Minor game text improvements

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Simons Mith
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Minor game text improvements

Post by Simons Mith » December 30th, 2007, 4:16 pm

Some general copywriting tips which would make the game appear more professional:

One little thing which has bugged me for ages; "hitpoint" and "hitpoints" are a specialised pieces of gamer jargon which you will not find in any dictionary. Now, fair enough; BfW is a game, and using the specialist term is perfectly legitimate. Nevertheless it would subtly improve the game's professionalism if these terms were replaced with "hit point" and "hit points" throughout. This would be simple to fix with a global search-and-replace.

In similar vein, it's good copywriting practice to write the numbers 0-9 as words rather as numbers. 10-12 represent a grey area; numbers higher than about twelve should always be written as numbers. Where a section of text has lots of numbers both inside and outside these ranges, it's better to write them all as numbers. This would affect a scattering of the unit write-ups and some of the help tips. Number ranges, numbers with decimals, and number lists (e.g. "1, 2, 3 and 7") are best always written as numbers.

A more far-reaching change applies to the term multiplayer, which really ought to be "multi-player". For aesthetic reasons I'd like to see this altered too, but maybe that's a step too far, given that it appears on user menus (and in a directory name) and the like.

A couple of typographical improvements that might also be possible - rather than use a hyphen, use an en dash (HTML glyph –) in game copy for number ranges and dashes. (Hyphens joining compound words stay as hypens.) And instead of three dots ... use the ellpsis charater (HTML glyph …). I appreciate there may be string-encoding problems associated with using these characters, but if they can be used cleanly I feel they should - it's a minor thing, but it would make the game look more polished IMV. If people feel it's worth purusing, I can provide a little tutorial on how to produce correct copy.

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cool evil
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Re: Minor game text improvements

Post by cool evil » December 31st, 2007, 1:23 am

Simons Mith wrote:Some general copywriting tips which would make the game appear more professional:

One little thing which has bugged me for ages; "hitpoint" and "hitpoints" are a specialised pieces of gamer jargon which you will not find in any dictionary. Now, fair enough; BfW is a game, and using the specialist term is perfectly legitimate. Nevertheless it would subtly improve the game's professionalism if these terms were replaced with "hit point" and "hit points" throughout. This would be simple to fix with a global search-and-replace.

In similar vein, it's good copywriting practice to write the numbers 0-9 as words rather as numbers. 10-12 represent a grey area; numbers higher than about twelve should always be written as numbers. Where a section of text has lots of numbers both inside and outside these ranges, it's better to write them all as numbers. This would affect a scattering of the unit write-ups and some of the help tips. Number ranges, numbers with decimals, and number lists (e.g. "1, 2, 3 and 7") are best always written as numbers.

A more far-reaching change applies to the term multiplayer, which really ought to be "multi-player". For aesthetic reasons I'd like to see this altered too, but maybe that's a step too far, given that it appears on user menus (and in a directory name) and the like.

A couple of typographical improvements that might also be possible - rather than use a hyphen, use an en dash (HTML glyph –) in game copy for number ranges and dashes. (Hyphens joining compound words stay as hypens.) And instead of three dots ... use the ellpsis charater (HTML glyph …). I appreciate there may be string-encoding problems associated with using these characters, but if they can be used cleanly I feel they should - it's a minor thing, but it would make the game look more polished IMV. If people feel it's worth purusing, I can provide a little tutorial on how to produce correct copy.
Those words you've suggested are rarely used in modern day games, using them would not make Wesnoth more professional nor less professional.

As for the code, it is fine the way it is now. You've forgot that coding don't appeal to casual gamers. If we're to judge by which coding language is the most simple, and having to compared WML and HTML, you know that the former is going to win. A wesnoth game scenario would seem much more neat and organized, thus seeming more professional than a clutter of HTML script.

I've never thought there ought to be a change like this, they are extremely minor anyways, so small not enough to make you notice, and i doubt that they will polish the visual aspect of the game.

If a suggestion does not have any value to the game. It would certainly not make it into reality. That's my opinion of course, i am still awaiting input from other forum users as to how they think of this minor change.
Last edited by cool evil on December 31st, 2007, 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Velensk » December 31st, 2007, 1:27 am

Completly indiffrent, seems like a waste of time.

