Author Topic: Verb Coin vs two buttons  (Read 8557 times)

Verb Coin vs two buttons
« on: 09 Nov 2016, 23:13 »
Hi everyone,

I know it is a common question, but i started to write all the basic routines (cursor changes and sprites, hotspot manageing, custom save/load, and so on) for a game based on a two buttons interface, but now, when i have  the main part of the work done, the main artist suggests me to use a verb coin interface instead. 'The two buttons is so easy and not inmersive, a guided trip without the freedom to experiment', he said.

The game is a classic adventure about story-based quest with a great central puzzle that encompasses it completely. A mixture between Broken Sword and Gabriel Knight 3.

I always thought it is necessary to eliminate superfluous verbs but i could addapt the script to a verb coin with 5 or 6 verbs.

What interface do you feel could be better for than kind of game?

I am open to any suggestion that help me to decide.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: 10 Nov 2016, 14:43 by Snarky »

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #1 on: 09 Nov 2016, 23:16 »
Don't use verb coins. They get in the way of gameplay.

Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #2 on: 09 Nov 2016, 23:22 »
I agree with Radiant.  Also disagree with your artist - it's all about how you design the game.  Verb coins are immensely frustrating to use.

Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #3 on: 09 Nov 2016, 23:47 »
That was discussed before, but in a nutshell I agree with opinion that it all depends on how often are you going to have sensible multiple actions for the same object.

This is same problem as with multi-verb interface (either classic Sierra or classic 9-verb Lucas Arts style): there are lots of available verbs, but in usual case only 2 are usable per object ("Look" and something else).

I do not have big experience designing games, but if I were in doubts I would go with "extended 2 buttons" mechanics: use 2-button interface as a base, and when you really need more verbs for some case, then display several icons upon left click to let player choose alternate action, or use another way to present these extra verbs.
« Last Edit: 09 Nov 2016, 23:53 by Crimson Wizard »

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #4 on: 10 Nov 2016, 00:08 »
That was discussed before, but in a nutshell I agree with opinion that it all depends on how often are you going to have sensible multiple actions for the same object.
Actually, there's two distinct questions here.

Using more than two verbs is a matter of story design, and this depends on what kind of story you're writing.

Using a verb coin is a matter of interface design, and verb coins are a frustrating interface (and that's because they're not designed with the user in mind).

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #5 on: 10 Nov 2016, 00:28 »
Using more than two verbs is a matter of story design, and this depends on what kind of story you're writing.

I don't agree at all. At Sierra, they didn't write stories that could only be told with a parser or with point-and-click, and they frequently published the same title with both interfaces.

Using a verb coin is a matter of interface design, and verb coins are a frustrating interface (and that's because they're not designed with the user in mind).

What did you mean by the part I've highlighted? Can you elaborate?

I do not have big experience designing games, but if I were in doubts I would go with "extended 2 buttons" mechanics: use 2-button interface as a base, and when you really need more verbs for some case, then display several icons upon left click to let player choose alternate action, or use another way to present these extra verbs.

I like this approach and this is what I'm using for my current project. It has the up-shot that, if properly designed, it can also just flat-out be a verb coin interface. In fact, in my game, I have a "one button mode" that just leaves "Look at" in the list of verbs available for objects and disables the normal right-click action.

Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #6 on: 10 Nov 2016, 05:25 »
Thanks everybody,

I will continue with my two buttons UI with the posibility to extend it if necessary, as Crimson Wizard said,

All the adventure plot is designed for a two buttons UI then, why change it for one that most players do not like?

Thanks a lot.

Snarky

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #7 on: 10 Nov 2016, 06:01 »
Using a verb coin is a matter of interface design, and verb coins are a frustrating interface (and that's because they're not designed with the user in mind).

What did you mean by the part I've highlighted? Can you elaborate?

At least some versions of the verb coin are objectively terrible, notably those where you can't just click, but have to hold down a button to bring up the coin. This is very user-unfriendly because someone who doesn't already know how to use it won't be able to figure it out using just the normal mouse operations, and because having to hold the button down puts more strain on your wrists. Some people with certain disabilities won't be able to control a game with such a UI, either. I'm also not a fan of verb coins that cover up the object you're supposed to be interacting with.

I do not have big experience designing games, but if I were in doubts I would go with "extended 2 buttons" mechanics: use 2-button interface as a base, and when you really need more verbs for some case, then display several icons upon left click to let player choose alternate action, or use another way to present these extra verbs.

Oftentimes, an inventory item can act as a special verb. For special interactions, it can also be quite satisfying to use a direct manipulation interface (e.g. where in order to cut a rope you have to "saw" at it with the mouse – an example from Resonance, which has a number of these), though that might also be a problem for people with physical disabilities to play.

Radiant

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #8 on: 10 Nov 2016, 07:21 »
they frequently published the same title with both interfaces.
No they didn't. Wherever did you get that idea?

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #9 on: 10 Nov 2016, 08:22 »
If you consider porting the game to mobile devices, you can't have a two button UI, though...

Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #10 on: 10 Nov 2016, 08:43 »
If you consider porting the game to mobile devices, you can't have a two button UI, though...

AFAIK there are two realistic ways to emulate a 2-click interface on handheld devices - click / click and hold, or click / double click.  (I have no idea how well they actually work.)  For a game whose team I'm on we looked at a few different ideas and I have to admit that we've opted for a sort of hybrid one-click system for portability though.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #11 on: 10 Nov 2016, 08:52 »
they frequently published the same title with both interfaces.
No they didn't. Wherever did you get that idea?

Police Quest 1, Leisure Suit Larry 1, Space Quest 1 and Quest for Glory 1.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #12 on: 10 Nov 2016, 09:19 »
Police Quest 1, Leisure Suit Larry 1, Space Quest 1 and Quest for Glory 1.
Oh, you meant the remakes. That's quite different from publishing a game with two interfaces.

