IFComp 2014: Begscape   1 comment

begsim

One could argue that instead of 1975 with Adventure, the history of interactive fiction began in 1971 with The Oregon Trail.

The Apple II version is the most familiar, but the earliest was an all-text simulation.

60 PRINT “THIS PROGRAM SIMULATES A TRIP OVER THE OREGON TRAIL FROM”
65 PRINT “INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI TO OREGON CITY, OREGON IN 1847.”
70 PRINT “YOUR FAMILY OF FIVE WILL COVER THE 2000 MILE OREGON TRAIL”
75 PRINT “IN 5-6 MONTHS — IF YOU MAKE IT ALIVE.”
80 PRINT
85 PRINT “YOU HAD SAVED $900 TO SPEND FOR THE TRIP, AND YOU’VE JUST”
90 PRINT ” PAID $200 FOR A WAGON.”

Even though The Oregon Trail does not have room-exploration, it tells a story in text, and the strategy interaction is duplicated in modern days by some works in Twine (the most notable possibly being Horse Master). Porpentine’s Begscape falls in the same genre but deconstructs it.

Specifically: this is a strategy game with almost no choices. You arrive in a town, where you “Beg”. Sometimes you will get coins, sometimes you will not. At the end of the day you either have enough coins for shelter or not. (No shelter means you gradually get sicker.) Then you get to choose to stay or move to another town (and if you’ve been in a town long enough, you don’t even get a choice there — you have to move on). Eventually — because there’s no way out of the cycle — you die.

The text is highly generative and scans nicely (“Zisnnak is a city of pale bricks and black tile. There are many storms and assassinations.”), but there’s unfortunately very little to this, even as a social commentary.

I still wanted to give things a fair shake and kept playing until I managed a fairly high score.

personalrecord

Some strategy notes:

1.) The health states are healthy -> feel very weak -> dying -> death. Getting shelter for a night moves you up one health level. Missing shelter moves you down.

2.) If a town has shelter for only 4 or 5 coins, it’s worth staying for as long as possible. As far as I can tell having people kick the coins over is random and not connected to location, so places tend not to differ in hostility to beggars.

3.) If health is very low and the shelter price vs. your purse isn’t too atrocious, it’s generally worth staying: it’s possible if health is at “dying” to die in transit. For example, if one has 7 coins and needs 9, with health at dying, you’re more likely to survive if you wait a day and hope you get the extra 2 coins than move on and potentially die in transit or have an unforgiving town.

4.) If health is normal, it’s best to leave a town at 7+ coins for shelter as soon as possible. There’s the occasional road toll but the health risk is low compared to the risk of no shelter.

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Posted October 3, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “IFComp 2014: Begscape

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  1. Pingback: IF Comp 2014: Begscape (Porpentine) | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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