As Alabaster is in large part an experiment with the underlying conversation system, I would very much welcome feedback about how the system behaves so that I can refine it for future use.
As background: how much the system prompts the player is already an adjustable feature (up to turning off quip prompts entirely, for a standard unprompted ASK/TELL experience). Likewise, it will be possible in the final version of the library, though not demonstrated here, to use a numeric menu to offer the player options.
So what I’m particularly interested in at the moment is how to improve the player experience when the game is using the same library settings as Alabaster. Some things that have come up already:
A common misapprehension seems to be that it’s necessary to retype an entire quip name verbatim, whereas in fact the game parses quip names in the same way that it parses object names: the first few words of the quip, or any unique word, will do. The system does not, perhaps, do a good enough job of teaching new players this fact, especially when the tutorial mode is turned off; so perhaps there should be a mechanism to notice if the player is typing in very long commands and mention (once) that these can be shortened. (Also, perhaps, to point out that the whole ASK INTERLOCUTOR ABOUT structure can be shortened to A.)
I’ve also had a request for tolerance of spare question marks (which some players find themselves typing even after an indirect question such as ASK ABOUT WHETHER SHE IS COLD).
Another point is that Alabaster doesn’t give good feedback when the input is
>SNOW WHITE, [valid quip name here]
In general, I’m not sure I want to encourage players to approach things that way because it encourages them to think there’s actual natural language processing happening — which there isn’t. But there could be better error messages in response.
Anyway, comments are welcome; it would also be useful to have transcripts that demonstrate interaction with the game, since these would provide also some idea of how often commands are failing, and what kinds of commands. If you have one you’d like to send in, I’d appreciate it: email@example.com.