Saturday, April 30, 2016

Gamebook Practice Lesson 1: Build a wonderful Game World (using the Magic of a Divergind Diamond)

I am going to start by giving you one word: Dream!

"What is wrong with people today?" somebody asked the father of motivational recordings Earl Nightingale and he replied "People simply don't think". I would add that "People also don't dream or they just don't pursue their dreams". Those are two of the major problems in modern society. Don't be a "wondering generality" by waiting for things to happen to you! Become a "meaningful specific" by inventing new ways of making things happen!!! ("wondering generality" and "meaningful specific" are quotes of Zig Ziglar).

Lets build a game!

First and foremost, you must decide on the setting of your game. That usually depends on the sub-genre of the world your adventure is going to take place in. The two most popular are "fantasy" and "science fiction", but it could also be anything else you can dream of. The example game we are going to make is going to take place in a fantasy world setting.

Second, you have to set the final goal of the adventure, invent the protagonist and decide on the items needed to complete the final task of the game. Our ultimate goal, in the example game we are creating, would be defeating an evil wizard, who is terrorizing the village. Our protagonist is one of the residents of that village. The items needed to win the final battle against the wizard could be be a magic amulet (protects from the wizard's spells) and a magic sword (to be used against the wizard).

Third, you should dream of the natural landmarks in your world and place them on the diagram of the Diverging Diamond. It could be pretty much anything such as forests, swamps, mountains, hills, desserts, sea, ocean, etc. For our example, we are going to split the road into three separate paths and each one of them will be going through a different terrain: forest, mountain and wetlands. One of the items needed to defeat the evil wizard will be hidden in one of those landmarks.

Fourth, place some non-natural landmarks on your map or diagram. Example: we are going to put a graveyard on the way to our final destination, which itself will be another landmark on its own: the wizard's tower.


Fifth, use interesting adjectives for the landmarks to further intrigue the reader by waking up his imagination (this one has its roots in the science of Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Instead of having just a forest, a mountain and wetlands, we would add an adjective to each one of them and call them: the Cursed Forest, the Deadly Mountain and the Forbidden Wetlands. The graveyard is going to become the Wicked Graveyard and so on. This step not only makes everything sound better, it also creates certain images in the head of the reader that can further involve him in the adventure. This is a very powerful step in the process of creating a wonderful world and you should use it as often as possible.

Sixth, since the Diverging Diamond diagram is not just a map, we don't have to limit the encounters there just to physical locations, we can also include events there. For example: in the top Diverging Diamond, instead of having geographical landmarks, we are going to split the path into two separate ways and the reader will have the choice to travel during the daytime or to travel at night.

We have eight locations on the diagram now (not all of them geographical). To keep our first adventure as simple as possible, we are going to write one section for each one of them as follows: 1. Medieval Village; 2. Cursed Forest; 3. Deadly Mountain; 4. Forbidden Wetlands; 5 Wicked Graveyard; 6 Daytime Travel; 7 Nighttime Travel; 8 Wizard's Tower.

Note: Keep in mind that this adventure is based entirely on the Treasure Hunt game mechanic. Also, don't forget that I am keeping the writing as simple as possible (I will do another post on the writing of the story someday in the future)

1. You are a brave young hero. One of the finest in your village. An evil wizard is terrorizing your people. He lives up north, beyond the wicked graveyard that is located north of the Deadly Mountain. You want to end this terror once and for all, so you pack your bag with food and water and leave the village to find and defeat the evil wizard. Read section 2, if you want to go around the mountain through the Cursed Forest. Go to section 3, if you want to hike through the mountain; If you prefer to pass through the Forbidden Wetlands, turn to 4!

2. You are now in the Cursed Forest. It is very dark and scary. You hear all kinds of strange sounds from probably even stranger creatures, but none of them are interested in you. Please proceed to the Wicked Graveyard at section 5!

3. The mountain is really unfriendly. It is not a coincidence that it was named Deadly. Your protagonist starts having doubts about going through here, so roll one die and go to the Cursed Forest if the result is 1-3 or go to the Forbidden Wetlands if the result is 4-6!

4. The wetlands are difficult to cross, after all it is full of swamps. No wonder that they are forbidden. You hardly make it out of the mud a couple of times during your travel. However, passing through, you find a magic sword. Write that down and proceed to section 5 to explore the Wicked Graveyard!

