Author's Motives

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Mark Stevens

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Sep 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/17/97
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Hello.

I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
they write.

Do they recognise the importance of continuing the Infocom (and/or
Level 9, Scott Adams, Magnetic Scrolls, etc.) legacy, paying homage to
the classics of yesteryear?

Do they enjoy the challenge of tackling a previously untackled
problem, pushing the various authoring systems as far as they will go?
(Is their chosen authoring system a means to an end, or an end to a
means?)

Do they enjoy seeing other people meeting the challenge of their work?
Do they want to tax the player as much -- although as fairly -- as
possible? Or are there more important things in IF than a string of
puzzles woven into a plot?

Do they simply have a rather unique story to tell and feel that an IF
framework is the best means of telling it?

In most cases, I guess all these factors are relevant. But having
played an awful lot of IF in my time, it would appear that most
authors are particularly biased towards one of those (or other)
motives.

Personally, my motives (well, I've just started writing my first piece
of Inform IF) are balanced between the 'continuing the legacy' and
'the need to tell a story'. I've had a particular idea swimming around
my head for many years -- I've tried writing it as a screenplay and as
a novel, but it's never quite come off right. I now believe that an IF
framework is probably best, and having decided to take that particular
path, if I can pay homage to Infocom at the same time, my job will be
done. (But don't you players go thinking you're going to have an easy
time of it... oh no!)

Phase

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Sep 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/17/97
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Well for me, whenever I create anything for others to see
(be it fiction, poetry, or games), my purpose is usually to
entertain, influence (comfort, manipulate), and/or show off. (:

--
PHASEFX @ VM.SC.EDU - http://www.cs.sc.edu/~jason-e

Adam Cadre

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Sep 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/17/97
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Mark Stevens wrote:
> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
> they write.
>
> Do they recognise the importance of continuing the Infocom (and/or
> Level 9, Scott Adams, Magnetic Scrolls, etc.) legacy, paying homage to
> the classics of yesteryear?
>
> Do they enjoy the challenge of tackling a previously untackled
> problem, pushing the various authoring systems as far as they will go?
> (Is their chosen authoring system a means to an end, or an end to a
> means?)
>
> Do they enjoy seeing other people meeting the challenge of their work?
> Do they want to tax the player as much -- although as fairly -- as
> possible? Or are there more important things in IF than a string of
> puzzles woven into a plot?
>
> Do they simply have a rather unique story to tell and feel that an IF
> framework is the best means of telling it?

I do it to get chicks.

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
http://www.duke.edu/~adamc
http://www.retina.net/~grignr

Nathan Thompson

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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On Wed, 17 Sep 1997 23:31:14 GMT, ma...@sonance.demon.co.uk (Mark
Stevens) wrote:

>I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
>would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
>they write.

This is something like asking why artists paint or musicians compose.
Most of them -- or at least the happier of them -- don't have some
logical, intellectually sound reason for doing it; they simply,
inexplicably, like doing whatever it is they do. I, for example,
don't write programs to further the art of programming -- God knows,
I'm far too mediocre a programmer to manage that -- or to pay homage
to the legendary Kernigan and Ritchie, and I don't like 'problem
solving' per se ("Yay! Something's all f***ed up, and /I/ get to fix
it!"); I just like to program.

Nathan Thompson

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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In article <342089...@acpub.duke.edu>,
Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

>
>Mark Stevens wrote:
>> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
>> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
>> they write.
>
>I do it to get chicks.

And does it work? :-)

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

Neil Brown

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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At 02:45:41 on Thu, 18 Sep 1997, Neil K. wrote:
> I'd like to think my game in progress is a reasonably good example of IF.
>I know that my feeble attempts at ordinary non-interactive fiction are
>pathetic examples of regular fiction. Even the games held to be the best
>in IF are, in my opinion, not particularly brilliant pieces of writing
>compared to the best regular fiction. (that's the bit I know is going to
>generate indignant flames, but frankly, I think it's true. So there.)

One might argue, though, that IF writing cannot hope to be as good as
'regular fiction'. Novelists have several hundred blank pages to fill,
and can afford to explore issues and cover the subject matter in great
detail. Readers are happy to spend a lot of time just soaking up the
detail. It can be very relaxing - I have difficulty getting to sleep at
night without reading first. IF, on the other hand, is limited by
certain size constraints and the fact that the player in most cases (I
believe) is not willing to spend hours upon hours reading text off a
screen. By its nature, the writing in IF has to be fairly brief.

