More on What IF is...

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Jean-Henri Duteau

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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First off, let me say that I've been proudly lurking on r.a.i-f for
years. 8-) Actually, I've contributed a post or two every now and
then. It's just that I find most of the posters here will eventually
express what I want to say and in a much more elegant way.

But, I didn't find anyone discussing the combination of
characterization and viewpoint together. That's why I thought I'd
bring up this discussion. Forgive me if it seems redundant to some,
but it just might be new to others, so I'll continue.

It's funny but there seem to be two different viewpoints on the
subject of IF viewpoint (no pun intended). Some people go with the
attitude, "It works, so why fix it?". Others are willing to admit
that a change in scenery would add a lot to some fiction.

Someone tried to give counter-examples to my Gone With The Wind
example. For instance, who's the main character in Pulp Fiction.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen Pulp Fiction yet, but my answer is still
the same. Ahh, but there are characters in Pulp Fiction and you learn
some of their background and some of their motives. They aren't just
blank faces with names, are they?

BTW, my favorite Infocom game was AMFV. Maybe because there was an
immense amount of characterization and plot that occurred before the
game even started. I don't think that giving a lot of
plot/characterization detracts from the IF medium. In fact, I think
it helps it alot. If you look at the evolution of the Zork games
(ignoring the Activision stuff), the later games kept trying to add
these devices before you started playing. Zork Zero even had the
"preface" that you played to learn the history. In fact, I think that
all of IF IS moving this way. I just think we should realize it.
More and more, IF authors realize that to present a good story, you
have to ground it in something. I desperately want to get out of the
attic in 'Curses' because of two reasons, there is a STORY there, I
just know it from the posts I've read, and because I just love reading
Graham's writing. If I didn't know there was a story to read in
'Curses', I'd have deleted it a long time ago.

And I suppose that's what I'm leading up to in all this nattering, I
think that we're going to use up the current IF modes fairly soon as
more and more authors realize that it's a STORY that we want and not a
game. I really think that there's only so much of a story one can
tell in 2nd person viewpoint. I would like to see more stories
written in some other viewpoint. I believe that, to make this
realistic, the programming would be much harder.

I disagree with Andrew who says that the programming won't be harder,
just a matter of changing the strings. If all you did was change the
strings, I don't think your story would read very well. And you
probably wouldn't suspend the belief of the "reader".

Lastly, for those of you who have indicated I should "put up or shut
up", I've begun the coding of my one-room example. It's one part of a
murder mystery where you watch and lead the exploits of Jack McKane in
his search for a black book that will lead to the conviction of a
local Mafioso. Unfortunately, it will probably be ready just after
"Avalon" is released 8-), since I have a ton of other projects
on-the-go. But once it's finished, we might have something more to
discuss.

--
Jean-Henri Duteau je...@myrias.com (work) je...@west-teq.net (home)
Fantasy Sports Guru -- Commissioner--RHL,RHHL,UFHL,CFFL.Owner--FFL,RCFFL
Interested in fantasy sports??? Check out http://west-teq.net/~jeand/
Currently working on RHS -- a GNU Hockey Simulator system. 8-)

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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Subject: Re: More on What IF is...
Newsgroups: rec.arts.int-fiction
References: <xktybi1...@moe.Myrias.AB.CA>
Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> It's funny but there seem to be two different viewpoints on the
> subject of IF viewpoint (no pun intended). Some people go with the
> attitude, "It works, so why fix it?". Others are willing to admit
> that a change in scenery would add a lot to some fiction.

If you're going to divide us into "people who agree with me" versus
"people who are wrong", I'm not playing.

> And I suppose that's what I'm leading up to in all this nattering, I
> think that we're going to use up the current IF modes fairly soon as
> more and more authors realize that it's a STORY that we want and not a
> game. I really think that there's only so much of a story one can
> tell in 2nd person viewpoint. I would like to see more stories
> written in some other viewpoint. I believe that, to make this
> realistic, the programming would be much harder.

> I disagree with Andrew who says that the programming won't be harder,
> just a matter of changing the strings. If all you did was change the
> strings, I don't think your story would read very well. And you
> probably wouldn't suspend the belief of the "reader".

I guess I see two separate issues here: viewpoint and characterization.
Viewpoint, 2nd or 3rd, *is* just a matter of changing strings, *has* been
done before, and (in my opinion) has nothing to do with characterization.
You can use exactly the same writing techniques in 2nd and 3rd person. I
think it would be as effective for me (as a player.) Perhaps it would not
be as effective for you; but my point is, game authors to date have not
been limited by their choice of 2nd person.

Am I expressing myself coherently? (I doubt it.) Let me go back to your
example from a previous post:

[What do you want him to do?]
>ENTER THE CITY
>Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
>thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
>see them again........

Had I (as an author) wanted to use this writing effect, I would have
written it in precise parallel:

>ENTER THE CITY
>Although feelings of fear try to weaken your knees, you start to walk
>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in your mind,
>thoughts about your wife and his family. You wonder if you ever will
>see them again........

Maybe that doesn't work for you. I think it works for most people on this
newsgroup, because the convention has been around so long. But if you're
not finding this sort of game, it's not because the 2nd-person style
makes it unavailable to us. It is available; and the programming is
identical.

(Furthermore, I think it's being used. Most games use it at key points in
the plot, rather than all the way through. I've certainly tried to do
this sort of thing myself. Check out _So Far_ and "A Change in the
Weather" (particularly the second phase of "Weather".)

I think you're missing the forest for the trees on your own idea. As
nearly as I can tell, you're thinking of a richer flavor of interaction,
with more context-sensitive messages about the protagonist's emotional
state -- which happens to be in 3rd person. But it's the interaction
which is interesting, not the viewpoint.

> Lastly, for those of you who have indicated I should "put up or shut
> up", I've begun the coding of my one-room example. It's one part of a
> murder mystery where you watch and lead the exploits of Jack McKane in
> his search for a black book that will lead to the conviction of a
> local Mafioso. Unfortunately, it will probably be ready just after
> "Avalon" is released 8-), since I have a ton of other projects
> on-the-go. But once it's finished, we might have something more to
> discuss.

I look forward to it.

--Z


--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Jean-Henri Duteau

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:
> > It's funny but there seem to be two different viewpoints on the
> > subject of IF viewpoint (no pun intended). Some people go with the
> > attitude, "It works, so why fix it?". Others are willing to admit
> > that a change in scenery would add a lot to some fiction.
>
> If you're going to divide us into "people who agree with me" versus
> "people who are wrong", I'm not playing.
>
No, no, no. You're reading that paragraph wrong. I was pointing out
that even in IF, we have people who don't want to admit the earth is
round. Now, I may be totally off the mark. My ideas might not be
worth discussing, but I'll listen to someone like Andrew who backs up
his arguments with very good points to someone who says "IF is good
the way it is, why should we try something new?". See below for more
comments about my hair-brained ideas.8-)

> > And I suppose that's what I'm leading up to in all this nattering, I
> > think that we're going to use up the current IF modes fairly soon as
> > more and more authors realize that it's a STORY that we want and not a
> > game. I really think that there's only so much of a story one can
> > tell in 2nd person viewpoint. I would like to see more stories
> > written in some other viewpoint. I believe that, to make this
> > realistic, the programming would be much harder.
>
> > I disagree with Andrew who says that the programming won't be harder,
> > just a matter of changing the strings. If all you did was change the
> > strings, I don't think your story would read very well. And you
> > probably wouldn't suspend the belief of the "reader".
>
> I guess I see two separate issues here: viewpoint and characterization.
> Viewpoint, 2nd or 3rd, *is* just a matter of changing strings, *has* been
> done before, and (in my opinion) has nothing to do with characterization.
> You can use exactly the same writing techniques in 2nd and 3rd person. I
> think it would be as effective for me (as a player.) Perhaps it would not
> be as effective for you; but my point is, game authors to date have not
> been limited by their choice of 2nd person.
>

This is where we disagree. I'd like to see other people's take on
this idea. I feel that to achieve greater characterization, IF is
going to need a switch in viewpoint. I agree with you that you can
change viewpoint with no consequences on characterization. BUT it is
my basic premise that our current viewpoint: 2nd person, can only lead
us so far down the story-telling path. To really suspend our beliefs
and make us "live the story", I believe a switch in viewpoint is
required.

I also agree that JUST switching viewpoint would probably just involve
changing strings (with a few other trivial changes to a program). But
if that's all we did, we wouldn't be using the potential of a 1st
person story or a 3rd person story and that potential is the extra
characterization that those viewpoints bring with them. To fully
appreciate the change in viewpoint, I think we HAVE to add the extra
characterization. And that's what will be hard to program properly,
in my opinion, the characterization that will move IF on to the new
level.


