Transcript of Oct 11 ifMUD Discussion on Replayability


Emily says, “right, so”
Emily says, “it is time”
Emily says, “our topic for the evening is replayability”
zarf says, “our topic for the evening is deja vu.”
DavidW says, “Been there, done that, where’s my t-shirt.”
Emily says, “including: do we want to replay IF? what works best at making that possible? what do we think of existing replayable games? and etc.”
DavidW says, “Some IF I think ought to be replayable, like returning to a book one especially likes.”
Zach asks, “For the same story? Or the possibility of a different one?”
DavidW says, “But in practice, this doesn’t really happen. If I replay a game, it’s usually because I’ve forgotten the details or I’m making a walkthrough.”
DavidW says (to Zach), “If I’m playing shortly afterword, I think I’d like a variant of the story. But if it’s a year later, I don’t think it matters if the story is the same.”
Nitku says, “It might be useful to not discuss “replayable because story/writing is good” now”
Nitku says, “because that’s a different topic”

How are we defining replayability?

zarf says, “the first replayable IF I saw was Moonmist, which had four endings and (I suppose) four sets of clues to the mystery. It’s the one Infocom I never played, though”
Emily says, “my perhaps controversial take is that if the game is designed only to make sense if you’ve seen multiple endings, then getting the multiple endings is not “replaying”, it’s just “playing””
DavidW says (to zarf), “Yes, the clues were different.”
DavidW says (to Emily), “That’s a valid point.”
Emily says, “and in that sense Moonmist is kind of on the edge”
Emily says, “since it can make sense with only one ending, IIRC”
zarf says (to emily), “That makes sense in a theoretical sense but in gruesome reality I would say ‘I’m replaying that game'”
olethros says, “awesome”
zarf says, “_Shadow of Destiny_ was a (graphical) adventure that was built on that model”
Emily says (to zarf), “well, I guess what I mean is that I want to distinguish between works that take their meaning from an understanding of all/most of the endings, and those that make sense after one play”
zarf says, “sure”
Emily says, “Slouching Towards Bedlam, I’d sort of feel you hadn’t really played if you’d only gone through it once”
DavidW says, “I think ease of play helps make a game replayable. Getting stuck on a bottleneck puzzle tends to make replayablility highly unlikely.”
olethros says, “there is replayability due to the puzzles, e.g. Varicella”
olethros says, “there’s also replayability due to dynamic story line, in a similar vein”
DavidW says, “Erudition Chamber had replayability, but mostly because of alternate puzzle solutions, not because the story changes.”
K-Y says, “the line between ‘playing’ and ‘replaying’ would seem to be whether endings are presented as failures or not”
K-Y says, “and Varicella gets very close to that line”
zarf says (to K-Y), “doesn’t have to be ‘failure’, it’s just ‘wait I see a new possibility for play now'”
K-Y says, “I mean, if you hit a failure ending and restart, you consider yourself to be not done playing the first time yet”
DavidW says, “Something else that aids replayability is the bonus feature unlocked at game’s end, which you can take with you into the next play.”
Emily says, “that helps a lot with the replay feeling too samey”
Nitku asks, “Like when you want replay to check out all the AMUSING things?”
Emily says, “I tend to be reluctant to replay if a lot of the game is going to be identical”
Emily says, “unless it’s quite short”
zarf says, “ok, let’s take 9:05
zarf says, “that’s the pocket example of ‘you learn something at the end that makes you think of new paths to try in the game'”
DavidW says (to Nitku), “That’s part of it, but there’s also author commentary modes. But I can also envision where you could get other tools unlocked by reaching an ending.”
K-Y says, “9:05 is interesting in retrospect because the second run doesn’t actually add anything”
K-Y says, “at all”
Emily says (to zarf), “true, but that’s presumably not redoable more than a couple of times”
zarf says, “once counts!”
zarf says, “a larger game could build that out into several cycles of discovery.”
zarf says, “although it would still be a finite list”
K-Y says, “I’ve mentioned a common structure in visual novels”
K-Y says, “where you learn something at the end that unlocks new paths, period”
K-Y says, “meaning there is a whole hierarchy of endings that are designed to unlock each other”
DavidW says, “That sounds cool.”
olethros says, “yes, that is a great idea”
Gunther says, “if you accept that some of the endings flat-out make others impossible”
Gunther says, “(but they still happen)”
Ellison says, “the multiple path thing is interesting. I’d consider all of the playthroughs for Slouching Through Bedlam one playthrough until you reach that final conclusion, but a game like Punk Points has more of that multiple-play feel to me”
zarf says, “I could draw a line between games that mechanically open new options (like the ones you’re talking about, I suppose) and 9:05 where it’s purely player knowledge. But that may be too fussy”
olethros says, “so, we can classify replayability in two categories: (1) dependent on your actions in previous runs of the game (due to information revelation) and (2) independent (perhaps due to randomness)”
olethros says, “(1) could also include adaptive games.”
olethros says, “but I have not seen those at all in IF.”
olethros says, “e.g. if in the previous run of the game you had solved a puzzle one way, the next time this solution would be unavailable.”
DavidW says, “oh, there was an escape the cell game like that. But that was the whole game’s gimmick.”
katherine says, “there’s also the ‘replayability’ that comes from a game having so much content one playthrough is simply not enough”
katherine says, “but there are obvious issues with how much work this requires”
zarf says, “also with how much of the player’s life it consumes. (dammit FTL)”

