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Syrena

Is Making The Player Read Lots of Text Unusual?

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What I mean is, I'm building a text adventure game, and obviously you can't have cut scenes like you do in regular games. However, my problem is my story is very detailed and its becoming very difficult to only tell it from my main characters perspective. I mean, I found certain ways to fill in the blanks by having the player explore a little, but certain parts of the plot would be better if I could just cut to another character/scene. Would it be usual for a text adventure game to switch perspectives, and have the player read lines of text as if they are reading a novel?

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As far as I know, people like reading novels, so whatever you do, it cant be bad.

If its not conventional, at least your game will be more novel (hue hue).

 

So it just comes down to what is a better experience, and as you say, the plot would be better if you didnt force a particular way to show it.

 

(But do keep looking for existing examples for ideas on how to do it well)

 

edit:

Though make sure the gameplay doesnt motivate the player to ignore the text to find some single bit of information, or to skip it entirely. If the players own goals are to "beat the game", theyre not going to read through the story. So design it such that players are primarily interested in the story, or itll just get in the way.

Edited by Waterlimon

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edit:

Though make sure the game play doesn't motivate the player to ignore the text to find some single bit of information, or to skip it entirely. If the players own goals are to "beat the game", they're not going to read through the story. So design it such that players are primarily interested in the story, or it'll just get in the way.

 

I think you summed it up quite well here. While I LOVE Metal Gear Solid, many fans criticize it for "watching more than you play". Many times you have the go though quite a bit until you come to the relevant information.  

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A text-adventure is also a little different from other games, imho.

The name alone already raises expectations, that the major feature of the game is text.

 

People attracted to such games, probably love puzzling and reading, or they would not play the game.

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You're developing a text adventure.

 

I say it is safe to assume the player is going to enjoy reading! *grins*

 

If your story is very detailed, I think your biggest concern will be pacing.  Well, actually, there's probably a host of structure methods to consider.

 

To answer your question:  If you are considering switching PoV to another character, would it be right in saying the characters in the game are merely a means to carry the player? Why not have the player able to play different characters of the story?  See, where I'm going with this?

Hah, beg my pardon. I've actually swung questions at you!

 

In respect of story structure, how well versed are you?  A good starting point, perhaps, is a seven point structure (just youtube Dan Wells on the subject).  The structure should allow you to pace your story and manage multiple story threads.  Just an idea anyway.

 

Hope that helps.

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One mechanic that I've liked in a couple non-text adventure games is to have in-game books that can be read by the player. Particularly when it's pretty clear that reading the contents will at some point will be useful. When I'm stuck on a puzzle in the game, I start to get in the mindset of carefully examining the items in my inventory and that's when I'm the most inclined actually take the time to read a length of text.

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a narrator to help fill in gaps might be useful.

 

i'd say try the "cut to different character", and see what you think. implement just one, then play it. does it work? does it not? is it better? is it worse? this is the R&D phase of game development - rapid prototyping.

 

if you suspect it will be better - it usually turns out to be so. 

 

test it.

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The Etrian Odyssey had quite a bit of reading, but not books worth, and it was always broken up into smaller chunks inbetween gameplay.

 

As far as I know, people like reading novels, so whatever you do, it cant be bad.

People like reading good novels. Uh, well, alot of people like reading Twilight and Eragon, and those aren't 'good', so I guess that disproves that. Harry Potter was very enjoyable, but it wasn't particularly well written (the world and plot were interesting, but the writing quality itself was merely average, and the characters were above average, but not fantastic. Still was enjoyable though, and apparently about a third of a billion other people also thought so).

@Syrena: If you are going to have alot of writing in your game, I suggest you get it peer-reviewed by a two or three people, and get some heavy constructive criticism to refine it and refine it some more (then have the same three people review it again, to give more advice and critique the changes).

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@doghouse - The idea of switching perspectives and allowing the player to play a different characters crossed my mind, but to be honest, it doesn't work well for me. I rather develop and let the player play though one character. 

 

@kseh - I know the mechanic you're talking about, and seen it before. The problem is I'm building a spy adventure, and i mostly see that type of mechanic in RPGs (particularly medieval RPGs). I could work it in another way, like debriefing files or hidden disk/flash drive within the game that contain information.

 

@Norman Barrows - I will indeed try it out and see what happens.

 

@Servant of the Lord - I will indeed do that, problem is finding people you trust, not only to give honest feedback, but won't steal your game.

 

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Very nice topic.

 

I really wish you good luck with your text-based game! (I am huge fun of such kind of games)

 

The answer to your question is: yes, and it's not only unusual, it's hard. Story needs to be compelling, characters and their replics - interesting. It's a hard task for even such giants who've made Planescape, Arcanum or Fallout. And if games with graphics can compensate poor dialogs and scenes descriptions with action and awesome level design (for example), text-based games can't.

 

Check Make It Good game. Sometimes it prints a lot of text. It's a really good example (but game itself is a bit difficult to play).

Edited by DarkForestCrow

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I know it's been a little while since this thread was active, but I just wanted to add in my own two cents real quick :)

 

The people who play text-based games should know what they're signing up for. The audience you're creating for is very different from the audience Doom was created for, which is very different from the audience Mario was created for, and so on. So (to some extent) I wouldn't worry TOO much about how much text is being thrown at the player, as long as the story/characters/world is engaging and creative enough to keep the player interested! They should be there for the story and the challenge of the game itself.

 

As for the perspective stuff, I personally would find it super refreshing and interesting to play a text-based game which switches perspectives, but you'll have to make sure it's very clear when the game switches, or it could become confusing to follow. But it sounds like a fun challenge!! I'd be interested to hear what you come up with :)

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