> Am I expressing myself coherently? (I doubt it.) Let me go back to your
> example from a previous post:
>
> [What do you want him to do?]
> >ENTER THE CITY
> >Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
> >toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
> >thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
> >see them again........
>
> Had I (as an author) wanted to use this writing effect, I would have
> written it in precise parallel:
>
> >ENTER THE CITY
> >Although feelings of fear try to weaken your knees, you start to walk
> >toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in your mind,
> >thoughts about your wife and his family. You wonder if you ever will
> >see them again........
>
> Maybe that doesn't work for you. I think it works for most people on this
> newsgroup, because the convention has been around so long. But if you're
> not finding this sort of game, it's not because the 2nd-person style
> makes it unavailable to us. It is available; and the programming is
> identical.
>

See, I just don't agree with you here. I feel the first example, given
that I'm reading about this main character, is much more emotional
than the second. Now, we all have to remember that this is one little
excerpt so it doesn't scale properly, but maybe that's where the
differences in opinion occur...those who don't see a difference and
those who do.

> I think you're missing the forest for the trees on your own idea. As
> nearly as I can tell, you're thinking of a richer flavor of interaction,
> with more context-sensitive messages about the protagonist's emotional
> state -- which happens to be in 3rd person. But it's the interaction
> which is interesting, not the viewpoint.
>

You're probably right. I AM crying for a richer interaction. I do
want more context-sensitive messages and I do want to learn about the
protagonist's emotional state. And, through the power of yours and others'
arguments 8-), I am beginning to see how that COULD be done in the current
viewpoint stories we have. But I think there is more potential for
richer and more involved stories IF we switched our viewpoints.

I've read arguments here before about viewpoint. But as more and more
great games appear and they still maintain the 2nd person viewpoint, I
wonder why no one is switching. Is it just tradition that keeps us in
this mold? Would anyone play a game that wasn't in the 2nd person?
Or is there some unseen force stopping us from writing them that way?
(Not unlike the oil companies and electric powered cars 8-])

Just what would it take to develop more characterization of the
protagonist? To make us really live the character. This is why AMFV
is one of favorite IF pieces. When you start the story, you are
already filled with a lot of information about who you are. If we
could take that back-story and make it interactive, then we'd more
closely achieve the progress I'm thinking of.

In a novel, we generally learn more about our characters and their
motivations as the story progresses. Through various story gimmicks
such as flashbacks, conversations,etc. we learn more about the people
we're reading about. How many of these literary devices are used in
IF? How could we effectively use them in IF?

I suppose a lot of my answers will be answered as I continue
programming my little one room. But I wonder if other people out
there have ideas about this. Has anyone tried and succeeded? I think
we'd like to hear the success story. Conversely, has anyone tried and
found it too hard?

Jean Duteau

Cardinal Teulbachs

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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>Am I expressing myself coherently? (I doubt it.) Let me go back to your
>example from a previous post:

>[What do you want him to do?]
>>ENTER THE CITY
>>Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
>>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
>>thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
>>see them again........

>Had I (as an author) wanted to use this writing effect, I would have
>written it in precise parallel:

>>ENTER THE CITY
>>Although feelings of fear try to weaken your knees, you start to walk
>>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in your mind,
>>thoughts about your wife and his family. You wonder if you ever will
>>see them again........

>Maybe that doesn't work for you. I think it works for most people on this
>newsgroup, because the convention has been around so long. But if you're
>not finding this sort of game, it's not because the 2nd-person style
>makes it unavailable to us. It is available; and the programming is
>identical.

I think what everyone is missing is that the voice will (or ought to)
depend upon the story. Second person perspective works when the reader
is described as a good person who performs virtuous actions--save the
universe, rescue the princess--but does not work when the reader is
described as debased--unless the reader happens to be debased, in
which case he/she will find perverse pleasure in it. Leaving aside i-f
for the moment and just looking at conventional writing, I will become
immediately and intensely hostile if some author declares that I, the
reader, am (for example) a child-rapist. To hell with the pretension
that he's not writing about me. He chose the second person for some
reason didn't he? So what's he trying to say? Either he's of a mind
that all people--myself included--are potential rapists or he's trying
to tempt me to such acts myself. That is, he's saying that I should
find something acceptable in the notion of being a child rapist; that
I shouldn't rebel at the very thought. Well, as is natural to anyone
who is not a child-rapist or potential child-rapist, I am not going to
be of a mind to grant that I am the character in his story. No matter
how well he writes or how rich and vivid his prose is, or how deeply
he pretends to probe the human psyche, I'll find it hateful and refuse
to listen to it, because he's presumed to accuse me of the most
hideous kind of vice.

He can get away with writing that same story in the first- or
third-person, though, because then the implication is only that this
kind of perversity does exist in some people and the reader is left
free to take the parts of the person described that resemble himself
and leave the ones that don't and come to some conclusion about his
own moral character and how he ought to act and so on. And in first-
and third-person fiction the opposite case holds true as well: if the
character being described is not bad but good, we're not invited to
think that he is us, but we're of a mind that we wish we were. Here
our resemblance to the character is seen as a glory and our
differences from him as a deficiency on our part.

So back to the second-person view. If a story is written in which the
reader is accused of being a morally virtuous person rather than an
evil or unsympathetic one, a similarly opposite effect takes place:
whereas in the other case the reader was repulsed, now the reader is
attracted to the idea. He doesn't much mind being told that he's
courageous or whatnot, even if he really isn't, since in any case he'd
like to be. He enjoys playing the part of the good guy and saving the
world or rescuing the princess. It's not an insult to him to suppose
that he's that kind of person. And this is why the successful i-f
stories center around a character who is viewed as virtuous in some
way: one who saves the universe or who rescues the princess or who
catches the murderer.

Which is all the long way around saying that it's not indifferent
whether you write i-f in the second-person or not. It will be
beneficial and, in fact, preferable when the character your reader is
supposed to be is one he actually wants to be. The more he really,
truly wants to be (like) that character, the more he'll enjoy the
second-person mode. But the more he doesn't want to be the character,
in the sense that he doesn't want to be thought of as a person of that
moral constitution, the more he'll hate the second-person mode and
your game.

So there's an advantage to both positions: the advantage in first- and
third-person perspective that Jean-Henri is talking about is that the
author can develop any character in as much depth as he pleases with
less fear of alienating the reader/player. Some people might be taken
aback if he writes about certain things, but they won't be insulted by
any direct accusation that they themselves are actually wrapped up in
them. The advantage in Andrew's position comes in the case of good
characters only, but then it weighs more heavily (depending, of
course, on how far readers view his story character as good) because
the reader delights in being good, in thinking himself to be good,
and in being thought to be good.

--Cardinal T

I mean, what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's
progress with soup cans in the kitchen pantry?
--Russ Bryan

Honorable Mention: Jean-Henri Duteau

Isn't this .sig a little long? I hope *I* never
contribute to such a tremendous waste of bandwidth.
--Jools the Whiney


Nulldogma

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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Jean-Henri writes:

> This is where we disagree. I'd like to see other people's take on
> this idea. I feel that to achieve greater characterization, IF is
> going to need a switch in viewpoint. I agree with you that you can
> change viewpoint with no consequences on characterization. BUT it is
> my basic premise that our current viewpoint: 2nd person, can only lead
> us so far down the story-telling path. To really suspend our beliefs
> and make us "live the story", I believe a switch in viewpoint is
> required.

As someone currently working on a work of I-F with highly developed
characters and traditional 2nd-person perspective, I think you're wrong. I
won't be able to prove you wrong for at least another few months
(operative words above: "working on"), but I think most I-F players are
closer to Andrew's view than yours.

Not that there's anything wrong with first- or third-person I-F (though I,
too, feel a bit like I'm controlling a puppet when I play such games). I
just think there are good reasons for second-person in addition to just
tradition.

Neil

---------------------------------------------------------
Neil deMause ne...@echonyc.com
http://www.echonyc.com/~wham/neild.html
---------------------------------------------------------

Brad O`Donnell

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau wrote:
>

It's me again. (The question of the future of IF is forever off-and-
on our minds.) To me, the experience of an adventure game is like
this:
I'm a guy sitting at a keyboard.
I'm typing in commands for someone, possibly my in-game persona,
to execute.
Most of the time, the game gives no indication of the inner states
of the people I'm ordering around; My own emotional reaction to
events is guiding my inputs, along with some "logic".
Occaisionally, the game pops up with some response to some command
which is either contradictory ("You can't see any such thing.")
("You don't feel like climbing the tree.")
or inconsistent with what I've been thinking all this time
(" A copy of your head is here, in the android repair room.")
The latter are usually used to good effect...while the former often
are only used to limit action.

Point #1:

The trend in IF has been that the personality of an in-game persona
is usually defined by the things it can't or won't do, instead of
their skills and personality. Also, the persona often will "You dash
into the line of fire, just in time to push Jamie out of the way. A
bullet grazes your shoulder, but you can take it..." but also will
"You decide not to climb the tree; you might fall and get killed."
Characterization would be nice if it were used to expand the persona,
not just to limit the ways in which the Player can command it.

> > >ENTER THE CITY
> > >Although feelings of fear try to weaken your knees, you start to walk
> > >toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in your mind,
> > >thoughts about your wife and his family. You wonder if you ever will
> > >see them again........
> >
> > Maybe that doesn't work for you. I think it works for most people on this
> > newsgroup, because the convention has been around so long.

I'd have to see the rest of the game to say whether it works for me.
Hopefully, a game would have had events prior to entering the city
which would justify the above response, even if not actually evoking
such feelings while I'm typing in the command, scared to press Enter.