Replay to revisit a space

DavidW asks, “What about the sort of replayability from a game that’s just a pleasant place to revisit? Do people have any games like that? Where it’s just soothing or pretty or whatever?”
katherine says, “yes”
katherine says, “well”
zarf says, “yes, but not text games”
katherine says, “with this I often find that even a small component of it is sufficient, like the music”
Emily says (to DavidW), “I have some, but they’re mostly not IF”
Emily says, “like I find certain games to have pleasant ambient environment”
Emily says, “so I guess more or less what zarf said”
katherine says, “mine aren’t IF either, but I can see how they could be as some books are like this”
zarf says, “I used to re-read books a lot, but this turned out to be a factor of being young and broke”
DavidW says, “mm”
katherine says, “actually, I wonder”
katherine says, “in my experience there are two kinds of people: people who LOVE re-reading books, have books on their shelves they’ve read dozens or hundreds of times (and for whom non-rereadability is a bit of a demerit for a book) and people who don’t get it, at all”
katherine says, “I wonder if this holds for IF, and whether it’s the same people each time”

Random-access as a prerequisite to re-experiencing something

Emily says, “even for books I rerad a lot, I tend to have favorite bits I like to skip to”
Emily says, “I suppose there are IF passages I might skip to if skipping were easier”
Jota asks, “What about people who will consider re-reading a book only once they’ve forgotten most of it?”
DavidW says, “I suppose also, the number of works of IF sorta spurs people to check out new works instead of returning to a previous one.”
zarf says, “I enjoy re-reading books but I enjoy reading new books more, all things considered”
zarf says, “(and then there’s the question of whether I enjoy playing IF, which currently I’m kinda burned out on, ssh don’t tell)”
katherine says, “quick! censor the logs”
katherine says, “also, this seems like it’d apply a lot more to story-if than puzzle-IF”
DavidW says, “I wonder if bookmarks as a reward at winning a game would be useful at all.”
katherine says, “as once you’ve solved a puzzle once, unless your memory sucks that’s pretty much a one-time effect”
K-Y says, “there are two ways to replay a puzzle”
DavidW says, “Or an auto-solve mode so puzzles can be elided.”
K-Y says, “when you remember the solution, in which case it is disappointing”
K-Y says, “and when you don’t remember the solution, in which case there is a good chance you feel like an idiot”

Is it possible to re-enjoy a puzzle?

