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I'm currently playing “Parsely #3: Spooky Manor” with some friends in an online forum. The player character (i.e. all of the players) have never ever checked their inventory, possibly because they are unaware of this element of the “Text Adventure” trope, and the related “examine everything” (> examine bike would also have revealed the parcel on there). I have tried to throw in some hints that “What do I actually have with me” would be a good question, but it did not work.

Now the character is trapped inside the manor without the parcel they are supposed to deliver. The game became really hard (technically still winnable but only in an even more convoluted way than it already is) with the last post, to which I have not answered yet.

Given that Parselys are based on the type of Interactive Fiction/Text Adventures in Þe Olde Text Parsers from days of yore, and I have only some experience playing Zork and other IF, and the other players are likely at most as familiar with that type of game as I am, how should I proceed to preserve both the spirit of the type of game and the fun of players?

  1. Ignore the fact that they forgot the parcel, and assume the parcel was in the Player's inventory all along.
  2. End the game right now with a “You lost [...]! Restart/Load saved game?” prompt.
  3. Let the players lead the Character onwards through the manor, without hinting at the missing parcel at all.
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Parsely games are, like their spiritual ancestors, meant to be replayed as part of the learning curve, until enough skill is acquired to achieve success. Failure is a legitimate end state, since the metagame can include “okay let's try again.”

Let them keep playing, exploring, and learning things that will prove useful in their eventual replay. Maybe they'll still win in that convoluted way! And maybe they'll realise, through interaction, that they're lacking the parcel, and will quit and restart, wiser this time for the experience of the first attempt.

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I had this same problem in a game I just ran. I think you have to handle it based on the group. My group would have been extremely discouraged to have to start all over - to the point that they may not have continued playing at all. So I decided to cut them a break.

I had Lord Spooky hint that he was waiting for a certain item to be delivered to him. They would give him things and he'd respond with "Not exactly what I was expecting, but thanks".

They were also keen to pick up that the front door was locked and so the bike was inaccessible. I ended up putting the parcel in the pocket of the raincoat, which they had never checked. Eventually they found their way back to the coat, checked the pockets, and got the parcel (as well as the bike pad lock key which they completely misunderstood the purpose of since they never inspected the bike in the first place)

The next time I run the game, I will probably lead off with some mention of being a delivery person or being sent here with a purpose or something. I will also throw in early hints as needed to make sure they inspect things before leaving the bike behind.

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Just keep playing for as long as they're engaged, even in if they're in a near hopeless state. Restarting is a common and expected outcome that they'll eventually figure out (or quit playing, which is also fine).

Wait for them to ask for help to tell them about the inventory command. From Action Castle (Parsely #1):

Special Commands

There is another set of commands that are available in every Parsely game and which are used to interact with the game itself.

Help: The HELP command lists all the special commands: Help, Inventory, Save, Load, Restore, Score, Quit

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