Author Topic: Picking up objects..  (Read 2262 times)

Slasher

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Picking up objects..
« on: 08 Jul 2018, 15:15 »
Hi,

we may have had this before but..

Enter room. See a number of objects.

Should you be able to:

A, Pick up all objects whether you need them or not.
B, Only pick up objects you need at that time.
C: Limit the amount of objects you can pick up per visit to room.


What do you think?




Cassiebsg

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #1 on: 08 Jul 2018, 15:37 »
Personally I like to pick up everything that isn't attached, and figure out later where to use them.
However if the game is designed to pick up items only when needed, then go for it. just make it clear that the reason the character doesn't pick it up, if because he can't see a use for it.

The last one, I wouldn't limit that way, but you can limit what the player can carry. As is he can only have 2 items or 3 or 4, or whatever makes sense in the context of the game. That way the player has to decide what to take, and may be forced to return to pick something else that now become important, but he decided he didn't needed it at the time.

Either way, if you opt for a return to pick up an object, then just make sure the player won't need to slowly walk thru 10 rooms for the task. Might just be what makes a player to rage quit.
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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #2 on: 08 Jul 2018, 15:46 »
RPGs have taught me to grab anything I can and horde it. And then eventually not do anything with it...
But most adventure games have taught me that most items I pick up should have a use.
Perhaps some kind of compromise. Being able to pick up almost anything, but at some point get rid of unneeded items before they clog the inventory up too much.

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #3 on: 08 Jul 2018, 18:09 »
Enter room. See a number of objects.

Should you be able to:
I would go with A usually, or C if you can find a good puzzle to limit the amount of objects.

B is harder to pull off, because for quite a lot of adventure game protagonists it's very much in character to pick up everything that isn't nailed down. It would be weird if in most rooms, the main character has no problem picking up random junk for no (apparent) reason, but in one room he arbitraily says "no" until he has found a reason. I'm not saying that it can't be done, but in several games that use B it comes across as jarring.

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #4 on: 08 Jul 2018, 18:18 »
        Picking up objects whenever you want has the advantage of
        • letting the player play at their own pace
        • not running the risk of a situation where the player knows what to do, but can't do it yet
        • having no confusion as to whether an object is pickuppable or not

        Picking up objects only when needed has the advantage of
        • avoiding situations where the player is just picking up everything to try on everything
        • giving the designer a greater control and awareness of where the player is at any point in the game
        • seems more "sensible"

        Personally, I feel that the advantages provided by only allowing players to pick up items when needed are outweighed by the advantages of allowing them to pick them up whenever they want, so I usually go with the first method. If you go with the second, make sure right from the start that the player is aware of it (maybe in the first room have an obviously pick-uppable item like a gun lying on the desk, and when the player tries picking it up, say "I may need it later, but I don't want to lug it around right now").

        Solutions that avoid needing to make this decision include:
        • the player wouldn't come across objects they can pick up before they need them
        • create an inventory management system so that the player has limited inventory slots, and there are more objects in the world to pick up than are needed
        • create an inventory system where whenever the player looks at an item, it gets stored in their "inventory memory" (which can perhaps double as dialogue topics), and when the player wants to use the inventory item with something, they select it from their inventory memory, and the screen fades out to show the player going back to get the item, and fades back in with the item in hand to use there

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #5 on: 08 Jul 2018, 18:31 »
Here's an aspect that doesn't meet the eye at first glance:

A lot of walkthrough writers like to present the solution as a minimal sequence of steps necessary to reach the finishing screen. So if you let players pick up anything they want, whether they need to at the moment or not, then the resulting walkthroughs will contain just that
  • pick up THINGUMMY,
  • activate BRASS BUTTON,
  • pick up the now appearing YELLOW PILLOW,
etc., without any reasons for any of the steps.

Later on, reporters will “evaluate” the game. They'll do that by stupidly following some random walkthrough they found on the Internet -- because professional article writers are much too time-pressed to think about the riddles on their own.
  • They'll pick up the THINGUMMY and press the BRASS BUTTON and pick up the appearing YELLOW PILLOW just as they are told,
  • they won't see why those steps make sense in context,
  • they'll complain that “some riddles were completely illogical”,
and that exactly's what will show up in the evaluation.

If, OTOH, players may only pick up something when they have a reason to do so, then they will have to LOOK AT things, TALK to NPCs etc. in order to acquire this reason. These steps aren't optional any longer, so any walkthrough must list them one by one. The reporters that blindly follow these walkthroughs will be forced to read or listen to what Ego has to say when examining the THINGUMMY and the BRASS BUTTON: “So the solution is hinted at here and here and here and here? Wow, seen in that light, the riddle is really fair.”
« Last Edit: 08 Jul 2018, 18:32 by fernewelten »

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #6 on: 08 Jul 2018, 18:44 »
If, OTOH, players may only pick up something when they have a reason to do so, then they will have to LOOK AT things, TALK to NPCs etc. in order to acquire this reason. These steps aren't optional any longer, so any walkthrough must list them one by one. The reporters that blindly follow these walkthroughs will be forced to read or listen to what Ego has to say when examining the THINGUMMY and the BRASS BUTTON: “So the solution is hinted at here and here and here and here? Wow, seen in that light, the riddle is really fair.”