Nitku asks, “Are there puzzles where replaying them is enjoyable even though you’ve already solved them?”
Nitku says, “like solving a sudoku is enjoyable (to some) even though you’ve already solved a hundred before”
DavidW says, “I sometimes resolve jigsaw puzzles that I’ve already done.”
katherine says, “those are different sorts of puzzles though”
Jota asks (of Nitku), “But would solving the same Sudoku be fun?”
DavidW says (to katherine), “I know.”
zarf says, “I suppose a roguelike is a form of puzzle structure”
katherine says, “(plus even that effect wears off, and then you become like me and have to toss jigsaw puzzles into a bucket and solve them that way)”
Jota says, “I’ve solved many crosswords, but I don’t think I’d get much fun out of solving a crossword that I remember having already solved before.”
Nitku says, “IF puzzles don’t need to be exactly the same each playthrough.”
Nitku says, “you can totally have the 15-puzzle set up randomly each time”
DavidW says, “Players do seem to dislike busywork in IF.”
DavidW says, “Once you know how the puzzle is solved, you just want to sail past it and get your biscuit.”
Jota says, “Which is relevant in some games that require you to re-solve the same puzzle multiple times during a single playthrough.”
pollux says, “I sometimes like to re-solve particularly elaborate puzzles.”
pollux says, “Probably the most archetypal example is the Babel fish. Even though I know the process, the sheer rube-goldberg-ness makes it strangely fun to repeat.”
DavidW asks, “Like building a mousetrap?”
DavidW says, “(I guess I’m thinking of the Milton Bradley game which is also Rube Goldberg-like.)”
DavidW says, “I suppose there’s also games like LASH or Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder where the player is trying to maximize their score.”
DavidW says, “Not sure how big a draw that is.”
DavidW asks, “Or what about the ‘accomplishments’ such as in Counterfeit Monkey?”
Emily says, “those were more meant to pat people on the head for doing really weird things”
Emily says, “rather than really inspire replay”
katherine says, “if there’s one thing the past umpteen years of gaming have proven, it’s that people really like numbers and achievements”
katherine says, “”
DavidW says, “I only sorta like achievements. I like earning them, sure, but I don’t usually feel compelled to collect ’em all.”
DavidW says, “When the Master Theory (or whatever it was) was around, I really didn’t care if I missed a badge if I, say, logged in on July 4th.”
DavidW says, “or didn’t log in that day.”
Zach asks (of DavidW), “What about Kittens Game?”
DavidW says (to Zach), “Same. I like the achievements I’ve earned, but I don’t need ’em all.”
DavidW says, “Especially if I have to do things like sell all my barns or kill all my kittens or whatever silly thing the author thought worth an achievement.”
DavidW says, “They’re sorta like Last Lousy Points that way.”

Is replayability desirable?

katherine says, “the other thing I am thinking about lately is whether non-replayability is necessarily a demerit”
katherine says, “so, full disclosure, I’m the ‘if I don’t want to reread a book it does less for me in the end’ camp”
DavidW says, “There are some games that ask players not to replay once they reach an ending.”
katherine says, “but — and this is difficult to talk about without spoilers because it’s comp — there’s one game that I replayed, found certain things sort of, well, not fall apart but diminish a bit”
katherine says, “then in the [About analogue] the author said they didn’t necessarily intend the player to replay”
DavidW says, “Certainly, there is merit in not replaying if you don’t want to see the mechanics of the work revealed more obviously.”
Ellison says, “#belated the first version of 9:05 (there’s a bug disallowing it in the second version) also gets into that optimization mechanic- you can steal the laptop from work and still get away”
Ellison says, “I also like the idea of adding game+ modes, giving an extra feature on secondary playthroughs”

A little more about visual novels

dfabulich asks, “Did I miss all the fun?”
dfabulich says, “Scrolling back, IMO visual novels that offer a fast-forward mode tend to have a lot of non-interactive content between the interactive segments”
dfabulich says, “the end result tends to be a “skip this enormous cutscene” button”
olethros asks, “any conclusion?”
dfabulich says (to olethros), “Seems like we missed it.”
DavidW says, “I think the discussion sorta petered out. I don’t think we can make any big conclusions.”
JoshuaH says, “>restart”
Zach says, “Conclusion: IF needs random combats and grinding to add replayability”
JoshuaH says, “Sorry. Had to.”
DavidW says (to JoshuaH), “ha ha”
DavidW says (to Zach), “bad kitty”

Some personal anecdotes

Ellison says, “I am sort of shocked at how rarely I replay text games, though, considering I replay favorite games of other types several times as years go on. I revisit Infocom games every so often because of the nostalgia factor, I guess, but so many of the great games of the last years go in this, ‘hmmm, starting to forget much about it. guess I should replay that one day’ category”
DavidW says, “yeah, I think I’ve forgotten enough about Zero Sum Game that I ought to replay it before year’s end.”
Ellison says (to DW), “ha, I was thinking of that one recently, too”
olethros says, “ha ha”
olethros says, “there is no extra skill that you cna gain in IF usually”
Emily says, “I suppose (belatedly) that I feel “x is not replayable” is sometimes used as a stick against IF but that this is not really a valid or interesting complaint”
Emily says, “and is basically a way of trying to put IF down for not being a twitch game”
Emily says, “but it’s nonetheless interesting to get into ways to make it work”
olethros says, “I totally agree about this”
olethros says, “it is just laborious. OTher games have automatic ways of achieving this.”
Emily says, “well, also, I resist the notion that taking more time is a measure of value”
Emily says, “I am not looking to buy entertainment by the pound; if I can have a powerful experience in fifteen minutes, that’s great and also fits my lifestyle much better than something longer”
Zach says, “Certainly the case with free IF”
Zach says, “Though I might feel otherwise if I were paying for the game.”
olethros says (to emily), “ok, sure, but replayability might be inherently interesting”
Emily says (to olethros), “oh, sure, in that case great”