There are also other factors involved: a novelist doesn't have to spend
time writing alternate pathways or endings, and they don't have to
second-guess a 'player' and account for numerous different actions.

- NJB

Rajiv Mote

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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Mark Stevens wrote:
>
> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
> they write.
>

To me, the entire process of world-building is fascinating and
entertaining. In what other situation do you get to "play god" and
create a world-in-miniature, to shape, populate and explore as you wish?

There's quite a bit of satisfaction in dreaming up an environment and
then creating it in such a way that your friends can stroll through your
imaginary landscapes. It's the same sort of appeal as writing a book, I
suppose.

-- Rajiv

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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Neil K. (fake...@anti-spam.address) wrote:
> This is going to generate a lot of flames, I imagine, but...

> I wish I were a good writer. Like most people, I'm not. But I want to
> tell stories. The thing about IF is that you can get away with being a
> ho-hum writer and storyteller in ways you couldn't when it comes to
> regular fiction.

I think this is becoming less and less true, as more IF is released which
has good writing and storytelling. (Without any particular modesty, I
include my works in that group. :)

> I'd like to think my game in progress is a reasonably good example of IF.
> I know that my feeble attempts at ordinary non-interactive fiction are
> pathetic examples of regular fiction. Even the games held to be the best
> in IF are, in my opinion, not particularly brilliant pieces of writing
> compared to the best regular fiction. (that's the bit I know is going to
> generate indignant flames, but frankly, I think it's true. So there.)

I've felt the same way. (I just got two books mailed from a friend in the
UK -- the newest Diane Duane and Tim Powers books -- and they are both
*really, really* good. I have not played any IF that good. I certainly
haven't written any that good. End of story.)

But this is only because IF is a small pond; there are dozens of IF
writers, tens of thousands of static fiction writers. And the pond is
slowly growing bigger.

--Z

--

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

Neil deMause

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
: Neil K. (fake...@anti-spam.address) wrote:
: > I wish I were a good writer. Like most people, I'm not. But I want to

: > tell stories. The thing about IF is that you can get away with being a
: > ho-hum writer and storyteller in ways you couldn't when it comes to
: > regular fiction.

: I think this is becoming less and less true, as more IF is released which
: has good writing and storytelling. (Without any particular modesty, I
: include my works in that group. :)

Yes and no. IF writing is improving, absolutely. But it's still a genre
that 1) is smaller 2) has lower expectations and 3) requires different
skills than static fiction. If I could write short stories, I might do
that instead of IF -- though I might just do both.

I guess I write IF because I think of stories I need to tell that seem
like they'd work well as IF. And I think I can write them relatively well.

That and all the fabulous prizes, of course...

Neil

Graham Nelson

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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In article <5vqm5i$9gm$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson
<URL:mailto:m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:

> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
> >Mark Stevens wrote:
> >> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
> >> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
> >> they write.
> >
> >I do it to get chicks.
>
> And does it work? :-)

I shouldn't say this, but I have received three or four fan letters
from young ladies (for "Curses") along the lines of "Hello, I'm single
and...". (Not for "Jigsaw", so obviously that gender ambiguity wasn't
such a good idea, chick-wise.) I don't think IF is likely to get
me to the Tom Jones level, though -- nobody has yet thrown their
knickers at me.

--
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom


HarryH

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com says...

>
>Neil K. (fake...@anti-spam.address) wrote:
>> This is going to generate a lot of flames, I imagine, but...
>
>> I wish I were a good writer. Like most people, I'm not. But I want to
>> tell stories. The thing about IF is that you can get away with being a
>> ho-hum writer and storyteller in ways you couldn't when it comes to
>> regular fiction.

Yes. When I have trouble describing a room, I can put a ridiculous puzzle in
front of it, hoping that not many people will solve it. :)

>> pathetic examples of regular fiction. Even the games held to be the best
>> in IF are, in my opinion, not particularly brilliant pieces of writing
>> compared to the best regular fiction. (that's the bit I know is going to
>> generate indignant flames, but frankly, I think it's true. So there.)
>
>I've felt the same way. (I just got two books mailed from a friend in the
>

>But this is only because IF is a small pond; there are dozens of IF
>writers, tens of thousands of static fiction writers. And the pond is
>slowly growing bigger.