WML is simpler than HTML, speaking as one who has practical, but highly limited experiance with both.
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Re: Minor game text improvements

Post by CarpeGuitarrem » December 31st, 2007, 4:48 am

Simons Mith wrote: In similar vein, it's good copywriting practice to write the numbers 0-9 as words rather as numbers. 10-12 represent a grey area; numbers higher than about twelve should always be written as numbers. Where a section of text has lots of numbers both inside and outside these ranges, it's better to write them all as numbers. This would affect a scattering of the unit write-ups and some of the help tips. Number ranges, numbers with decimals, and number lists (e.g. "1, 2, 3 and 7") are best always written as numbers.
That seems like a good one to me, as long as you're not talking about statistics. Definitely something that shouldn't be too hard to do.
A couple of typographical improvements that might also be possible - rather than use a hyphen, use an en dash (HTML glyph –) in game copy for number ranges and dashes. (Hyphens joining compound words stay as hypens.) And instead of three dots ... use the ellpsis charater (HTML glyph …). I appreciate there may be string-encoding problems associated with using these characters, but if they can be used cleanly I feel they should - it's a minor thing, but it would make the game look more polished IMV. If people feel it's worth purusing, I can provide a little tutorial on how to produce correct copy.
I could see that happening.

Small, minor changes...but they're doable. You might want to consider doing some of this yourself. I think the unit descriptions and tips of the day are fairly easy to find...if I knew where they are, I'd tell you.
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Post by turin » December 31st, 2007, 6:46 am

cool evil and Velensk - WTH does HTML have to do with anything? He just mentioned it with regards to how to obtain specific characters (i.e. symbols), not with regards to the game itself.


As to the actual suggestions:

1+3) IMO using "hit points" and "multi-player" (as opposed to "hitpoints" and "multiplayer") would actual make us look less professional, and more like we were non-native English speakers who had just looked up the words in a dictionary.

2) Sounds good to me. I'm not sure where example of numbers in-text appear, though - could you point some out?

4) I'm not sure it's possible. A few possible problems with it; those symbols might not appear in the fonts, it wouldn't be possible to have them in the WML directly, since that's plaintext, so I'm not sure how we would do that. Perhaps something like "Deals 5$ndash|20 damage" (which would be rendered "Deals 5-20 damage" but with the ndash glyph). If it is, I agree it might be a good idea. Not sure it's worth the effort though.
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Post by Clonkinator » December 31st, 2007, 9:23 am

None of the proposed ideas except for #3 maybe (as long as it doesn't apply to the units' status display) seem to make any sense to me, and I highly doubt the benefit of any of those. Imho this would be a major waste of time; I'd prefer to see this time invested in reallyimproving the game, and maybe giving the remaining units some missing animations (like death animations for example).

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Post by VS » December 31st, 2007, 10:54 am

turin wrote:it wouldn't be possible to have them in the WML directly, since that's plaintext
Yes, plain text and UTF-8. IMO certainly already possible.

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Post by Stilgar » December 31st, 2007, 12:04 pm

Eh? IMHO "hit points" and "multi-player" sound more weird than the alternative. I don't think I've ever seen a game that wrote "multi-player" instead of "multiplayer". "hit points" isn't as bad but it does sound, well, old for lack of a better adjective. Like how someone would write it back when video games didn't exist. And on that note, what, exactly, is wrong with using "gamer jargon" in a video game?

Words vs. numbers well as others have said it depends where it's to be used. I'm indifferent.

The dash instead of hyphen sounds good but I'd hardly see it as necessary.

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Post by Simons Mith » December 31st, 2007, 2:09 pm

"Hit points" and "Multi-player"

Well, it just occurred to me to try checking on Google, which is a very strong authority on actual current usage, whereas dictionaries arguably lag a bit, and I find we have twice as many results for 'hit point' as 'hitpoint' - WikiPedia uses the former, by the way. Conversely we have 1.5m 'hit points' vs 2m 'hitpoints'. So yes, we are quite close to the tipping point. But to pick a couple of published data points, NeverWinter Nights still uses 'hit points' as two words, and so does the D20 SRD. I also feel a disproportionate number of those 2m hits will be gamers using jargon, and more weight should be given to the minority view. I also think most people won't notice (or mind) whether we use one word or two, but among the minority that do notice (i.e. me for one), 'hit points' as two words is more likely to be considered correct. And I think the people who would notice it and think it looks unprofessional would be in a minority of the minority. I work as a professional tech writer these days, so I'm not just making this stuff up to be awkward. :-)

OTOH "multiplayer", while still not in the dictionary, is ten times as common a Google hit as "multi-player". Personally, I still prefer the latter, but it seems the tipping point may already be past for that one.

"Numbers as words" - well, there's a scattering of instances in the help tips, in the tutorial, and I expect in the occasional unit description although I haven't spotted any. I also noticed a handful of mixed usages which really should be avoided, such as "The village supports one unit, and pays one gold per turn: you're only losing 1 gold per turn now."

I do partly agree with Stilgar's view that none of the changes are necessary; no, they're not necessary, but just as we fix typos, so it's worth fixing poor typography and at least scrutinising questionable word usage. And make changes where the consensus is that it's worth the effort.

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Post by Blarumyrran » December 31st, 2007, 2:14 pm

Simons Mith wrote:"Hit points" and "Multi-player"

Well, it just occurred to me to try checking on Google, which is a very strong authority on actual current usage, whereas dictionaries arguably lag a bit, and I find we have twice as many results for 'hit point' as 'hitpoint'
no, not really; simply the search for "hit point" also includes hitpoint & hp matches, while hitpoint does not include "hit point" matches. see for yourself.