AAA games and replay expectatons

Emily says (to zach), “yeah, but– hm. I feel like a AAA game taking so long is actually an additional COST: $60 PLUS 40-60 hours, yikes, that’s a lot”
inky says, “40-60 hours is a lot but I would be pretty bummed to pay $60 for something that lasted fifteen minutes”
DavidW says, “*coughWitnesscough*”
inky says, “(like, I assume AAA games last 60 hours because they want to charge $60 for them, not the other way around)”
K-Y says, “AAA games don’t last 60 hours”
K-Y says, “it’s more typically 8-hours”
olethros says, “I’ve played some games nearly endlessly, especially car racing simulators”
inky asks, “only 8-12? including all the collectibles and whatever?”
K-Y says, “it’s the typical benchmark for the single-player component from start to end”
K-Y says, “but you would be hard-pressed to squeeze 60 hours out of anything single-player even with DLC added”
inky says, “you can tell by the comments that it’s reliable”
K-Y says, “it looks like this is just the highest play time people have reported”
Ghogg says, “183 hours on my Skyrim, but I suppose that’s an outlier game”
Ghogg says, “Dungeons of Dredmor 114”
K-Y says, “Skyrim is not a 60-hour game, but that pulls the other way”
K-Y says, “Dredmor is definitely not AAA”
K-Y says, “I think the issue here is that most AAA games constitute the whole elaborately packaged audio-visual experience”
K-Y says, “so there is just less content to drag out”
K-Y says, “whereas smaller-budget games can generate far more content because it doesn’t cost nearly as much, or it’s all procedurally generated”
K-Y says, “or else it’s a challenge-based game where you stare at the same content for a very long time”
Ghogg says, “ has a ‘longest game’ category”
Ghogg says, “”
olethros says, “procedurally generated IF sounds like a drag.”
Zach asks, “Hmm, how do games like Super Mario Bros. factor in?”
olethros says, “but I for once would love to experiment this a bit”
Zach says, “Where the game isn’t that long but it takes a lot of practice to win.”
olethros says (to zach), “that’s a game of skill and hence repetitive”
olethros says, “there’s no evident skill to learn in most IF”
Zach says, “Huh, Ultima IV”
olethros says, “at least not something directly connected to mechanics”
olethros asks, “isnt that an RPG?”
Zach says, “I guess that’s the same thing: it doesn’t really take that long if you know what to do.”
Zach says (to olethros), “Yeah, looking at that list”
Ghogg says (to olethros), “yeah, there’s not enough strategy or RPG IF for that”