I think that some of Andrew's story are quite well done. Of course, I
couldn't very well enjoy them without the walkthru since his puzzles are
ridiculously hard. I'm not a good player. :(

--
-------------------------------------------------------
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant


Stephen van Egmond

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Sep 18, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/18/97
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In article <34206490...@news.demon.co.uk>,

Mark Stevens <ma...@sonance.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>Do they enjoy seeing other people meeting the challenge of their work?
>Do they want to tax the player as much -- although as fairly -- as
>possible? Or are there more important things in IF than a string of
>puzzles woven into a plot?

Absolutely!

All the motivations that can apply to writing a story apply to IF. It's
a medium, and like any medium, it's suited for carrying certain
messages. McLuhan's "medium is the message" mumble applies here in the
sense that the medium dictates what messages can be sensibly carried in
it, and it also follows that many messages do *not* fit in the medium.

Fortunately, these are few and far between.

>Do they simply have a rather unique story to tell and feel that an IF
>framework is the best means of telling it?

Um, what I just said.

>In most cases, I guess all these factors are relevant. But having
>played an awful lot of IF in my time, it would appear that most
>authors are particularly biased towards one of those (or other)
>motives.

I think it depends on what period the IF you played comes from. There
are many parallels with film, for instance. The early years of film were
plagued with gimmickry: a person walking, a train travelling, etc. No
story at all. The concepts of characterization, theme, and plot were
left for books and theatre. Sound like the text adventures of the 70's?

Once film moved beyond the gimmick stage, many productions were plays,
but filmed. A stationary camera with an actors' stage, with the script
more or less unchanged. This was thankfully brief in film, and as far as
I can tell, IF never went through this -- though Infocomics come to mind.

Some early film pioneers (whose names escape me) finally brought
storytelling to film, in a way that only film could do. They used the
camera's frame as a part of the story: showing you some things, ignoring
others. I haven't looked at a chronology of Infocom's releases, but it
is in their time that the story-telling and characterization aspect of IF
began to be explored. AMFV and Trinity come to mind.

>Personally, my motives (well, I've just started writing my first piece
>of Inform IF) are balanced between the 'continuing the legacy' and
>'the need to tell a story'. I've had a particular idea swimming around
>my head for many years -- I've tried writing it as a screenplay and as
>a novel, but it's never quite come off right. I now believe that an IF
>framework is probably best, and having decided to take that particular
>path, if I can pay homage to Infocom at the same time, my job will be
>done.

I have found this with a story that I wanted to tell, though I don't feel
particularly compelled to "pay homage" to Infocom. YMMV, as it should.

/Steve

JC

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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On Thu, 18 Sep 1997 02:27:18 GMT, apot...@softcom.net (Nathan Thompson)
wrote:

[...]


>
>This is something like asking why artists paint or musicians compose.
>Most of them -- or at least the happier of them -- don't have some
>logical, intellectually sound reason for doing it; they simply,
>inexplicably, like doing whatever it is they do.

Sounds pretty logical and intellectually sound to me.


Rhodri James

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

> In article <342089...@acpub.duke.edu>, Adam Cadre
> <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

>> Mark Stevens wrote:

>>> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
>>> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
>>> they write.

>> I do it to get chicks.

> And does it work? :-)

Or does he just get egg on his face? :-)

--
Rhodri James *-* Wildebeeste herder to the masses
If you don't know who I work for, you can't misattribute my words to them

... I have too much time on my hands. Let's run another convention.

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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In article <342175...@compuNOSPAMserve.com>
Rajiv Mote <Rajiv...@compuNOSPAMserve.com> wrote:

> To me, the entire process of world-building is fascinating and
> entertaining. In what other situation do you get to "play god" and
> create a world-in-miniature, to shape, populate and explore as you wish?
>
> There's quite a bit of satisfaction in dreaming up an environment and
> then creating it in such a way that your friends can stroll through your
> imaginary landscapes. It's the same sort of appeal as writing a book, I
> suppose.

Heheh, that's actually why I like it so much. The same reason I like
DMing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, or designing other sorts of
games. It's a cheap thrill, and I get to exercise my imagination. (It
oughtta be pretty buffed up by now...)

