How do you write Romantic I-F ?

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David Whitten

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Feb 10, 1993, 12:16:38 PM2/10/93
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I was just thinking that one of the prime examples of a basic plot for
written fiction is
1) Boy meets Girl
2) Boy looses Girl
3) Boy gets Girl back
4) They live happily ever after.

How in the world do you write an interactive fiction story based on this
kind of plot?

It seems that most I-F is based on they
1) You wake up in a strange situation
2) you need to find certain things to get finished
3) When you find the things, you are done.

There are certainly some imaginative ways that this plot can be expressed,
(Scott Adams' The Count is a good example) but this seems to be the only
plot that I can remember actual games being based on.

Dave (whi...@fwva.saic.com) US:(619)535-7764 [I don't speak as a company rep.]

Jorn Barger

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Feb 10, 1993, 7:23:32 PM2/10/93
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In <1064...@MVB.SAIC.COM> Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) writes:
>
> 1) Boy meets Girl
> 2) Boy looses Girl
> 3) Boy gets Girl back
> 4) They live happily ever after.
>
>How in the world do you write an interactive fiction story based on this
>kind of plot?

Yes! that's the question... The grossest level would be a LeisureSuit
Larry kind of environment where you had to figure how to make yourself
attractive to the availables who represented ( -to-you) the highest
'mating score'... Your competitors could be computer-controlled players
making similar choices.

A step up in realism, you have to deal with paradoxes like: the harder
you try, the less attractive you appear!

And one hopes it will be possible to create worlds where *being yourself*
wins you points, and 'attractiveness' has more to do with one's humanity
than her skindeep surface features...

jb

Marc Sira

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Feb 10, 1993, 11:20:53 PM2/10/93
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In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:

[describes common game plot]


>There are certainly some imaginative ways that this plot can be expressed,
>(Scott Adams' The Count is a good example) but this seems to be the only
>plot that I can remember actual games being based on.

The mystery games from Infocom have a different feel to them - Deadline,
Witness, Suspect. And Amy Briggs's Plundered Hearts is IMO a good example
of an IF romance (as well as being the first game I've seen written from
an exclusively female perspective, if an intentionally stereotyped one).

The Star Saga almost-trilogy has a very well-developed plot, also (which
necessarily involves the sacrifice of a certain amount of free will).

--
Marc Sira |
t...@micor.ocunix.on.ca | "Your god drinks...p-p-peach nectar!"
aa...@freenet.carleton.ca '

The Grim Reaper

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Feb 10, 1993, 11:53:21 PM2/10/93
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Answer: You don't. Really, the main reason that "Romantic" fiction works is
that the hero has a reason to love the girl. It's really hard to do that
in int fiction, esp since you're often the main character. If you can
figure out how to make the player love the girl, it might work. Otherwise...


*** "Death comes to those who wait"
** \\
** \\
** \\
** \\
** \\
* \\
\\
\\
\\
~
THE GRIM REAPER
(SCY...@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)

Tim Poston

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Feb 11, 1993, 4:58:08 AM2/11/93
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Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) writes:
: I was just thinking that one of the prime examples of a basic plot for

: written fiction is
: 1) Boy meets Girl
: 2) Boy looses Girl
: 3) Boy gets Girl back
: 4) They live happily ever after.

Surely, if he _looses_ her in 2), he should _bind_ her in 1)?

Actually, the standard plot where she turns into a loose
woman usually ends with somebody weeping over her grave.

Tim

David Whitten

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Feb 11, 1993, 5:30:25 PM2/11/93
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Currently, I've recieved two mail messages about romantic I-F specifying
existing games that try to do it.

The games I now know about are:

Romantic Encounters at the Dome by ??? == runs on macintosh
Plundered Hearts by infocom == runs on various

Romantic Encounters seems to be a mostly you go to a singles bar, meet people
there, and after short encounters, end up in the apartment/room of the person
you meet. Each person is slightly different, and the approach is similiar to
the books that have a 'choose your path' orientation.

Plundered Hearts seems to be a search to find the treasure type game under
the veneer of a romance.

