Flashbacks in IF

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Handorobou

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Mar 6, 2003, 3:54:23 PM3/6/03
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I was considering putting a flashback scene in a game I'm writing, but
what do you think? Are flashbacks in IF still interesting or have
they been overdone? As a player do you feel annoyed when the present
scene is interrupted with a flashback scene? How about when the
present scene is an action scene and the flashback scene isn't? How
about when the flashback scene is static storytelling with no
interactivity?

Gadget

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Mar 6, 2003, 6:40:28 PM3/6/03
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On 6 Mar 2003 12:54:23 -0800, sakur...@hotmail.com (Handorobou)
wrote:

I think you should write any way you like and then see if it works in
your particular circumstance. If it fits your game, it fits your game.

However, I would strive to make any scene as interactive as possible.
If I go by the feedback I got on my own game (and my own experiences)
people rather dislike it if scenes are too much 'on rails'. This is
always the conflict in interactive fictions: how much freedom *can*
you give a player before the possible branches become to complex to
implement...


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papillon_hen...@bigfoot.com

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Mar 6, 2003, 7:18:46 PM3/6/03
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>However, I would strive to make any scene as interactive as possible.
>If I go by the feedback I got on my own game (and my own experiences)
>people rather dislike it if scenes are too much 'on rails'. This is
>always the conflict in interactive fictions: how much freedom *can*
>you give a player before the possible branches become to complex to
>implement...

Actually, when it comes to flashbacks, inter-NPC conversations, or other
things where the player is expected to sort of sit and listen for a while,
I'd much rather have it presented in one big infodump than have lots of
prompts where I could type look-at-this-or-that but will more likely be
slamming wait-wait-wait for turns on end...

And interactivity in these scenes can be a problem - there was that thing in
<game> where you could kill a certain character that you really wanted dead,
but because it was a flashback, if you tried to do so the game yelled at you
and quit. Bah.

(There's the obvious counterexample as well, where the game preventing you
from doing something in a flashback is an extremely important clue, but...)

Um, what was I trying to say? If you just want to present some information,
I'd prefer it in an infodump. You can break it up into lots of little
flashbacks (the Slowly Surfacing Memories syndrome) or notes that have to be
pieced together (the Journal-Finding Subgame syndrome) to keep there from
being too much all at once, but no "fake" interactivity, please.

Beej Jorgensen

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Mar 6, 2003, 7:12:55 PM3/6/03
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In article <570bf388.03030...@posting.google.com>,

Handorobou <sakur...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> I was considering putting a flashback scene in a game I'm writing, but
> what do you think? Are flashbacks in IF still interesting or have
> they been overdone?

Go for it, I say, if it helps the story move forward.

> As a player do you feel annoyed when the present scene is interrupted
> with a flashback scene?

Nope. When done well, it provides a welcome rest from playing, and
helps tie plot points together in ways that could be cumbersome without
a flashback.

> How about when the present scene is an action scene and the flashback
> scene isn't?

This could suck, or it could provide excellent contrast to the action.

> How about when the flashback scene is static storytelling with no
> interactivity?

Depends. Spider and Web, well, of course it wouldn't work any other
way than interactive flashback. Other cases, like...hell what was the
(comp?) horror game where you woke up in a deserted research station not
knowing who you were and experienced the past through weird psychic
remnants that persisted as blue glows...anyway, the static flashbacks
worked really well there, IMO.

(This whole post is IMO. YMMV. :)

Another thing to think about (though not IF) is that games like The
Getaway have pure simplistic action interspersed with large cutscenes
that do almost the entire plot progression. That extreme _could_ work,
but might be tough to pull off in IF.

-Beej

David Welbourn

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Mar 7, 2003, 8:58:19 AM3/7/03
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"Handorobou" wrote:
> I was considering putting a flashback scene in a game I'm writing, but
> what do you think? Are flashbacks in IF still interesting or have
> they been overdone?

They're still quite interesting. If you're looking for examples, see Katana,
Babel, As the Waves Choke the Wind, and Savoir-Faire.

> As a player do you feel annoyed when the present
> scene is interrupted with a flashback scene? How about when the
> present scene is an action scene and the flashback scene isn't? How
> about when the flashback scene is static storytelling with no
> interactivity?

I think the only annoyance I've had with flashback scenes is when the
flashbacks aren't independant bits of story, but are slices of a prolonged
flashback and have to be mentally reassembled in chronological order. This
was the main problem I had with the flashbacks in Katana. But even this
perceived problem could have been minimized if the ability to replay a
flashback was possible, as was done in Babel, AtWCtW, and Savoir-Faire
(although the methods for providing this replay ability were different).

-- David Welbourn

Ben Caplan

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Mar 7, 2003, 7:16:57 PM3/7/03
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Beej Jorgensen at be...@piratehaven.org pontificated:

<snip>

>
> Depends. Spider and Web, well, of course it wouldn't work any other
> way than interactive flashback. Other cases, like...hell what was the
> (comp?) horror game where you woke up in a deserted research station not
> knowing who you were and experienced the past through weird psychic
> remnants that persisted as blue glows...anyway, the static flashbacks
> worked really well there, IMO.

That was Babel.

>
> (This whole post is IMO. YMMV. :)

Maybe I missed the place in the raif faq where the acronyms are translated
for you, but I'm fairly sure I have no idea what you're talking about.

>
> Another thing to think about (though not IF) is that games like The
> Getaway have pure simplistic action interspersed with large cutscenes
> that do almost the entire plot progression. That extreme _could_ work,
> but might be tough to pull off in IF.

There is a reason for the I in IF.

>
> -Beej
>


----------------------------------------------------------------

Ben Caplan -- philosopher, linguist, and thaumaturge


HC

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Mar 8, 2003, 12:23:25 AM3/8/03
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"Ben Caplan" <b...@hayscaplan.org> wrote in message
news:BA8E9298.EBF%b...@hayscaplan.org...

> Beej Jorgensen at be...@piratehaven.org pontificated:
>
> <snip>
>
> >
> > Depends. Spider and Web, well, of course it wouldn't work any other
> > way than interactive flashback. Other cases, like...hell what was the
> > (comp?) horror game where you woke up in a deserted research station not
> > knowing who you were and experienced the past through weird psychic
> > remnants that persisted as blue glows...anyway, the static flashbacks
> > worked really well there, IMO.
> That was Babel.
>
> >
> > (This whole post is IMO. YMMV. :)
> Maybe I missed the place in the raif faq where the acronyms are translated
> for you, but I'm fairly sure I have no idea what you're talking about.

IMO = in my opinion
YMMV = your mileage may vary

They're not specific to raif.

HC

Beej Jorgensen

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Mar 10, 2003, 4:43:02 PM3/10/03
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In article <BA8E9298.EBF%b...@hayscaplan.org>,

Ben Caplan <b...@hayscaplan.org> wrote:
>There is a reason for the I in IF.

Sure, but "interactive" is a word that can definitely be applied in
degrees.

-Beej

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