Originally Posted by exo
Nothing was more frustrating to me back on parsar games than knowing how to solve the puzzle, but the game wouldn't take what I was typing.
Something as simple as "slay dragon" had to be typed "kill dragon with sword"... And if I remember correctly, just typing "kill dragon" ended in your death without really explaining why. I expect my character, who is carrying a sword, to use their bloody sword when i tell them to kill something.
Looking back, it makes sense - but as an 11 year old it was ridiculous and frustrating to finally pull up a hint and see I was just typing it wrong.
Parsar's major shortfall was limited vocab and typing the exact actions required by the author.
P&C's major shortfall was always pixel hunting for me. I always wished I had a friggin "look" command in a P&C room to identify the important items. Imagine for a second you typed look in an old parsar game and it listed 100 items, but you had to try interacting with every single one of them to find the 1 you can use - that is a pixel hunt to me, just simplified to clicks instead of typed lines.
In the end I'd rather take the pixel hunts and complex inventory puzzles over having to guess what some guy wants me to type. Besides, you can't hide unicorn bridles inside boats and expect the user to look while standing right on top of it in a p&c game. *grumble grumble kq4 grumble*
I have to agree on the pixel hunting vs vocab hunting.
I was playing the Laura Bow game the other day, and ran into the vocab hunting several times, even though I clearly recall solving the game like 20 years ago. I think in any "newer" text/voice parsing would have to make some assumptions based on what is already in the inventory.
The P&C, even in modern games, lacks clues. For example in the strongbad game, you end up with several inventory items that are not used in solving puzzles (like the metal detector) but if you're not interested in achievement hunting, you might neglect to use it in the last episode when it is used in a puzzle. Likewise in Sam and Max, you might create the cake right off or you might make something else in the kitchen in the second episode. So you might wander around for a while wondering where the other food item is used instead of the cake. The clue of course is in a conversation loop.
So a way to make the P&C more fun but less frustrating is to first reduce the number of combinations things can be used with. So a room with 10 hotspots could have a hotspot activated and list inventory items for which there is a use or joke for, and cross off items already tried. Once all the items have been tried or there is nothing new to learn, the hotspot will just have a red X or something icon, where the character will respond with something logical or witty "I don't think I can use this item... yet" or "Maybe if I had a (clue)" if the character has missed picking up the (clue) item needed.
To put this in the text parser perspective, following "look around" the game would narrate or list all the hotspot objects in the room, and the player could "use X on Y" using any grammatically accurate phrase. So "use pot on stove" , or "use pot" (while near stove, if the pot is in the inventory) or "use stove" (if the player has the pot) have the same result. The other thing, is that if the player is in the right room, they shouldn't need to move up to the stove to use it. So say there is a stove and a sink, and the player wants to "use pot" and is near neither, the game should suggest "With the stove or the sink? Try getting closer" Thus providing two suggestions. If they're not in a room with either, and neither were described when looking around, place the joke there. "use pot", standing in the bedroom, "you'd love to but the stove is in the kitchen" Or something snarkier like "you pretend to cook using your pretend stove, and eat your pretend meal, yumm it was tasty, but you're still hungry."
At any rate, some of the limitations of the old P&C games had to do with memory limits, since everything that happens in a room is loaded into RAM, and unloaded when the room changes.
In the text parser games, the AGI games only had limited defined variables, so there was only so many combinations that could be programmed into the game. In fact some of the game code has things like said("W,X,Y,Z") || said("Z,X,Y,W") || said("Y,Z,X,W") , where it was looking for different combinations of the same words instead of said(("W"||"X")&&"Y"&&"Z") and only looking for a SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) match. I suppose one good way of improving text parsers would be to incorporate auto-complete, restricting the auto-complete to the object names the player has or can use immediately.
But anyway If Telltale wants to keep the look and feel of the old sierra games, it's better to keep what fans are familiar with (be it the text or P&C) but make it have less limitations.