G. Kevin Wilson: Freelance Writer and Game Designer. Resumes on demand.


FemaleDeer

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
to

Well, I don't know yet if any of you will think I CAN write an IF game
(since none of mine have been released). But...

1.) I love to create, always have, whether it be painting, writing,
needlepoint, gardening, throwing together a good meal. Creating is the most
"divine" we can get, the most god, goddess like. I like to see something
emerge from nothing and know I (emphasis on I) did it. It gives me a thrill
and makes me feel very clever (regardless of whether it is great or not).

2.) I like to program and solve tricky programmng problems (within limits,
too tricky and they are frustrating). I like the way you "built" something
when you program. An incremental process. I enjoy that mental challenge.

3.) I played Infocom games when they first came out and have wanted to
write my own ever since. Partly in homage, partly just to create my own
similar type of story. It always seemed to me to be the most FUN one could
have with programming (versus serious business database applications, for
instance).

4.) It is nice to keep IF alive. Other than the above (serious business
apllications and word processing) I think text games are the next best
thing that computers can do well. (Graphic games don't even come close and
besides you can have a dedicated machine for that.) IF games really USE the
"reasoning" power of a computer.

5.) I have some stories I would like to tell, not necessarily original.
But the storytelling instinct is built-in to the human species, I think.
Since we huddled around fires in caves, etc.

6.) Other people might have fun playing it, just as I have had fun playing
other people's games. Sort, of "share the wealth and don't hoard that ____,
friend".

7.) It is fun to be in control of creating a "world". (see #1)

Hmmm, I guess the answer is all of the above.

FD

I don't expect to get guys, but it does seem my odds are better than a
guy's would be. Hehehe. (More male IF writers and players than female).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Femal...@aol.com The Tame Computer
"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or
freed a human soul." Mark Twain (or won a game)

Graham Nelson

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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In article <xAn4VHAL...@highmount.demon.co.uk>, Neil Brown

<URL:mailto:ne...@this.address.is.fake> wrote:
>
> One might argue, though, that IF writing cannot hope to be as good as
> 'regular fiction'. Novelists have several hundred blank pages to fill,
> and can afford to explore issues and cover the subject matter in great
> detail...

> By its nature, the writing in IF has to be fairly brief.

So by the same argument, poetry cannot hope to be as good as 'regular
fiction'? I don't agree.

Miron Schmidt

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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Neil K. <fake...@anti-spam.address> wrote:
> In article <19970919050...@ladder02.news.aol.com>,

> femal...@aol.com (FemaleDeer) wrote:
>
> > 3.) I played Infocom games when they first came out and have wanted to
> > write my own ever since. [...]
>
> Heh... actually, that's certainly true for me. When I was a kid I wanted
> to write an Infocom game, and whiled away many hours writing truly
> dreadful buckets of BASIC spaghetti code to that end. But I never finished
> one. Now that I'm bigger I want to finish at least one, for that sense of
> closure, silly as it may sound.

You won't believe that, but what really made me first think of writing my own
adventure was _Transylvania_. I never solved it, but there is one room where
you see an abandoned hut with a broom in front, and I spent weeks and weeks
working out how to describe the dreamy, deja-vu-like feeling I had when I saw
that picture (and read the room description).

--
Miron Schmidt <mi...@comports.com> PGP key on request

WATCH TV... MARRY AND REPRODUCE... OBEY... PLAY INTERACTIVE FICTION...


Miron Schmidt

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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Graham Nelson <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> > >I do it to get chicks.
> >
> > And does it work? :-)
>
> I shouldn't say this, but I have received three or four fan letters
> from young ladies (for "Curses") along the lines of "Hello, I'm single
> and...".

Wow, that's grand. I have yet to receive any letters from young pups for
_Ralph_, but I'll be sure to mention it when it happens.

FemaleDeer

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
to

BTW - Couldn't resist.

> throw knickers

What do you want to throw the knickers at?

> Graham Nelson

You throw the knickers at Graham Nelson, they land on the stage (good
thing you weren't in them at the time) and get lost among all the tossed
roses and print outs of angry email. No one notices them. Later the janitor
sweeps them up along with the other debris.

FD Hehehe.

