Nice - the fish from HHGTTG is a perfect example of elaboration - each success making possible a new and more interesting failure, until all the failures have been dealt with. I can see where my language starts to slip when stages of progressive solution are labeled “setbacks,” but in terms of frustration I think the label still works because at each stage a new error / failure statement is generated.
Varicella is a showcase of exteme setbacks, because the process is elaboration / resource management, and the major form of feedback is “learn through dying” - hard to get more frustrating than that. Yet Adam Cadre makes it work by generating unique interest in each road to failure, which is what brought him to mind for Hamlet - come to think of it, Lock and Key also takes the form of elaboration / resource management and learn through dying.
Speaking of Cadre, in the next frustration post I also cite Cadre’s 9:05 when talking about dramatic irony - and I might as well have added shrapnel to the mix. From now on perhaps my advice to people interested in either frustration or dramatic irony in IF will be to read some Cadre first - not that he has the market cornered, but his sensibility consistently leads him in that direction.]]>
Yes, the verb set is generally conventional and constrained. Many texts have a relatively small number of specific verbs that have been added. Of these texts, only some require that you discover the verb itself when appropriate (REMEMBER, POUR etc.), while others simply include a description of the unconventional verb in the introduction or help material.
As to your idea about localized rules of play for bots - absolutely. Perhaps these rules could be communicated through error messages which more aggressively steer you towards the bot’s areas of conversational strength - it communicates to you what your localized expectations should be. Which, come to think of it, is what people often do at cocktail parties. Mention math to your cocktail-bot, and it replies… “Ah, math. You know, my husband doesn’t understand math either…” to which you could reply “Why on earth not?” but it is less rude and more productive to say “What does your husband do?”]]>
Jeremy — this is a great series of posts. This more complex treatment of frustration will be quite useful for IF authors and critics.
Of course, you’re welcome to comment at whatever length you like over at GTxA, but we don’t mean to head over to your blog in a raiding party and bring the conversation over there. (Well, I guess I should speak for myself - maybe that is what Andrew means to do?)
I wanted to at least briefly mention one classic puzzle that might highlight some interesting things about setbacks vs. incapacity. In a sense, it seems that a setback that the player triggers is a particularly positive failure or frustration: players can at least understand from it that there is such a thing as progress toward a goal, even if they haven’t achieved the goal.
I was thinking that the intermediate steps involved in solving the Babel Fish puzzle in HHGTTG seem to work progress and setback together quite well. You’re glad to have done something that “works” and is recognized as a seemingly-effective action, but at the same time you’re thwarted. Of course, the actual process of trying to solve the puzzle would no doubt involve the player feeling some of the incapacity sort of frustration at times.
The endings of Varicella provide another case that’s similar to this one: You can see you’re making progress in some sense, but are cruelly dealt with and sent back for further thinking and further work. As you hinted at in your next post, Varicella isn’t all that far away from Hamlet - it’s at least Titus Andronicus, which isn’t too shabby for a piece done 25 years after the invention of IF.]]>
Thanks for the heads up, andrew. I enjoyed reading the GTxA conversaion - stop by here any time. When I have long responses to discussions you’re having over there, do you prefer complete cross-posting, teasers, or just a trackback?]]>
Good discussion - which has spawned more at markbernstein.org and grandtextauto.org, btw — http://grandtextauto.gatech.edu/2005/06/10/bernsteins-bait-redux/]]>