Re: Graphical Bar Code?

From: Daniel A. Koepke (
Date: 07/26/02

On Fri, 26 Jul 2002, Mathew Earle Reuther wrote:

> Well, the one problem is that if you do it for battle spells the spam
> gets MIGHTY thick, so a counting bar makes more sense.

The problem of information overload is certainly a difficult one.

In this particular case, it might be possible to simply remove the
character's awareness of the combat around him (even if he's the one being
attacked).  I don't envision a mage being active in battle while delayed
by a spell, which should nicely handle the problem of newbie spells, which
would be easier/faster to cast but weaker, falling out of favor with mages
who now have new, more powerful (but slower) spells.  When was the last
time someone honestly used 'magic missile' for much of anything?

But that's just this particular case, where the general problem remains
much more interesting and difficult.  Is there a general solution to the
game system providing too much spam?  You can slow down battle to a
degree, but time dilation is a thorny problem in shared environments.
You could build a client (and/or take advantage of other clients and
terminal emulators) to provide for better separation of concerns (e.g.,
several output panes/windows to prevent separately important pieces of
information from overrunning each other).  But that introduces more
outside technical requirements -- increasing the barrier to play the game.

It's definitely an ugly problem.  Its components, as best I can see:

  * Some people won't want to read as much as others.  So you have to pick
    a target audience and not care about alienating the others.  Or try to
    be simultaneously good at catering to two separate audiences.  (A
    rather difficult trick!)

  * No-one can read at the rate you're going to be putting out information
    in certain (battle, fleeing, chatty areas) situations.  This is
    addressed to some degree by confining certain types of messages to
    certain regions of the screen, allowing the user to better track
    diverse information.

  * No-one will want to read the same descriptions over and over.  After
    the initial novelty wears off, your spell casting descriptions will
    get a bit tired.  It doesn't matter how well written they are, either.
    This begs for some sort of dynamic or situational text engine.

Are there others?

What have others done to try to alleviate these problems?  (Or have you
found it doesn't matter that much in practice for the style of game you're


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