5. The Wicked Graveyard is not welcoming at all. You have to choose now, if you want to cross it in the middle of the day (turn to 6), exposing yourself to the wizard in the tower or do you want to travel under the cover of the night when you have to face whatever undead creatures live here (turn to 7) ?

6. The graveyard is not very dangerous when the sun is out as all skeletons, vampires and zombies sleep through the day. For some reason, the evil wizard doesn't notice you or doesn't care that you are closing in on his place of living. Continue directly to the Wizard's Tower at section 8!

7. No wonder that the graveyard is called wicked. All kinds of evil creatures get up from the graves and walk around at night. You notice something glowing on top of one of the tombstones. It is a magic amulet. Take a note of that in your adventure sheet right now! The zombies, vampires and skeletons are obviously scared of your amulet and don't bother you at all. You get to the Wizard's Tower right before sunrise. Now turn to 8!

8. You get right inside the tower and take the round stairs up to the wizard's quarters. He is furious that a normal human is disturbing his day uninvited. He casts a deadly spell against you. If you have the Magic Amulet, turn to 9. Otherwise, you become the next victim of the Evil Wizard and your adventure ends here.

9. The Evil Wizard is quite surprised that his magic doesn't work on you, so he casts a strength spell on himself and his body changes its shape into a bigger masculine warrior. He grabs his wooden staff and tries to beat you to death with it. If you have a sword in your list of items, turn to 10. Otherwise, you have no way of protecting yourself and your adventure ends here.

10. YOU ARE VICTORIOUS! You defeat the evil wizard and your village is now safe for generations to come. You are well celebrated by your fellow villagers. In a sign of appreciation, they even rename the deadly mountain after you. Congratulations!

Please note that in this extremely short gamebook adventure, I have implemented only random mechanics such as Treasure Hunt (the whole adventure contains two consecutive Diverging Diamonds), a Dice Roll (in the mountain) and two SkillChecks (check for an amulet and for a sword at the Wizard's Tower). Even though, the feel of the game came out not too bad, the outcome depends entirely on your luck, not on your decisions, performance or input.

I also created one difficult choice at the graveyard, confusing the reader with two possible negative outcomes, but neither one of them actually happens. However, it provides the reader an illusion of danger, which creates a lot of tension and is extremely important for the further involvement of the player (creating an emotional rollercoaster in our game)

This short story provides only 25% chance of completing it at the first try (50% chance to find the sword in the first diamond and 50% chance to find the amulet in the second diamond). Considering that, shorter games should be more difficult to provide more playing time through re-runs, 25% is success rate is actually a very acceptable value. When writing longer games, keep in mind that, it could be extremely time consuming for you and very frustrating for the reader, to create a very low success rate, because re-reading a longer adventure multiple times could be horribly boring.

To extend the chance for completing the adventure up to between 30% and 50%, we can create more paths to victory. Example: if in section 3, instead of a dice roll, we tell the reader that he finds an iron spear in one of the caves and then he makes it safely through the mountains, leading him to the graveyard at section 5. At the same time we add an option in section 9 by changing the text to "if you have a sword or a spear in your list of items, turn to 10". Now, the chance to find a needed item in the first diamond increases from 1/2 up to 2/3 (or 66%) and the possible completion of the adventure at the first read just went up from 25% to 33%.

Another good tool we can use to change the odds of success is adding the possibility of winning that is based entirely on luck. We can do that by implementing dice rolls at the end of the adventure. Lets say that section 8 reads "If you have the Magic Amulet, turn to 9. If you don't have the amulet, roll one die and turn to section 9 if the result is 5 or 6. If your result is lower than 5, you become the next victim of the Evil Wizard and your adventure ends here". Remember that dice rolls create "illusion of control", but that is just an illusion, because the reader has absolutely no way of influencing the final outcome at all.

This is all for today, my friends. In the next post, we will work on adding some battles in this adventure to make the game a little bit more time consuming. Then, in the post after that, we will make some improvements by implementing the game-changing mechanic of Logical Conclusion Choices, which allows us to measure the actual performance of the player and therefore, he would have at least a partial control over the outcome for the protagonist.

