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mlooney

Traveller based games.

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With any luck at all, by the end of next week, I should have the very rough draft of "Edge of Imperial Space" aka Project X and [redacted] ready for play testing.  It's a science fiction/urban fantasy table top role playing game that can be best described as "Buffy and the Scooby gang (either hers or the real one) are on the Serenity, with just a touch of HP Lovecraft"

It's a weird mixture of Mongoose Traveller 1st Edition and D&D 5th edition as far as rules go, however it's not directly compatible with either.  Send me a private message if you would like to see this.

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The character creation cycle of Mongoose Traveller, both 1st and 2nd Ed, doesn't really do well with programmatic creation of PC/NPC. However MgT 2e has "The Traveller Companion" which has a great way of generating NPC, that being Background (which covers up to age 22) plus career path, which covers 3d6 more years. Add in the customization system and I have a quick and dirty way of generation of NPC for the Traveller version of the sector generator. Just need to add in some logic that prevents things like Barbarian careers with a high tech background.

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2 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

Nothing beats character creation in original Traveller, where you can die before you even get to play.

I think the programmers who made the classic Minesweeper game had experience with that

That is why one of the features of the game is that the mine layout isn't fully set until you pick your first square so that you don't blow yourself up on your first move

I once wasted a weekend trying to see how fast I could explode in that game and got frustrated that I couldn't start the game with a bang

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9 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

Nothing beats character creation in original Traveller, where you can die before you even get to play.

You know the dice hate you when you can't even field a character.

There are those that say that playing Traveller starts when you start to create a character.

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On 10/19/2021 at 0:12 PM, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

I think the programmers who made the classic Minesweeper game had experience with that

That is why one of the features of the game is that the mine layout isn't fully set until you pick your first square so that you don't blow yourself up on your first move

I once wasted a weekend trying to see how fast I could explode in that game and got frustrated that I couldn't start the game with a bang

I don't recall if you can blow up on the first pick. It would be easy to either generate two fields with zero overlapping mines, then use one that gave you a safe first pick, or to defer generating the field until after the first pick, so it is possible that it never put a mine under your first click. My guess is that it was random, and you could blow up.

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On 10/24/2021 at 8:58 AM, mlooney said:

The initial alpha version that inverted that rule got boring quickly ...

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2 hours ago, Darth Fluffy said:

The initial alpha version that inverted that rule got boring quickly ...

A version that always bombed you on first click?  Yeah, I can see that being a boring thing.

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On 10/25/2021 at 7:26 PM, mlooney said:

A version that always bombed you on first click?  Yeah, I can see that being a boring thing.

It was a blast, but not in a good way ...

 

Back in the day, I played through the entire Colossal Cave text adventure with my now ex, an extended version with a last exit room. We new exactly what to do with the sticks we found, but could not figure out the verb to use.

 

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2 minutes ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

So don't use any verb and claim that the statement consists of a subject and an implied predicate

Text adventure; it wants a specific one or two word response.

My favorite was the Scott Adams Pirate Adventure (not the Dilbert artist, a different Scott Adams). You find a mongoose early in the game, and tote it along to almost the end ...

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3 minutes ago, Darth Fluffy said:

Text adventure; it wants a specific one or two word response.

My favorite was the Scott Adams Pirate Adventure (not the Dilbert artist, a different Scott Adams). You find a mongoose early in the game, and tote it along to almost the end ...

I understand that the code for the Infocom games is available and that they can be run on "modern" computers.  Might look into them some time.

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1 minute ago, mlooney said:

I understand that the code for the Infocom games is available and that they can be run on "modern" computers.  Might look into them some time.

There is an interactive fiction community that keeps the genre alive(-ish). It doesn't hold my interest enough to pursue it, but yes, I think most of the old content is accessible. I believe the Infocom parser has been expanded upon.

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7 minutes ago, Darth Fluffy said:

Text adventure; it wants a specific one or two word response.