If anyone has other knowledge of existing games, or a better description to
offer of either of these, please followup to this message.

Theory:

I think it is possible to do more than either of these attempts, perhaps with
invisible objects that represent plot goals, with the traditional 'keep you
from doing something' approach to various encounters - treating certain kinds
of encounters as rooms - but not actually being visible as rooms.

This means you have to view 'movement' as within a two dimensional space rather
than a one dimensional space as is currently provided by programs...


Thoughts?

James Jennings

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Feb 12, 1993, 4:38:02 AM2/12/93
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The idea of "Romantic" interactive fiction conjured up a rather strange
image. Suppose you had a "fall in love with" command. In the course of
the game/story you would fall in/out of love with a series of people,
each with their own consequences, and each "falling" might depend on who
you loved before.

The goal of the game might be to fall in love with the *right* person
and live happily ever after.

> fall in love with Carmen
You can't do that! You're in love with Sarah Jane!
> forget Sarah
With an effort, you manage to forget Sarah Jane.
> fall in love with Carmen
You fall madly in love with Carmen. Her raven black hair reminds you of
moon lit nights. Her red lips remind you of the most perfect rose. Her
dark brown eyes remind you of Sarah Jane. (It's not that easy to forget
Sarah Jane.)

You get the idea.

James

David A Graves

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Feb 12, 1993, 4:22:52 PM2/12/93
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In another note stream, David Whitten writes:

> Is there any common way to make sure certain experiences have happened?
> I was thinking about the 'romantic fiction' idea. You need to have 'fallen
> in love' before you can kiss someone, etc.

> From a programming point of view, I was thinking of having some invisible
> objects that were carried in the inventory, so that once they have an
> experience, then the object is no longer in the inventory, and so they can
> go on to the next 'episode' of the story.

> Has anyone else done stuff like this ?

I have been doing a lot of work on emotion modeling, as a part of a few IF
writing projects currently in progress.

While you could use a scheme like the one you mention (that is, carrying
invisible objects which indicate an "in love" state), I think you will find it
easier to make a new model for emotions. Using the "inventory" model to track
emotion/personality state is bound to get cumbersome soon.

I would advise you to start by mapping out all the emotion states and ranges
you wish to model, then design a data representation that will support that
robustly. Note that you need multi-dimensional representation: John may love
Mary, but Mary does not necessarily love John. You may want to allow for
various magnitutes of state, too, rather than boolean values.

You can check these with boolean functions, of course. If she is about to
be kissed, Mary (a non-player character) may call a routine asking "Do I
have enough affinity for John to allow him to kiss me?" That is a boolean
check, but the assessment of that boolean state may be based on a complex
check of emotion-state variables.

This is outlined in my papers on IF design and implementation. As noted in
the FAQ file, send email to d...@cup.hp.com with the Subject: Papers.

Marc Sira

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Feb 12, 1993, 4:49:34 PM2/12/93
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In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:

>Theory:
>
>I think it is possible to do more than either of these attempts, perhaps with
>invisible objects that represent plot goals, with the traditional 'keep you
>from doing something' approach to various encounters - treating certain kinds
>of encounters as rooms - but not actually being visible as rooms.

I think you're basically talking about Zork, etc, with the objects, obstacles
and goals renamed. You can call "the key that unlocks the door to get the
gold", "the affection that unlocks the hearts to get the true love" - you're
still playing the same game.

Plundered Hearts was this sort of thing - the treasure was the romance itself,
although the game was more story-oriented and less freewill-oriented (the
usual tradeoff). I don't see anything fundamentally different in what you
suggest (so far, but I'm interested enough to keep reading :).

>This means you have to view 'movement' as within a two dimensional space rather
>than a one dimensional space as is currently provided by programs...

Hmm?
I think you'll have to define your dimensions before this will make sense to
me.