Oh, I'm sure reporters can also complain about that :grin:

Designing your game based on how a conceptual reporter might hypothetically react doesn't strike me as very productive. If a puzzle would look ridiculous in a walkthrough, then possibly it's not such a great puzzle?

Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #7 on: 08 Jul 2018, 19:08 »
C: Limit the amount of objects you can pick up per visit to room.

If you do just that, players will briefly leave the room, come back immediately and continue picking up. So I think we're talking of some kind of knapsack limit to make that work.

The text adventures of olden times frequently featured a knapsack with limited capacity, IIRC. Those games had the advantage, however, of not having to show the DROP action. Players could simply empty their inventory at any place, and the subsequent room description would simply say: “You are in the throne room. … On the floor, there now is: a half-eaten apple, a shovel, …”

In a P&C adventure, OTOH, life isn't that easy. For once, if room X features the objects A, B, and C, then the objects will only be known in room X. Thus, when Ego walks to room Y, it's hard to show the object A lying on the floor. At the very least, the dropping functionality is a big hassle in P&C games.

This is relevant when limiting the number or weight of pickups per room. What is supposed to happen when the player chooses the wrong things to pick up whilst still staying within their limit? Perhaps even leaving the room with the wrong items? There must be some way to let them change their mind and drop what they have wrongly picked up. Tell them “You picked up that ballpoint pen back then back there in the throne room. Trudge back to the throne room if you want to get rid of it now”? I don't think that would make many players happy.

IMHO, that is the main reason that knapsack limits have fallen out of fashion. It's easier to code “I don't see any reason to lug that around right now. Maybe later.”, or variants thereof, and prevent players to pick up the “wrong” items upfront.

« Last Edit: 08 Jul 2018, 19:13 by fernewelten »

Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #8 on: 08 Jul 2018, 19:17 »
There could also be an object that requires doing something illegal or risky that the character wouldn't be motivated to take unless they had a good reason to.

Red herring inventory items like in Thimbleweed Park, are just that, things to increase the difficulty of the game. Although you have to make sure its not an item that should make sense to be used somewhere.

I am putting in a couple of humourous inventory items for my game, like when George Stobbart no longer needs the dog biscuits but you can keep offering them to people. I really like that!

Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #9 on: 09 Jul 2018, 01:37 »
A: Pick up anything.  I always liked to pick up random objects, just in case they might be useful.  If they weren't, I'd consider it a souvenir.  In Quest For Glory games, I'd be mildly upset if my imported character didn't have all of the useless items I still had at the end of the previous game.

Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #10 on: 09 Jul 2018, 13:46 »
I actually changed my mind about this after having started to design my game, allowing the player to pick up anything. I do have one item that the sidekick won't pick up until they are convinced that they need it, but this is in tune with the sidekick's personality, sort of a show don't tell thing. Ideally, if you do limit the player's ability to pick up stuff, try and work it into the story by reinforcing a character trait, for example (PC can be  germphobic, off the top of my head :P).

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #11 on: 09 Jul 2018, 20:23 »
I moved the tech discussion to Beginners' Technical Questions board:
http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56241.0

Slasher

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #12 on: 19 Jul 2018, 17:20 »
Interesting thoughts guys (laugh)

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #13 on: 19 Jul 2018, 19:12 »
Hi,

we may have had this before but..

Enter room. See a number of objects.

Should you be able to:

A, Pick up all objects whether you need them or not.
B, Only pick up objects you need at that time.
C: Limit the amount of objects you can pick up per visit to room.


What do you think?

The issue is current; in 90s adventure games the game almost never would highlight the object (eg show its name, or have the cursor even change when over it), so the object was just another part of the room - unless you could actually use it. At times some object was not usable until later in the game, but you wouldn't actually know that for sure; cause it was the same as any other stuff in the location you could just read a description of.
Imo it is bad that currently we have to highlight objects (surely out of fear that point n click is dead, and thus it will annoy the player to have to hunt for what is in the room).

Anyway, to answer your particular question: imo the object should either be usable at some time, OR you should give enough/interesting/ontopic description for some which won't be, so as to not annoy the player if they discover they can't do anything with those.
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Slasher

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #14 on: 19 Jul 2018, 19:29 »
You could say like; 'I need one of these at home'  sort of thing.. That way you may or may not actually use it in-game..

Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #15 on: 19 Jul 2018, 23:30 »
For me, highlighting objects on hovering is a good thing because it decreases pixel-hunting, although I sometimes wonder why we’ve decided pixel-hunting has to be such a bad thing all the time. Finding useful items is part of the fun. Working out which things in a room are worth clicking on* is even more fun.

I’m less a fan of games where you press a button and it highlights all the possible objects in the room. That’s basically an in-game walkthrough. You might as well just give the player all the items at the start of the game to save time.

*This is also why I prefer adventure games with lots of clickable things, lots of descriptions, lots of interactions. Because if you only allow me to interact with the core elements of the room then you’re holding my hand too much. I need the illusion that I’ve got a bunch of stuff and I’m working out how to proceed for myself. I don’t want the game overtly dictating what happens next.

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #16 on: 20 Jul 2018, 11:07 »
I agree that exploring a room is (or should be) a vital part of adventure games and highlighting all possible objects in a room defeats that purpose. I'm also very annoyed if games have rooms full of interesting stuff but only a few hotspots you can look at or interact with. Sometimes it's ridiculous and frustrating how some objects strike out and catch your eyes just for you to realize that you can't even look at them! I've had that a lot in games recently.

As for the pixel-hunting: The point is not that you have to find useful items yourself or work out which of them are useful. The problem with pixel-hunts is that sometimes you have to either systematically scan the whole screen for hotspots or be lucky to randomly find a certain object somewhere. Pixel-hunting results from something not being clearly visible, and that's why it's a bad thing ;)

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #17 on: 20 Jul 2018, 11:23 »
My view is that nothing that is easy or boring in real life should be a puzzle in an adventure game. Not walking off the edges of cliffs is easy, so it shouldn't be something the players have to avoid. Finding your keys before you leave the house is boring, so you shouldn't make a player do it (Unforeseen Incidents, what I worked on, does do that, of course!). I don't see why players shouldn't be able to pick up random, useless objects. But if they can pick them up, they should also be able to drop them - like in an RPG. This could massively complicate puzzle design, without necessarily adding much. And even RPGs cheat by giving you Quest Items, which can't be dropped.

In an ideal world, the player wouldn't pick up an item unless it was either generally or specifically useful. But that's not the way we play. The worst crime in adventure games is having a hotspot which doesn't become active until the object is deemed useful by the game. So the player has forgotten all about it by the time they need it.

So the solution must be mostly "A, Pick up all objects whether you need them or not." But I'm aware of a handful of tricks for giving the player the right item at the wrong time:

1) The item seems generally useful.
e.g. Why wouldn't you pick up today's newspaper?

2) One item contains another.
e.g. The item the player wants is wrapped in foil. They unwrap the foil, and it stays in the inventory for when they need foil later.

3) Prevent the player from taking the item, but make it obviously desirable so they remember it later.
Not very satisfying but sometimes necessary.

4) Have the PC explain their reasoning and/or make a joke.
e.g. In Unforeseen Incidents one click on a dumpster reveals your elderly neighbour's pantyhose, which you probably don't need yet. If you click again, Harper says with disgust, "I'm not going to take the pantyhose... am I?" Then he takes the pantyhose. Not a hugely elegant solution, but since Harper is a dumpster-diving hoarder it's not out of character.

5) Another character gives the item.
Helpful, because the other character can be aware of things the player and PC aren't.
« Last Edit: 20 Jul 2018, 11:26 by Ali »

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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #18 on: 20 Jul 2018, 11:35 »
I am not a fan of carrying a large number of items around. No one would do so IRL (let alone random stuff). Moreover i dislike how in many games the player just picks up tools from random locations, when the same thing should be available in their house. I mean... would you take a pair of scissors or a plastic cup if you had those in your apartment? Why? :=

Ok, an adventure game isn't a book you read, but imo it is better to keep some of the same logic re item picking :)
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Re: Picking up objects..
« Reply #19 on: 20 Jul 2018, 13:03 »
in 90s adventure games the game almost never would highlight the object (eg show its name, or have the cursor even change when over it), so the object was just another part of the room - unless you could actually use it.

"Almost never" seems like a pretty big overstatement. Sierra games didn't, but all LucasArts games did (at least from Monkey Island on), and so did games like Beneath a Steel Sky, Discworld, Broken Sword, Under a Killing Moon and the other Tex Murphy games, Flight of the Amazon Queen, the Myst series, The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes, The Riddle of Master Lu, Simon the Sorcerer, Prisoner of Ice, Toonstruck, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Zork Grand Inquisitor, The Feeble Files, etc., etc., etc. In fact, of all the games I checked, the only ones that didn't were The Neverhood and the Kyrandia series.