Originality in IF

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Stephen Granade

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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A while back I wrote a column on cliched IF. I got the following reply
from Craxton (sbel...@loyola.edu), who asked that I post it here to
encourage discussion.

--
>We have held our tongues in the face of fans chanting for more remakes of
>their favorite series, another rehashing of the same old plot and genre.

I'll agree with you here. Case in point: the Discworld games. The first one
angered me with atrocious read-my-mind puzzles and a wafer-thin
collect-necessary-items, kill-the-dragon plot. (More on Dragons in a
minute.) I played it through to the end, however, because it was
rip-roaringly funny. The Amazon in the Town Square and the Dining Hall
Reparte come to mind as examples. Would have been fine to leave it there,
but they didn't, did they? The second game was more original than the first
in terms of plot, and the puzzles were much more managable, but the Humor-
which was what endeared me to the first game- was bland. (As if that wasn't
enough, it ran slow. But that may just be my system.) The most likely
reason for this is that the second game was forced. With a first effort,
there is always inspiration, vision, a reason for the project. While this
vision can sometimes be present in a sequel as well, more often then not a
sequel turns out to be hack work, an attempt to re-hash the same stuff for
more money. The problem, as you've said, is that the business is driven by
the market, which is often dominated by maniacal fans. Which basically
means that until the fans have had enough (look at how long Star Trek
worship lasted. *groan*), the sequels continue.

>I ask you, how many times must we endure games set on a college campus?
>How many games involving time travel, suburban houses, or needless
>surrealism will we force ourselves to play?

These are two seperate issues. I, for one, hate college-based games, but
there is a very good reason why people keep making them. Many of today's
great amature I-F writers are college students themselves and, as the
saying goes, "Write what you know." Time-travel is a plot tool. What that
means is that it can be done in a good way (Jigsaw comes to mind.) Or a bad
way. (Time: All Things Come To An End. Ugh.) Surrealism is even more
cumbersome, in that it's a thematic tool, and games are typically somewhat
light on theme. But it can be used with good results too. (So Far, for
example. Or that new game, what's it called... Losing Your Grip? *Grin*)
The bottom line is this: If you can use an idea well, do it. Otherwise,
scrap it. You'll just wind up turning out another low-quality game.

>What you must realize is that we did not create this problem. They
>created this problem. With their insatiable appetite for the same tired
>cliches, their endless fascination with the worn re-treads peeled from
>the tires of IF, they have forced us to this pass.

Who exactly are _they_? I hate to sound like an English teacher, but you
have to clarify this point.

>No more paper-thin plots, worn shiny by countless tellings and
>retellings.

There's no question about plots. In my opinion, if you don't have a good
story to start with, forget it. Alternatively, if you can build a set of
rooms and puzzles around a common theme or idea (So Far again. There's a
Masters thesis in that game, I'm telling you.) then you might have
something workable. The biggest problem here is tacked-on plots, i.e. plots
invented as an excuse to string puzzles together. I find these
uninteresting, and a waste of puzzles that could have been put in good
games.

>If you begin a piece of interactive fiction and it employs a fantasy
>setting, mention Colossal Cave and Zork to the author and explain that
>they can never ever top those games and should move on to greener
>pastures.

That is simply not true. Granted, the "Dungeon Crawl" is the most overused
idea in the genre, but the problem is that it's been done for so long,
people have forgotten how to do it differently. If you could make something
unique (like Wearing the Claw, for instance.) it could turn out to be quite
good.

>Authors must be discouraged from using the big four: science fiction,
>fantasy, horror, and mystery. That ground has been strip-mined, all of
>its fresh ideas ripped out and pressed into an endless shuffling
>half-life of game after game, each copy a little more worn, a little more
>faded.

You just effectively alienated 95% of the ideas in Interactive Fiction. I
think your problem is not with the genres, but with what they condense
into. Fantasy means set in a world or enviroment where the normal rules of
everyday living do not apply. Science Fiction means set in the future,
where technology or discovery has changed the world. Horror means a tale
designed to evoke suspense, fear, and fright. Mystery means centering
around some puzzle or strange occurance, with the protagonist searching for
an explanation. These fundamentals have almost limitless potential. The
problem is that, through repetition and duplication of ideas, they turn
into cliches. Every Sci-Fi story becomes a space opera. Every Mystery
becomes a whodunit or film noir. The trick is to break the mold. Take an
genre, and move it in an unconventional direction. Curses!, for example,
makes what is basically another magic-filled fantasy scavanger hunt, and
makes it unique by way of contemporary setting and an intrigueing mix of
the logical (i.e. getting the watch) and the fantastic (the tarot box).