The thing is, Sierra didn't arbitrarily switch to an interface they found somewhere. Sierra designed that interface, to match with the kind of games they were writing. That is why it works for them; it wouldn't have worked for the average Infocom parser game, for example.

But if you're not in a position to popularize a new kind of interface (and let's face it, most of us don't have that amount of market penetration), then it doesn't make sense to publish a game with two interfaces. It will either lead to one of them feeling "tacked on" and being ignored by players, or to both of them feeling awkward.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #13 on: 10 Nov 2016, 11:12 »
Police Quest 1, Leisure Suit Larry 1, Space Quest 1 and Quest for Glory 1.
Oh, you meant the remakes. That's quite different from publishing a game with two interfaces.

It is quite different, but I never meant they published one game where you could switch between interfaces, if that's what you're getting at.

Sierra designed that interface, to match with the kind of games they were writing.

In the sense that they designed an interface that would work with adventure games, yes.

That is why it works for them; it wouldn't have worked for the average Infocom parser game, for example.

Could you have the nuances of interaction that a parser allowed? Maybe not.
Could you tell one of Infocom's stories? I think so, certainly.
There was an AGS adaptation of H2G2 published a while ago. To me, verb count doesn't factor into it.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #14 on: 10 Nov 2016, 11:44 »
In the sense that they designed an interface that would work with adventure games, yes.
That's circular reasoning.

Quote
There was an AGS adaptation of H2G2 published a while ago.
Right. It has poor to mediocre ratings, whereas the Infocom original is a widely-praised bestseller with two anniversary editions. If anything that underlines my point. To you personally, it doesn't factor; to the audience at large, it clearly does.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #15 on: 10 Nov 2016, 11:56 »
In the sense that they designed an interface that would work with adventure games, yes.
That's circular reasoning.


I was agreeing with you in part. So if you think so, fine. And regarding H2G2 or Infocom adaptations, "worked" can mean a variety of things. It won't necessarily result in a surefire hit, but it is possible.

Radiant, you sound very confrontational.

I initially quoted your post because I thought you might have some verb coin research you could point to. I am always open to new ideas and I hadn't heard someone describe a verb coin that way before. My qualifications tell me that they ARE designed with the user in mind. Snarky answered as I would have -- that certain design choices can make them bad. I hadn't heard people describe verb coins in general being bad. I have heard people comparing radial menus favourably to lists, but nothing insurmountable against them.

You seem to jump from point to point, never answering my question. So yes, I "give up". I wasn't here to have a multi-post argument with you.

Feel free to rebut this. I won't continue. I don't think it's worth the two of us discussing this further.
« Last Edit: 10 Nov 2016, 12:31 by Gurok »

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Re: Verb Coín vs two buttons
« Reply #16 on: 10 Nov 2016, 12:29 »
Here my two cents on the subject.
Two buttons are much easier to code for, and streamlines the game much more thus adding focus in my opinion.
But you can do so much more with a Verb Coin.

Let me give you an example. On Day of the Tentacle, there's a puzzle where you have to push Nurse Edna down the stairs. How would you do that with a two button system? Left click would talk to her, and right click would look at her. But with a verb coin with a mouth, hand, and eyeball, you could easily have the player either talk to her, look at her, OR push her. In short, Day of the Tentacle could never be converted to a two button system.

Personally, for this reason I prefer Verb Coins. You're much more open to making more engaging and unique puzzles.
But like I said before, Verb Coins are a nightmare to program. And I feel as though the age old argument about a two button system making the game too easy, is stupid. The Broken Sword games were far from being easy.
And besides, each inventory item you have is basically a potential verb action.
For these reasons I would choose the two button system over a Verb Coin, despite preferring the Verb Coin.

If you were to go with a Verb Coin though, I'd recommend looking at Zak McKracken: Between Time and Space, which had a context sensitive verb coin, where only the actions you can use would be highlighted.

Radiant

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #17 on: 10 Nov 2016, 12:39 »
Well, what did you mean by "worked" exactly? It was certainly possible. I didn't say it was the path to a surefire hit.
But that's precisely the catch. Yes, a mismatched interface can "work" with any game. The point is that a fitting interface works better.

There are so many games available online that players can and will discard a game almost instantly it if they find the interface awkward. It's certainly possible to make a game like that, but using a fitting interface will get you a much bigger audience.

Let me give you an example. On Day of the Tentacle, there's a puzzle where you have to push Nurse Edna down the stairs. How would you do that with a two button system?
What you're actually saying here is that you prefer a game with more than two verbs. Not that you prefer a game with a verb coin. That's an important distinction.

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #18 on: 10 Nov 2016, 12:44 »
Using more than two verbs is a matter of story design, and this depends on what kind of story you're writing.

I have to agree with Gurok that this is not true. It is not a matter of story design. It does not matter if the story is about pirates, dragons or laser swords, funny or serious or scary. What matters indeed, is the game and puzzle design. Want it casual, more story driven? Use less verbs. Want it more difficult or interactive? Use more verbs or better yet, a text parser.

Ideally, game/puzzle/interface design should go hand in hand. You think about the possible puzzles and gameplay then decide on an interface. And with the interface in mind, you can come up with more puzzles taking advantage of the interface.
« Last Edit: 10 Nov 2016, 12:50 by cat »

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Re: Verb Coín vs two butyons
« Reply #19 on: 10 Nov 2016, 12:49 »
It does not matter if the story is about pirates, dragons or laser swords, funny or serious or scary.
Indeed, the design of the story is unrelated to the subject of the story.

Quote
Want it casual, more story driven? Use less verbs. Want it more difficult or interactive? Use more verbs
That is precisely what I mean by story design.