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To Read. . . or not to Read

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I''ve heard the arguments. Text versus graphics. Which is better, which is easier to do, and so forth. There are still games today that rely equally on pretty graphics and well-written dialogue. In my eyes, text and graphics are equally important, although this largely depends on theme and play-style. There are also still a lot of text-based MUD''s out there, and they don''t seem to be in any danger of failing. Some people just love text. It uses less memory than graphics. It forces players to flex their imaginations. Text-based games are reminiscent of interactive storybooks. From one designer to a forum, here is a question: do you think a text-based game (done appropriately) could be successful on the market today? Why or why not? What features would it need to succeed, and what features would the designer need to avoid? This is equal parts curiosity and speculation. My brain has been chewing on some ideas for an RPG for the last two years, but I don''t know which direction I should take. So, give me a couple cents to work with.

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I really don''t think that a game that relies eavily on text can compete in the commercial market. The last one to be published for the PC is as far as I know Starship Titanic and it supplemented the text with pictures - that was a old style text adventure.

I know that some people, especially some at this forum has the patience to read text, but I know from myself that when I play I just want to get on with the story and the action. I want to play, not read. If there is too much text I get impatient and skip it. The same arguments goes for FMV sequences, but they are not so bad as text because it requires less concentration to follow.

I personally think that text should be short and to the point, except if it really has a point in the story - such as the main character finds an old document that contains clues for the future adventures. I also thing that text can be useful if specifaclly requested by the player, such as when you want to examine an item and then you are prepared and interested in the description. It is something that you can read, but not must read.

My opinion on this is not set in stone, as I very much enjoyed Planescape: Torment, and that has a lot of text, but with Torment you where prepared for the text and gave yourself the time. It also helped a lot that Torment was really well written - I was quite impressed with it actually. Most games really s*cks in their writing.

I think the point is that you should give players what they expect. Ie. one shouldn''t make an action game with much text. It works much better with slow moving games that oriented towards thinking rather than action. And if you make text, you should really focus on the quality of it - both content and form - ie. you really have to be a writer.

Jacob Marner

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But people don''t read anymore....

I think that whether it could be a success financially would depend on your financial model, and how you are getting the money / promoting the game.

Whether it would be a popular game, is very unlikely In my opinion. I think that if it had flip-screen graphics and a mouse-pointer interface it would be easier to interest people in it. (Myst...)

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I personally like text based games, they can be entertaining. But such
a game will never be succesful in todays market. The problem is:
The world is full of idiots, and there appear even more every second !
If you make a game that is "complex" in any way, less people will buy
it. Just look at Deer Hunter and such shit. MUDs and such games were
published in a time when most computer users were freaks and students.
So only smart people with interest and knowlegde owned computers. But
today as everyone own one, your chances to make money with a smart game
are getting worse ;-) Computer games just go into the same direction
like the TV program. And hey, I hardly can find a reason to watch the
ultra stupid TV program here in Germay, it''s far far far to stupid for
any intelligent lifeform ;-) Another prove that most people out there
are just plain stupid. So if youre game is not mindless, visual appealing
and promising to people who know nothing about anything, your chances
to make a big hit will be low. Maybe that''s a bit hard-spoken, but this
is definately the situation in the next years. Today games like Half-Life
have succes, but in a few years even such games might be to complex for
the mass market, just like Falcon 4 today... If you are a hobby coder
you are in the lucky position of making games that YOU like, you can
give a fuck about what others like. There are only a few companies like
id that can do the games they like.

Do you really plan to make a text adventure ? Make a MUD !



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Right now, text is just prospective. I wanted some opinions on the matter, and I agree with just about everything you guys have to say. I don''t think a text game could be successful on the market. In fact, I didn''t even think that when I asked the question. I just wanted to know what you think.

I put this in the Game Writing forum because text can be used as an effective means of portraying the game world. Text can be used effectively to supplement graphics, but it can also replace them entirely (as we''ve all seen in the case of MUD''s).

But I''ve also got an argument against MUD''s, or rather text-based games in general. After a short while, all text begins to look the same. It becomes uninteresting, particularly since most of it is very repetitive. I''m sure everyone agrees with this last point.

What I''m looking at is more like an interactive novel, sort of a choose-your-own-adventure book on your computer, but with much more depth since the outcomes of your choices will depend largely on the type of character you''re playing. This is an RPG, after all.

Yes, most people don''t like text. I don''t really like text either, unless I''m reading it from pages in a book. (For some reason, reading from a monitor bothers me.) But if it were laid out well enough, and if the content were gripping---well, what do you think then?

I am a hobbyist designer. I don''t have the time or budget (or patience) for professional graphics. I''m an artist in both drawing and writing. I''m looking at the possibility of text to eliminate the hassle of graphics. I''m making a small-scale single-player game with multi-player capacity. I guess you could think of it as a mini-MUD.

Any opinions on this so far?

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There''s another thing a MUD has besides text, social interactions. The fact there''s other people to play with makes them more enjoyable. Although it could be argued that those people could just as easily play a graphical RPG. Although more MUDs have more diversity than the graphical RPGs so far. More than just hack & slash.

"" "'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree"-Nazrix" -- runemaster

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I don''t see the point in this discussion.
It''s easy to create a game engine with pretty nice 2D or 3D graphics.

You only have to add a text zone and think a bit about it and you''ll end up with something interesting.

It''s stupid to think 100% a way or 100% another way...
Mixing is the point.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Actually, Ingenu, I don''t quite agree with you. although an engine might be easy enough, creating a game with decent graphics takes much more time and work then a plain text based game. I would like to echo tcs, as he is right on the point. There are so many people out there who buy games because of the flashy graphics and the fact that they get to blow things up. People (for the most part) no longer seem to care whether a game has a story anymore as long as they can do something either illegal or impossible, usually involving blowing stuff into tiny pieces, or just killing people for no reason. Why this is, I don''t know, but I do know that it is a disturbing trend. I continue to buy games that focus more on story or originality then on the same "blow stuff up" games that you see everywhere, now. I think the worst thing for video games were the advent of good graphics ala the Playstation and the Nintendo 64. The focus of many video games shifted from story and action to catchy bloody, gory graphics.


official Necromancer of GameDev forums Game Writing section

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