In Which There Is A Meta-Discussion About TheoryClub

Emily says, “so, hm”
Emily asks, “is there enough interest to sustain doing this?”
Gunther says, “seems to me that, with topics that actually apply to IF, yes”
Gunther says, “”replayability” is, IMO, not one of those topics”
Emily says, “I asked around for what people wanted to talk about and that won by a fair way”
olethros says, “that’s like my asking my class what they want to talk about”
Emily says, “I thought it was more like asking a book club what they wanted to focus on”
Emily says, “if it was a class, yeah, I’d expect to pick stuff and direct it pretty strongly”
Emily says, “I’d also be assuming that the participants didn’t already know as much as I do”
olethros says, “it’s more like a seminar maybe”
olethros says, “so maybe we can make a list of topics that are interesting for pushing IF forward”
olethros says, “replayability is, I think, a potentially interesting topic – though many videogames recently are moving away from that”
DavidW asks, “Do we need to advertise more?”
DavidW says, “I’m not sure how many people contributed to the last two sessions, but it felt not as populated as previous sessions.”
Emily says, “no”
Emily says, “it’s possible there’s just not really a critical mass of interest”
Emily says, “which is fine”
Emily says, “but in that case I will stop”
olethros says, “maybe there just wasn’t a lot to say about replayability”
DavidW says, “well, I’d like it to continue, but I totally forget yesterday was a topic day until someone mentioned it in the lounge.”
Deesix says, “I’m very much interested, but don’t have much to add to conversations (lack of deep expertise).”
Emily says, “I’ve been trying to post reminders here, on Twitter, and on the intfiction forum”
Deesix says, “I post remainders too, on the spanish forum.”
maga says, “for me, it’s mostly been that it has clashed with other commitments almost every time”
Emily says (to maga), “yeah, I know. we moved it so it wouldn’t clash with SF Bay IF, and then it’s turned out that a) those people mostly don’t come anyway but b) it’s at the same time as roller derby”
maga says (to Emily), “this time it was GeekGirlCon *and* IndieCade, apparently”
Emily says, “yeah”
Emily says, “but the thing is that– well, I dunno”
Emily says, “we can do ad hoc scheduling each month, but then we lose the element of predictability”
Emily says, “hm”
Emily says, “maybe if we actually tied tc to discussing particular groups of new work, or something? I feel like the topic-based approach is not working that well”
Emily says, “they require a bunch of prep, I’m not sure people actually look at the lists that much, and then if we run out of steam on a topic stuff fizzles out”
Emily asks, “whereas there might be more in common and more vitality if it were “let’s talk about this comp that just ended” ?”
maga says, “maybe”
maga says, “I certainly think there’s a lot of post-comp thinkiness that could benefit from being drawn together a bit more”
Roger says, “Might be worth trying”
JoshuaH says, “Yesterday was my first time attending, so keep that in mind, but in my experience, I’ve had better discussions starting from a reading than from a general topic.”
olethros asks (of emily), “lists? what lists?”
JoshuaH says, “The reading would be about a topic, but provided a better springboard than “let’s talk about this” with no reference point.”
Emily says (to olethros), “”
Emily says, “for most topics, there’s been a list of examples and/or related articles”
Emily says, “which I’ve posted about here”
olethros says, “ah, prep work.”
Ghogg says, “sorry about not really being there, but my daughter’s dance class is the exact same time”
Emily says, “so as I see it the current issues are: it’s hard to have a conversation without more common ground; however, realistically, people do not want to do homework for this; in addition, some people feel like they can’t speak up, I guess? but I have been actively trying to reduce my amount of input because I really don’t want this to be the Emily Pontificates show”
Ghogg says, “(I have played all the things on that list and I felt like I could’ve probably contributed)”
Ghogg asks, “maybe if we pair it with a clubfloyd thing?”
Ghogg says, “maybe we she make the next topic a ‘deep reading’ of something really specific”
Emily says, “it seems like CF winds up being pretty long in itself”
Ghogg says, “and schedule before theoryclub a playthrough”
Roger says, “I’d kinda rather tune in to the Emily Pontificates show, myself”
vimes says, “i really like the Emily Pontificates show, personally. i’d watch that.”
Ghogg says, “yeah, but having only One Thing to Read might make it better anyway”
Ghogg asks, “maybe we could have ‘rotating panelists’?”
Ghogg says, “like a couple people agree to become experts”
DavidW says, “I can sympathize; I don’t like it when ClubFloyd becomes the Let’s Watch DavidW Play show.”
Ghogg says, “so it’s ok if they pontificate”
Jacqueline says, “fwiw, the only reason I don’t attend is that it always falls when I’ve got other things going on. I’m not sure there’s a better time, but just letting you know that I like the idea.”
vimes says, “==jacq”
Emily says, “well, among other things, I don’t feel like *my opinions* are what the IF community is missing out on”
Jacqueline says, “Like, I’m about to head out the door.”
DavidW says, “Busy Jacqueline.”
Emily says, “have fun!”
Jacqueline says (to Emily), “Thanks! (GeekGirlCon Day 2)”
