deep meaning, what would the main interaction/fun element be? That’d help to imagine it or see if other people have tried similar ideas.

It depends. What would the purpose actually be then? You’re talking about a hypothetical parser-based IF here without puzzles and with no deeper meaning. You’re not going for an interactive art film. But what are you going for?

You don’t have to answer that here, but you should obviously know the answer for yourself.

Interactive fiction should ideally be interactive, and be somewhat good fiction. The interactivity doesn’t need to be puzzles, but there still needs to be some level of interactivity for it to be IF, of course. And the fiction part doesn’t need to have “deep meaning”, but there should probably be something there. What does regular non-interactive fiction that doesn’t have a deep meaning offer?

Of course there’s a lot of good IF that doesn’t have a deep meaning in its story. I don’t think many people would claim that Zork has that. But Zork offers good puzzles (interactivity) and a well-realized world (fiction), if not a good plot. If you replace the puzzles with an equally interesting type of interactivity, then you could get away with the same level of prose. If not, then the fiction part just becomes more important.

Thank you. You and @mathbrush confirmed my feelings. Which is fine. It just means my idea needs to bake a little longer. I have the world and characters pretty fleshed out, but I do need to give a better reason for romping around the world than just talking to characters.

A successful game, like a hit song, needs a “hook” - some line, some element, that makes it attractive in itself. If you have one of those, you can have a puzzleless IF that isn’t about some super-deep issue.


There’s always the meta-puzzle/backstory kind of game. No puzzles or obstacles in the game itself, the motivation for the player comes from needing to find out what the heck is going on.

I like those.

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“I grew up on Infocom, and the games I enjoy most tend to involve solving puzzles via good old-fashion object manipulation. Give item # 1 to character # 2 to get the key to unlock the door.”

You break an opened door!
I think exactly like you.

“but I find myself not starting because I can’t imagine who’d be interested in playing something like that in 2021.”

ME! … ABSOLUTELY ME !!! :rofl:

“there’s at least one person here (and it sounds like more than that, based on the comments) who would gladly play a traditional game that covers no new ground.”

There is a person here who has made a traditional game :wink: trying to be original as well. (Forget Anchorhead quality :rofl:)
But … it’s hard … very hard.
Very interesting post anyway!
Thanks for sharing.


I’m sure it’s been made clear but “great story” can also trump “no puzzles/no deep meaning”.