David Whitten

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Feb 12, 1993, 7:19:33 PM2/12/93
to
In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:
>Theory:
>
>I think it is possible to do more than either of these attempts, perhaps with
>invisible objects that represent plot goals, with the traditional 'keep you
>from doing something' approach to various encounters - treating certain kinds
>of encounters as rooms - but not actually being visible as rooms.

aa...@Freenet.carleton.ca (Marc Sira) writes:
>I think you're basically talking about Zork, etc, with the objects, obstacles
>and goals renamed. You can call "the key that unlocks the door to get the
>gold", "the affection that unlocks the hearts to get the true love" - you're
>still playing the same game.
>
>Plundered Hearts was this sort of thing - the treasure was the romance itself,
>although the game was more story-oriented and less freewill-oriented (the
>usual tradeoff). I don't see anything fundamentally different in what you
>suggest (so far, but I'm interested enough to keep reading :).
>

Well, what I'm trying to do is to be just as freewill oriented as as a
'regular' adventure/ I-F novel.
I agree the first approximation seems to say the goals and obstacles are
just redefined. And it is possible that that is all there is to romance
anyway :) :).

But in thinking about it, this seems to be an application that will stretch
the limit of the I-F technology, since no one to my knowledge provides
definitions structures for non player characters. There already is a well
thought out system that involves objects, rooms, keys, and locks.

I haven't found anyone who is thinking about what it means to define
computer simulated people with parameters like goals, plans, or roles they
play in the story. Notice I am NOT NOT talking about trying to solve the
hard AI problem. I'm just trying to talk about what we could do as writers
to have characters in our stories that are up to the one-dimensional
stereotypes available in other writing methods. The ones we have right now
are little more than talking objects. (with about the same personality)


In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:
>This means you have to view 'movement' as within a two dimensional space
>rather than a one dimensional space as is currently provided by programs...
>

aa...@Freenet.carleton.ca (Marc Sira) writes:
>Hmm?
>I think you'll have to define your dimensions before this will make sense to
>me.
>

Okay, this is one of the crucial ideas I have so far. The normal one
dimensional space adventure games I have seen so far can be laid out as a map
with circles representing places and lines representing doors or directions.
(strictly speaking the map has two dimensions but I have no other words for
this concept. Alternate names for this are gladly accepted).

The plot in a one dimensional game can be pretty easily mapped onto this
map of circles and lines. To win the game, the player has to visit certain
places in the map, but some of the lines can only be traversed in a particular
order or with a 'key' that is found in some other place in the map.

Within the two dimensional system I'm envisioning, the first dimension would
be this same physical map. The second dimension is one where the circles
correspond to plot goals, and the lines correspond to actions that the
player can do to 'move the plot' along. Of course, retracing your steps
(going south after having gone north) in this second dimension means that
you undo the effect of something you did do before. (Break up with someone
after asking them to marry you?)

This can allow for a much more diverse story since the player has two 'current'
locations instead of just one, so the same physical room can have different
things happen in it because it is the same physical room but the player is in a
different 'plot' room as well.

This seems very similar to a two dimensional graph where you say "its the same
x coordinate, but the y coordinate has changed so the point is no longer
inside the circle we are graphing".

I hope this has made things clearer...

Marc Sira

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Feb 13, 1993, 2:28:43 AM2/13/93
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In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:

>Okay, this is one of the crucial ideas I have so far. The normal one
>dimensional space adventure games I have seen so far can be laid out as a map
>with circles representing places and lines representing doors or directions.
>

>Within the two dimensional system I'm envisioning, the first dimension would
>be this same physical map. The second dimension is one where the circles
>correspond to plot goals, and the lines correspond to actions that the
>player can do to 'move the plot' along. Of course, retracing your steps
> (going south after having gone north) in this second dimension means that
>you undo the effect of something you did do before. (Break up with someone
>after asking them to marry you?)

Ok...I think I see...interesting. You're saying the second dimension
represents a sort of collage of states that the player is certainly in
("status")? In a way, this is reinterpreting state variables to some
degree...hmm...an example that occurs to me is:

The player enters a room with a steak in it...if the character hasn't eaten
recently, she sees "a delicious steak" - if she has, merely "a steak". (The
same could apply to a love-starved character. ;)

Thus hunger is one dimension on the map.

_Journey_ may have had something like what you describe; you proceeded along
the plot dimension to the end, but you could be at a variety of ordinal
positions when you got there.