Emily says, “I think I’m inclined to make next month’s an IF-Comp debrief and put it in late November, just because a) that would give people some prefab common ground and b) it gets around the fact that I’m in Singapore for the first half of November anyway”
Ghogg says, “that would work”
Emily says, “and then maybe (?) after that go to a thing with readings or panelists”
Ghogg says, “in some cases I think it’s hard to get a large topic and just say something intelligent on the spot”
DavidW says, “I think the IF Comp debrief is a good idea for November, yes.”
Ghogg says, “like I still have no idea what to say about Testing”
Emily says, “on the other other hand, historically IF Bookclub didn’t last that long either”
Emily says, “so I dunno”
DavidW says, “I think we’ve lasted longer that IF Bookclub.”
DavidW says, “er than”
maga says, “panelists seem like a useful thing to try”
Jacqueline says, “Yes”
Zach asks (of Jacq), “Have you done your presentation yet?”
olethros says, “esp. since I think all the basic ground has been covered on last meeting’s topic”
DavidW says (to Zach), “There was a photo on twitter.”
Ghogg says, “another idea might be a ‘pre-show thread’ where people can start talking about the topic early so we get ideas”
Ellison says, “yesterday was the first one I caught, but considering it’s such a challenge to IF, it’s hard to suggest easy solutions. in fact, I’m still thinking about the issue.”
olethros says, “to be honest, I think it’d be better if there were some ‘state-of-the-art’ that was progressing so to speak”
Jacqueline says (to Zach), “Yes. It was yesterday. It went quite well. Full house, good discussion, really endearing that there were young girls in the audience and that a couple asked questions.”
Zach says, “Hooray!”
Ghogg says, “woot”
olethros asks, “wait, what presentation?”
Emily asks (of olethros), “so your argument is basically “there’s not enough progress in IF to talk about”?”
Jacqueline says (to olethros), “GeekGirlCon (see twitter photo)”
DavidW says (to Jacqueline), “I felt all warm and fuzzy when I saw that post.”
Zach says, “Wait a second, those look like women, not girls!”
Jacqueline says (to DW), “yay”
Jacqueline says (to Zach), “There were both.”
Ghogg says (to olethros), “there’s been this ‘IF writing club’ challenge thing going on after the meetings, but I only heard about them after they stopped”
Ghogg says, “(I think they stopped? They were kind of hidden)”
Ghogg says, “but it would be interesting to follow with some ‘experimental workshop’ thing were people write speedIF”
olethros says (to emily), “not in some topics”
Zach says, “I suppose that’s OK, though I’d prefer GeekFemalesOfAllAgesCon”
Jacqueline says, “There was this one girl, maybe 14, who was clearly petrified to ask a question in front of that audience, but overcame it and asked anyway. It was a good question. I’d completely failed to mention that Inform and Twine are free of charge.”
Deesix says, “I like the idea of a ‘pre-show thread’. Real-time is sometimes challenging to deep thinking.”
olethros says, “rereading the old threads, seems like what we talked about yesterday was covered even more extensively back in 1993”
Taleslinger asks (of Jacqueline), “Was it filmed?”
Deesix says, “(excuse my english, hope I make sense)”
inky says, “I think a lot of the discussion is pitched at a level where you have to have been thinking about the topic for a couple months or a year to have something noteworthy to say”
Jacqueline says (to Tale), “Hm. No. But the slides and example game are online.”
olethros says (to emily), “on the other hand, if we don’t talk about progress, and try to identify areas where progress can be made, then maybe there won’t be much”
olethros says, “at the very least, inspiration to actual IF writers may be given”
olethros says (to emily), “that makes sense”
olethros asks, “?”
Taleslinger says, “Reading? EWww”
Alex says (to Taleslinger), “Awwwk! Word on the street is that Reading is pronounced Redding (the British place Gunther is, or at least was when this entry was made, probably not even accessed until years after he left, oh well).”
Ghogg says, “anyway, playing even an hour of Kerkerkruip on clubfloyd right before the meeting would’ve helped”
Ghogg says, “we would’ve been able to refer to specific stuff directly to get things started”
Ghogg says, “(unlike regular clubfloyd I don’t think finishing the selection would be necesssary)”
DavidW says, “I’m not sure I understand the proposal about panels.”
Jacqueline asks, “Well, hrm. Should we consider post-comp debrief, having TC after CF, and having CF play a game that presents a topic of conversation for TC?”
olethros says, “yeah, I agree that having some common backgroudn would be great, otherwise we just retread old ground”
Emily says (to DavidW), “I think the idea was have a couple people volunteer to read up extensively and help lead”
Emily says, “on a rotating basis”
DavidW says, “oh.”
Ghogg says, “like if I was panelisting I probably would have some excerpts to throw up for discussion”
Ghogg says, “so when things get slow I’d go ‘how about this’ and throw up something”
Ghogg says, “I think as a discussion we’d have an easier time microanalyzing very specific examples”
Ghogg says, “and only expanding outwards from there”
Ghogg says, “rather than going ‘replayability — what do you think?'”
Ghogg says, “it’s like ‘ok, let’s solve world hunger, go!'”
Ghogg says, “as opposed to ‘let’s talk about optimizing this particular seed planting”
Emily says, “possibly, yeah”
Emily says, “I mean, hm”
Ghogg says, “also,kidstuff”
Jacqueline says, “IRTA Kidscruff.”

