Your thoughts on incorporating body parts into games?

#1

Specifically, being able to refer to the player’s own body parts, in games that do not require body parts for any reason in puzzle solving.

Do you think it is important that the player be allowed to x arms, x legs, x left elbow, x fingernail? Even when the response is only trapped – “you do not need to refer to the parts of your body in this story,” etc.?

Are you disappointed when you try to x arms and you can’t see any such thing? Will you knock a point off a game you’re reviewing?

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#2

Only if there was something in the game that made it seem like examining my body parts would be important for some reason. Like, if the author spent a lot of time talking about a wedding ring on “my left hand” I might look at both the ring and my hand, thinking “Hmmm… maybe I’ll see that there’s no ring-mark on the finger, so I know I haven’t been married long” or something like that.

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#3

And if you are worried about it, but not too worried, you can always toss all attempts at that towards “examining yourself”:

The cornfield is a room. "A lovely place for the corn to grow.".

Understand "arms/legs/body/face/toes/hands/hand" as yourself.

Example output:

cornfield
A lovely place for the corn to grow.

>x hand
As good-looking as ever.

>x arms
As good-looking as ever.

>x legs
As good-looking as ever.

>x face
As good-looking as ever.

>x body
As good-looking as ever.
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(Andrew Plotkin) #4

I’d never try referring to a body part without the game prompting me to.

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(matt w) #5

Yes, this doesn’t seem any more necessary than, say, implementing the ceiling in every room.

(Which is giving me horrible flashbacks to trying a game on a non-IF person who started with “look out the window” when no window was mentioned.)

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#6

Alright, this is good to hear because I have a sort of compulsion about completeness and accuracy…but modeling EVERYTHING is a ridiculous, daunting, and fruitless task.

It would seem odd for a player to try to look at their own arms and be told they can’t see them, but that’s what trapping those commands is for. But then you still have to worry about NPCs, and “which do you mean, your arm, Dave’s arm, or the policeman’s arm?”

Does anyone know how many high profile/successful IF stories at least catch the possibility of examining body parts? Or is that generally unknown because as stated, most people would never bother?

I do implement the ceiling because that’s easily done on a region basis and there aren’t multiple ceilings that can be referred to. Same with walls and floor. Body parts are more likely targets for actions though.

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(Hanon Ondricek) #7

Yes, you don’t need body parts unless you refer to them in the game prose. “The knight’s sword slashes your shoulder!” - I should expect to at least be able to examine my shoulder. That’s a good rule of thumb all around - don’t mention anything you don’t want to implement.

The only games that usually make potentially extensive use of anatomy are AIF (adult) games where certain body parts are by nature a feature of the story - or possibly the occasional very-detailed RPG that models piecemeal body armor such as gauntlets and shinguards and boots and chest armor.

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(Andrew Plotkin) #8

It’s more than that. If I notice that the author implements hands and feet, I assume that they’re significant and will be needed in some future puzzle. If this is not true, the author is misleading me.

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#9

You can have body parts with very generic descriptions to make it clear they’re not important. Completely missing body parts does look like a bug to someone who’s not an expert in parser games.

However, if an NPC’s description implies a body part that stands out, then you’d need to make sure the player doesn’t get a generic description. You can also redirect body parts to refer to the character instead, to avoid the issue. X STEVE’S NOSE can be remapped to X STEVE, for example. The player would then get the point that referring to body parts is not useful, but you still avoid awkward error messages about “nose” not being recognized.

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(Andrew Plotkin) #10

You can, but you have to also make sure that they don’t crop up accidentally in regular interaction. Unimportant objects shouldn’t turn up in “Which do you mean…?” lists, for example.

Also, even for low-importance body parts, you wind up having to support PUT KEY IN HAND, PUT HAND ON SENSOR, etc. (Mapping to TAKE and TOUCH respectively.)

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(Piergiorgio d'errico) #11

well, some NPC body part detail can even be substantial in non-AIF games. let’s take the “policeman’s arm” quoted above. often the rank insignia is there, and correctly addressing the policeman by his rank can help… but the rank insignia has place also in the general description, albeit I admit that the rank insignia example can be relevant in an espionage, esp. infiltration, story.