Or have I misinterpreted?

Ice

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Feb 15, 1993, 3:04:23 AM2/15/93
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Perhaps the Infocom game Plundered_Hearts might give you an idea.

How does one write DECONSTRUCTIONIST I-F???

Ice()

David Whitten

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Feb 14, 1993, 4:53:09 PM2/14/93
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Yea, I get the idea, (and like it!) Though what I was envisioning was
something a little more spontaneous. Having the command 'fall in love with'
is an interesting variant, but I was thinking about the game being like
a regular adventure game, but with the 'twist' of being able to date one of
several characters but then love kind of sneaks up on you and you fall in
love with one of them. And you can't just 'forget' falling in love with
one of them....

I was thinking something like you went to a party with Sarah Jane, and
at the party you saw Carmen across the room. Except you can't leave
Sarah Jane (she was your date, remember) so you have to figure out who
Carmen is from other people who also went to the party, etc.

If you just left Sarah Jane for Carmen, then that would not endear you
with Carmen, (after all you might leave her....)

The second dimension of 'movement' I was talking about earlier is an
attempt to try to formalize all the plot possibilities while still keeping
the story interactive. I read somewhere on this newsgroup that as a writer
we have to abandon the idea of plot since we no longer have control over one
of the main characters in the story we write, but I think we can shape
the way the story goes by the amount of detail we put in different
plot 'locations'.

I guess I'm looking for a balance between puzzle solving adventures
and the choose your path books which produces a more satisfying story...

David H. Thornley

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Feb 15, 1993, 11:55:57 AM2/15/93
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The traditional stuff is, well, traditional, and has been used before and
in ways people expect. If you want interesting NPCs, you need to implement
goals, beliefs, and perceptions, and the basic choice is to enumerate the
possible situations and resultant actions, create an AI, or fudge the problem
(the adventurer in Enchanter basically wandered around looking for treasure
except under some well-defined circumstances).

Frankly, I don't see what would be the NPC equivalent of rooms and objects.
The nature of most objects is to do certain things when manipulated properly
- that is, to be predictable and simple. The nature of NPCs is to be
unpredictable and complex.

It seems to me that TADS (the only current adventure system I'm familiar
with) would be as good a starting point as any. You could easily keep
state information with the NPCs, you have a general-purpose programming
language to use, and the manual provides at least some advice on implementing
NPCs as state machines. Another possibility might be to swap NPC versions
in and out - say, have a Lisa class, with startLisa, scornedLisa, lovingLisa,
etc., as instantiations. This would do the same thing as the state approach,
but might be easier to work with. (Then again, I haven't tried it.)

>In a previous article, Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) says:
>>This means you have to view 'movement' as within a two dimensional space
>>rather than a one dimensional space as is currently provided by programs...
>>
>
>aa...@Freenet.carleton.ca (Marc Sira) writes:
>>Hmm?
>>I think you'll have to define your dimensions before this will make sense to
>>me.
>>
>

>[This may be a bad choice of terms, but I was thinking of the physical
> layout as one dimension and the plot layout as another. Therefore,
> in addition to moving in physical space, the player and NPCs would
> also be moving in plot space.]

Sounds like this might be a useful way of thinking. In TADS, I would
implement it as states represented by variable values (either global
variables or variables in the "me" object). It shouldn't be much harder
than implementing rooms from scratch, since the main difference is that
you wouldn't print descriptions but would have a lot of code in the NPC
objects. Of course, what you want will require a whole lot of NPC code
anyway.

DHT


Neil K. Guy

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Feb 16, 1993, 4:48:53 PM2/16/93
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i...@skynet.uucp (Ice) writes:

>How does one write DECONSTRUCTIONIST I-F???

I was thinking of writing a text adventure with a non-linear plot, no
puzzles and no ending and calling it the first postmodern text
adventure, but decided that it probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

- Neil K. (n_k...@sfu.ca)

Jacob Solomon Weinstein

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Feb 16, 1993, 8:08:50 PM2/16/93
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I wrote a brief text-adventure version of "Waiting for Godot" a while
ago, but never bother to upload it. Essentially, you wander around a
vast, empty plain, and nothing ever happens. Would anybody be interested
in seeing it? I would want to hold back the advencement of literature by
depriving the world of such a masterpiece, provided all you Philistines
felt qualified to understand it.