....but heaven help if that message appears when I type "enter
the city" again... I'll think that the game is pining for sympathy.


> > But it's the interaction
> > which is interesting, not the viewpoint.
> >
> You're probably right. I AM crying for a richer interaction. I do
> want more context-sensitive messages and I do want to learn about the
> protagonist's emotional state. And, through the power of yours and others'
> arguments 8-), I am beginning to see how that COULD be done in the current
> viewpoint stories we have. But I think there is more potential for
> richer and more involved stories IF we switched our viewpoints.

I really like first-person IF; therefore, I really want to see more
of all viewpoints... the only reason that 2nd person characterizations
seem so strange to me is because they are usually used sparingly, and
seem awkward. One notable exception is Shades of Grey, which is almost
constantly telling you things about yourself as you go through the game,
so you get used to it.

>
> I've read arguments here before about viewpoint. But as more and more
> great games appear and they still maintain the 2nd person viewpoint, I
> wonder why no one is switching. Is it just tradition that keeps us in
> this mold?

Almost, but not quite; Infocom developed a good set of conventions
for 2ndP IF.

Point #2:

No real set of conventions has caught on in the other
perspectives, therefore most games written that way seem strange.


If the original Adventure had been written in third person, who's
to say that right now most IF wouldn't be in third person, especially
since the argument has it that the effect of differing perspectives
are almost identical?

> Would anyone play a game that wasn't in the 2nd person?

I would... As long as I still type in the Imperative.

> Or is there some unseen force stopping us from writing them that way?
> (Not unlike the oil companies and electric powered cars 8-])

That's one to take to Oliver Stone :)

>
> Just what would it take to develop more characterization of the
> protagonist? To make us really live the character. This is why AMFV
> is one of favorite IF pieces. When you start the story, you are
> already filled with a lot of information about who you are. If we
> could take that back-story and make it interactive, then we'd more
> closely achieve the progress I'm thinking of.

Ah, but where do you start writing? All stories supply some
background eventually....

-----
The Womb.
You are nice and comfy, here in the womb.
> Kick mommy.
"Oh, there he goes again!"
------


--
Brad O'Donnell

"In any battle between the will and the imagination,
the imagination will win:
If you imagine you can, you _might_ not;
If you imagine you can't, you _will_ not!"
--T.L. Rampa

Phyllis902

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:
>
>I'd like to see other people's take on
>this idea. I feel that to achieve greater characterization, IF is
>going to need a switch in viewpoint.
>[...]

>the potential of a 1st
>person story or a 3rd person story [...] is the extra

>characterization that those viewpoints bring with them.

The same information, about the player character, at least, can be
presented in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd person. It's the amount of information
about the characters that matters for depth of characterization, not the
voice it is presented in. However, both the 1st and 2nd person are
restricted to the narrator's point of view, the 3rd person can (but
doesn't have to) present information from other character's frames of
reference.

card...@earthlink.net (Cardinal Teulbachs) wrote:
>
>Which is all the long way around saying that it's not indifferent
>whether you write i-f in the second-person or not.

Right, it does make a difference, but the difference is in distance, not
depth of characterization (although a lack of characterization can create
distance too).

In general, I think the 2nd person is closest to the audience and the 3rd
person is farthest.

>The more he really,
>truly wants to be (like) that character, the more he'll enjoy the
>second-person mode. But the more he doesn't want to be the character,
>in the sense that he doesn't want to be thought of as a person of that
>moral constitution, the more he'll hate the second-person mode and
>your game.

I think that role playing (and IF is a form of role playing -- not the
clinical sort or the die-rolling sort -- but it is still role playing) is
most interesting when the participant's character is very different from
the participant's personality.

- Phyllis

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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Brad O`Donnell (s7...@romulus.sun.csd.unb.ca) wrote:
> The trend in IF has been that the personality of an in-game persona
> is usually defined by the things it can't or won't do, instead of
> their skills and personality. Also, the persona often will "You dash
> into the line of fire, just in time to push Jamie out of the way. A
> bullet grazes your shoulder, but you can take it..." but also will
> "You decide not to climb the tree; you might fall and get killed."
> Characterization would be nice if it were used to expand the persona,
> not just to limit the ways in which the Player can command it.

But then, when I'm reading static fiction, I much prefer the sort of
writing which describes characters by what they do, as opposed to saying
what they feel. "Show, don't tell." This is another effect I try to put
in my IF writing.

Julian Arnold

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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In article <527u7p$4...@guyana.earthlink.net>, Cardinal Teulbachs

The basic rationale behind the Cardinal's argument is sound, but I also
think that *if* you say a 2nd-person child-rape (or whatever, let's just
say "offensive") story is implying that the player is a potential/actual
"offender", then you must say that a 1st- or 3rd-person "offensive"
story is calling the player a voyeur. Bearing in mind that I don't see
it in these terms anyway, there is a much stronger case for the second
argument than the first-- reading such a story/playing such a game could
very well be seen as a voyeuristic pleasure, while OTOH a story about
child-rape, from whatever viewpoint it was written, isn't going to make
me, as a person, (and I hope this is true of most other people) enjoy
the thought of, or contemplate committing, child rape.

All that being said, a 2nd-person "offensive" story would be more
offensive/challenging/confrontational than a 1st- or 3rd-person version
of the same, so I agree with the Cardinal in that sense.

> So back to the second-person view. If a story is written in which the
> reader is accused of being a morally virtuous person rather than an
> evil or unsympathetic one, a similarly opposite effect takes place:
> whereas in the other case the reader was repulsed, now the reader is
> attracted to the idea. He doesn't much mind being told that he's
> courageous or whatnot, even if he really isn't, since in any case he'd
> like to be. He enjoys playing the part of the good guy and saving the
> world or rescuing the princess. It's not an insult to him to suppose
> that he's that kind of person. And this is why the successful i-f
> stories center around a character who is viewed as virtuous in some
> way: one who saves the universe or who rescues the princess or who
> catches the murderer.

This may be (probably is) a contributing factor to the success of some
IFs (though we haven't seen many that try to cast the PC as a baddy
anyway). Would "Jigsaw" have the same popularity if the PC was Black,
rather than White? OTOH, it's rather feeble if people just switch off
when they hear something other than what they want to hear.

> Which is all the long way around saying that it's not indifferent
> whether you write i-f in the second-person or not. It will be
> beneficial and, in fact, preferable when the character your reader is
> supposed to be is one he actually wants to be. The more he really,
> truly wants to be (like) that character, the more he'll enjoy the
> second-person mode. But the more he doesn't want to be the character,
> in the sense that he doesn't want to be thought of as a person of that
> moral constitution, the more he'll hate the second-person mode and
> your game.

I don't think it's that simple. For example, a player playing a
2nd-person "offensive" story may be more inclined to press on and have
his character seek some kind of redemption than if he was playing the
same story in 1st- or 3rd-person. That would be an effect of the player
associating himself with the character. Of course, if the story offers
no way for the character to seek redemption, it may be in trouble.

Jools
--


Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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And what of graphical games? There are basically two graphical views
used, commonly called "first-person" and "third-person" - Myst and
King's Quest being respective examples. "First-person" graphics really
correspond to the use of the second person in text games: the world is
presented as from within. The player steps into the character's shoes.
The big difference is that, in a purely graphical game, there is no
narrative voice between you and the world.

Perhaps this factor is more significant than we think.


card...@earthlink.net (Cardinal Teulbachs) writes:

>I think what everyone is missing is that the voice will (or ought to)
>depend upon the story. Second person perspective works when the reader
>is described as a good person who performs virtuous actions--save the
>universe, rescue the princess--but does not work when the reader is
>described as debased--unless the reader happens to be debased, in
>which case he/she will find perverse pleasure in it. Leaving aside i-f
>for the moment and just looking at conventional writing, I will become
>immediately and intensely hostile if some author declares that I, the
>reader, am (for example) a child-rapist. To hell with the pretension
>that he's not writing about me. He chose the second person for some
>reason didn't he? So what's he trying to say? Either he's of a mind
>that all people--myself included--are potential rapists or he's trying
>to tempt me to such acts myself. That is, he's saying that I should
>find something acceptable in the notion of being a child rapist; that
>I shouldn't rebel at the very thought. Well, as is natural to anyone
>who is not a child-rapist or potential child-rapist, I am not going to
>be of a mind to grant that I am the character in his story. No matter
>how well he writes or how rich and vivid his prose is, or how deeply
>he pretends to probe the human psyche, I'll find it hateful and refuse
>to listen to it, because he's presumed to accuse me of the most
>hideous kind of vice.

This is the paragraph that inspired me to mention graphic adventures.
There is a game called "The Dark Eye", based on several short stories
by Edgar Allan Poe, using "first person" (which is to say, second
person) perspective. In order to advance the story, you have to
commit a several brutal murders.

Do we find this repellant? Of course we do; that's largely the point.
Of course, it's also quite clear that you're playing the parts of
fictional characters. That isn't your hand on the old man's throat,
even though you're the one who put it there. But this simply proves
my point: that use of the second person does not keep us from
remaining distinct from the role we play. When a game says "You feel
ill", I take it to be a statement about the character in the game,
not a lie about my actual state of health. "You feel an uncontrollable
urge to strangle the child" is no different.