Neil Brown

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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At 02:03:12 on Fri, 19 Sep 1997, Graham Nelson wrote:
>In article <xAn4VHAL...@highmount.demon.co.uk>, Neil Brown
><URL:mailto:ne...@this.address.is.fake> wrote:
>>
>> One might argue, though, that IF writing cannot hope to be as good as
>> 'regular fiction'. Novelists have several hundred blank pages to fill,
>> and can afford to explore issues and cover the subject matter in great
>> detail...
>> By its nature, the writing in IF has to be fairly brief.
>
>So by the same argument, poetry cannot hope to be as good as 'regular
>fiction'? I don't agree.

Aha, but we're not talking about poetry. I was comparing two forms of
prose - static (for want of a better word) and interactive. Poetry
doesn't generally worry about characterisation and plot, so no, the
argument I was giving doesn't extend to it (IMO).

And now for something entirely silly:

> WANDER LONELY AS A CLOUD

Done. [You have scored ten points.]

> DON'T WAVE BUT DROWN

They never saw you, but still you lay moaning. You were much too far out
all your life...

- NJB

Adam Cadre

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
to

Stephen van Egmond wrote:
> I think it depends on what period the IF you played comes from.
> There are many parallels with film, for instance.

I've long thought the same thing. I don't think they can help us
predict or even understand anything, but they're fun.

> The early years of film were plagued with gimmickry: a person
> walking, a train travelling, etc. No story at all.

I'm not sure I'd call this "gimmickry." The very early cinema was
indeed a cinema of attractions: people wanted to see a moving picture.
The gimmickry comes in with people like Melies, who provided more than
just a moving picture: the Lumiere films were the documents of trains
arriving at stations and such, but Melies shot films in which people
seemed to disappear into thin air, or walk around underwater breathing
comfortably (this accompished by simply placing an aquarium between the
camera and the people being filmed.) This kind of thing had never been
seen before the way, say, people leaving a factory had.

> The concepts of characterization, theme, and plot were left for books
> and theatre. Sound like the text adventures of the 70's?

If Adventure had simply been about wandering around a cave, it sounds
like Lumiere; throw in XYZZY, and you've got Melies.

> Once film moved beyond the gimmick stage, many productions were plays,
> but filmed. A stationary camera with an actors' stage, with the
> script more or less unchanged.

True. There was also a more camera-conscious type of film which
remained concerned with movement more than narrative: in the 1903
production of Uncle Tom's Cabin, for instance, any kind of narrative
thread is discarded in favor of scenes of slaves dancing, with
everyone's arms and legs flailing wildly about for no reason other
than that movement is cool.

> This was thankfully brief in film, and as far as I can tell, IF never
> went through this -- though Infocomics come to mind.
>
> Some early film pioneers (whose names escape me) finally brought
> storytelling to film, in a way that only film could do.

DW Griffith is probably the most important of those names.

> They used the camera's frame as a part of the story: showing you some
> things, ignoring others.

Film editing was the big advance here: it allowed montage, the close-up,
cross-cutting, all sorts of things the stage couldn't do.

> I haven't looked at a chronology of Infocom's releases, but it is in
> their time that the story-telling and characterization aspect of IF
> began to be explored. AMFV and Trinity come to mind.

That seems to be where we still are. You might want to compare the
rise of graphical games with that of talkies, which drastically changed
the direction of film -- just as silent films more or less disappeared
after the advent of sync sound, graphical games wiped out text
adventures, and the only people making silent films were people with
home movie cameras. But I'm just making connections for the sake of
making connections here. Like I said, it's fun to think about, but I'm
not sure there's much to it.

Graham Nelson

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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In article <5vsod9$k...@argentina.earthlink.net>, Gerry Kevin Wilson

<URL:mailto:g...@pobox.com> wrote:
>
> G. Kevin Wilson: Freelance Writer and Game Designer. Resumes on demand.

Hang on there, he won't resume if we don't demand? Now there's
temptation...

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/19/97
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Neil deMause (ne...@fcl-us.net) wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
> : Neil K. (fake...@anti-spam.address) wrote:
> : > I wish I were a good writer. Like most people, I'm not. But I want to

> : > tell stories. The thing about IF is that you can get away with being a
> : > ho-hum writer and storyteller in ways you couldn't when it comes to
> : > regular fiction.