OTOH, in a detective/mystery story, details of body parts can be relevant. an hand too small to handle a large pistol, for a very banal example.

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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(Björn Paulsen) #12

I forgot who it was, but someone once observed that IF often concretizes abstract ideas and topics into objects of significance. In other words, “tell Jane about husbands’ infidelity” is commonly restructured into “give [incriminating evidence] to Jane” or the like. Body parts qualify for that, because we automatically assign meaning to them and the actions we perform with them.

In other words, “take Jane’s hand” could be memorable as part of a dramatic scene because we immediately get that it means something. If hands are implemented though, the rest should be minimally implemented so as to not confuse the player.

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(Piergiorgio d'errico) #13

Mhm… “Eleas”'s point is interesting, but one must assess the risk of ruining a dramatic scene with a potential guess-the-verb.

AFAICT, Mariko’s scene in Shogun has this issue

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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(Björn Paulsen) #14

I’d agree. You’d have to signpost it pretty strongly, up to and probably including straight-up telling the player that this is an expected and valid option.

This applies to the wider point as well: my position is that uncommon action should generally be signposted or taught as part of a system.

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(Hanon Ondricek) #15

It is always risky to incorporate what would otherwise be considered a character emote, or “acting” into parser conversations as a required action, or a plot-significant action. Especially when navigating the freeform gymnastics of ask/tell - in the case of TAKE HAND - most parser players are quite used to TAKE being the verb that specifically picks up an object and puts it in their backpack, so expecting the player to think of this idiomatically is a gamble. It’s good to add that kind of thing as a bonus if the player thinks of it, but not as a quasi-puzzle (outside of a game that is built around that specific kind of personal interaction, perhaps.) That’s a thing I would prompt hard in the surrounding text using boldface.

One of my favorite parser paradoxes is a situation where if a character is missing a hand, you must incorporate the hand so the player can ask about it and have it described as not existing! :slight_smile:

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(Björn Paulsen) #16

Yeah, I guess I can agree on that. Maybe not the crowbar-to-the-face imposition of boldface though: I think it should be possible to organically teach the player by using the same phrasing before that point, so as to cue the player into the concept. That, and allow the player to emote this in some other, more traditional way as well. What I mean is the idea of providing another way to do this that is idiomatic to the type of story: in a similar venue, “put ring on Susan’s finger” could well be a synonym for “give ring to Susan”, and would be fun to implement in an adventure in which the explicit goal might well be announced by the phrase “Well, my boy, I doubt you’d be so bold as to try placing a ring on Lady Susan’s finger, ho ho!”

It does get a bit meta, huh? :slight_smile: My unfavorite cousin of that paradox is when you want to discuss something that is present in a concrete form, but is an abstract concept. If you were to create a game where identification papers is vital, and you want your character to discuss the very concept of papers, it’s really annoying to have to fight the disambiguation.

Does anyone here know how to solve that in a reasonably consistent fashion?

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(Hanon Ondricek) #17

Eric Eve’s Conversation Framework (and likely other pieces of his conversation extensions) define a “subject”.

Actually, as specified, it’s part of Epistemology:

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(Björn Paulsen) #18

Yeah, that’s true. My issue was when you have a general concept competing with several physically present instances of the class. So that when in a game in which everybody carries their papers, you ask John about “papers”, you get the general item, not the specific one. In that case, disambiguation gets into the classic “Do you mean the concept, or John’s concept?” in which the first choice sends you straight back to disambiguation.

I remember being stumped by this issue before. It’s possible the current version of I7 contains tools that make the proposition easier.

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(Piergiorgio d'errico) #19

on the papers, if everyone has ID papers, ID can be implemented as property of NPC object, this can simply the disambiguation, if one kept care of the parsing sequence, at least theoretically.

and, honestly, putting together both “Eleas” and “HanonO”'s point in the form asking a veteran about his missing hands and giving him an hand is a solid and consistent puzzle, if the objective is figuring out what actually happened in this or that battlefield, e.g the movie Rules of Engagement

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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(Björn Paulsen) #20

Hah! Yeah, that would be a good angle to take. It’s got that kind of vaguely surrealist tilt to it.

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