Parallel Play Session # 1

Partner: Brandon Zhou – https://zhou108gaming.wordpress.com/

Brandon chose Normal Mode over No-Sweat mode, and prefers to use Mouse and Keyboard control configurations instead of a controller.  He rushes straight through the tutorial beginning – his goal seems to be to get the main game quickly without delay.  He likes to dodge roll constantly for traversal, as it seems to be quicker than walking around normally.  He only stops once in a while to read the flavor text of collectible items if he is interested.  Seemingly, Brandon has created a rule within his own game space to destroy any and all destructible crates, barrels, or boxes if he encounters them.  Prefers to use the Fang Reaper ranged weapon for offense, and using the shield for defense – using the hammer only when enemies surround him or he is out of ammo.  He uses the Breaker Bow’s increased allowance of precise controlled aiming to his advantage to dispatch of turrets.  When choosing which passive perks to equip in the Distillery, he chooses the Fetching Fizz drink for easier pick up of dropped items.  He chooses to skip using the Arsenal and instead keeps his current equipment load out of the Hammer and the Bow.  Through traversing the level, he has fallen off them map accidentally once or twice, due to rushing through with dodge rolling.  During combat for the “boss” of the tutorial level, he still adheres to his previous tactics and rules for combat by keeping to a distance and using ranged attacks over up-close melee strikes.  In the final escape from the tutorial level, Brandon decides not to rush through the enemies and turrets and instead slowly eliminate them one by one – as a result he does not seem to like leaving untouched elements in his game.  When given the option of what structure to build first for the Bastion hub level, he chooses the Arsenal and acquires the Mirror Shield.

Get Lamp: Summary

The Google Tech Talk by Jason Scott, a self-proclaimed computer historian, entails a screening of his movie “Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary”.  As the name suggests, the film chronicles the history of text-based adventure games and their advent on the computer medium.  However, this film utilizes a unique narrative structure in its “Interactive Edition” in which the audience themselves can decide what path the movie will explore – which in turns provides unique interviews to be played based on the viewer’s choice.  The film focuses on the exploration of the allure of a Text Adventure game, the inspirations behind them, as well as how they have shaped the Interactive Fiction genre.

This documentary extensively delves into the origins of Text Adventure games: mainly, the exploration and attempted mapping of a three dimensional cave called Bedquilt Cavern.  The cave, which is surprisingly deeper and more spacious inside it’s depths than it is on the outside, became the design philosophy and inspiration that became the game “Adventure” by Will Crowther.  This simple seeming adventure game enraptured an entire generation of people by being the first “interactive” form of literature; as well as honing in on the obsessive nature of people that wanted to understand and “solve” the game to it’s entirety.

Eventually there came a game called “Zork” by Infocom, which revolutionized the foundations of interactive fiction that “Adventure” had built.    The game expanded past the boundaries of a “text adventure” by offering vivid detail of settings and offering deep and complex puzzles that challenged the creativity and intellect of the players.  Even for blind players, the interactive fiction genre games were a joy to play, because even though they lacked the ability to “see” the text themselves without a voice scripter – it allowed for them to “perform” and “pretend” to see, for them to experience and learn how to navigate through new and unfamiliar environments.

With the popularity of text adventure games at the time, it posed an interesting question to both the developers of the game and the players in terms of “interactivity”.  This frames the problem of the interactive paradox into a larger lens, as the players wish to acquire more freedom and control of their path in the story, while an author or creator attempts to restrict the player in a boxed in playground of a on-rails narrative.  The conclusion that most developers of interactive fiction have come to is that allowing a player too much freedom is chaotic – and offers them the power of control in ways that does not contribute to a story telling narrative; and so, their solution to such an issue was to attempt to come up with as many assumptions as they could on what actions a player could and would want to input, and go with the best that the limitations of their medium offered them.

Text adventure games offered a unique medium for not only literature-minded readers to become immersed in, but also a brand new genre for the community of gaming as a whole.