>If, on top of these sins, a game introduces a dragon, e-mail the author a
>copy of the Oxford English Dictionary with the word 'dragon' omitted from
>every page.

You struck a raw nerve here. I LOVE Dragons, in a way that I can't fully
explain. Furthermore, I think they deserve more respect then I-F tends to
give them. Dragons are marvellous creatures, full of thousands of
possibilities. They could be warriors or sages, monstrosities or
benefactors, human-like or feral... the possibilities are limitless. (If
you check out www.draconic.com -especially the links section- you'll see
what I mean.) But in the world of I-F, they are constantly being used as
paper villians, set down as minor foes or, even worse, focal points of
hackneyed and unoriginal plots. Their potential is squandered. One day, I
plan to write a game centered around Dragons as noble and spiritual
creatures. I'm going to make the game center around the exploration of a
lost Draconic city, and the characteristics that make a dragon a Dragon. I
plan to start writing it in the near future. (Then again, I also plan to
paint the garage in the near future.)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that, while your premise is correct,
your pointing the finger in the wrong direction. The problem isn't with
genres, puzzles, or settings. The problem is narrow-mindedness. The problem
is that people are blind to the limitless possibilities. The problem is
lack of imagination. Anyone who is willing to explore new ideas, and give
things an interesting new twist, can make an excellent game. Otherwise, you
can make something which is decent, but ultimately a cliche.

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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Craxton (sbel...@loyola.edu) wrote (in reply to one of sgranade's columns):

> >If you begin a piece of interactive fiction and it employs a fantasy
> >setting, mention Colossal Cave and Zork to the author and explain that
> >they can never ever top those games and should move on to greener
> >pastures.

> That is simply not true. Granted, the "Dungeon Crawl" is the most overused
> idea in the genre, but the problem is that it's been done for so long,
> people have forgotten how to do it differently. If you could make something
> unique (like Wearing the Claw, for instance.) it could turn out to be quite
> good.

> >Authors must be discouraged from using the big four: science fiction,
> >fantasy, horror, and mystery. That ground has been strip-mined, all of
> >its fresh ideas ripped out and pressed into an endless shuffling
> >half-life of game after game, each copy a little more worn, a little more
> >faded.

> You just effectively alienated 95% of the ideas in Interactive Fiction.

I gotta side with Craxton here, on both counts.

I read almost nothing besides science fiction and fantasy. There are
*thousands of times* as many SF/F novels as there are SF/F games. The
genre is not mined out.

I am reading a great SF book which was just published. End of argument.

(_War in Heaven_, by David Zindell. It's got, let's see, faster-than-light
travel; chain reactions of exploding supernovas destroying parts of the
galaxy; people transferring their consciousness to computers; and battles
between starships. Those are *ancient* tropes, authors have been mining
every one of them for twenty years, minimum. On top of that, it's the
fourth book in a series. Is it a strip-mined mimeo copy of the genre? It's
beautiful, lyrical, thought-provoking, and I can't put it down. End of
argument, part two.)

(If you want to read it, start with the first book in the series,
_Neverness_. The other three books form a trilogy, which is a second
complete story; it's not an unlimited series, although there may be more
written in the future.)

> >If, on top of these sins, a game introduces a dragon, e-mail the author a
> >copy of the Oxford English Dictionary with the word 'dragon' omitted from
> >every page.

> You struck a raw nerve here. I LOVE Dragons, in a way that I can't fully
> explain. Furthermore, I think they deserve more respect then I-F tends to
> give them. Dragons are marvellous creatures, full of thousands of
> possibilities.

I could list all of my favorite books which include dragons. No two are
alike.

--Z

--

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

Jonathan Petersen

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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Stephen Granade wrote:
>
> A while back I wrote a column on cliched IF. I got the following reply
> from Craxton (sbel...@loyola.edu), who asked that I post it here to
> encourage discussion.
>
> --
> >How many games involving time travel, suburban houses, or needless
> >surrealism will we force ourselves to play?

The game I am working on features time travel AND suburban houses, but I
think it's going to be good because of these things, not despite them.

