Without question, the most engaging part of this somewhat infuriating game was Floyd. Though I didn’t get to his (SPOILER ALERT) death scene, I think it’s safe to say I would have been quite sad. Most people love puppies. I happen to love robots. Floyd is basically a robot that acts like a talking puppy; hanging on your every word and following you wherever you go. North, South, East, West. Hell, he’ll even go those ordinal directions if you ever figure out how to type them in. So anyway, just imagine a talking puppy who can write his name on walls with crayons. Cute, right? Yeah, that’s Floyd. Floyd’s beauty was in his simplicity. While certainly not a complicated character by any means, he was beautifully written to flesh out his narrow role.
Personally I thought Planetfall was a well-written and engaging game that admirably depicted a complex, interactive environment through text. In reading through the Planetfall Wikipedia page, I learned that most text-based adventure games employ a movable source of light to enable entry into dark rooms. This might be an interesting dynamic to add to my own game when we start making them.
I recently got an Xbox 360, and have been playing my fair share of Halo. In my game I might create an NPC in the mold of Cortana. Not necessarily an AI, but a character who acts more as a guide than a companion like Floyd. This is an important role to fill for the modern gamer, as these text-based adventure games are virtually impossible to solve without a walkthrough guide or an extraordinary amount of patience. A guide character who offers subtle but helpful clues might be essential for a text-based game to be successful today.
As we discussed in class, a text-based game today should have enough storage space to allow for more input words. It was never too challenging to figure out the proper syntax, but it was annoying to deal with messages like “I don’t know the word ‘grab.'” The technology luckily exists today for a more robust language parsing system.
My last few requests are small. Number one: autosave. Just save the game in the background every 10 or 15 moves, and we’ll all be less inclined to smash our computer. Not too much to ask. Beyond that, I wanted to move more than one space at a time in Planetfall. Instead of “North *enter North *enter North *enter North *enter,” just let me type 4N.
All in all I was amazed just how sprawling and modern Planetfall was. Yes it was frustrating and clearly not designed for today’s gamers with minimal attention spans, but it had great personality and a huge world to explore.