Magnus Olsson

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Feb 17, 1993, 9:47:19 AM2/17/93
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In article <1993Feb17.0...@Princeton.EDU> jac...@ernie.Princeton.EDU (Jacob Solomon Weinstein) writes:
>ne...@fraser.sfu.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:
>I wrote a brief text-adventure version of "Waiting for Godot" a while
>ago, but never bother to upload it. Essentially, you wander around a
>vast, empty plain, and nothing ever happens. Would anybody be interested
>in seeing it?

Sure. Please upload it. (No sarcasm intended).

This reminds me of an adventure - let's call it a *minimalist*
adventure - that a friend wrote for my PB-100 pocket calculator while
we were in high school; the following may not be the actual code, but
at least it's _very_ similar. Notice how the author skillfully pokes
fun at a common cliche of IF. :-)

10 PRINT "You are in a maze of passages all alike."
20 PRINT "Now what? "; : INPUT $
30 IF $="N" THEN 10
40 IF $="S" THEN 10
50 IF $="E" THEN 10
60 IF $="W" THEN 10
70 IF $<>"QUIT" ; PRINT "Eh?" : GOTO 20
80 END

(The code would of course have been even shorter if the PB-100 had
allowed composite conditionals (IF $="N" OR $="S"...)).

Has anybody ever written a smaller adventure? :-)

Magnus Olsson | \e+ /_
Department of Theoretical Physics | \ Z / q
University of Lund, Sweden | >----<
mag...@thep.lu.se, the...@selund.bitnet | / \===== g
PGP key available via finger or on request | /e- \q

David Baggett

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Feb 17, 1993, 11:32:34 AM2/17/93
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In article <1993Feb17.0...@Princeton.EDU> jac...@ernie.Princeton.EDU (Jacob Solomon Weinstein) writes:
>I wrote a brief text-adventure version of "Waiting for Godot" a while
>ago, but never bother to upload it. Essentially, you wander around a
>vast, empty plain, and nothing ever happens.

Not wanting to, as you said, stunt the growth of literary IF, I've
decided to post source to my own implementation:

*-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*

/*
* Waiting for Godot (TM)
* Copyright (C) 1993 Acme Advenchurs (R)
* By Dave Baggett (concept by Jacob Weinstein)
*/
#include <std.t>
#include <adv.t>

startroom: room
sdesc = "An Empty Plain"
ldesc = "You are standing on what seems to be a and endless,
featureless plain. You can travel any direction."

noexit = startroom
;

*-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*

:)

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu Natural Language Processing MIT AI Lab
ADVENTIONS: We make Kuul text adventures! Ask about Unnkulian 1, 2, 0, 1/2
PO Box 851 Columbia, MD 21044 USA / CIS: 76440,2671 / GEnie: ADVENTIONS

Greg Maddog Knauss

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Feb 17, 1993, 12:59:22 PM2/17/93
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Whi...@Fwva.Saic.Com (David Whitten) writes:

>There are certainly some imaginative ways that this plot can be expressed,
>(Scott Adams' The Count is a good example) but this seems to be the only
>plot that I can remember actual games being based on.

Amy Briggs wrote a romantic adventure, Infocom's _Plundered Hearts_ and
is on the Internet somewhere. I don't know if she reads USENET, but Liz
Cyr-Jones does (Hi, Liz!) and maybe she should convice Amy to post some
info about how she went about writing _PH_.
--
Greg Knauss (gr...@quotron.com) "Llamas, dammit! Llamas!"

Phil Torre

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Feb 17, 1993, 4:14:03 PM2/17/93
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[source for Very Small Adventure game deleted]

>
>Has anybody ever written a smaller adventure? :-)
>

I wrote one for Applesoft BASIC (*years* ago) that printed some introductory
text, and then responded to any command with "You have died. Restart?".
Not too entertaining, but gameplay sure moves quick! :)
Not unpredictably, no one wanted to play Castle Suddendeath more than once.


