What games should we include?

Information from and to the site administrators.

Moderator: Alastair

Message
Author
User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

What games should we include?

#1 Post by Gunness » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:11 pm

The subject has popped up on a number of occasions, and I'm not one to kill a good debate :)

Our core game type is the "pure" text adventure (with or without accompanying graphics a la Magnetic Scrolls), and I don't see that changing, so the purists needn't worry ;)
But with our game count now well past 5,000, I think it's worth to take a moment to consider which games belong here and which ones that do not.

The central issue is that adventure games come in all shapes and forms, and some of them are easier to classify as adventure games than others.

Some examples.
1. Pure text, text parser: Zork I
2. Text, with illustrations, text parser: Winter Wonderland
3. Multiple choice, lots of text: Adrian Mole
4. Partially joystick-controlled, text parser: African Safari, King's Quest
5. Fully joystick-controlled, lots of text: Uninvited
6. Fully joystick-controlled, less text, text-like input: Maniac Mansion
7. Adventure with RPG elements: The Hound of Shadow
8. RPG with adventure elements: Champions of Krynn

I'm sure there are more. Lots of early instances of #1 are so primitive that they might as well be classified as #3 :)
Currently we don't include games such as Hunt the Wumpus (dungeon crawl) or Portal (interactive book), though I think the latter is fairly adventure-like.

I'm not asking mainly because I want to kick out games from our database - again, the text games take up the largest part of our system, and as long as that balance is intact, I don't have any reason to change things. I'm more interested in what games to include in the future. Are there any of the game types mentioned above that deserve more attention?

Alastair
Posts: 746
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: What games should we include?

#2 Post by Alastair » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:06 pm

I would not include interactive books such as Portal or ZorkQuest because you cannot change the outcome of the story. The interaction changes how you perceive the story, perhaps the order in which you read things or changes the character through which an event is witnessed, but never-the-less the story remains unchanged.

Regarding RPGs with adventure elements I would base this on the nature of the adventure element. An RPG with nothing more complicated than a simple go to X to collect Y then take Y to Z activity should not be considered, whereas an RPG where you need to solve some puzzle before you can take Y should be included.

Mark
Posts: 90
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 7:04 pm
Location: Germany

Re: What games should we include?

#3 Post by Mark » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:23 am

You could always open a new category, called something like "CASA Exotics", "CASA Fringe", "CASA semiqualified" :-).

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#4 Post by Gunness » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:52 am

Hahaha, I like that, Mark - though "CASA exotics" might give some people the wrong impression ;)

Alastair
Posts: 746
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: What games should we include?

#5 Post by Alastair » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:09 am

This is a continuation of a discussion in another thread where:
Mr Creosote wrote:Let me be intentionally provocative: why would a game which also has other gameplay features need to do more than "basic" ones to qualify?
To which I originally replied:
Alastair wrote:Hannes, it's getting too late for me to think coherently so I will address your question at a later date, but for starters I will state that it goes back to Jacob's original question [see first post in this thread - ed] of which games belong at CASA and which ones do not. I think we will all agree that an RPG comprising of nothing more than killing monsters, buying goods (food, weapons, armour, spells, etc.), and levelling up does not belong at CASA. However there are RPGs with adventure game elements so, assuming that CASA will include RPGs of this nature, the question becomes one of deciding what level of complexity should an RPG possess before we consider adding it to the site. The question is still open to discussion (and should really be continued on the linked [that is this - ed] thread), but my suggestion of ruling out those RPGs with the simplest of adventure game elements is just that, a suggestion.
Now returning to Hannes' question, as Jacob states CASA is concerned with text adventures, its aim is to catalogue every text adventure made or announced. However, although it is obvious that 'text adventures' and 'text with graphics adventures' belong on the site there are games in other genres that contain adventure game elements, so should none, some, or all of these games be added to the site?

I believe that some of these 'other genre games' should be in the database but before we consider adding them to CASA they should pass some threshold. As to what that threshold should be I am of the opinion that the adventure game element in the game should be of a complexity greater than what you would reasonably expect in a basic game of that genre so that anyone playing the game will think they have entered adventure game territory. Returning to RPGs for an example, the basic form is given in my above quote, to this we may add quests of the form 'kill a certain type of monster' or 'visit a certain location', nothing yet stated would make anyone think that they were playing a text adventure rather than an RPG so I would say that the 'threshold' has not been crossed. Increasing the complexity to taking an object to a certain location or giving it to a certain character is certainly something you may expect to find in an adventure game but in the context of an RPG I do not consider that anyone playing the RPG will think that they have strayed into adventure game territory, ditto going to a location to pick up a specific object. However if the player is confronted with a puzzle that requires some thought - for example in Return of the Ring you cannot just take the 'book of skulls' but must first swap the book with something else and then have a means of escape - the player will probably think that they have strayed into adventure game territory and so the threshold has been crossed. This is why I think that games from other genres must do more than adventure games to qualify, players must think that the game they are playing has gone beyond the original genre and has in part become an adventure game.