> : I think this is becoming less and less true, as more IF is released which

> : has good writing and storytelling. (Without any particular modesty, I
> : include my works in that group. :)

> Yes and no. IF writing is improving, absolutely. But it's still a genre
> that 1) is smaller

Granted.

> 2) has lower expectations

Only because it hasn't improved enough yet.

> and 3) requires different skills than static fiction.

I've always thought that any skill useful in short-story writing is
useful in IF writing. I might even argue that the reverse is true (well,
not *any* skill -- being able to decipher Graham's indentation style is
probably not very useful for short static fiction.)

Does IF require different skills? No, I don't think so. It's easier to
cover for lack of experience, because the gaming aspect is an automatic
hook.

There's also plain old specialization. If I'd spent as much time writing
short stories in the past 2.5 years as I've spent on IF-related
programming, I'd probably be a whole lot better at story stories. But then
you folks wouldn't have heard of me. As it is, I've gotten in the
equivalent of two stories' writing experience, plus a lot of programming
experience. And I don't spend any time at writers' workshops, or
whatever it is those folks do to try to improve. So it's slower going.

Neil deMause

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Sep 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/21/97
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
: Neil deMause (ne...@fcl-us.net) wrote:

: > and 3) requires different skills than static fiction.

: I've always thought that any skill useful in short-story writing is
: useful in IF writing. I might even argue that the reverse is true (well,
: not *any* skill -- being able to decipher Graham's indentation style is
: probably not very useful for short static fiction.)

: Does IF require different skills? No, I don't think so. It's easier to
: cover for lack of experience, because the gaming aspect is an automatic
: hook.

I didn't mean different *levels* of skills, though that may also be true
for the time being. I meant different skills. In learning how to write I-F
I've had to learn how to write very concise descriptions of places and
objects that won't be boring if you read them over and over, how to write
plots that will make sense no matter what order you read them in, how to
create dialog that sounds natural even when the player keeps interjecting
nonsense like ASK WAITER ABOUT BOSNIA-HERCEGOVNIA, and so on.

These are not skills I would need in writing static fiction, just like in
writing I-F I don't particularly need the ability to create a well-paced
plot, motivate my main character to move on to new things, or write lots
of transitional prose, because those things aren't as important for the
author to provide in I-F.

*Different* skills. And seeing that I feel like I'm better at the former
than the latter, I stick with I-F writing. (For fiction, anyway.)

Neil

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/21/97
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Neil deMause (ne...@fcl-us.net) wrote:
> Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
> : Neil deMause (ne...@fcl-us.net) wrote:

> : > and 3) requires different skills than static fiction.

> : I've always thought that any skill useful in short-story writing is
> : useful in IF writing. I might even argue that the reverse is true (well,
> : not *any* skill -- being able to decipher Graham's indentation style is
> : probably not very useful for short static fiction.)

> : Does IF require different skills? No, I don't think so. It's easier to
> : cover for lack of experience, because the gaming aspect is an automatic
> : hook.

> I didn't mean different *levels* of skills, though that may also be true
> for the time being. I meant different skills.

I also meant different skills. I'm not sure how to rephrase what I meant
so that it's clearer.

> In learning how to write I-F
> I've had to learn how to write very concise descriptions of places and
> objects that won't be boring if you read them over and over, how to write
> plots that will make sense no matter what order you read them in, how to
> create dialog that sounds natural even when the player keeps interjecting
> nonsense like ASK WAITER ABOUT BOSNIA-HERCEGOVNIA, and so on.

Mmm, I guess I'm thinking of a different definition of "skills". The
stuff you talk about, I think of as more like "subskills" -- meaning the
sort of task which *goes along* with general writing skills.

For example, being able to write a concise description is desperately
important in any kind of writing. Being able to write an IF room
description does have other constraints. As you say, it will be read more
than once; it can't have actions or thoughts in it ("You trip over the
carpet as you enter" -- the Barringer Mistake. :-) But it's the sort of
thing you can figure out once you *can* write a description. It's not a
stumper, it's a new application of your skill.

> These are not skills I would need in writing static fiction, just like in
> writing I-F I don't particularly need the ability to create a well-paced
> plot, motivate my main character to move on to new things, or write lots
> of transitional prose, because those things aren't as important for the
> author to provide in I-F.

