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"That won't work" phrases

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I think all adventure gamers have come to the point of frustration where you just start clicking everywhere and combine random items because you are utterly stuck. When this happens, you get to hear the good ol' "I can't use those two together" or "That doesn't work" quite a lot which gets kind of frustrating after a while. One thing I really liked about Host Master and the Conquest of Humor was the sheer number of these phrases. Even if you made no progress, it was at least a bit rewarding as you unlocked a new line of dialoge.

Any thoughts on this concept for DFA? I think more "Nope" phrases could make the game significantly less frustrating to less experienced players. And I'm not saying they should add a line for every single combination of actions possible (for 50 inventory items it would be over 1,000) but just something to make trying out new solutions to puzzles more interesting.

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I definitely agree!

A funny joke about the abuse of certain things would be adequate, too.

Should there be a hint within some of these sentences?

E.g. When using the right item close to where it should be used, to say something like "That does not seem to be the right place but it must be close to here."

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I can imagine that would happen. I think I recall Tim saying in an interview once that one of his favorite things is to try to imagine all of the things a player could possibly think to try and then think of something rewarding to show them or say to them for having thought of it.

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And I'm not saying they should add a line for every single combination of actions possible (for 50 inventory items it would be over 1,000) but just something to make trying out new solutions to puzzles more interesting.

I think they did that in "Edna & Harvey: The Break Out",

a specifically written line for every combination. :)

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What really pisses me off in adventure games is when I try something that doesn't work the main character sounds annoyed with me like I'm some kind of idiot (Simon the Sorcerer immediately comes to mind)

Please no condescending tones, it's discouraging and makes me want to quit playing

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One of the things I liked about Ben There, Dan That/Time Gentlemen, Please, was that there was an actual response for trying to use pretty much anything on anything (occasionally with a rather funny response when you try to do something that is logical, but not what the puzzle calls for). I imagine that it'd be something considerably more difficult to do for games with voice acting, though, since that's a ton more lines that need to be recorded, and more lines = bigger budget needed for voice acting.

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It's a really arduous task, creating a line for every possible item combination ... you have to write and record not only lines for combining items with each other, but a line for combining every item with every hotspot on every screen. i'm finishing an adventure game right now, and the heart-breaking thing about it is that you write and record all this great content which the player will only ever heard if he tries those item combinations. It's a strategy that almost rewards your "dumber" players, or the players who aren't as quick to cotton onto puzzle solutions.

The Whispered World goes a LONG way towards having a unique response for every possible combination. Playing that game was like watching a stop-motion movie ... i was so acutely aware of the the amount of work that went into it that i couldn't enjoy it.

- Ryan

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It's a really arduous task, creating a line for every possible item combination ... you have to write and record not only lines for combining items with each other, but a line for combining every item with every hotspot on every screen.
Yes, an arduous task, kinda like a job. In fact, exactly like a job *eyes developers and writers meaningfully*.

This is a great idea. It's one of those things that make you feel like anything is possible when even mistakes can turn into a tiny additional content. It's the attention to detail I find most rewarding in adventure games. Like the writers foresaw my actions and laughingly rejected my stupidity. Great thread.

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It's a really arduous task, creating a line for every possible item combination ... you have to write and record not only lines for combining items with each other, but a line for combining every item with every hotspot on every screen. i'm finishing an adventure game right now, and the heart-breaking thing about it is that you write and record all this great content which the player will only ever heard if he tries those item combinations. It's a strategy that almost rewards your "dumber" players, or the players who aren't as quick to cotton onto puzzle solutions.

The Whispered World goes a LONG way towards having a unique response for every possible combination. Playing that game was like watching a stop-motion movie ... i was so acutely aware of the the amount of work that went into it that i couldn't enjoy it.

- Ryan

I couldnt get into the whispered world because of the whiney voice of the main character, and the weird logic (big inflated spot is very heavy ???)

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One of the things I liked about Ben There, Dan That/Time Gentlemen, Please, was that there was an actual response for trying to use pretty much anything on anything (occasionally with a rather funny response when you try to do something that is logical, but not what the puzzle calls for).

Thanks for beating me to mentioning that game here. The sheer number, and mostly severe funniness, of the different responses in that game is one of the reasons I consider it one of the best indie adventure games in recent memory. Where is those guy's Kickstarter? (They're from the UK, but I think Kickstarter is already becoming a genericized term.)