Anyway, this reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask for a
long
time: what's the legality of putting a trademarked business, such as
McDonald's or Burger King, in my game? If I put, "You are near
McDonald's"
or "You are standing near a 7-11" do I have any potential legal
troubles?
I don't want to pull a Detective and call Blockbuster Video
"Brickbuster".

Jon

Neil Brown

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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At 10:24:28 on Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Stephen Granade wrote:
>A while back I wrote a column on cliched IF. I got the following reply
>from Craxton (sbel...@loyola.edu), who asked that I post it here to
>encourage discussion.
>
>--
>>I ask you, how many times must we endure games set on a college campus?
>>How many games involving time travel, suburban houses, or needless
>>surrealism will we force ourselves to play?

You don't need to 'endure' them, and you are most certainly not forced
to play them. There's an off-button on the computer, see, and a lovely
verb called 'quit'. Even better, don't download them in the first place.
There, problem solved, and everyone's happy.

>The bottom line is this: If you can use an idea well, do it. Otherwise,
>scrap it. You'll just wind up turning out another low-quality game.

Hmm. If everyone took this to heart, people with low self esteem would
never write anything. No, seriously.

>>If you begin a piece of interactive fiction and it employs a fantasy
>>setting, mention Colossal Cave and Zork to the author and explain that
>>they can never ever top those games and should move on to greener
>>pastures.

Zork can never be topped? If that were true, then IF would have died
long ago.

- NJB

Adam Cadre

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]

Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been
*satirical*? Yeesh.

-----
Adam Cadre, Anaheim, CA
http://www.retina.net/~grignr

Magnus Olsson

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.980313...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu>,

Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]
>
>Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been
>*satirical*? Yeesh.

To me, it is very obviously satirical, but like all good satire it
seems to have a serious intention. The question is on which side
Stephen is. He's clearly distancing himself from the excesses of the
"Originality Police" (like wanting to punish all authors of games with
the word "Dragon" in the title), but I would be very interested in
seeing his own views on the matter.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------

michael...@ey.com

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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> >What you must realize is that we did not create this problem. They
> >created this problem. With their insatiable appetite for the same tired
> >cliches, their endless fascination with the worn re-treads peeled from
> >the tires of IF, they have forced us to this pass.

Er... yeah, all those rabid IF fans bursting into my house late at night,
dog-piling me when I'm asleep and defenseless, putting a flashlight in my face
and threatening to drown my cats if I don't whip up some insipid, hackneyed
college treasure hunt in the next hour... yeah, they get on my nerves, too.

In other words: What are you talking about? And not to put too fine a point on
it, but get over yourself, why don't you?

"They" did not create any problem. "They" are certainly not forcing you or
anyone else to write unoriginal games. "They," to put it bluntly, do not
exist. There is a community of people out there who really, really enjoy
playing interactive fiction games. Some of them have little taste or
discretion; some of them have plenty of both. Some of them are disappointed
and frustrated with the dearth of original material to be had; some of them
are grateful that anyone is writing anything at all. But NONE of them -- not a
single solitary low-browed tasteless one of them -- have anything to do with
what types of games are being produced.

This is not a buyer's market. These people are your "fan base" only by virtue
of the fact that you're one of the fifty or so people on the planet who
bothers to write games. They don't pay you; you receive no royalties; your
livelihood does not depend on how well your games sell. They don't "sell" at
all. So the opinions of the unwashed masses can't really be all that relevant
to you, can they?

The source and cause of unoriginal text adventure games is nothing more or
less than unoriginal text adventure game writers. End of story. The fans
simply play what is available. If you are concerned with the amount of
original material out there, it is up to you to create more; not up to them to
change their tastes.

And for that matter, do they really need to?

When I peruse the rec.*.if newsgroups, I never read any giddily drooling
praise for "All Quiet on the Library Front" or "Travels in the Land of Erden."
I read about "Jigsaw" (which has time travel in it), or "So Far" (which has
both fantasy and surrealist elements in it), or "Christminster" (which takes
place on a college campus).

I don't mean to sound overly hostile, but I do think Mr. Granade's comment was
very ill-conceived and tactlessly elitist. I happen to think he is a very good
-- and original -- writer, and I think "Losing Your Grip" is a fantastic game.
I also think it contains much needless surrealism. And one dragon.

> >If you begin a piece of interactive fiction and it employs a fantasy
> >setting, mention Colossal Cave and Zork to the author and explain that
> >they can never ever top those games and should move on to greener
> >pastures.

