Derek Brewster’s Adventure Trail



If you were to sit down and try and write a TV comedy show you would no doubt find it difficult. To make the task a little easier you would be wise to consider who the main characters in the comedy were, how they were likely to behave in any given situation, and what relationship they had to each other. Watch any TV comedy program (Taxi, say) and see this writing skill in action. If the characters are too wooden, or the characters behave too often in an uncharacteristic manner, the comedy will fail.

In adventuring the same rules apply. The Hobbit attempted to bring some different characters into its plot, but too often Thorin can only sing about gold and GandaIf is generally found making a nuisance of himself closing doors and taking useful items from you. This is largely due to The Hobbit concerning itself more with complex vocabulary and graphics, leaving a small amount of memory for real characterization. Sherlock, on the other hand, devoted itself more fully to meaningful characters but I couldn’t help thinking the complex vocabulary was not so much a help than a hindrance. A standardised vocabulary would have removed the need for substantial amounts of memory to be devoted to word analysis and would have smoothed considerably the player’s introduction to the intricacies of the game. Playing word games should only be a small part of adventuring.

So where might characterization in adventuring lead? Clearly, some method of supplying additional memory to the Spectrum is needed. Once this problem is solved, the adventure author must carefully consider each character before the main code is written. What are the character’s temperament, skills (eg archery, climbing, lock-picking) and allegiances? This should remove most of the discrepancies which creep into games attempting complex character development. What will result from good planning are believable, intelligent characters — the sort woefully absent from the likes of Are You Being Served?