Mind you, I agree that it would be difficult to write a non-repugnant
game about a child rapist, but this is less a matter of identification
than one of taste. It would be difficult to write a tasteful game in
which the player controlled a child rapist from any viewpoint. But
this ground has been well covered (cf. the thread about adapting the
movie "Seven".)

--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

Mark Musante

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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Brad O`Donnell (s7...@romulus.sun.csd.unb.ca) wrote:
> If the original Adventure had been written in third person, who's
> to say that right now most IF wouldn't be in third person,

Who's to say? *I'm* to say. :-)

Seriously, though, one of the points of interactive fiction is to
put _you the player_ into the story. It "makes sense" for it all to
be written in 2nd person. If the original adventure were written
in 3rd person (or 1st for that matter), it wouldn't have taken long
for a 2nd person game to come out.

Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
this argument.

- Mark

Admiral Jota

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
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b...@max.tiac.net (Carl Muckenhoupt) writes:


>And what of graphical games? There are basically two graphical views
>used, commonly called "first-person" and "third-person" - Myst and
>King's Quest being respective examples. "First-person" graphics really
>correspond to the use of the second person in text games: the world is
>presented as from within. The player steps into the character's shoes.
>The big difference is that, in a purely graphical game, there is no
>narrative voice between you and the world.

>Perhaps this factor is more significant than we think.

Well, I'm going to jump in here, and join the thread (probably just
because I don't want to be left out). I'm not here to express an opinion,
merely to add information although my tone of pen will probably betray my
opinions). Since we're talking about graphical games, here's some
interesting things I've seen in them: Some of the Sierra games use a
narrator that addresses the player in the second person, while still
showing a third person viewpoint.

I'll be a little more specific: In Space Quest VI (terrible interface,
terrible plot, terrible puzzles, fantastic narration), the environment is
shown on screen like a stage or film; the PC, NPCs, etc are all visible.
The narration, however, addresses the PC directly (by name), with things
like "What have you gotten yourself into this time, Roger?" As the game
proceeds, the PC sometimes even responds to the narrator's voice, as
though it were a voice in his (your) head, that only he (you) can hear.

This narration-thing works very well: it separates the 'parser' (their
GUI oint-and-click interface), the action and characters (the things that
are visible/audible normally in the story), and the narration (the voice
of the narrator himself). Despite being a graphical game, it uses the
words (especially the differing voices) to typify much of what IF has
done to give a personality to the being telling the story. It also gives
an interesting new meaning to 'schitzophrenic second person.'


--
/<-= -=-=- -= Admiral Jota =- -=-=- =->\
__/><-=- http://www.tiac.net/users/jota/ =-><\__
\><-= jo...@mv.mv.com -- Finger for PGP =-></
\<-=- -= -=- -= -==- =- -=- =- -=->/

Brad O`Donnell

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> But then, when I'm reading static fiction, I much prefer the sort of
> writing which describes characters by what they do, as opposed to saying
> what they feel. "Show, don't tell." This is another effect I try to put
> in my IF writing.

"Show, don't tell" works most of the time, but sometimes things like
memories and motivation are easiest (if not best) left
unshown. Or unshown AND untold, especially in IF.

Brad O`Donnell

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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Mark Musante wrote:

> Seriously, though, one of the points of interactive fiction is to
> put _you the player_ into the story. It "makes sense" for it all to
> be written in 2nd person. If the original adventure were written
> in 3rd person (or 1st for that matter), it wouldn't have taken long
> for a 2nd person game to come out.

I suppose it depends on how you get into the game.

It "makes sense" because games have always been written that way...
In arcade/adventure games, players often refer to the player on the
screen as "me," even though no attempt is made to suggest that you
_are_ the character... This kind of automatic identification with
controlled objects is similar to what happens when driving a car:
(To borrow an example from Scott McLoud )

When someone one car hits another from behind, the driver of the
stationary car says "He hit ME!"
This statement is inaccurate; What he means is "He drove his car
into my car!" but you would never hear him say it.

(throat clearing)

Since people would still talk in terms of "I pushed the gargoyle
head, and then I walked through the door..." when talking about
games, even if the games were written in third person, I don't see
any reason why people, if a 3rd person convention had been established
at the beginning, would decide that second-person games made more
sense. We're people, not cats (who for some reason find it necessary
to quickly get up, and run to the other side of the sofa, and sit in
the same spot on a different, but functionally identical, cushion.)

You're right, though: a second person game would have come out soon
enough....and I think it would have been accepted as a method of
producing IF. But, since most people today still make IF in the tense
of Crowther and Woods, I don't see that it would have caught on to
dominate the industry...to say so implies that there is an innate
superiority to writing IF in the 2nd person.


>
> Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
> in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
> this argument.


If I knew what Map Rallyes was, I might understand....???

>
> - Mark

Jean-Henri Duteau

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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> Seriously, though, one of the points of interactive fiction is to
> put _you the player_ into the story. It "makes sense" for it all to
> be written in 2nd person. If the original adventure were written
> in 3rd person (or 1st for that matter), it wouldn't have taken long
> for a 2nd person game to come out.
>
I have to disagree with these statements. It's also the point I'm
fighting for. I think one of the points of interactive fiction, at
least as I see it, is to present a collaborative effort between your
and the author. The author provides the basic framework in which the
story elements take place and you provide the impetus. This applies
in all forms of fiction. In Conventional Fiction, your impetus is
constrained to turning one page after another. In IF, you are allowed
the extra abilities to define what the characters think, do, and feel.

I grant you that IF _started_ with the idea of putting the player in
the story. But I contend that it's grown past that. I also contend
that IF has grown past the use of 2nd person narrative. To provide
more interaction between ALL the characters and the player, we're
going to need a shift in paradigms.

Here's a question for you...are there any games out there that allow
you to take on the roles of different characters AT THE SAME TIME? I
know about HGTTG and SUSPENDED, but they aren't what I'm getting at.
I don't believe that I have a game of the sort I'm asking about in my
collection. But I run a UNIX box so some of the DOS only stuff I
haven't played.

> Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
> in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
> this argument.
>

Unfortunately, I don't know what this is. "Map Rallyes"?? Is there a
spelling mistake here? Can someone help me out?8-)

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> I grant you that IF _started_ with the idea of putting the player in
> the story. But I contend that it's grown past that. I also contend
> that IF has grown past the use of 2nd person narrative. To provide
> more interaction between ALL the characters and the player, we're
> going to need a shift in paradigms.

Actually, to reiterate history again, the Scott Adams adventures were 3rd
person. And the first three of these predate Infocom, though not Colossal
Cave or mainframe Dungeon. (I can prove this, really. When my father
bought our first little old Apple II+, the first two game disks we got
were S.A adventures 1, 2, and 3, and Zork. The Zork disk was not yet
labelled Zork I; it was not yet labelled Infocom. I think Eduware was the
publisher.)

(Actually, I may be misinterpreting; it may be that Infocom had formed as
a company, but had not yet started publishing their own titles.)

The point was, at that time, 3rd-person adventures outnumbered 2nd-person
three to two. :-)

*At the time*, I decided that I liked the 2nd-person viewpoint better,
for pretty much the reasons people are still posting. (And not because
the S.A. games were written with sentence fragments and a two-word
parser. That was a separate problem.)

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> Here's a question for you...are there any games out there that allow
> you to take on the roles of different characters AT THE SAME TIME? I
> know about HGTTG and SUSPENDED, but they aren't what I'm getting at.
> I don't believe that I have a game of the sort I'm asking about in my
> collection. But I run a UNIX box so some of the DOS only stuff I
> haven't played.

I don't know of any such text games. There are several graphical
3rd-person games with multiple characters; _The Dig_, for example, or
_Star Trek: Final Unity_.

It's hard to tell the potential of that attitude, though, because both of
those are so badly written. Bleah. Yes, I know _The Dig_ is credited to
Orson Scott Card. The dialog (in the demo I played) is still agonizingly
bad.

This is an interesting point. You could do a two-character game with two
independent text streams, one in the main window and one in the status
window... (actually that would suck, because many Z-interpreters don't
scroll text in the status window, and I'm sure no other IF system does.
But pretend it *is* possible. :-)

With two windows, putting both in 2nd-person might be uncomfortable. Then
again, we've gotten used to a lot of weird things. What if one window was
2nd and one was 3rd, to produce a "protagonist and sidekick" effect? Or
a "human hero and guardian angel" effect? Lots of options.

Jean-Henri Duteau

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:
> Actually, to reiterate history again, the Scott Adams adventures were 3rd
> person. And the first three of these predate Infocom, though not Colossal
> Cave or mainframe Dungeon. (I can prove this, really. When my father
Yes, I'm not contradicting that. I just think we got stuck in an
adventure game mold that is becoming hard to break out of. I realize
that the S.A adventures were not 2nd person. But, given the
rudimentary of the parser and the descriptions, it's hard to really
call it 3rd person *grin*

Anyways, IF has grown out of the adventure game mold. Just as
Story-Telling has grown out of the RPG and become a new form of
fiction in its own right, IF has its parallels with the adventure
games. Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not
enough room to carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
fiction aspects of it.

