Haunt: The Big Empty   2 comments

Thanks to my hardy commentators, I got past the self-referential in-joke trivia puzzle that starts the game, and made it to a big empty map.

Outside the House. This map omits another row of rooms on the west and south sides that are all empty.

Some of this is clearly the side effect of being a mainframe game. But some of it is philosophy.

I should note that while Zork and Acheton were large and full of rooms, there wasn’t a lot of “wasted space”. Even piling on yet another maze room lent something to the gameplay (not necessarily a positive thing, but a thing).

Here the map is of a style with a grid containing so much empty space it might be better (perhaps originally was) on graph paper. You’re at a wall -> a wall -> a wall -> a lawn -> a lawn -> a lawn -> a lawn.

With this style in adventure games one can’t simply skip checking every room, because of course there’s got to be something different hidden about. In this case, the northeast corner contains a grave you can dig. There’s also an empty garden and empty garage that might be used later for something, but it’s hard to know at this point.

We’ve seen a map resembling this before with Warp (another mainframe game) but what I really associate this style to is early Sierra games. Time Zone, for instance, is full of maps like this one:

japanmap

One of the time periods in Japan, via Kim Schuette’s Book of Adventure Games.

This carried on to the King’s Quest games (up to King’s Quest V, at least) where the player might need to swim about an entire ocean just to find one special location.

Really, the logic isn’t bad – you’re outside, you should be able to go all four directions, the map should just be a grid. Still, the actual effect is close to literal lawnmowering and it’s interesting how little this style gets used any more.

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Posted July 26, 2018 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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2 responses to “Haunt: The Big Empty

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  1. That style would be of use with landmarks. I mean, for an update approach to that philosophy.

    • You sort of get that approach with Amnesia (a game that represents the entire city map of New York). It’s … still a little disconcerting, but I think a lot of players weren’t used to it, either.

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