Phil Torre | I want my,
pto...@u.washington.edu | I want my,
University of Washington | I want my PDP...

Incense now available in 60/40 tin/lead, with aromatic rosin core.

Jacob Solomon Weinstein

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Feb 17, 1993, 10:45:13 PM2/17/93
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In article <1ltpb2...@life.ai.mit.edu> d...@ai.mit.edu writes:
>In article <1993Feb17.0...@Princeton.EDU> jac...@ernie.Princeton.EDU (Jacob Solomon Weinstein) writes:
>>I wrote a brief text-adventure version of "Waiting for Godot" a while
>>ago, but never bother to upload it. Essentially, you wander around a
>>vast, empty plain, and nothing ever happens.
>
>Not wanting to, as you said, stunt the growth of literary IF, I've
>decided to post source to my own implementation:
>
>*-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*
>
>/*
> * Waiting for Godot (TM)
> * Copyright (C) 1993 Acme Advenchurs (R)
> * By Dave Baggett (concept by Jacob Weinstein)
> */
>#include <std.t>
>#include <adv.t>
>
>startroom: room
> sdesc = "An Empty Plain"
> ldesc = "You are standing on what seems to be a and endless,
> featureless plain. You can travel any direction."
>
> noexit = startroom
>;

Actually, this is only marginally less complex than my version. Still,
I've received a few requests, so I'll post in sometime in the next few
days to Sumex-Aim (Mac version) and Wuarchive (IBM version). Who knows?
Maybe it will become as famous and popular as that great Mac game where
you try to get a camel through the eye of a needle.

Skip Chapen -- Personal Account

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Feb 18, 1993, 7:51:00 AM2/18/93
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> I was thinking of writing a text adventure with a non-linear plot, no
>puzzles and no ending and calling it the first postmodern text
>adventure, but decided that it probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

It's already been done. I think the generic term for it is "Daytime TV
Drama".

Ice

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Feb 23, 1993, 12:53:09 AM2/23/93
to

I am hoping that writing a post-modern flavour of I-F involves more
than stripping it of any playability.

Sure, some post-modern stuff is an exploration of the absurd, but
perhaps this isn't the stuff that is usable as I-F.

Could someone please proffer a nice working, extensible definition
of deconstructionism and then perhaps it might be possible to decide
if this is even a valid thing to talk about.

Perhaps I am wrong about it being something that could be done...

Ice()

David Whitten

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Feb 23, 1993, 12:32:09 PM2/23/93
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i...@skynet.uucp (Ice) writes:
>
>Sure, some post-modern stuff is an exploration of the absurd, but
>perhaps this isn't the stuff that is usable as I-F.

I would think not, since much of the absurd only makes sense by a counterpoint
with what is 'real'. Our programs have such a small model of what is real that
it doesn't make sense to talk about the 'absurd' counter to the program's
reality.


>
>Could someone please proffer a nice working, extensible definition
>of deconstructionism and then perhaps it might be possible to decide
>if this is even a valid thing to talk about.
>
I am admittedly a non-humanities major. I'm going to make a brave try anyway.
My definition of deconstructionism is that there must be a well defined
'realism' school of writing, art, etc. A Deconstructionist approach gets its
impact by reinterpreting the occurrence of the same events that have been
treated in a realist fashion in a different way that doesn't change the
fact that events have occurred, but provides an alternate framework to view
the same events. In the science fiction genre, I think Philip Jose Farmer
is a master of deconstructionism, if you read his reconstructions of Tarzan,
Doc Savage, and the Wizard of OZ books.

In my mind, satire has a lot in common with deconstructionism, but it has the
added goal of giving a 'message' about reality beyond the reinterpretation
goal.

I have cross-posted to rec.arts.books since I think the folks over there
probably have good definitions for deconstructionism.

NOTE: If you are reading this in rec.arts.books, the current topic is NOT
deconstructionism per se. We are discussing how you can create a computer
assisted interactive fiction novel that is written using the deconstructionist
way of writing.
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