Interactive Fiction: Other Characters

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One possibility which some games implement, is instead of the usual commands such as, ASK x ABOUT y, TELL x ABOUT y, etc., is to have just the TALK TO command, but when used have it open a menu of numbered choices, from which the player can select what to say. This system is used in many graphic adventures, and there is no reason why it cannot be used in text adventure. A few text adventures go so far as to have the numbered choices as the entire means of interaction, though these end up feeling much like a Fighting Fantasy novel.





The beauty of the NPC illusion is that, when well-done, it can hide enormous limitations in the interactivity of the character. Inform and TADS only allow the player to converse after a fashion, by probing the NPC with single-word input ("ask Einstein about relativity"). Even with this limitation, it's patently unrealistic to expect a piece of code to be able to hold forth about every irrelevant topic the player could bring up. At the very least, though, a well-developed NPC should be able to react to basic conversational input about the elements of the present situation, and about his/her background. The default response for unknown input can itself convey character; consider "Fiona treats you to a lengthy and brilliant conversation about , which unfortunately leaves you no closer to getting out of the prison cell" versus "Fiona just grunts and goes back to reading her paper". Customized responses to social actions such as "kiss","hit", and "give" are also essential to the fully individualized NPC.

mood mazes


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