It's my contention that:

1) IF needs to break away with the adventure game tradition

To do that, I also contend:

2) We need to shift our viewpoint from the current 2nd person to 1st
or 3rd person.

3) We need to work on the development of Character, both in the user's
character and in the other characters.

But, we're beginning to hash these arguments to death now. 8-)

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> Anyways, IF has grown out of the adventure game mold. Just as
> Story-Telling has grown out of the RPG and become a new form of
> fiction in its own right, IF has its parallels with the adventure
> games. Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not
> enough room to carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
> fiction aspects of it.

Who are you calling "we", white boy?

Greg Falcon

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
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Yep, it's time for me to throw in my opinion.

Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:

>Anyways, IF has grown out of the adventure game mold. Just as
>Story-Telling has grown out of the RPG and become a new form of
>fiction in its own right, IF has its parallels with the adventure
>games. Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not
>enough room to carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
>fiction aspects of it.

Really? See, this is where I was thrown off.

Quite a few years ago, I was into these great games. They were text
based, and everyone called them "text adventures". Anyway, eventually
I got burnt out for a while so I did other things. I came back later
and I saw that people are still making great games, except now that
they are calling them "interactive fiction".

Which is fine, I guess. But I was never under the impression that
"interactive fiction" was anything more than a buzz word. Now I see
that I might be wrong.

If I _enjoy_ "locked door" puzzles and "not enough room to carry"
puzzles, should I try to find a "text adventure archive" somewhere?

I never liked the term "interactive fiction". It sounds so much like
a buzz word. Very vague. It could refer to anything. Ultima. Final
Fantasy. The Legend of Zelda II. Choose your own adventure books.
Zork. Those "neverending story" games where you read the story and
add a chapter. Dungeons and Dragons. Risk. MUDs. Basically,
anything that was "fiction" and "interactive". But people call text
adventures "interactive fiction" now, so I had to adapt that into my
vocabulary.

>It's my contention that:

>1) IF needs to break away with the adventure game tradition

>To do that, I also contend:

>2) We need to shift our viewpoint from the current 2nd person to 1st
>or 3rd person.

>3) We need to work on the development of Character, both in the user's
>character and in the other characters.

fic.tion \'fik-sh*n\ \-shn*l, -sh*n-*l\ \-e-\ n [etomology cut]
1a: something invented by the imagination or feigned; specif : an
invented story 1b: fictitious literature (as novels or short stories)

2: an assumption of a possibility as a fact irrespective of the
question of its truth 3: the action of feigning or of creating with
the imagination - fic.tion.al aj

Nothing says that fiction HAS to be a short story or novel.

Am I completely wrong here? In what sense is Zork or Adventure not
fiction? I sure hope IF doesn't get to a point where it has to mean
"interactive book". If it ever does, I'm leaving. ;-)

If you WANT to see interactive books, that's fine. But your post
sounded (to me) like "IF needs to become this." But that's just
opinion. If we're going to use a buzz term like Interactive Fiction,
then we have to be prepared to accept into it anything that is, well,
interactive and fiction.

I am working steadily on my game, Escape From Planet Thid. (Come to
think of it, you probably already know that. I've only mentioned it
on r.a.i-f. about a dozen times. From now on, I think I'll just call
it Thid and hope for the best.) Thid has three puzzles in it which
are basically "locked door" puzzles. There is no concern about
carrying too many items, but there IS a lot of money management,
another trivial puzzle.

Phil Lester (protagonist of Thid) is a character. He has a definate
personality (even if this personality is mentioned primarily in the
introduction and is only hinted at during the main game.) Even if I
haven't mentioned some quality about him in the game, though, that
doesn't mean he doesn't HAVE that quality; It just merely never came
up in my writing. But still, no matter how much of a developed
character Phil might be, he's there so you can play a game
vicariously.

Thid is in the second person. Most of it is not extremely concerned
with character development. Does this mean I shouldn't call it
Interactive Fiction? I can't agree that I shouldn't.

My $0.02.

Greg

--
i've never stolen a .sig idea - wait, i guess i have


Mark Musante

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> > Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
> > in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
> > this argument.
> Unfortunately, I don't know what this is. "Map Rallyes"?? Is there a
> spelling mistake here? Can someone help me out?8-)

Well, it is off-topic, I guess, but since two people asked (so far),
I may as well explain.

A map rallye is a road rallye using maps. You're given a set of maps,
a set of route instructions, and a set of questions and you do your
best to follow the instructions depsite the fact that the people who
put together the rallye are trying to trick you into giving incorrect
responses. In order to emerse you into the action, the route
instructions are written in 2nd person.

E.g. from a recent rallye I completed: Peering into the distance, you
sense quite a hubbub coming from Hanga Roa. And, nearby, you hear
something stumbling through the underbrush up toward you. Oh, it's
Mr Heyerdahl. "I just realized: 2 of the moai (`moai' is both
singular and plural) on Map 10 are unidentified. That means their
spirits are unfulfilled. Let's go." He leads you directly to the
top of Maunga (Mt.) Orito.

- Mark

John Francis

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

Phyllis902 wrote:

>
> Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:
> >
> >The more he really,
> >truly wants to be (like) that character, the more he'll enjoy the
> >second-person mode. But the more he doesn't want to be the character,
> >in the sense that he doesn't want to be thought of as a person of that
> >moral constitution, the more he'll hate the second-person mode and
> >your game.
>
> I think that role playing (and IF is a form of role playing -- not the
> clinical sort or the die-rolling sort -- but it is still role playing) is
> most interesting when the participant's character is very different from
> the participant's personality.
>
> - Phyllis

The significant point here is that IF is a form of role-playing. And the
best role-playing sessions in my experience are those where the GM asks
"What do you do now?", not "What does your character do now?"
Second person narrative gives a more complete sense of immersion.

Paul Trauth

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Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

Mark Musante (olo...@roundlake.baxter.com) wrote:

: Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
: > > Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
: > > in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
: > > this argument.
: > Unfortunately, I don't know what this is. "Map Rallyes"?? Is there a
: > spelling mistake here? Can someone help me out?8-)
:
: Well, it is off-topic, I guess, but since two people asked (so far),
: I may as well explain.

Ah, he was talking about what I thought he was... Basically, a map rally
(to spell it properly) is, well, the exact opposite of what a bunch of
people seem to think IF should develop into - an entirely puzzle-based
amusement.

I know of only two, both done by the same folks. "The St. Valentine's Day
Massacre" and "The Great Maltese Circumglobal Trophy Dash". Basically, it's
as described by Mark:

: A map rallye is a road rallye using maps. You're given a set of maps,


: a set of route instructions, and a set of questions and you do your
: best to follow the instructions depsite the fact that the people who
: put together the rallye are trying to trick you into giving incorrect
: responses. In order to emerse you into the action, the route
: instructions are written in 2nd person.

It's worth pointing out additionally that if you detest "Games" magazine,
you'll hate these things with a passion. And if you love "Games" magazine,
you've seen ads for them.

--
"But I don't want no tea. It gives me a headache." - Pete Puma
paul trauth: cartoonist, animator, programmer, raccoon. rac...@interline.net


Dylan O'Donnell

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Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
>> Here's a question for you...are there any games out there that allow
>> you to take on the roles of different characters AT THE SAME TIME? I
>> know about HGTTG and SUSPENDED, but they aren't what I'm getting at.
>> I don't believe that I have a game of the sort I'm asking about in my
>> collection. But I run a UNIX box so some of the DOS only stuff I
>> haven't played.
>
>I don't know of any such text games. There are several graphical
>3rd-person games with multiple characters; _The Dig_, for example, or
>_Star Trek: Final Unity_.

Does _Journey_ count? I wonder how a similar system might work with,
instead of limited command options for each character, several input
lines below a separated text window: you choosing whichever character
you want to take action at any point, with the other characters doing
plausible but passive things; if the party splits, it's dealt with
pretty much sequentially.

(_Journey_ had one of the characters, whose name I can't remember, be
"you". But I don't think that's a necessary element)

I only saw Quarterstaff briefly, a long time ago, but I seem to
remember it attempting to do this (but with separate text windows when
the party split, each independent). I'm probably very wrong, though.

--
Dylan O'Donnell (dyl...@demon.net)
Demon Internet Ltd, slave deck.
http://www.vy.com/psmith.html
Aka Psmith (elsewhere). Badger? *urf*

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

In article <xkt3f06...@moe.myrias.ab.ca>,

Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:
>> Seriously, though, one of the points of interactive fiction is to
>> put _you the player_ into the story. It "makes sense" for it all to
>> be written in 2nd person. If the original adventure were written
>> in 3rd person (or 1st for that matter), it wouldn't have taken long
>> for a 2nd person game to come out.
>>
>I have to disagree with these statements. It's also the point I'm
>fighting for. I think one of the points of interactive fiction, at
>least as I see it, is to present a collaborative effort between your
>and the author.

(...)

>I grant you that IF _started_ with the idea of putting the player in
>the story. But I contend that it's grown past that. I also contend
>that IF has grown past the use of 2nd person narrative. To provide
>more interaction between ALL the characters and the player, we're
>going to need a shift in paradigms.