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Post by thespaceinvader » December 31st, 2007, 2:49 pm

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,460,000 for "hit points". (0.23 seconds)

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,960,000 for hitpoints. (0.18 seconds)

Unless you include the " marks, you are searching for the terms hit and points, not for the term 'hit points'. That's guaranteed to turn up more hits on google.

The same, i'd be pretty sure, would be true of multiplayer and multi-player, since IIRC google treats a - as a space.
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Post by Stilgar » December 31st, 2007, 3:07 pm

Simons Mith wrote:I also noticed a handful of mixed usages which really should be avoided, such as "The village supports one unit, and pays one gold per turn: you're only losing 1 gold per turn now."
Yes, in a case like that it ought to at least be made consistent, and in that sort of situation using the words makes sense.

As for "hit points" I'll concede that one being iffy, "hitpoints" seems more natural to me but to be honest if I were talking as one gamer to another I'd probably say "HP" or "health" instead of either "hit points" or "hitpoints".

And I think the word I was looking for earlier when I wrote "old" is "stuffy". The scene that runs through my mind is this one:

Jeeves: Shall I start Wesnoth for a spot of multi-player, Sir?
Bertie: Right-o, that sounds smashing.
Jeeves: Remember to mind your hit points, Sir.

Maybe it's partly a USA vs. UK difference in preference, but it seems to me that hyphenating words that tend not to be hyphenated does give a rather formal "olde times"-ish feeling, for me anyways. Certainly in reading older literature one sees words hyphenated that aren't any more. "To-night" and "to-morrow" come to mind, I'm sure there are others.

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Post by Simons Mith » December 31st, 2007, 3:22 pm

Master Stilgar wrote: As for "hit points" I'll concede that one being iffy, "hitpoints" seems more natural to me but to be honest if I were talking as one gamer to another I'd probably say "HP" or "health" instead of either "hit points" or "hitpoints".

And I think the word I was looking for earlier when I wrote "old" is "stuffy". The scene that runs through my mind is this one:

Jeeves: Shall I start Wesnoth for a spot of multi-player, Sir?
Bertie: Right-o, that sounds smashing.
Jeeves: Remember to mind your hit points, Sir.

Maybe it's partly a USA vs. UK difference in preference, but it seems to me that hyphenating words that tend not to be hyphenated does give a rather formal "olde times"-ish feeling, for me anyways. Certainly in reading older literature one sees words hyphenated that aren't any more. "To-night" and "to-morrow" come to mind, I'm sure there are others.
You may well be right - that Jeeves/Wooster dialog is spot-on. Maybe a change for the British English translation only then :-). But there is also another consistency issue; even you degenerate USAians haven't got as far as "experiencepoints" yet, so keeping "hit points" and "experience points" as two words may be considered preferable from that viewpoint.

To make a start, I've rewritten the tips.cfg file to use words instead of numbers throughout, and 'hit points' instead of 'hitpoints'. And never being able to resist the urge to fiddle, I've tweaked some other parts of the copy and typography too. I haven't changed the hyphen symbols to dashes. And I've added a couple of new tips. I'll attach it to a new thread in a moment.

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Post by CarpeGuitarrem » December 31st, 2007, 5:26 pm

Clonkinator wrote:None of the proposed ideas except for #3 maybe (as long as it doesn't apply to the units' status display) seem to make any sense to me, and I highly doubt the benefit of any of those. Imho this would be a major waste of time; I'd prefer to see this time invested in reallyimproving the game, and maybe giving the remaining units some missing animations (like death animations for example).
It's not necessarily a waste of time if people like the original poster are pros at this, and specialize in this. I mean, you can technically say that stuff like units' idle animations are a waste of time. (or death animations, for that matter, since it's perfectly acceptable, albeit not as nice-looking, to have a simple fade-out without animation)

It's all in what you're good at doing. Currently, the proposed plan isn't sucking away any resources from the rest of development, since the original poster has indeed shown a willingness to do the work himself. And new contributions are always welcome...


Hmm...a British-English translation, sounds worthy to me! :lol: I'm just trying to imagine Konrad speaking in Cockney...
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Post by Isen » December 31st, 2007, 11:24 pm

The number thing, I must protest strongly against. Yes, numbers should be written as words in, say, dialogue, ie: "I see one orc approaching". When referring to the game mechanics, however, I maintain that it should be in numerals: "This orc costs 1 gold in upkeep". Why? When reading the latter, there's a good chance the player already knows that the orc costs *something* in upkeep. They're just unsure as to the number. So rather than reading the whole thing, they would be prone to scan it. If the number is written in words, it could easily slip their notice. If it's a numeral, it will be instantly detectable.

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