I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this one, but I think Colossal Cave and
Zork both sucked. In the same way that the first season of "The Simpsons"
sucked -- I am very glad that they generated enough enthusiasm to keep the
idea going, but I am even more glad that we have finally moved beyond what was
really a primitive, shoddy product.

> >Authors must be discouraged from using the big four: science fiction,
> >fantasy, horror, and mystery. That ground has been strip-mined, all of
> >its fresh ideas ripped out and pressed into an endless shuffling
> >half-life of game after game, each copy a little more worn, a little more
> >faded.

Authors must be discouraged from making sweeping, kneejerk judgments regarding
what authors should or shouldn't write. What you have just outlined is an
excellent recipe for suppressing originality of all types.

I, too, am four-square against *bad* genre fiction -- the pulp that swells 90%
of the bookstore shelves with words like "Quest" and "Beyond" and "<blank> of
Darkness" in the titles, and Tolkien-clone elves and unicorns cavorting across
the covers. But to condemn the genre itself along with anyone who attempts to
write in it... In one breath you're lynching Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin,
Damon Knight, Ray Bradbury -- some of the most brilliant, original writers of
this century, who happened to choose these genres as their avenues of
expression.

Your own game was criticized by many for being yet another of the
"lost-inside-your-own-head" genre -- and yet it contains a flair of real
originality and a thematic unity which sets it apart from most other games.
What you find to be "good" depends a great deal on what you're looking for.
Perhaps you should stop blaming your frustrations on the faceless masses, and
start writing what you know to be good. After all, ultimately, you're only
required to please yourself.

--M

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/ Now offering spam-free web-based newsreading

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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Adam Cadre (ad...@acpub.duke.edu) wrote:
> [snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]

> Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been
> *satirical*?

Not to me. If it was, the honored author better say so quick.

Stephen Granade

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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On 13 Mar 1998, Magnus Olsson wrote:

> In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.980313...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu>,


> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
> >[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]
> >
> >Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been

> >*satirical*? Yeesh.
>
> To me, it is very obviously satirical, but like all good satire it
> seems to have a serious intention. The question is on which side
> Stephen is. He's clearly distancing himself from the excesses of the
> "Originality Police" (like wanting to punish all authors of games with
> the word "Dragon" in the title), but I would be very interested in
> seeing his own views on the matter.

For the record: yes, it was satire.

I am on neither side. While I do want to see more 'originality' in IF, I
don't want to punish authors for a percieved lack of it. It's hard to
come up with ideas which, in one form or another, have not been
incorporated in *some* work before.

In the column, I began fairly reasonably, then crecendoed to what I
considerd the heights of the absurd. My idea was that people would start
out agreeing with me, then reach a point where they said, "Hang on, I'm
not sure I believe this" and would begin thinking about their own
opinions on the subject.

When I first started playing "Kissing The Buddha's Feet," I thought to
myself, "Oh, no. Not another college game." By the time I was done I
loved the game, and was a bit disturbed by the thought that I might not
have played it had I listened to my initial opinion.

Fast-forward to now. It seems like every discussion of a game begins
with, "Well, it's [sci-fi/fantasy/surrealism/got 'Dragon' in the title]
and that put me off...." Are we all so jaded that the first thing we do
is pigeonhole a game and force it to claw its way out of that category?
Must we hit every beginner over the head like an IF version of
Whack-A-Mole if their game doesn't live up to some standard of originality?

Hence my column.

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade | Interested in adventure games?
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | Check out
Duke University, Physics Dept | http://interactfiction.miningco.com


Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/13/98
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Stephen Granade (sgra...@phy.duke.edu) wrote:

> For the record: yes, it was satire.

...thus demonstrating that an award-winning IF author can still make a
fool of himself in public.

--Z

PS: (actually, I meant *me*, folks)

PPS: (but at least I recommended a good series of books.)

Dancer

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
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In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.980313...@bigbang.phy.duke.edu>, Stephen Granade <sgra...@phy.duke.edu> wrote:
>On 13 Mar 1998, Magnus Olsson wrote:
>
>> In article
> <Pine.SOL.3.91.980313...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu>,
>> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>> >[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]
>> >
>> >Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been
>> >*satirical*? Yeesh.
>>
>> To me, it is very obviously satirical, but like all good satire it
>> seems to have a serious intention. The question is on which side
>> Stephen is. He's clearly distancing himself from the excesses of the
>> "Originality Police" (like wanting to punish all authors of games with
>> the word "Dragon" in the title), but I would be very interested in
>> seeing his own views on the matter.
>
>For the record: yes, it was satire.