I'm going to give you more or less the same answer as I gave to Espen
Aarseth last spring when he contended that IF was going up the wrong
path (though Espen thought the problem was that IF authors were caught
in the paradigm of a story, while you seem to think it's that IF
authors are caught in the paradigm of second-person narrative):

Don't try to change the paradigm by telling us authors what to do. Do
it yourself instead.

As it is, there exists a small probablulity that you may convince some
author that you're right and to produce some IF along your lines, but
wouldn't it be much simpler to do it yourself? New art is not created
by theoreticians' convinving artists to change their ways, but by
theoreticians turning their theories into action and creating
something new.

The best - perhaps the only - way for you or for Espen to prove that
the future of IF lies in abandoning current paradigms is to write
something according to your views of good IF, something good enough to
convince people to follow your lead.

And, please, don't try to tell us that we don't know what we're doing,
or that we're doing it just because we're hopelessly caught in some
outdated paradigm. We do resent that kind of talk, because we *do*
know what we're doing and what we're trying to achieve. It may be that
you're right and that we could achieve even more by following your
lead, but that doesn't mean that what we're doing now is wrong.

Finally, some comments about the role of the artist:

In the debate/flamewar with Espen, I stuck my neck out a bit by
claiming that "the artist is always right", which resulted in some
snide post-modernist comments. But I didn't mean it in the romantic,
pre-modern, sense. Neither did I imply that the post-modernists are
wrong. What I meant was that many artists consciously choose to
follow "outdated" roads, or roads that the theorists deem unworthy of
following, but the the artist is still "right" in following that road
if that is what he or she wants to do. The artist has the right to do
what he pleases to do, disregarding all theory if he wants to. Of
course, the audience has the right to like it or dislike it.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

}This is an interesting point. You could do a two-character game with two
}independent text streams, one in the main window and one in the status
}window... (actually that would suck, because many Z-interpreters don't
}scroll text in the status window, and I'm sure no other IF system does.
}But pretend it *is* possible. :-)

}With two windows, putting both in 2nd-person might be uncomfortable. Then
}again, we've gotten used to a lot of weird things. What if one window was
}2nd and one was 3rd, to produce a "protagonist and sidekick" effect? Or
}a "human hero and guardian angel" effect? Lots of options.

Quarterstaff uses a multiple-window approach. I found it unwieldy.


--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com russ...@his.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>Actually, to reiterate history again, the Scott Adams adventures were 3rd
>person.

First. Betcha ten dollars.

Adam
--
ad...@phoenix.princeton.edu | Viva HEGGA! | Save the choad! | 64,928 | Fnord
"Double integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep":Pynchon | Linux
Thanks for letting me rearrange the chemicals in your head. | Team OS/2
You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

Espen Aarseth

unread,
Sep 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/27/96
to

> (...)

I happen to disagree with most of the points Jean-Henri Duteau is making,
but I would like to point out his obvious right to make them. He deserves
to be heard on the strength (if any) of his arguments, not on his
belonging to the right side of some conveniently constructed
"us-authors"/"you-theoreticians" division line. Why don't we attack his
views, and not his (imagined) background.

Insofar as we participate in this group, all of us are theoreticians
(although our individual theoretical groundings may be somewhat shaky);
the only way to be free of theory is to be free of thoughts about what one
is doing.

New art is indeed produced from discussions and theorizing; what else were
those Rive-Gauche cafées and bistros for? (Trollers note: Yes, I have
heard that they also were used for a few other things..)

[..]


> And, please, don't try to tell us that we don't know what we're doing,
> or that we're doing it just because we're hopelessly caught in some
> outdated paradigm. We do resent that kind of talk, because we *do*
> know what we're doing and what we're trying to achieve.

A discussion about art should not resemble a business meeting. Artists who
know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, probably need a
few insults now and then.

Those who don't want to encounter dissenting views on adventure games,
should spare themselves the trouble of reading this group (or use a score
file). When general remarks about game-making is taken as personal
comments, offense is inevitable (and a sign that this group, admirable as
it is in most ways, needs a little fresh air once in a while).


_____________________________________________________________________
espen aarseth aar...@uib.no

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/27/96
to

Adam J. Thornton (ad...@yuma.princeton.edu) wrote:
> In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>,
> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
> >Actually, to reiterate history again, the Scott Adams adventures were 3rd
> >person.
>
> First. Betcha ten dollars.

You're right. My head is on Neptune.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/27/96
to

Espen Aarseth (espen....@hf.uib.no) wrote:
> > And, please, don't try to tell us that we don't know what we're doing,
> > or that we're doing it just because we're hopelessly caught in some
> > outdated paradigm. We do resent that kind of talk, because we *do*
> > know what we're doing and what we're trying to achieve.
>
> A discussion about art should not resemble a business meeting. Artists who
> know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, probably need a
> few insults now and then.
>
> Those who don't want to encounter dissenting views on adventure games,
> should spare themselves the trouble of reading this group (or use a score
> file). When general remarks about game-making is taken as personal
> comments, offense is inevitable (and a sign that this group, admirable as
> it is in most ways, needs a little fresh air once in a while).

Yeah, whatever.

I read things as they're posted. When I read:

> Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not enough room to
> carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
> fiction aspects of it.

(where "we" is, by context, the IF authors and authors-to-be of this
newsgroup)

...it is a personal comment. It is directed towards me; it is a statement
about the work I have done, and what I am working on. Furthermore, it is
false.

In this case, the poster (JHD) continued the discussion -- in an
interesting manner -- in the theoretical terms you are so fond of,
*instead* of continuing to insist that I (personally) am not working on
fiction. So I took the statement as an accident of rhetoric, and let it
pass.

The fact that his post briefly annoyed me was a bug, not a feature.

How I feel about your post is left as an exercise to the reader.

Carl D. Cravens

unread,
Sep 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/27/96
to

On 25 Sep 1996 08:30:52 -0600, Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:
>I have to disagree with these statements. It's also the point I'm
>fighting for. I think one of the points of interactive fiction, at
>least as I see it, is to present a collaborative effort between your
>and the author. The author provides the basic framework in which the
>story elements take place and you provide the impetus. This applies
>in all forms of fiction. In Conventional Fiction, your impetus is
>constrained to turning one page after another. In IF, you are allowed
>the extra abilities to define what the characters think, do, and feel.

I disagree, first with the latter part. In static fiction, there is no
collaboration at all... the author did everything, you just passively
read the thing. That the novel comes in a book form in which you must
turn pages has nothing to do with anything... the novel wouldn't change
if it were published on a computer which watches your eyes and scrolls
the text for you. The 'impetus' you speak of gives nothing to the
work... it is simply your decision to continue reading instead of
stopping halfway through.

Then the former part. With the current level of technology available,
there is no collaboration at all. The IF author creates the entire game
without the input or cooperation of the player... everything that the
player can do to the plot has been put there and allowed by the author.
You can do nothing important that the author has not already accounted
for. Again... the player's 'impetus' gives nothing to the work... the
player simply decides to continue through the work, or to quit. The
player is creating nothing... he is simply tracing a path already drawn
for him by the author.

The author has told a story, from start to finish, in all its myriad
forms. The player simply has a choice in which portions of that story
to read. When you get down to the basis, IF is still little more than a
glorified pick-a-path book.

>I grant you that IF _started_ with the idea of putting the player in
>the story. But I contend that it's grown past that. I also contend
>that IF has grown past the use of 2nd person narrative. To provide
>more interaction between ALL the characters and the player, we're
>going to need a shift in paradigms.

To provide more interaction between the characters, you're going to need
better technology first. Doesn't matter what viewpoint you use, you
cannot have any interaction which the author didn't plan for and
implement in the work. You can't converse with a character outside of
the conversation that the author has pre-written for it.

>Here's a question for you...are there any games out there that allow
>you to take on the roles of different characters AT THE SAME TIME? I

Impossible, taken literally. You cannot control (or follow) two
different threads of story at the same time... you must switch back and
forth between them, even if only for a paragraph at a time.

--
Carl (rave...@southwind.net)
Dogs crawl under fences, Software crawls under Windows.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/28/96
to

Carl D. Cravens (rave...@southwind.net) wrote:
> Then the former part. With the current level of technology available,
> there is no collaboration at all. The IF author creates the entire game
> without the input or cooperation of the player... everything that the
> player can do to the plot has been put there and allowed by the author.
> You can do nothing important that the author has not already accounted
> for. Again... the player's 'impetus' gives nothing to the work... the
> player simply decides to continue through the work, or to quit. The
> player is creating nothing... he is simply tracing a path already drawn
> for him by the author.

Can't this statement be made at any level of technology?

"The IF author creates the personality matrices for the AI holograms with
no input from the player. The AIs can only grow and learn using the
algorithms the author designed. The player can only interact with them,
not design his own matrices."

:-)

(I'm just stretching ideas here. In my own work, I *want* to have
complete control over the story. Collaborative story design is not where
I'm heading with IF.)

Carl D. Cravens

unread,
Sep 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/28/96
to

On Sat, 28 Sep 1996 03:02:25 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:
>Can't this statement be made at any level of technology?
>
>"The IF author creates the personality matrices for the AI holograms with
>no input from the player. The AIs can only grow and learn using the
>algorithms the author designed. The player can only interact with them,
>not design his own matrices."

