This is something I've thought about myself quite a lot, not the least
because I really enjoy games with lots of different objects, background, and
ambience bought on by completely pointless game items.
You outline the problem exceptionally well. At base linesound just does not
have the instant recognition quality which audio has, particularly for
strange objects or beings which are outside the veryday, ---- I've actually
thought this in games like troopanum myself, ---- as you know, I love
gamebooks for this exact reason.
Personally, I deffinately would appreciate a look and examinecommand, but in
order to make it work i think the correct way around it is to combine some
Most games have a number of catagories of items. Take tomb raider. You might
separate out in game objects into a number of catagories.
1, small objects you can pick up and carry such as scrolls, keys, ancient
tablets, telephones, weapons etc.
2, static, background features which have a physical presence in the game
and which you can walk around, jump on etc such as chairs, statues, an
alter, desks, bushes etc.
3: background objects which you can't interact with directly and simply
exist in the game, such as pictures on the wall, maybe that tv in the
apartment, stone tyles on the floor, statues just in the background, grass
For the objects in catagory 1, it strikes me that sinse you can pick these
up, you don't particularly need an absolute identifying sound, just a marker
to say that there is an object there, sinse once you've physically picked it
up you can then examine it in your inventory.
Take your crockery example. You can here a ratling, ---- well what could
that be? pick it up and examine it "you are holding a small box of aunty
jane's best brown derby chiner"
You could even use the same identity sound for another object later, ----
say using that ratling crockery sound for a box of stone tablets in a temple
"it is an ornate wooden box of large flat stones each with a sun symbol
calved on it" Sinse A, the player is inteligent enough to realize that aunt
Jane's china won't be in an ancient temple, and B, all you need to
distinguish the two is the examine command.
In fact you could even just have a generic item sound going beep beep for
anything you can pick up, ---- though this would not really do much for
Those objects in catagory 2, you would need a room examine command, for
instance a view menue and examine, once again, while you'd need some sound
to identify where the object is simply so that the player can find it, you
wouldn't necessarily need the sound to be too specific. A good example here
is the lock statues you have in the game already. They make a humming sound
so you can identify them, and appear in the room descriptions menue.
if you wanted to add other statues in the game with different interaction
methods, you can just use the generic statue sound, then have an examine
object command in the view menue.
for instance "this is a statue of the griek god Hermes wearing his winged
helmet, his hands are out stretched and empty" ----- this could also be
good for puzles, sinse later on you could find a cadusius which you'd need
to put in hermes' hand. This would also give the game some extra background,
for instance having players learn that the staff with two intwined snakes
was Hermes' symbol.
Obviously the more sounds you have the better, but any generic sound simply
to loacate the presence of an object would do, indeed depending upon how far
down the text adventure game route you needed to go you might even get by
without a sound there at all for these interactable objects and just rely on
the players' use of the look command to bring them up in the menue, rather
the way a game like chillingham or descent into madness simply has the names
of the objects in a menue for each room rather than their sounds.
Personally though, I'd be less in favour of this approach, sinse it makes
the game feel far too automated, and takes away from the player the
voluntary need to actually "look" at things, even if this is prompted only
by "what is that sound"
For instance, you could have some rustling papers on the desk which the
player would then think "hay, what's that" and examine it.
This method would also apply to enemies and other characters in the game.
for example, you hear the evil lamia noise, then examine it.
Instituting an examine command might also be a good way of having different
puzles or stratogies, for instance "A skeleton with a large, sparton style
bronze shield held ahead of it and a short sword in it's bony hand" ----
which would tell you it had major defense but a short range.
Catagory 3 objects are really the hardest to deal with, sinse part of there
point is that they simply! act as background.
You really have two choices. 1, just treat them as sound sources and nothing
more, ---- rather like the radios in shades of doom. This will be more
authentic, but could get confusing, and also could give players a bit too
much information about what objects are significant, ---- for instance,
knowing that the falling sand noise in a temple chamber or the cracling tv
in the apartment is just background and needs no investigation, sinse it
doesn't show up on the examine objects menue.
Alternative, you could treat these like catagory 2, interactable objects,
and have them examinable, rather like the ring in dumbledor's office in
Sarah. This gives you more chance to have examinable descriptions and thus a
better atmosphere for the game, and also make more complex puzles by having
red herring objects that do absolutely nothing but be there to be examined,
but also slows down gameplay rather a lot, sinse players will need to stop
and use the examine command on everything. You might also get a lot of "what
does that picture of a puppy in the apartment do" type questions ;D.
Personally I can see advantages both ways.
The two worst options imho, for any object are the voice in game command
saying chair chair chair as you described, sinse this is a killer for
atmosphere, ---- and also frankly is a litle demeaning sinse it sort of
feels as if the developer is saying a player is unable to distinguish even
Secondly just having everything in a sound descriptions menue or in the
manual isn't good either, which essentially just limits you to the number of
sounds a player can remember, and also really doesn't do much for
exploration, ----- afterall, it does rather take away from the surprise if
you instantly know what the last boss sounds like.
Imho shades of doom's sound descriptions menue did very well in this regard.
it told you what a first level enemy sounds like, and many of the usefl nav
sounds to get you started, but left a lot of stuff, -- such as the sound of
higher level enemies like the cyborgs and silent walkers to be discovered
later on. this really added to the mystery of things, and gave the player
just as much satisfaction later on in discovering new monsters for
Hope this clarrifies things.
Generally as an exploration and atmosphere freak, the more background you
can put in the game the better as far as I'm concerned.
For complexity though, I will also point out that in describing objects,
sinse your essentially just describing things and not speaking in character
as it were, there's nothing wrong with synth voices at this point imho.
Hope this rambling wrant helps somewhat.
Beware the grue!
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