Revisiting Achievements and Replayability, The Next Day

Ghogg says, “hey, one idea from yesterday”
Ghogg says, “I think Achievements could be taken quite a bit farther”
Emily says, “really? my impression is that the game world in general is Over achievements”
Ghogg says, “there have been a few ‘alternate ending’ comp games and I was thinking it would be nice if it would actually keep track because I’d care about keeping them all”
Emily asks, “but what would you like to see?”
Marvin says, “In what way? Everything has achievements.”
Emily says, “Zest does keep track of the endings you get, I think, and so does Alabaster
Ghogg says, “usually, where there’s some alternate whatever, I don’t bother”
Ghogg says, “I haven’t tried Zest yet”
Emily says (to Marvin), “in the sense that people now make fun of them”
Ghogg says, “it’s, hey, next after this one”
DavidW says, “Slouching at least numbers or letters the endings.”
Ghogg says, “Black Lily does that too”
K-Y says, “people made fun of achievements 8 years or so ago, really”
Marvin says, “Hmm. Games still use them all the time, and people still try to Achieve them.”
K-Y says, “now they’re just… there”
Ghogg says, “but I did not care about getting the rest of the Black Lily endings”
Emily says, “I suppose it would be possible to do something where the game tracked your endings and then started giving you clues towards the ones you hadn’t gotten yet”
K-Y says, “except for Nintendo games”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “yeah”
Ghogg says, “I mean, if replayability is specifically what you’re after, that certainly seems like the best thing”
Emily says, “in Alabaster it just tries to make the endings sort of hint at some other things that you could do”
Emily says, “I guess my feeling is that if the game is designed to really promote replayability with the aim of experiencing ALL the content (and I got at this briefly last night) then playing through everything qualifies more as PLAYING and not as replaying”
Emily says, “even if it involves re-experiencing some passages”
Emily says, “but I don’t know; maybe that’s an unhelpfully closed view”
Gunther says, “if you’ve tried to see everything in The Cave, it’s so goddamn mind-numbing replaying the same stuf”
K-Y says, “I would say it only becomes replaying once you’ve seen what could be considered a non-failure ending”
maga says, “which is why visual novels have the fast-forward-to-actual-decision-point thing”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “it feels like from your definition that NOBODY is replaying then”
Ghogg says, “I mean, anything”
Gunther asks (of K-Y), “is a Bad Ending a non-failure ending?”
Gunther says (to maga), “some of them do”
Ghogg says, “like, people replay a roguelike because the content can combine in ways that mean they haven’t seen all of it”
Gunther says, “others (999) make you re-do all the puzzles”
Marvin says (to Gunther), “Probably depends on the type of Bad Ending.”
K-Y says (to Gunther), “I feel like that is a failure ending, but, yes, what Marvin said”
Gunther says, “the game-designated Bad Ending”
K-Y says, “Varicella had a bad ending”
Ghogg says, “also, some games (although I’ve never seen this done in IF) have an alternate mode unlocked after a playthrough that isolate the bits that are interesting to replay”
Emily says (to Ghogg), “well, no, I’d contrast this with Kerkerkruip where I feel that you can legitimately replay”
K-Y says, “in fact it was the most bad ending of all”
Gunther says, “you failed to save the princess and instead become a robot-human hybrid that exterminates humanity and later flies through space, forever alone, crying”
Emily says, “because the gameplay itself is significantly different in a non-enumerable way”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “yeah, but if Kerkerkruip had so few items/monsters that it’d literally be the same ones in a different order, the replay value would plummet”
Emily says, “sure”
Marvin says, “I feel, personally, that a Bad Ending that feels like the end of a story (or whatever), rather than a ‘You Suck, Try Harder’ ending, is not a failure.”
K-Y says (to Marvin), “yeah”
K-Y says, “I would define failure as ‘you failed to correctly do something under the rules of the game'”
Emily says, “I suppose I’m partly trying to distinguish between “replay to get more story out of this game” (and you will eventually complete that and run out of story because there’s only so much in there) and “replay to fiddle with the game mechanics more””
K-Y says, “‘that you intended to do'”