And don't forget, DREAM YOUR WORLD! Think of a magic world you want to live in and go wild with it. Make it so wonderful, beautiful and appealing that it would be impossible for your readers to put the gamebook away! Suck them into your adventure and have them crave more, once the ultimate goal is achieved and the game is over. Remember the amazing planet in the movie avatar? I've heard that some people have fallen into clinical depression once the movie ended, just because they want to live there, but such place doesn't actually exit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gamebook Theory: Treasure Hunt gamebook mechanic

 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Make your game even more interesting: Emotional and Moral Choices

Two posts ago, we discussed the mechanism of creating a Logical Conclusion Choice step by step. Today I'd like tell you how to add another layer of involvement for the reader through attacking his emotions or his moral.

Before I give you the details of step 8 of the Logical Conclusion Choice process, I would like to remind you once again that in order to create truly interesting choices, all of the options given to the reader should have mixed positive and negative consequences just like it is in real life: gain one thing at the expense of another. Example: To avoid being hit by a lightning in the fast approaching thunderstorm, you decide to run for the caves in the distant giant cliff structure. You lose 10 points of health due to exhaustion and the fact that you get soaking wet before you are able to take cover. However, you find an artifact. A magic sword with special abilities, for an example.

Step 8: Involve the player even further through adding a layer of emotional or moral reasons or consequences.

Example of Emotional Layer: in my Visual Gamebook Adventure that takes place in the Star Wars universe, you are told at the beginning of the story that as a little kid you witnessed the death of your parents by the hands of the imperial stormtroopers. Later in the adventure, you are given the choice to kill as many of them as possible to get revenge for your family's suffering. Of course, you want to kill them! After all, they murdered your family. However, given the circumstances at the moment, that is not the best choice, because you kill 10 of them and your blaster runs out of battery, so you have no choice but to retreat. That choice provides you the satisfaction of revenge at the expense of your laser gun, but it also gives you an advantage if you follow a certain path in the middle of the adventure.

Example of Moral Layer: I am going to quote Aston Saylor again here: "Consider this: The orcs have taken your friend hostage, and will kill him if you attack. But taking this step constitutes an act of war, and they must be punished. Will you attack (utilizing your combat skills) knowing they will kill your friend, but determined to crush the orcs once and for all and claim their valuable treasure? Or will you negotiate (using your diplomacy skills), suffering the humiliation in order to hopefully save the life of your friend".

Let me stress this out once again: Make your choices difficult with complicated consequences where you gain one thing at the expense of another! Only partially reveal the outcome before the choice is made and let the reader guess what the other consequences of his decision could be, but don't you ever cheat him into making the wrong choice! Just let the player be in the driver seat!

I personally love how sometimes in gamebooks the choice seems bad at the moment, because you lose something, but then later on in the adventure, that turns out for the better. Example: in the Star Wars Adventure, if you kill some of the stormtroopers, you have a bleeding fleshwound and a drop of your blood falls onto the scanner of the R2D2 robot, letting it recognize the fact that you carry the jedi gene. Another example: in the "Last Fortress" by Ashton, you lose the treasure of your people and your master blacksmith in an attempt to save as many of your people as possible in the snowstorm that comes through the mountains, but later on you are awarded much more as a result of that difficult choice. This technique creates great tension in the adventure, because you know that you made the right choice, but you still lost items and people and you are not sure if you are ever going to be rewarded for making the emotionally difficult, but morally right decision. I'll do another post on the very needed illusions of danger and achievement for every game, not only in the genre of gamebooks.

In this line of thinking, I must mention another very important idea here: the moral responsibility of the game writers and creators. One of my favorite slogans is "with great power comes great responsibility". Believe it or not, the media, the television and especially games install certain patterns of behavior in the kids and young adults through the process of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Check out the Power of Suggestion theory! We, the authors, have the great responsibility to make sure that we encourage the good and we punish the bad behavior. We are literally programming the mentality of our next generation, so don't encourage bad moral choices through rewarding immoral decisions in your games! If you decide to expose the reader to the emotional garbage of real life, at least make sure to clearly define the difference between good and evil in the adventure and properly reward only the morally good choices, so the message you send to the reader's mind is making him a better person. That way you are reinforcing his future success in real life and creating a better human society for generations to come.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The fatal trap we all fall into and How to Cheat Death (in a gamebook)

The previous post was about creating meaningful logical choices that put the input control mechanism in the hands of the reader and we explained how to create such choices step by step. However, the provided example included an instant death outcome and that is something that should never happen in a modern gamebook adventure. Today we will discuss the tools that can solve that problem.