Actually, it didn't read that way to me. I guess I've seen too many
non-satire posts that had the same sort of flow and
progression....Either that or it's cultural and I missed all the satire
symbols.

D

--
before [; Thinking: <post message>; ];

Bradd W. Szonye

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
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Stephen Granade wrote:
>
> Fast-forward to now. It seems like every discussion of a game begins
> with, "Well, it's [sci-fi/fantasy/surrealism/got 'Dragon' in the
> title] and that put me off...." Are we all so jaded that the first
> thing we do is pigeonhole a game and force it to claw its way out of
> that category? Must we hit every beginner over the head like an IF
> version of Whack-A-Mole if their game doesn't live up to some
> standard of originality?
>
> Hence my column.

For some reason this reminds me of the old "shock value" stories which
challenge our preconceptions, like:

A boy and his father are nearly killed in a car wreck; at the ER
the doctor says, "I can't operate on this boy! He's my son!"

Doug Hofstaedter wrote a lot on this subject too. In the story/joke, the
doctor of course is the boy's mother, but the image of doctor as father
figure interferes. There are disconcerting stories that work the other
way too, such as describing a black woman in a ghetto setting... then
mentioning that she's a doctor. Even open-minded folks (of all races and
both sexes) fall into these mental stereotype traps occasionally.

The usual way to avoid sexist preconceptions or other types of
prejudging a character is to mention both roles at the same time. For
example, if you introduce my second "character" above as Julie Jones,
the successful doctor who helps the people in the slum neighborhood she
grew up in--all in one breath or so--folks see the whole picture rather
than (a) black woman, (b) in ghetto, (c) as doctor--whoops! mental image
collapse.

Now, this isn't the same problem that a Swords & Sorcery IF game has.
Perhaps I'm being naive, but once you get past the initial shock that
"Julie Jones" is a successful doctor and philantrophist, it's easy to
believe. People can usually get past sexist and racist stereotypes with
a little prodding.

The aversion to "stock genre" IF is worse, I think. You know from the
title that "Off to Slay the Dragon" is S&S fantasy. You hear from News
that it's actually quite good, but that doesn't change the fact that
you're sick of S&S fantasy. You can just imagine the cliches and worn
plots (if any) it must boast. You grudginly play the prologue, and,
while it shows some promise, it's still S&S fantasy and you just don't
want to play it. You can believe that the black ghetto woman is a
doctor, but you can't believe that S&S could possibly entertain you.

So if I were to write a S&S fantasy game, I would do my best not to
advertise that's what it was. Instead, I would set up the prologue to
downplay the fantastic elements long enough to suck in those gamers who
might like the game but would avoid it just because it's fantasy.

There's a danger in this, that you might seriously alienate people who
feel "tricked" into playing it, but I consider this fair trickery, if
the game really is good enough to stand out from the crowd of fantasy
drivel. What do you think? Is it dishonesty, or is it a useful approach?
I think it's useful, because downplaying the fantasy element at first,
then slowly introducing it will help greatly with suspension of
disbelief as well.

An example: I'm very tentatively considering a story, possibly humorous,
that involves a pair of con men. The duo (a front man and a strongarm-
slash-straight-man) are a bit loose ethically but far from ruthless. One
of their "marks" figures out the scam and decides to give them "honest"
work, by performing some minor but difficult mission (like rescuing a
kidnapped spouse).

Now, that doesn't sound like a cliche fantasy story; it doesn't
especially sound like a fantasy at all, cliche or otherwise. I see the
prologue involving the "straight" man (the PC) walking up to a shell
game as a plant to help his partner in the hustle. The mark is a young
woman of some (good) repute whose husband and money is missing. The duo
hustles her out of her last few coins, provoking a sob story. Being good
at heart, the resourceful parnters let her "con" them into helping out.

Only now does the actual genre setting start to creep in: you start to
realize that this isn't a "normal" setting but rather a fantasy
village/space station/time travel romp/college campus/whatever. For a
while, too, the genre remains backdrop. The magic/blasters/time
machine/monsters in the campus tunnels don't show up until much later.
The genre gimmicks are there for effect and setting; the reader's
interest is drawn by the NPC characterization and strong plot, not the
gimmicks.