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I couldnt get into the whispered world because of the whiney voice of the main character, and the weird logic (big inflated spot is very heavy ???)

i had a similar problem, until the character was SO whiny i began to find him comical. But it took a while.

Still, i didn't make it very far after losing interest. i think something is lost in translation with foreign adventure games. i had a real problem understanding what the heck was going on in The Next Big Thing, for example.

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More lines are better, but then again I get a cheap thrill every time I hear "I'd rather not" and think of Bernard Bernoulli. It's iconic. Or something.

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i had a similar problem, until the character was SO whiny i began to find him comical. But it took a while.

I did this with a real life annoyance by joking to a friend that I find the crying of children so comforting that I have a bedside recording playing to help me sleep. It was a joke because that'd be a really evil person who lives that way. Now, however, I can be in a grocery store and hear a kid totally freaking out and start laughing because I immediately think about how evil it'd be to think that's funny. It's a vicious cycle, but man, I don't get annoyed by children anymore.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure I'll infuriate my children some day with that weird tendency. They'll think I'm mocking them when I'm really just laughing at an inside joke. "Awww, HAHAHA, you hit your head, HAHAHA, sorry, sorry, can't stop laughing, just stop crying, HAHHA"

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I rember once being on holdiday with a couple of friends, when one of them called to his parents. On a certain point he asked if his sister passed her driving test. And my friend began to laugh and i heard his sister scream something like "that's not funny".

So after the call i asked him what his father had replied. He told me his father had replied with "Well bricks still can't swim".

I would love it if the character would give these kind of sarcastic anwsers when you try to do something really stupid or impossible to do.

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I agree that scripting every combination is probably impractical, but it's nice to at least see some extra lines for combos that are incorrect but decent guesses. Just so long as they don't mislead the player too much.

For some reason I imagine this game could break the fourth wall a lot, just to cram in the fan service.

"Between you and me, that SHOULD have worked. Just not in THIS game."

"I'm not putting my lips on that... yet. Maybe later."

"I don't know what to tell you. Nothing happened. I blame Tim Schafer."

"Oh, a message magically appeared! It says... 'that was a bad idea and you should feel bad'."

"This isn't one of those puzzles where trying the wrong thing a bunch of times makes something funny happen. OR IS IT? ... No, it isn't. Please stop."

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I don't want to dis this thread, it's a fine thread...but I think it's intended as a discussion of concepts for how to handle the idea and/or implementation of 'That Won't Work' phrases.

Nothing wrong with that, and it's good feedback to boot. OTOH...

If you'd like to make lists of them, throw in some that you think would be funny... We have a separate thread for that!

“That won’t work” phrases v2: Now with more “That won’t work” phrases. (<--link)

I would recommend that the previous few posters repost their wit there.

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On this side of the topic, I have a question: What is you guys' opinion of the idea of 1st vs. 3rd person?

A previous poster mentioned Bernard Bernouli's iconic "I'd rather not...", which is, as he says, very memorable, and has the advantage of maintaining the connection with the character.

On the other hand, games like Space Quest had an omniscient 3rd person narrator which has the advantage of being able to generate humor by breaking the fourth wall, and making fun of the player as well as the game itself.

Some lines from the latter type are ingrained in my brain as well. I'll never forget the Space Quest guy's voice as I tried to power up the time pod with a bad code: "And finally, FINALLY...nothing much happens." Even my dad started quoting it because he heard it about sixteen times in quick succession...took me a while to get past that part.

What say you all?

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I'm certainly in favor of the first person variant. I feel it gives your more direct characterization of the main character, and since humor is often built from character, I prefer that. (But in the end that might just be because I like LucasArts style games a lot more than Sierra style games.)

And I think that first person is well able to break the fourth wall. I mean "Thank God this is only a game" type comments abound, don't they? And how many (fan) games have riffed on the "You fight like a cow" meme?

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I prefer first person. While the narrator can be nice for the reasons you listed, I think the character making the "I can't do that"-style responses better establishes their personality.

I don't necessarily think one better than the other, but I do personally prefer the first-person approach.

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I couldnt get into the whispered world because of the whiney voice of the main character, and the weird logic (big inflated spot is very heavy ???)
The heavy Spot is not just inflated. He's filled up with water. He drank the water from the tub he was supposed to be bathed in.

You accept that you have an shapeshifting companion but got problems with other consistent rules of the game world? It's a fantasy game, you should expect some unique laws defining the world otherwise it would be just some bland stereotype.

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