A lot of authors feel that they are in a competition with the reader and try to cheat him into making the wrong decision on a regular basis. Even worse, some of the authors often kill the protagonist in instant death chapters not realizing that they kill the enthusiasm of the player instead. The only thing those writers accomplish is forcing their readers to cheat by going back to the section where they made the wrong choice (killing the satisfaction of eventual success) or if they decide to play fair by starting over from the beginning, the adventure becomes extremely boring, because they would be quick scanning the text of each section for the instructions on how to proceed, simply getting to the section of the wrong choice again (like this ever happens). In the worst case scenario, the player is going to put the book away as a result of unfair and unsatisfactory mechanics of the adventure.

Of course, in order for your choice to be meaningful, the consequences should also be in correlation with your decisions. The player should be rewarded for good performance and he should be punished for bad performance.

Lets take a look of three different bad consequence mechanics in the gamebook adventure genre:

1. Take stat points away from the player. This is the most common of the techniques and is probably the best one of them all. Example: "You fall down and hurt yourself. Lose 5 points of stamina". When you apply this mechanic, the reader wouldn't be able to successfully finish the adventure only if he's made too many mistakes. However, there are certain situations when such approach wouldn't make any sense. For an example: "The tree you are sitting under gets hit by a lightning. Your stamina goes down by 5 points". See, in the major event of being hit by a lightning, the only possible outcome is instant death and that brings us to the second approach.

2. Give the reader a way out of his certain death. Create tension by telling the player to roll a die and inform him that, if he rolls 1-3 a lightning hits the tree he is sitting under, but if he rolls 4-6 the lightning hits somewhere else (or you can ask him to test his luck in a fighting fantasy game). The stress of the possibility of killing instantly the protagonist communicates a strong message about being wrong and is a punishment enough by itself. You can even allow the player to re-roll the dice under certain conditions. For an example, you can have a stat, lets call it "blessings"! You can increase your blessings based on good performance during the adventure (if you help a monk find something he is looking for, he will most likely bless you for your good deed). If you get a bad dice roll later in the book, you can re-roll the dice at the expense of you "blessings" stat. All of a sudden, the chance of being killed instantly goes from 50% down to 25%, but it is at the expense of stat points that could be extremely important at the end of the adventure.

3. Losing an item or a good friend. A great example of losing a friend is "The Last Fortress" by Ashton Saylor where your personal guard saves your life at the expense of his own (only once in the adventure). A good example of losing an item is the "Sharkbait's Revenge" by Stuart Lloyd where you lose the "letter from the queen" if you jump in the water, because the ink just washes away.

That's all for today, folks! And remember: Don't ever kill your players instantly without giving them at least a small chance to redeem themselves from bad performance!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gamebook Theory: Logical Conclusion Choices and applying the "Fog of War"

We already explained the basics of a Logical Conclusion Choice. For the purpose of learning how to efficiently apply the 'fog of war' principle, we should use the same example from the previous post to demonstrate how to hide the possible consequences of a choice, so it is not obvious what the outcome would be. After all, if there is no way to find hints in the text to help you correctly guess what could possibly happen, the choice will be random (trial and error choice) rather than logical.

So, our medieval hero is in the middle of a wide open field. To the east, he can see a big cliff with visible caves carved in it. He takes a quick look to the west and he can see a thunderstorm front coming in. A few feet away from our hero, a lonely tree stands tall with it's big branches forming a nice solid crown of green leaves. Do you want to hide under the tree to keep dry until the storm has passed? Alternatively, you could run for the cliff and take cover in one of the caves there, but you can't reach them before the storm hits.

What all that text distills down to is the sentence "there is a thunderstorm coming through and a tree is going to be hit by a lightning", but you can't write that, because it is going to be obvious that hiding under the tree is the wrong choice. Instead, the author took the real danger (the lightning) out of the text and he provided the reader the exact conditions under which a lightning occurs. Lets look at this process of applying hints step by step here:

1. Decide what the danger is going to be: a lightning


2. Take the exact wording of the danger out of the text: don't mention a lightning in the text


3. Provide a few clues that are well known to be associated with this specific danger: wide open field, thunderstorm, the tree is the only tall object around


Again, this is the most simple form of the Logical Conclusion Choice and the principle of 'fog of war' as the clues are presented in the same section as the choice and the outcome is simply either good or bad. I do not recommend using such simplified kind of choices in your adventure, so lets make it a little bit more complicated applying some historical clues to the already existing instant hints.