And really, this is how great fantasy literature and IF works too. The
Hobbit is just about an "ordinary guy" who gets pulled into a fantasy
adventure. Zork starts out simply West of House in a forest--the
treasure hunting and magic doesn't start till you get in the basement.

You may ask, why make it fantasy at all then? Why not just put the con
men in the ghetto and have Dr. Julie Jones be the supplicant looking for
her lost husband? Well, you could do that too. But I see it as an
opportunity to take advantage of the wondrous and entertaining elements
of fantasy (or science fiction, or college campuses) without resorting
to a string of wimpy dragons, steamy brothels, and unconnected puzzles
on the way to the trophy case.

Public comments and e-mail are both welcome, but please don't CC: me on
newsgroup articles; post or mail but not both.
--
Bradd W. Szonye
bra...@concentric.net
http://www.concentric.net/~Bradds

My reply address is correct as-is. The courtesy of providing a correct
reply address is more important to me than time spent deleting spam.

Nicholas Daley

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
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Jonathan Petersen wrote:
[snip]

> time: what's the legality of putting a trademarked business, such as
> McDonald's or Burger King, in my game? If I put, "You are near
> McDonald's"
> or "You are standing near a 7-11" do I have any potential legal
> troubles?
> I don't want to pull a Detective and call Blockbuster Video
> "Brickbuster".
I always assumed that it was a legal no-no. Though I've noticed that
some of John Grisham's books include trademarked names.
I guess if they don't notice you'll get away with it, and if you don't
abuse their products they'll ignore it. But if you say nasty things
about their products and they notice it they could sue you (I think).
But odds are with text adventures they'll never see it.
--
Nicholas Daley
<mailto:link_...@geocities.com>

"Retail:The art of making money by convincing others that
they need or want things which they don't."
- Me

Arcum Dagsson

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

<snip>


> >I ask you, how many times must we endure games set on a college campus?
> >How many games involving time travel, suburban houses, or needless
> >surrealism will we force ourselves to play?

<snip>


>
> >Authors must be discouraged from using the big four: science fiction,
> >fantasy, horror, and mystery. That ground has been strip-mined, all of
> >its fresh ideas ripped out and pressed into an endless shuffling
> >half-life of game after game, each copy a little more worn, a little more
> >faded.
>
> You just effectively alienated 95% of the ideas in Interactive Fiction. I
> think your problem is not with the genres, but with what they condense
> into. Fantasy means set in a world or enviroment where the normal rules of
> everyday living do not apply. Science Fiction means set in the future,
> where technology or discovery has changed the world. Horror means a tale
> designed to evoke suspense, fear, and fright. Mystery means centering
> around some puzzle or strange occurance, with the protagonist searching for
> an explanation. These fundamentals have almost limitless potential. The
> problem is that, through repetition and duplication of ideas, they turn
> into cliches. Every Sci-Fi story becomes a space opera. Every Mystery
> becomes a whodunit or film noir. The trick is to break the mold. Take an
> genre, and move it in an unconventional direction. Curses!, for example,
> makes what is basically another magic-filled fantasy scavanger hunt, and
> makes it unique by way of contemporary setting and an intrigueing mix of
> the logical (i.e. getting the watch) and the fantastic (the tarot box).
>
> >If, on top of these sins, a game introduces a dragon, e-mail the author a
> >copy of the Oxford English Dictionary with the word 'dragon' omitted from
> >every page.
>

<snip>
Actually, I'd been starting to plan out a game with a
fantasy(Enchanter-style, none the less)/science fiction theme, set in a
college campus, and a suburban house. Now that you've posted this, I just
have to figure out a way to add horror/mystery elements, and work in a
dragon somewhere. :)

Of course, this game may suffer the fate of many an IF game, and die
before ever reaching maturity, as I tend to have a couple dozen projects
going on at once, each asking for attention... (Well, that and I have to
re-teach myself Inform, first. Oh, well, if I picked up Pascal in less
then a week, I suppose I can manage it.)
--Arcum Dagsson

Bradd W. Szonye

unread,
Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

> Jonathan Petersen wrote:
> [Is it legal to use trademarked names in works of fiction?]

Nicholas Daley wrote:
> I always assumed that it was a legal no-no. Though I've noticed that
> some of John Grisham's books include trademarked names.
> I guess if they don't notice you'll get away with it, and if you don't
> abuse their products they'll ignore it. But if you say nasty things
> about their products and they notice it they could sue you (I think).
> But odds are with text adventures they'll never see it.