This just means that the game's AI or Operator does not have sufficient imagination to keep up with the players

Based on what my players did to me when they realized that as the GM I could not keep up with them there is only one course of action

Open every game supplement & source book you have and throw random spells, weapons, NPCs, and monsters at the players until it somehow makes sense

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2 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

Open every game supplement & source book you have and throw random spells, weapons, NPCs, and monsters at the players until it somehow makes sense

My current game, "The Isle of Dread" updated for 5e uses random encounter tables a lot.

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On 10/28/2021 at 9:07 AM, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

This just means that the game's AI or Operator does not have sufficient imagination to keep up with the players

Colossal Cave was the first of breed, the Ur text adventure. I think I read it was written in FORTRAN, if you can imagine. I don;t know what machine it was originally written for, but was pre-personals.

Scott Adams used one word commands and two word verb noun actions. He was early in the creative cycle, late 70s, early 80s, compiled for multi-platform, but included TRS-80, which sold with as little as 4K memory. I believe his games would run on those, not sure. 16K was a normal memory load for other machines, and 32K was 'pretty full'.

Infocom was popular specifically because they had an advanced parser that could handle modifiers, no two word limitation. They also had good writing.

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On 10/31/2021 at 8:23 PM, mlooney said:

It was written in Fortran for PDP-10.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Cave_Adventure

 

That is probably where I read it was in FORTRAN. FORTRAN was the first comp language I used (I wouldn't go so far as to say learned) and is my least liked that I've used, and I've used COBOL (briefly). Of all the comp languages I've dicked around with, FORTRAN seems the least suited for this task, weak string handling. Then again, I used FORTRAN IV in 1972, I'm sure it got better later. 

BASIC is eminently suited to this kind of task, and I believe that is the language Scott Adams used for his games. Especially after Bill Gates and friends took Dartmouth BASIC and ported it to eight bit and enhanced it. String handling is it's long suit.

I don't think I've ever even seen a PDP-10. It's shrunk down successor, the PDP-11 was ubiquitous in the late 70s/early 80s in professional circles. The shame is that with more savvy marketing on DECs part, we could have had PDP-11 based infrastructure rather than 80x86 based architectures, and we'd be years ahead. Nice clean linear design vs shoddy duct tape patching to release new hardware. They were afraid that they would kill the market for their lucrative minicomputers, but that market died anyway, without their input, and they failed to snag a significant piece of the vastly larger but cheaper new breed of scaled down workstation (then shortly after went T.U. and got bought out).

Apple pretty much followed in their footsteps, with better engineering, conservative, proprietary designs, cloistering a small piece of the market, and starving themselves into insignificance. I really like their stuff; I've yet to own one, it never seems to be the better option. Friends who have bought into apple technology rave about how great it is, then bitch about how they have trouble running the Windows apps the want.

 

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2 hours ago, mlooney said:

I think Scott Adams used "Z-machine" for it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-machine

Scott was slightly before and independent of Infocom.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Scott_Adams_Adventure_video_games

" The parser only scans the first three letters of each command, so SCREAM BEAR, SCRATCH BEAR, or SCREW BEAR are treated identically."

I know the puzzle this example refers to. You might indeed try 'SCREW BEAR' in utter frustration.

I've played three of his, but only finished two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infocom

I've played three of theirs that I recall, Zork, but they broke it into three parts for small computers, and I think I played through one and started the next, Wishbringer, which is considered to be one of the easier ones, it has some very clever scenes, and HHGttG, which was painful to complete, we needed hints. I did get the babble fish on my own. We were stuck on no tea for a while.

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Looks like it was coded in assembly
 

Quote

His first program, ADVENTURELAND, is a slightly scaled-down, machine-language version of the 'original' ADVENTURE program.

But with the source being printed in a magazine it's still likely to be in Basic or use a basic loader.
 

Quote

The source code for Adventureland was published in SoftSide magazine in 1980 and the database format was subsequently used in other interpreters such as Brian Howarth's Mysterious Adventures series.

 

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6 hours ago, mlooney said:

Looks like it was coded in assembly

It might well have been. Assembly language was very popular at the time because it could fit code into a tight package. It's was not terribly difficult to learn, either, a bit pickier than a more conventional higher level language, but once you got used to it, no problem.

These are not entirely passe, they are now embedded in larger games as NPC interactions, or signs you read.

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