Ooo, see, that's exactly what I mean. I think those three things are
equally important in static and interactive fiction. I think we haven't
seen them as brilliantly applied as they are in the best novels, which is
what I meant by "lower expectation". And yes, the mechanisms for (say)
plot pacing in IF are different. But I consider it the same skill.

Mark Stevens

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Sep 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/22/97
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On Thu, 18 Sep 1997 22:24:22 GMT, svan...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca
(Stephen van Egmond) wrote:

>I have found this with a story that I wanted to tell, though I don't feel
>particularly compelled to "pay homage" to Infocom. YMMV, as it should.

It's not so much that I'm feeling compelled to pay homage to Infocom,
merely that I'll be pitching my game at those who played and enjoyed
the likes of Trinity and AMFV. Each IF developer had its own little
cult -- be it Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, etc. -- and I'm
going for the Infocom cult (although pretty much anyone else should
still be able to enjoy it!).

Stephen van Egmond

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Sep 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/22/97
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Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>I've long thought the same thing. I don't think they can help us
>predict or even understand anything, but they're fun.

I think they are useful for predicting trends, and understanding media is
certainly possible, and in fact it is nice to see a few of McLuhan's
theories in operation here.


>DW Griffith is probably the most important of those names.

That's the one.

>That seems to be where we still are. You might want to compare the
>rise of graphical games with that of talkies, which drastically changed
>the direction of film -- just as silent films more or less disappeared
>after the advent of sync sound, graphical games wiped out text
>adventures, and the only people making silent films were people with
>home movie cameras. But I'm just making connections for the sake of
>making connections here. Like I said, it's fun to think about, but I'm
>not sure there's much to it.

Possibly. Consider the device in Hitch Hiker's in which the game itself
gives you a hard time about entering the Improbability Drive chamber,
that is the sort of effect which I think we're going to see more of,
where people experiment with the medium itself, changing its nature.

Analogy: Kurt Vonnegut, in _Bluebeard_, used the technique of marking with an
asterisk (*) the names of any people who were going to be dying shortly.
He claimed, in the meta-prose he broke into after the first asterisk,
that this was to eliminate the whole business of suspense over who was
going to be dying and who was going to live. It was surprising how it
changed the story.

FWIW, my current idea (and it is little more than that) is to develop a
story where the computer is outright unreliable and may, from time to
time, lie to you in various ways. I think of it as a parallel for the
way our minds can work, highlighting some input and ignoring others.

It's like the Unreliable Narrator in film, but, I hope, will turn out to
be more personal in its effect.

/Steve

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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In article <ant182113868M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk>,

Graham Nelson <gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>In article <5vqm5i$9gm$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson
><URL:mailto:m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>> >Mark Stevens wrote:
>> >> I don't know how often this subject's been tackled, but I thought it
>> >> would be interesting to hear *why* IF authors actually write the games
>> >> they write.
>> >
>> >I do it to get chicks.
>>
>> And does it work? :-)
>
> I shouldn't say this, but I have received three or four fan letters
>from young ladies (for "Curses") along the lines of "Hello, I'm single
>and...".

I wouldn't mind getting fan mail like that! :-)

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/23/97
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Adam Cadre wrote:
>
> Stephen van Egmond wrote:
> > I haven't looked at a chronology of Infocom's releases, but it is in
> > their time that the story-telling and characterization aspect of IF
> > began to be explored. AMFV and Trinity come to mind.
>
> That seems to be where we still are. You might want to compare the
> rise of graphical games with that of talkies, which drastically changed
> the direction of film -- just as silent films more or less disappeared
> after the advent of sync sound, graphical games wiped out text
> adventures, and the only people making silent films were people with
> home movie cameras. But I'm just making connections for the sake of
> making connections here. Like I said, it's fun to think about, but I'm
> not sure there's much to it.

Allegedly, there was a period when moviegoers regularly had to choose
between "plot or color". That is, color film was novel enough that
films using it didn't need to bother with good stories. This sounds a
lot like the mid-to-late 80's to me.

--
Carl Muckenhoupt ca...@earthweb.com
EarthWeb http://www.earthweb.com/

Michael Straight

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
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On Mon, 22 Sep 1997, Stephen van Egmond wrote:

> FWIW, my current idea (and it is little more than that) is to develop a
> story where the computer is outright unreliable and may, from time to
> time, lie to you in various ways. I think of it as a parallel for the
> way our minds can work, highlighting some input and ignoring others.