There was talk at one time of 'story generators' that created the story
on the fly based on reader action. But in that case, the author is the
computer program itself, with the parameters set by the programmer. It
might be arguable that such a work is a collaborative effort between the
program and the reader. *BUT* the programmer isn't really developing
fiction himself... it may be true IF, but once we've reached that point,
the arguements we're seeing now may be moot. But I also don't see
computer generated novels ever reaching the quality level of the real
thing. You want a quality novel, it needs a human author.

--
Carl (rave...@southwind.net)
Keep honking... I'm reloading.

Espen Aarseth

unread,
Sep 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/29/96
to

In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) wrote:

[...]

> I read things as they're posted. When I read:

> > Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not enough room to
> > carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
> > fiction aspects of it.

> (where "we" is, by context, the IF authors and authors-to-be of this
> newsgroup)

> ...it is a personal comment. It is directed towards me; it is a statement
> about the work I have done, and what I am working on. Furthermore, it is
> false.

Since Jean-Henri (in <xkt91a7...@moe.Myrias.AB.CA>) started out
talking about

"The state of the IF world (oh no! run away and hide, it's a
general statement about a very big thing by someone who knows
very little!!)"

I think it is fair to say that his comments are intended to be general and
not personal (the "IF world" is, after all, bigger than r.a.i-f.); how you
interpret them is another matter. And if they don't even apply to you and
your work, one should assume that he was not talking about you.

> In this case, the poster (JHD) continued the discussion -- in an
> interesting manner -- in the theoretical terms you are so fond of,
> *instead* of continuing to insist that I (personally) am not working on
> fiction. So I took the statement as an accident of rhetoric, and let it
> pass.

Did you, now.

> The fact that his post briefly annoyed me was a bug, not a feature.

> How I feel about your post is left as an exercise to the reader.

Aww..


_____________________________________________________________________
espen aarseth aar...@uib.no

bout...@med.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) writes:

> Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
>> I grant you that IF _started_ with the idea of putting the player in
>> the story. But I contend that it's grown past that. I also contend
>> that IF has grown past the use of 2nd person narrative. To provide
>> more interaction between ALL the characters and the player, we're
>> going to need a shift in paradigms.
>
> Actually, to reiterate history again, the Scott Adams adventures were 3rd
> person.

This must be some use of '3rd person' that I wasn't previously aware of. I
thought they were described in the first person, by a puppet with curiously
clipped speech.

-Giles
"Aargh - get that nit off me!"

Andreas Hoppler

unread,
Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

In article <xktsp86...@moe.Myrias.AB.CA>, you say...
: It's my contention that:

:
: 1) IF needs to break away with the adventure game tradition
:
: To do that, I also contend:
:
A lot of the products being touted as 'interactive' have what I call 'CD
player' interactivity; you can choose what to play, and you can pause,
reverse, fast forward, ...
There exists a different interactivity, where the player can make
choices, and where the further action depends on those choices taken.
This is the kind of interactivity which is found in (good) adventure
games, simulations and computer RPGs. I think that this kind of
interactivity is what we should strive for, and I alos think that this is
what marks a good game: there shouldn't be an immediately obvious
'correct' option for the player (actually, in simulations/RPGs, there
will be better or worse actions, but not always right/wrong ones).

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why AMFV didn't do much for me,
it didn't much matter what you did, you just recorded things. (am I the
only one in this newsgroup who doesn't enthuse over AMFV?)

-- Andreas


Mark Musante

unread,
Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

Paul Trauth (rac...@interline.net) wrote:

> Mark Musante (olo...@roundlake.baxter.com) wrote:
> : Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> : > > Another form of writing that I've seen the 2nd person voice used is
> : > > in map rallyes. Which is sort of an icing-on-the-cake point for
> : > > this argument.
> : > Unfortunately, I don't know what this is. "Map Rallyes"?? Is there a
> : > spelling mistake here? Can someone help me out?8-)
> :
> : Well, it is off-topic, I guess, but since two people asked (so far),
> : I may as well explain.

> Ah, he was talking about what I thought he was...

Paul, are you deliberately referring to me in the third person? :-)

- Mark

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

[ This is a repost; news propagation seems more than a little shaky right
now. Apologies if you're reading this twice. ]

In article <espen.aarseth-2...@hdbea.hf.uib.no>,


Espen Aarseth <espen....@hf.uib.no> wrote:
>> Don't try to change the paradigm by telling us authors what to do. Do
>> it yourself instead.
>
>I happen to disagree with most of the points Jean-Henri Duteau is making,
>but I would like to point out his obvious right to make them.

Of course.

I'd like to apologize to Jean-Henri and to anybody else for being
overly sharp in my comments. I realize in retrospect that it might
seem as if I were trying to tell him to "put up or shut up" (in his
own words, referring to another post). This was not my intention.

>He deserves
>to be heard on the strength (if any) of his arguments, not on his
>belonging to the right side of some conveniently constructed
>"us-authors"/"you-theoreticians" division line. Why don't we attack his
>views, and not his (imagined) background.

Wherever did you get the idea that I was attacking his background?

You seem to be implying something rather nasty about me here, Espen:
that I, having branded Jean-Henri as a "theoretician", would proceed
to disregard his views and start attacking him just for being a
theoretician.

Jean-Henri has views on what IF is like and what it should be like. So
has you, so have I, so has everybody on this group. Fine. I welcome
such views.

What I'm attacking is *not* the fact that Jean-Henri, or you, or
anybody else, tells us his or her views on what constitutes good IF. I
find such discussions very valuable (surprising as it may seem to
you), and, believe me, I'm *not* trying to stop anybody from
expressing such views. Au contraire, the existance of such discussion
is one of the reasons I read this group.

So, why I am creating a disturbance? :-)

What sets me off is when somebody crosses the line from the personal,
concrete and subjective "This is what I like and dislike about IF;
this is what I like and dislike about this particular work of IF; this
is what I would like to see in future IF" to the absolute and
supposedly objective "This is what good and bad IF *is*; this is what
authors should or should not do to to write good IF; this is what
should be done to realize the true potential of IF".

In politics, this is the line between pragmatism and ideology, and we
all know what happens when politicians throw rationality, humanity and
common sense overboard to follow ideology, don't we?

In art, nothing that serious happens, I hope, but I don't like it at
all when it happens. Instead of critics telling artists what they
like or don't like about the artist's work, or art in general, we
get ideologues preaching to the artists, telling them to follow the
one true path that leads to realization of the full potential of their
art form. WHen the artists try to explain that they don't *want* to
follow that path, they are either haughtily ignored or told that they
*should* want to follow it.

Jean-Henri has some very itneresting views on what he thinks IF should
be like. I agree with some of them (the need for characterization) and
I don't agree with some of them (the need to switch to third-person
narrative). In the case of Jean-Henri, I may have reacted with a
little less patience than I should, because Jean-Henri, being new to
the group, doesn't realize that much of what he's saying has been said
before, and I apologize for that. But what I was really *attacking*,
rather than just objecting to, was a (perceived) tendency to elevate
these ideas to some sort of general norm. The difference between
saying "I'd like to see more IF written in the third person" and
elevating the desirability of third-person IF to some sort of norm.

I'm a scientist by training (and a theoretical scientist to boot, whch
is perhaps a bit ironic; to tell the truth I wince every time I catch
myself flaming people for being too theoretical :-)) which perhaps
makes me rather acutely sensitive to the lack of absolute truth in
art.

In fact, art strikes me as essentially subjective. Essentially
subjective in the sense that all attempts to elevate one's personal
likes or dislikes to universal principles strike at the very essence
of art. *That*, I think, is the reason for my rather sharp reactions
at times.

>New art is indeed produced from discussions and theorizing; what else were
>those Rive-Gauche cafées and bistros for? (Trollers note: Yes, I have
>heard that they also were used for a few other things..)

But did those discussions *produce* new art, or did they just
*inspire* it? A question of definitions, perhaps. Let me just state that
I think that both Jean-Henri's and your posts, Espen, provide good food
for thought, and some inspiration as well. I'm just opposed to the
attempts to turn personal views into absolute, objective norms.

>
>[..]


>> And, please, don't try to tell us that we don't know what we're doing,
>> or that we're doing it just because we're hopelessly caught in some
>> outdated paradigm. We do resent that kind of talk, because we *do*
>> know what we're doing and what we're trying to achieve.
>
>A discussion about art should not resemble a business meeting. Artists who
>know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, probably need a
>few insults now and then.

Probably. As do cock-sure theorists. Good we're around to provide those
insults, isn't it? :-)

But I really didn't mean to imply that artists always know exactly
what they're doing, just that they presumably know their own
intentions better than anybody else. And heavens forbid that artists
(or anybody else) always should know where they were going, that would
make for a very boring world, wouldn't it?

>Those who don't want to encounter dissenting views on adventure games,
>should spare themselves the trouble of reading this group (or use a score
>file).

Now, Espen, that's not very nice of you, making such allegations, is it?