We can make the choice more difficult if we move the hints to one of the previous sections. May be you will notice dark thunder clouds moving very quickly from the west shortly after you left the village. In this case, there will be no mentioning of a storm front moving in at the very section when you feel pretty tired and have to choose between resting under the nearby tree or continuing to the tall rocky cliff in the distance. To make the right choice even more difficult for the reader, we can warn him that due to his exhaustion, it will actually cost him 10 points of health if he doesn't rest under the tree. Of course, it is better to partially lose health than to suffer an instant death. However, the choice now is even more interesting, because it is not a simple good or bad outcome, but is rather about choosing the lesser of two evils. Please note that we are now at the very fine line of almost tricking the reader into making the wrong decision, so if we make the choice any more difficult by applying even more 'fog of war', we will be crossing that line, which an author should never, ever, ever do. All that being said, step number four, five and six in the above process are: 

4. Move some of the clues to previous sections of the gamebook adventure: inform the reader of the conditions in a conversation with another character or while he is at a different location


5. Partially reveal what would happen if a certain choice is selected, but present only half of the outcome: tell the player that he is going to lose 10 points health if he doesn't rest (tricking him to make the wrong choice, so be careful with this one!)


6. Make the choice even more difficult by forcing the reader to choose between two bad outcomes: losing 10 points of health or getting hit by a lightning (the choice is obvious if he deciphered all the clues)

This is now a difficult enough choice for any gamebook. It is actually a little bit too complicated to be put in the very beginning of the adventure as the difficulty should grow from low to high as the reader makes his progress through the game.

We can once again adjust the difficulty level of this choice to make it a little bit easier by providing another clue in an earlier section. Lets just say that an elderly villager told you earlier about a legend of a hidden artifact in a cave somewhere in this land. If the reader remembers that, he should have another reason to choose going to the caves instead of resting under the tree, making the correct choice a little bit more obvious than before.

7. Apply a clue related to the choice with the positive outcome if you wish to make the decision easier for the reader: an artifact is hidden somewhere in the caves


 Mix and match positive and negative clues as much as needed to adjust the difficulty of this particular decision, but make sure that there are enough clues to support the better choice, so the outcome is the result of a logical conclusion instead of pure luck.

Of course, you can apply the 'fog of war' not only to dangers, but also to positive consequences. As a matter of fact, try to provide more of choose the greater good and choose the lesser evil encounters in your adventure, so the better choice is never too obvious!

At the end of this post, lets take a look at the different kinds of hints available to the authors:

Each hint is either instant or historical: An instant hint is a clue that is present at the very section of the choice it is related to, while a historical hint we call a clue that was given to the reader earlier in the adventure, but is related to a later choice he will eventually have to make.

Also, each hint is either a storyline hint or a general knowledge hint: A storyline hint is a fact that is revealed to the reader in the course of the adventure such as the information that there is a hidden artifact in the mountains while a general knowledge hint is constructed by conditions that suggest the occurrence of a well known event from the general knowledge of the average person such as the fact that during a thunderstorm, a lightning occurs and it hits the tallest object in the nearby vicinity.

There is also the separation of clues to real and false hints: Revealing possible consequences doesn't necessarily mean that they will happen for sure. Sometimes the application of a false clue is required to make the choice more difficult or to guide the decision of the reader in the opposite direction. However, it is unacceptable to cheat the player in the wrong direction by applying too many false clues. They should only be used to make the choice more difficult or simply not as obvious.

The more you mix and match hints of different kind along with clues about positive or negative consequences, the more interesting and involving the choice becomes. Don't forget that the forcing the player to choose the greater good or alternatively the lesser evil outcome, always makes the dilemma more difficult. It would be even better idea to include some moral or emotional consequences along with all the hints provided to the reader (see the post on Difficult Choice by Ashton Saylor). But whatever you do, don't ever make the reader feel that a negative outcome is the unjustified result of pure chance rather than good performance based on strong logical conclusions!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Gamebook Theory: The importance of Meaningful Choices and how to create them

In the last post, we covered the basic structure of a game: input - test of performance - feedback.

