Battlestar: Verisimilitude   Leave a comment

In previous text adventures I’ve played involving a compass, taking the compass “activated the interface” so to speak and let you use north/south/east/west as directions. Battlestar decided otherwise:

You are in the old garage.
This is an old wooden building of the same vintage as the stables. Beneath a sagging roof stand gardening tools and greasy rags. Parked in the center is an underpowered Plymouth Volare’ with a red and white striped golf cart roof.

There is a length of heavy chain here.
There is a compass here.
The keys are in the ignition.
>-: get compass
compass:
Taken.
>-: use compass
Your compass points right.

You still have to go ahead/back/left/right, now you just get to USE COMPASS in every room and try to decipher what the compass directions might be. The room descriptions are unchanged.

The road leads to several large buildings here.
There is a clubhouse left, a large barn and stable ahead, and a garage of similar construct to the barn behind you.

This strikes me as the author sticking with a noble pursuit in versimilitude, without considering the fact that the whole process of navigating with relative directions has been a sort of anti-realism, jarring at every step. (I can’t exactly be upset, though — this was so early in adventure game history it was hard to say what the result of such an experiment would be.)

As a more general point, though: having to communicate with the computer via some sort of interface always adds a level of unrealism. The player isn’t literally “in the story” — in this case they’re reading a constructed set of prose, drawing a map (maybe), and typing a response — which is why an attempt at adding verisimilitude can in practice reduce it, especially if the player “loop” goes haywire.

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Posted February 4, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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