I have no desire to stop anybody from saying anything. People have the
right to express their opininons. Please explain why *I* shouldn't
have the right to express *my* opinions, even when those opinions
happen to be that the first person is wrong? I wouldn't dream of
killfiling either you or Jean-Henri, because I am interested in what
you're saying.

But I do believe that I have the right to state my views, even when
they are contrary to yours or anybody else's. Who are you to tell me
to killfile everything I don't like rather than entering into debate?

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>I read things as they're posted. When I read:
>
>> Yet, we're still throwing "locked-door" puzzles and "not enough room to
>> carry" puzzles in our stories instead of working on the
>> fiction aspects of it.
>
>(where "we" is, by context, the IF authors and authors-to-be of this
>newsgroup)
>
>...it is a personal comment. It is directed towards me; it is a statement
>about the work I have done, and what I am working on. Furthermore, it is
>false.


Indeed. I think you hit the nail on the head there, Andrew.

When outsiders or newcomers say things like "a computer game
can never be fiction (interactive or not), because 'fiction' is
written literature, and literature is art but games are mere
entertainment", it hurts, but we can always discount it as
ignorance.

It's worse when people who are into (our kind of) IF themselves try to
narrow the definition of IF, by stating that "IF must evolve in this
direction to become real art", or "IF must become this or that to
fulfil its true potential", because saying this is also saying that
authors whose works don't explore those avenues aren't producing
"real" IF. May I ask what we are doing in that case? Producing
garbage?

It's worse still when we authors point out that we don't agree, that
we would like to continue using the old paradigms declared as
worthless, while exploring other ways to expand the envelope of IF,
but are just ignored, or perhaps referred to as "authors who insist on
sticking to the old ways", just as if we did so because of stupidity,
blind conservatism, or just lack of imagination.

And it adds insult to injury when we're not only told that what we're
doing is worthless, but, when trying to explain that we actually do it
as a conscious choice, get snide replies like "And of course the
artist's always right".

No wonder that we get defensive.

OK, we authors can manage. But the IF community s very much a fan
culture (just like SF), and what really worries me is that now the
fans are being turned off as well. If we insist that old-fashioned
adventure games aren't worth consideration compared to puzzle-less,
plotless, interactive exploration narrated in the third person and in
the past tense, with user commands givne in the past tense indicative
("The hero moved east") instead of the present imperative ("move
east"), then I'm seriously afraid that the fans who got into IF
because they liked playing Dungeon will turn away and never even
consider looking at the newer works.


Before you bring out your flamethrowers, an extremely important point:

Note that I'm talking about people who are trying to formulate
objective norms for IF in general - not people discussing their
personal taste or dicsussing flaws in individual works. It's one thing
being told that somebody doesn't like your latest adventure because
he doesn't like being "prisoner" in somebody else's story, or because
your writing is flat and lifeless, or whatever. It hurts, but that's
the kind of criticism you learn - and, hopefully, improve - from.

But to be told that what you're doing is pointless, not "true IF",
moving in the wrong direction, and so on, from somebody reasoning on
purely theoretical grounds, without even bothering actually to have a
look at what you're doing, because he has a preconception of what
"must" be done, now *that* is bad.

Finally:

We've seen lots of ideas of what path IF "must" follow in order to
evolve in the "right" direction. These vary from getting rid of
puzzles over enhancing NPC interaction and improving parsers to
increasing the plot element - or getting rid of plot altogether.

In principle, I have nothing against _any_ of those ideas -
some of them I like, some I don't like, but I think all of them are
worth trying.

But merely the fact that there are so many of these ideas should tell
you that none of them can be elevated to objective truth. And even if
you do try to elevate one of them to an absolute principle, the fact
that people immediately will protest "but I would like to do the
absolute opposite" should tell you that all such principles must
remain utterly subjective.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Jean-Henri Duteau

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

Various excerpts from m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>
> When outsiders or newcomers say things like "a computer game
> can never be fiction (interactive or not), because 'fiction' is
> written literature, and literature is art but games are mere
> entertainment", it hurts, but we can always discount it as
> ignorance.
>
I think there is a huge difference between a computer *game* and what
we are trying to do. If you ask yourself why text adventures have
progressed and developed into the art form of Interactive Fiction, you
might be able to see why I think so.

If we were simply satisfied with having a computer *game*, we'd have
endless repeats of zork-like text adventures. Something akin to the
Double Dragon, Double Dragon II, Street Fighter, etc.,
etc. phenomenon. But we're not satisfied with our text adventures
remaining the same. The reason we're not is we realize that we've got
something different here. It's not just a *game*, it's something
more.

My commentaries are trying to tap into this. I've simply been stating
"I think I see us trying to break free of the game mold, maybe it
requires this?!?". But hey! I'm not infallible. My logic isn't
always solid. And you can't see any of the games that I've produced
because I haven't (yet). So I took my crackpot theories to the well
called r.a.i-f and wanted to see what all of you had to say. Some of
you disagreed, some of you agreed. All in all, I'd say my discussion
was a success. Except for the thread about expression on this group,
which I had been warned would happen. 8-)

> OK, we authors can manage. But the IF community s very much a fan
> culture (just like SF), and what really worries me is that now the
> fans are being turned off as well. If we insist that old-fashioned
> adventure games aren't worth consideration compared to puzzle-less,
> plotless, interactive exploration narrated in the third person and in
> the past tense, with user commands givne in the past tense indicative
> ("The hero moved east") instead of the present imperative ("move
> east"), then I'm seriously afraid that the fans who got into IF
> because they liked playing Dungeon will turn away and never even
> consider looking at the newer works.
>

I'm not insisting that old-fashioned adventure games aren't worth
consideration. I still replay Zork many times. Why? Because it's a
classic, because it's fun, and because you can see all of the
potential there. It's the same reason we continue to read old books.
BUT, that doesn't mean I want us to start writing books in the
medieval style. I think we've grown past that in our writing and I
think we've grown past that in our IF. If someone came out with a
bestseller writing in the medieval mold, I would still read it. If
someone produces a Zork-like game that everyone raves about, I would
still play it. All I've been wondering about is what limitations are
in our current mode of IF writing and what it might take to get us
"into the New World!" 8-).

> But to be told that what you're doing is pointless, not "true IF",
> moving in the wrong direction, and so on, from somebody reasoning on
> purely theoretical grounds, without even bothering actually to have a
> look at what you're doing, because he has a preconception of what
> "must" be done, now *that* is bad.
>

I seriously hope I didn't do that. 8-) I never intended to. Yes, I
am reasoning from purely theoretical grounds. However, I have looked
at what people have been doing. I have tried lots of the IF that is
out there. I may not get very far in them, but that's my fault, and
not yours. 8-)

I think my discussion was productive. It got a few people thinking,
produced a flame war, and saw some very interesting commentary. I'm
going to have to come up with a new topic. 8-) Seriously, I've
incorporated a lot of what I read here into my game design. If I ever
get a whole block of time, I may even start coding it. 8-) Thank you
very much, Magnus, Andrew, Esper, and all the others whose names I
can't remember. Until next time,

3RD PERSPECTIVE RULES!!


--
Jean-Henri Duteau je...@myrias.com (work) je...@west-teq.net (home)

Fantasy Sports Guru -- Commissioner--RHL,RHHL,LFHL,CFFL.Owner--FHL,FFL,RCFFL


Interested in fantasy sports??? Check out http://west-teq.net/~jeand/

Currently working on RHS -- a GNU Hockey Simulator system, and
NeXTzip, a Z-Machine Interpreter for NeXTstep.

Joe Mason

unread,
Oct 1, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/1/96
to

"Re: More on What IF is...", declared Andreas Hoppler from the Vogon
ship:

AH>Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why AMFV didn't do much for
AH>me, it didn't much matter what you did, you just recorded things.
AH>(am I the only one in this newsgroup who doesn't enthuse over AMFV?)

I alternate between being wildly enthusiastic and disappointed about
AMFV. I never could put my finger on the problem until you said it: you
really don't DO anything. There's nothing you can change about the
world through your own decisions. Which is why, in the end, it didn't
make as much of an impression as a truly INTERACTIVE game.

But as for atmosphere and detail, it was near perfect, and also had much
more of a "story" feel and less of an "adventure" feel then most (which
is what I want to achieve with my IF).

Joe

-- Coming soon: "In the End", a work of Interactive Fiction --
-- More about the 1996 IF Contest at rec.arts.int-fiction --
-- Oct. 10 at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/competition96 --

ž CMPQwk 1.42 9550 žI am Pentium of Borg...division is Futile...you will be Approximated

Greg Ewing

unread,
Oct 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/8/96
to

Jean-Henri Duteau wrote:
>
> If we were simply satisfied with having a computer *game*, we'd have
> endless repeats of zork-like text adventures.

One might equally well say "If we were simply satisfied with having a
computer *game*, we'd have endless repeats of Space Invader clones."
I think it's fairly clear that computer games have progressed a long
way since Space Invaders, but we still call them games.

I can't see any point in trying to draw a sharp dividing line between
"games" and other forms of art and/or entertainment. As far as I'm
concerned, if I enjoy playing/reading/watching/experiencing it,
then it's succeeded. What it's called is not important.

Greg

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