Difference between revisions of "Abandonitis"

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The mystery plague that killed 99% of all the usual inhabitants of the world in which your story is set. Since NPCs are so hard to implement properly, the usual IF shortcut is to somehow make the world mostly deserted. Sometimes it's a literal plague. Abandonitis is hard to avoid completely, but try to make your world seem just a little lived in, even if there's nobody home ''right now''. Finding an absent character's diary is a stock feature of Abandonitis.
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''This is a newly invented term and could be subject to change''
  
==Classic Examples==
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''Abandonitis'' refers to a design error which causes the world of an IF game to seem mysteriously abandoned due to lack of [[NPC]] implementation. It should be distinguished from games which are intentionally set in abandoned environments (see [[ghost town]]), although in practise the distinction may not be hard and fast.
  
* [[Babel]]
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Even if there are NPCs about, the effect of abandonitis can still be felt if they are underimplemented and unresponsive.
* [[Planetfall]]
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* [[Myst]]
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==Telltale Features==
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==Characteristics==
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* The game is set in areas where one would normally expect to see lots of (or at least ''some'') people, but none are implemented.
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* Explanations for the complete absence of NPCs seem contrived, or add nothing to the game.
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* NPC interactions are plentiful in [[cutscene | cutscenes]] but are trivial or wholly absent in normal gameplay.
  
* Situations where you would normally expect to find people (a shop, an office, a school) are inexplicably empty or have contrived explanations for the lack of inhabitants
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==How To Cure Abandonitis Without Complex NPCs==
* The game is set entirely in a post-apocalyptic scenario - ruins, rubble, deserted bases
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* Crowd objects. These are essentially just [[scenery]] objects representing groups of people; although requiring relatively little work, they can make an area seem much better-populated.
 
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** The effect of a crowd may be undermined by inappropriate [[default response | default responses]].
==Reasons to Use==
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** To prevent crowd objects from seeming as inert as the scenery that they are, it's useful to associate [[Atmospheric message | atmospheric messages]] with them.
 
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** Emergence. Associate a small number of individual NPCs with the crowd, which only become apparent on examination of the crowd or with atmospheric messages. Don't mislead the player into thinking they're important to the plot, or waste a lot of time on making them responsive, but ensure they're not obviously broken.
* Fully implemented [[NPCs]] take a lot of work to get right. Removing their direct presence from the story and moving them 'offstage', only seen through their artifacts or writings, can paradoxically make them more vivid and interesting.
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* Traditionally IF has cast the player in the role of explorer of ruined/abandoned realms, so this is carrying on a classic theme
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* The standard IF libraries in most modern systems make implementing this kind of game easy, so you should start with the story that best fits your toolset.
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* In IF, unlike a [[roleplaying game]], the player really is interacting with an absent human via an artifact - the game program - so why not make the underlying metagame/subtextual structure of the player/author conversation a feature?
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==Reasons to Avoid==
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* It's been done so many times before
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* IF should have as a goal to emulate the forms of linear fiction genres, most of which include human interaction as a significant story component
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* It's hard to keep coming up with new and convincing reasons for the absence of people
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* Some of the most interesting development in IF at the moment is in simulating conversations and human interaction, so you should deliberately try to include plausible human characters to push the boundaries of what's achievable
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==See Also==
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* [[Magician's Nephew]]
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* [[Cutscene]]
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[[Category:Tropes]]
 
[[Category:Tropes]]

Latest revision as of 07:18, 12 December 2006

This is a newly invented term and could be subject to change

Abandonitis refers to a design error which causes the world of an IF game to seem mysteriously abandoned due to lack of NPC implementation. It should be distinguished from games which are intentionally set in abandoned environments (see ghost town), although in practise the distinction may not be hard and fast.

Even if there are NPCs about, the effect of abandonitis can still be felt if they are underimplemented and unresponsive.

Characteristics

  • The game is set in areas where one would normally expect to see lots of (or at least some) people, but none are implemented.
  • Explanations for the complete absence of NPCs seem contrived, or add nothing to the game.
  • NPC interactions are plentiful in cutscenes but are trivial or wholly absent in normal gameplay.

How To Cure Abandonitis Without Complex NPCs

  • Crowd objects. These are essentially just scenery objects representing groups of people; although requiring relatively little work, they can make an area seem much better-populated.
    • The effect of a crowd may be undermined by inappropriate default responses.
    • To prevent crowd objects from seeming as inert as the scenery that they are, it's useful to associate atmospheric messages with them.
    • Emergence. Associate a small number of individual NPCs with the crowd, which only become apparent on examination of the crowd or with atmospheric messages. Don't mislead the player into thinking they're important to the plot, or waste a lot of time on making them responsive, but ensure they're not obviously broken.