Two more cases of emergent gameplay in IF   Leave a comment

In honor of this conversation thread, I bring forward two examples of emergent gameplay in IF that are not normally cited as such. I am defining emergence here as “allowing solutions to problems unanticipated by the programmer that come out of the complexity of the underlying system.”

Suspended by Michael Berlyn (1983)

When Suspended was in beta, Steve Meretzky (a tester at the time) solved
Suspended in 42 moves. I made him do it while I watched, so I know it was real.

(Original post by Mike Berlyn here.)

Suspended includes an overall “optimization puzzle” which reflects the number of casualties, and completion of the game is of a high enough complexity and variance that it can be called emergent gameplay.

The other thing that allowed emergence to happen was the player was allowed to “short-cut” and sacrifice robots for the sake of reaching the end state. This made alternate routes of solution a built-in capability of the system.

Moral: Optimization can cause emergence even in a normally non-emergent game.

Verb! by Neil deMause (1998)

The setup here is the only verb allowable is TAKE, and any new use of the verb TAKE scores a point. People scored much higher than the author thought possible, because the coding was generalized; all it did was check for valid uses of TAKE and that no use was repeated.

Moral: When wordplay is coded in a general way instead of hard-coded, complexity arises naturally.

Posted February 17, 2008 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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