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#6 Post by Gunness » Wed Mar 02, 2016 2:21 pm

Interesting. While I don't necessarily disagree with your assessment, Alastair, I would personally find it very tricky to apply in a real-life situation. Would it take more than one instance of an "adventure-like" puzzle for the game to warrant inclusion? How far into the game would I have to look to find the "right" puzzles?

I think the distinction would become fairly arbitrary, but then I haven't played all that many computer RPGs, so maybe the difference to the more straight RPGs is fairly obvious.

The way I've been doing it so far is by a quick glance: Temple of Apshai - pure hack'n'slash - not included. The SSI games - heavy on story and appear to have more to them than just fighting - included.

Alastair
Posts: 746
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: What games should we include?

#7 Post by Alastair » Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:00 am

Jacob, don't take it as a hard and fast rule but rather as guidance, in the end I think it is how a game feels rather than what boxes it ticks that ultimately decides whether-or-not it should be in the database.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#8 Post by Mr Creosote » Mon Mar 07, 2016 7:14 pm

More than the specific question, my earlier comments reflected my general dissatisfaction with the practice of classifying games according to what I consider fairly fuzzy genres at best. As the years pass, I find it harder and harder to go along with this. What is "clearly an RPG" or "clearly an Adventure"? One aspect which kept getting mentioned was character development for RPGs and puzzle complexity for Adventures. Though, as semi sarcastically pointed out earlier by myself, there are tons of Adventure games which could never jump the hurdle of puzzle complexity if it were a deciding factor.

In the other direction, Jacob mentioned The Hound of Shadow, aka the game with the endless character creation which plays close to no role in the game afterwards. Sure, it will choose one of the pre-made plotlines for you, but it has no more influence than Infocom letting you select your favourite colour at the beginning of Moonmist. I don't remember any character development in that game, just character creation. So are those already "RPG elements"? Certainly, there are no quests, no levelling, no improvable talents, no random skill checks in the game.

I've even heard definitions like "Tolkienesque games are RPGs". Uh...

Though as I said, I'm much more interested in the philosophical question behind it all. Admittedly, there are many games which follow certain formulae strictly. They are often not the most exciting ones, however. To name a completely non CASA related example: which genre does Sid Meier's Pirates fall into? Actually, in an old interview, he said it was his take on the Adventure genre. If you think about it, why not?

The established "consensus" seems to be to classify genres according to game mechanics. In all other media, themes are much more prevalent as genre definitions (actually, CASA follows this in its "genre" term). Honestly, by now, I'm questioning the usefulness of drawing such "game mechanic" lines at all. Admittedly, this makes me a bad discussion participant for this thread, so I guess I'll leave it at that.

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#9 Post by Gunness » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:32 pm

Interesting discussion, this. Thanks for weighing in.
Alastair, I hear you. And agree.
Mr Creosote wrote:The established "consensus" seems to be to classify genres according to game mechanics. In all other media, themes are much more prevalent as genre definitions (actually, CASA follows this in its "genre" term). Honestly, by now, I'm questioning the usefulness of drawing such "game mechanic" lines at all. Admittedly, this makes me a bad discussion participant for this thread, so I guess I'll leave it at that.
It would certainly be a novel approach if we were to go by theme alone - but if our users are largely interested in a specific game mechanic (games controlled by typing), I guess there'd be some kind of uproar if we were to include radically different types of games (I'm sure that a lot of flight sims would fit snugly in the War or Spy genres, for instance).

I think we can all agree that the classification of these titles is often hard to nail down. But I'd like to keep things practical and largely atheistic. So, just to emphasize what I wrote earlier: as long as we maintain our focus on text based games, I can live if the odd non-kosher title slips through the filters. Especially since, as Hannes pointed out, often the most interesting material can be found in the games that push the mechanical boundaries. I know that when I play other games than adventure games, I usually prefer smaller indie titles that play around with established game mechanics.

So that's my easy-going take on the matter. Live and let live. Hopefully most of our users will want to leave torches and pitchforks at home, too :)

As an aside for Hannes and the rest of you: which games do you think have been best at breaking down the established mechanics barriers?

therealdavetaylor
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:08 am

Re: What games should we include?

#10 Post by therealdavetaylor » Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:43 am

A guy wearing a hat and mustache with a fake accent shouts out. "How about games by D.B. Taylor?"

Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: What games should we include?

#11 Post by Sudders » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:27 pm

I believe it should be mostly text adventures. Obviously illustrated ones fall into that too, but once you get into the realms of RPG and point and click it doesn't really work.