Choices are the only possible active gamebook mechanic. The other ones, such as flipping pages to find the next section, throwing dice to add some randomization, or adding numbers for a skillcheck, are technically a passive form of input, because they don't allow the gamer to actively influence the outcome of the adventure.

The choices, being the only active input mechanic, become the most important thing in a gamebook adventure. You can have a great story to tell, but without the proper choices presented to the player in a meaningful form that influences the outcome one way or another, your adventure is not a game, it is just a story. Of course, the exact opposite, bunch of choices without any story, is just as bad as narrative is a great way to provide feedback for rewarding or punishing the reader (we already covered that topic in the previous post).

It is easy to provide many choices to the reader. I remember reading an article that was mentioning the urge to give the player too many choices as one of the major problems of new writers. I've always had the opposite problem: It's always been difficult to me to put enough choices in each section of the game, because I want every single one of them to have a meaning and consequences that affect the adventure in some way.

See, having a choice that is changing the immediate narrative path for the reader without having any consequences down the road, is not necessarily a gamebook mechanic. What I am trying to say is that a gamebook that has no good or bad choices is no longer a game, because it simply becomes an interactive novel. In order to have a game, we must have a final goal that the player is trying to achieve through overcoming bunch of other obstacles. If there is no way to fail, there is no game in the story.

Speaking of good and bad choices, we must stress out that the outcome, positive or negative, should be the result of strong logic, calculated risk, educated decisions and the reader has to be given enough information to draw that logical conclusion on his own. This is the tricky part. Providing too much information to the gamer makes the choice too obvious (cake or death choice), but not presenting enough information forces the outcome to be a matter of luck, not a logical consequence of good or bad performance (which door choice) and therefore making this piece a story with multiple alternative endings, not a game.

This is where the "fog of war" (terminology by Ashton Saylor) comes in place. The writer must hide the possible consequences, but should also leave enough clues in the narrative, so the reader can guess the outcome if he was paying close attention and was drawing the correct conclusions.

My favorite example of a very simple "Logical Conclusion Choice" is one that I found in a gamebook more than 20 years ago. I was playing a fantasy style hero and while on the correct path to accomplish my quest, I was put in the middle of a wide open field during a thunderstorm. I believe that there were two options available: 1. Hide from the rain under a tree or 2. Run for the tall cliff with visible caves in the distance. My thinking was that I didn't want to get soaking wet while fleeing to the caves and I decided to go under the tree. Needless to say, I learned a very valuable lesson: lightnings hit the tallest object around and unfortunate for my protagonist, that was the tree I was hiding under at that moment. I was upset about that instant death, but I also felt that it was fair and justified. The "fog of war" hint was in the word "thunder" before the word "storm". The immediate danger of a lightning was not even mentioned, but it was completely logical under the circumstances of the situation.

Now, keep in mind that this is a very simple example of a "logical conclusion choice" and I believe that presented just like that, it no longer has a place in the modern gamebook adventures because the outcome is one of two extremes: life or death. Please remember that an instant death is the worst thing you can do to the reader and should almost never happen. Instead, you can punish him in a different way such as losing health points, losing an item and so on. Death in a gamebook must be the result of multiple gravely mistakes (when your health runs down to zero) or the outcome of the last battle skillcheck in the adventure. If you ever decide to break this rule, please have the instant death in the very beginning of the story before the reader has invested much time and effort, so starting over wouldn't hurt as much.

However, regardless of being a bad example of a choice in a gamebook adventure, this is the perfect example for the purpose of explaining the basic principles of the "fog of war" technique, but more on that I will discuss in my next post.

Before I close for today, I have to mention that while the "Logical Conclusion Choice" is arguably the best one of all narrative choices, it is not the only one and it should be used in combination with the rest. Also, when implementing this kind of choice in an adventure, it is a good idea to inform the player if he's made the right choice or not. That could be done by writing a short explanation of the author's reasoning for the punishment or the reward in the beginning of the next section.

If you remember anything from this post, that is the rule that a writer should never take away from the player the satisfaction of the feeling that his achievements are a direct result of his good performance!