I think it would be cool to play a game where the commands you type into
the game are commands you are giving to a person or robot you are
controlling against his/her/its will, with opportunities for the actor to
lie to you, resist your commands, omit details if you don't specifically
request them, etc.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT

Adam Cadre

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
to

Stephen van Egmond wrote:
> Analogy: Kurt Vonnegut, in _Bluebeard_, used the technique of marking
> with an asterisk (*) the names of any people who were going to be
> dying shortly. He claimed, in the meta-prose he broke into after the
> first asterisk, that this was to eliminate the whole business of
> suspense over who was going to be dying and who was going to live.
> It was surprising how it changed the story.

That was GALAPAGOS, actually.

Laurel Halbany

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
to

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>> I shouldn't say this, but I have received three or four fan letters
>>from young ladies (for "Curses") along the lines of "Hello, I'm single
>>and...".
>
>I wouldn't mind getting fan mail like that! :-)

Except that when you explained to them that the author of Curses was
Graham Nelson, and they ought to be directing their attention to him
instead, you wouldn't hear back. Bummer. :*

----------------------------------------------------------
Laurel Halbany
myt...@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/users/mythago/

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/24/97
to

Stephen van Egmond (svan...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca) wrote:

> FWIW, my current idea (and it is little more than that) is to develop a
> story where the computer is outright unreliable and may, from time to
> time, lie to you in various ways. I think of it as a parallel for the
> way our minds can work, highlighting some input and ignoring others.

> It's like the Unreliable Narrator in film, but, I hope, will turn out to

> be more personal in its effect.

Oh, I've done that. Where the hell did I do that? I forget. "Weather" or
_So Far_, or probably both. In small ways only.

I recall it drew some complaints from confused players, which I gleefully
ignored. :)

Magnus Olsson

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Sep 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/25/97
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In article <342871fd...@hermes.rdrop.com>,

Laurel Halbany <myt...@agora.rdrop.com> wrote:
>m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>
>>> I shouldn't say this, but I have received three or four fan letters
>>>from young ladies (for "Curses") along the lines of "Hello, I'm single
>>>and...".
>>
>>I wouldn't mind getting fan mail like that! :-)
>
>Except that when you explained to them that the author of Curses was
>Graham Nelson, and they ought to be directing their attention to him
>instead, you wouldn't hear back. Bummer. :*

Well, I'm sure I could think of _something_ to handle the situation :-).

Dan Knapp

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Sep 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/25/97
to

> Allegedly, there was a period when moviegoers regularly had to choose
> between "plot or color". That is, color film was novel enough that
> films using it didn't need to bother with good stories. This sounds a
> lot like the mid-to-late 80's to me.

Do they now? :-)

____________________________________________________________________________
|The Mauve Baron| Beep |dan...@bergen.org * http://www.bergen.org/~dankna|
|---------------| Blip |-------------------------------------------------|
| Dan Knapp | Bonk | This notice copyright (C)1997 Dan Knapp |
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/26/97
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> Stephen van Egmond (svan...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca) wrote:
>
> > FWIW, my current idea (and it is little more than that) is to develop a
> > story where the computer is outright unreliable and may, from time to
> > time, lie to you in various ways. I think of it as a parallel for the
> > way our minds can work, highlighting some input and ignoring others.
>
> > It's like the Unreliable Narrator in film, but, I hope, will turn out to
> > be more personal in its effect.
>
> Oh, I've done that. Where the hell did I do that? I forget. "Weather" or
> _So Far_, or probably both. In small ways only.
>
> I recall it drew some complaints from confused players, which I gleefully
> ignored. :)

"I've always had trouble identifying bivalves."
- Crowther and Woods, in the first known instance of an Unreliable
Narrator in an adventure game.

"Items here: dead squirrel"
- Scott Adams, in a similar situation.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/26/97
to

Dan Knapp wrote:
>
> > Allegedly, there was a period when moviegoers regularly had to choose
> > between "plot or color". That is, color film was novel enough that
> > films using it didn't need to bother with good stories. This sounds a
> > lot like the mid-to-late 80's to me.
>
> Do they now? :-)

Relatively speaking. Have you ever seen an IMAX film? :)

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