My biggest issue is Speed IF entries. These are starting to take over the database. I would be surprised if anyone has great interest in this as the games don't really fit in and aren't very playable. Is it possible to remove, or at least stop the flow of these? Or at least move them into a separate section? One of my great pleasures from this site has been stumbling across the random adventure displayed on the homepage. I have often gone on to complete one of these and taken great enjoyment from this. An example of this is the TRS 80 - MC10 adventures that the legendary J Gerrie has ported. Love them! However the random adventure is more and more likely to be a Speed IF these days. They look dull on the page and hold no interest for many of us.

Sorry to sound a bit negative. I utterly love the site otherwise!

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#12 Post by Gunness » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:21 pm

Thanks for raising this issue :D It's not a trivial one, but I think it's quite important, so let's dive in.

I've talked to other users about Speed IF. I've quite openly stated that I'm not a fan, either. It seems that often, these games are mostly in-joke exercises which rely heavily on knowing who's who in the IF community. Most of the time, it seems that there's a very elaborate setup and backstory, which just leads to one or two puzzles.

I must also admit that I was a bit naive when I started taking these games on board. I thought they worked a bit like the IF Comp, ie. one competition per year. Either we could adapt the database to have a separate Competition category (which isn't going to happen at the moment), or I could abuse the Genre a bit and use it for the various Comps. Works quite ok for the IF Comp, I think.

Weeeeell... then I checked IF Wiki and wisened up. The site currently lists 78 - count'em, 78 - categories. Overwhelming! And judging by some of the names - Speed-IF That Dare Not Speak Its Number, Speed-IF Crinkle-Cut - I think their joke-like nature should be pretty obvious. The instructions sometimes speak volumes: "In 2 hours or whatever your conscience allows, write a speedIF on the eternal theme of hubris. Points for including a vestigial tail, environmental policy on ferret populations, phlogiston, a pink parasol, sudden undeath, or crappy madlibs. Go!"

Rather than fill the Genres with Speed IF competitions, I've started lumping some of the smaller competitions together under the moniker "MiniComp". A lot of these have four or less entries, anyway. I hope any fans of Speed IF are okay with this procedure.

Now, that being said: At a glance I'd say that the Speed IF titles total around 250 games, tops, out of more than 7,300 games in the database. So only 1 game in 30 ought to be a Speed IF title.

And while I personally find the games to be a waste of time, I don't see any easy way to "rule out" these games. Let's be honest - a lot of early BASIC games are a waste of time, too :) We do feature a number of lost and unreleased games, which may or may not turn up at a certain point (incidentally I just received a message from an author of a lost game).
What fair criteria can I set up to disregard Speed IF titles, if other games are equally brief and bad and just have the good fortune of not being a part of a competition? And I do want to be fair :) I also don't want my personal taste dictating arbitrarily which games can stay and which games need to leave the room.

But I certainly value the input of our users, so again thanks for raising the flag! Anyone else who has an opinion on Speed IF - whether for or against - please speak your mind :)

Sudders
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:55 am

Re: What games should we include?

#13 Post by Sudders » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:10 pm

Thanks for the swift response. Glad to see I'm not alone.

Your description has convinced me further that the flow should at least be stemmed. It may be only 1 in 30 now, but that number is rising rapidly.

I used to click through new additions on the monthly updates, but the number has risen dramatically and most of them are Speed IF now so I don't bother.

Sorry, again, I am just a huge fan of this site and it got me back into adventures.

Will be interesting to see if there are any Speed IF fans.

Alastair
Posts: 746
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: What games should we include?

#14 Post by Alastair » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:18 am

Sudders wrote:I used to click through new additions on the monthly updates, but the number has risen dramatically and most of them are Speed IF now so I don't bother.
Sudders,
thankfully most, if not all, of the Speed IF titles have now been added to the site so the number of new Speed IF titles appearing in future updates should be far lower than of late. Hopefully this means that future updates will be as useful to you as they were in the past.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 929
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: What games should we include?

#15 Post by Mr Creosote » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:20 am

I once wrote a piece of Speed IF ("write a game within three hours"), but I'm definitely not a fan of the format. In fact, I entered that game with the intention to show what can be achieved even in such a short time. Not in the way of being too clever for my own sake, but in ways of size and complexity. Those still being not too great obviously, but at least not worse than in many classic games (as Jacob pointed out, we have to be honest in that regard, too).

It was somewhat fun to do and it is nice to see some people played it (even somebody on Casa made a map and a solution), but in the end, I agree with the predominately negative assessment of the format. It is very author centric and of little lasting interest to the general public.

That said, I see no reason to exclude them from Casa or put them in some corner. One great thing about this site is its inclusiveness. Once we start bringing in qualitative bias, why not apply the same to the hundreds of Quill games? It would be a never ending story.

Further on the subject, what us the policy concerning those thousands of hypertext and multiple choice "games" being made these days?

Post Reply