Hi Tom.

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 concepts together.

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 etc.

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 atmosphere.

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 one sound.

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 themselves.

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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