Ghogg asks (of Emily), “like the spell system is fun enough you just want to muck around?”
Emily says, “and I feel like most IF is not sufficiently mechanics-oriented for that kind of replaying to be interseting”
Emily says, “no, where there’s actually a possibility of finding new strategies or solutions”
Ghogg says, “again, that seems more like ‘unlock sandbox mode’ sort of thing”
Emily asks, “I guess maybe Act of Murder comes closest to this, but that again was still maybe 5 games’ worth, rather than 50?”
Ghogg says, “like maybe at the end of savoir faire you can get to a secret room that has all sorts of random items just to play with the physics”
Emily says, “(closest aside from Kerkerkruip, that is)”
Emily asks, “doesn’t that seem like it would sort of undermine the actual story, though?”
Gunther says, “hmm, getting to the end enables debug variables”
Ghogg says (to Gunther), “yeah, like that”
Emily says, “(also, so you guys are warned, I am totally going to glue this part to the end of last night’s transcript)”
Emily says, “(unless anyone feels that their privacy would be violated thereby)”
Taleslinger says, “Hi MUm!”
Marvin exclaims, “Oh no, I have accidentally taken part in a transcripted event!”
Emily says, “but, hm”
Emily says, “I’m trying to think about how this would work in practice”
Emily says, “I guess in Counterfeit Monkey I could have let you take certain late-game tools back into the wider world”
Emily says, “but then I would’ve had to do a shitton of further work”
Emily says, “because I relied on the player not having certain things until alte”
Emily says, “late”
Emily says, “and I’m not sure how much that would’ve helped”
Ghogg says, “hmm”
Ghogg says, “the easy/hard mode does pretty good for replayability, there”
Ghogg says, “I guess the difficulty level thing hasn’t been brought up much either”
Emily says, “I think a much smaller percentage of people played in hard mode”
Emily says, “someone suggested a thing with CM hard mode that I did not do because the implications terrified me, which was to record how you solved the puzzle the first time and block that option the next time, whereas I just blocked the solutions that people most commonly did”
Emily says, “(I think we talked about something like this last night)”
Ghogg says, “I think that would only be codable if it’s one of those Scribblenauts type games”
Ghogg asks, “which was that IF where you typed words to create stuff?”
Emily asks, “are you thinking of Gilded?”
Emily says, “(which IIRC did not work very consistently)”
Ghogg says, “yeah”
Ghogg says, “(I realize it wasn’t well-realized, but I could see a ‘stop repeats’ thing being codable)”
Emily says, “yeah, possibly”
Ghogg says, “ok I gotta go, but I do need to say another replayable-adventure I can think of are the Star Trek 25th Anniversary and the one that followed (don’t remember the name)”
Emily says, “I don’t think I tried those at all”
Ghogg says, “they had a bunch of alternate solutions where there was a scoring system about which was the ‘best’ (usually some sort of moral-following Starfleet code)”
Ghogg asks, “I played through the first time and I got only like 45/1on my performance or something like that?”
Emily asks, “hm, so more like Captain Verdeterre’s Plunder, or something, where there’s dynamic scoring?”
Ghogg says, “and apparently there’s a LOT of variance”
Ghogg says, “yeah”
Emily says, “yeah, that can work”
Ghogg says, “but not just ‘grab the amount of cash’ but a whole lot of intertwined incidents”
Emily says, “actually I could see “dynamically scored thing” as a possible comp focus”
Ghogg says, “where if you can be a pacifist with the aliens you get more points, etc”
Ghogg says, “anyhow this:”
Emily says, “cool”
Ghogg says, “the episode structuer keeps it from being too hard to optimize”
Ghogg says, “Judgment Rites is the followup”
Ghogg says, “I thought both were pretty good”
Ghogg says, “anyhow, gotta scoot, take care all”
Emily says, “‘bye”
Emily says, “I do wonder whether fastforwarding in IF would be technically feasible or interesting”
Emily says, “I suppose keywords that unlock after your first playthrough or something”
Emily says, “it seems a bit artificial, though”
vimes says, “(hadean lands)”
Emily says, “true, though that’s more for play than for replay”
Emily says, “would be useful to have it out in the world for more discussion, though”
vimes says, “but that sort of thing could probably be applied to replayable sorts of stuff too”
Emily says, “probably, though I somewhat fear the coding difficulty level”

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