You aren't infringing on trademarks just by mentioning them, even in
published work. Trademarks are for identifying products, and
infringement happens (roughly) when you use somebody else's name to sell
your product.

I've always thought that most authors avoid using trademarked names in
fiction for two major reasons:

1. They don't want to "implicitly" advertise for the company.
2. They don't want libel or defamation suits over their portrayal.
(Nor other kinds of harassment from corporations such as loss of
sponsorship or cease & desist orders.)

If the hero of the story only eats at McDonald's, that's implicitly
advertising for McDonalds. That won't upset the burger chain, but it
might upset some sensitive readers who see that as blatant
commercialism. I don't think that's a big deal, but your opinion may
differ.

If, however, the hero traces an international conspiracy to mind control
everybody in the world to a drug that the burger-flippers put in their
pickles, the author's likely to get sued. Same goes if the hero's
favorite McDonald's is always filthy and has bad service, but he goes
there because he's in love with the night shift manager. It might not
get a lawsuit, but it could cause the publisher or author some grief.

Anybody remember Joe Pesci's scene in "Lethal Weapon 3" where they get
the order wrong at Subway? ("Why'd you go through the drive-thru? They
fuck you at the drive-thru!") Or the exploding Ford Pinto in "Top
Secret"? The latter definitely got complaints from Ford.

So this isn't generally a legal issue, just a matter of writing style.

Kenneth Fair

unread,
Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

In article <350A8B04...@concentric.net>, "Bradd W. Szonye"
<bra...@concentric.net> wrote:

>> Jonathan Petersen wrote:
>> [Is it legal to use trademarked names in works of fiction?]
>
>Nicholas Daley wrote:
>> I always assumed that it was a legal no-no. Though I've noticed that
>> some of John Grisham's books include trademarked names.
>> I guess if they don't notice you'll get away with it, and if you don't
>> abuse their products they'll ignore it. But if you say nasty things
>> about their products and they notice it they could sue you (I think).
>> But odds are with text adventures they'll never see it.
>
>You aren't infringing on trademarks just by mentioning them, even in
>published work. Trademarks are for identifying products, and
>infringement happens (roughly) when you use somebody else's name to sell
>your product.

I'll only mention that you'd be best sticking something like "ScotchGuard
is a registered trademark of 3M" in a footnote or in an "About this game"
command. Just to cover all bets.

But yes, you can mention trademarks without infringing upon them.
--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?
"Isn't it amazing with all of the post presented by creationist in these
newsgroups were wrong 100% of the time?" - ks...@fast.net

LucFrench

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

>Anyway, this reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask for a long
>time: what's the legality of putting a trademarked business, such as
>McDonald's or Burger King, in my game? If I put, "You are near McDonald's"
>or "You are standing near a 7-11" do I have any potential legal troubles?
>I don't want to pull a Detective and call Blockbuster Video "Brickbuster".

Well, in theory, you should say "All trademarks are owned by their specific
owners." (Or whatever in the hell that line is.) And then list it out fully in
a LEGAL section, along with the standard "This is freeware" shtick.

"McDonald's is a trademark of McDonald's Inc.
IBM is a trademark of International Buisness Machines
7-11 is a trademark of " etc.

Thanks
Luc French

The Glassers

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

Jonathan Petersen <en...@ucla.edu> wrote:

> Anyway, this reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask for a
> long time: what's the legality of putting a trademarked business, such as
> McDonald's or Burger King, in my game? If I put, "You are near
> McDonald's" or "You are standing near a 7-11" do I have any potential legal
> troubles?
> I don't want to pull a Detective and call Blockbuster Video
> "Brickbuster".

Of course, Detective called it McDonald's.

On the subject, I'm no lawyer, but if it isn't a huge thing, it may be
fine. If you can enter it, I'd say it is a bit more tricky.

Of course, if the owner of the 7-11 is a serial killer and the whole
point of the game is to blow up the store, maybe not.

--David Glasser
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com
Check out my new I-F website at http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser
Or, for a waste of time almost as good as spatch.net,
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6028/

The Glassers

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

Kenneth Fair <kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu.REMOVEME> wrote:

> I'll only mention that you'd be best sticking something like "ScotchGuard
> is a registered trademark of 3M" in a footnote or in an "About this game"
> command. Just to cover all bets.
>
> But yes, you can mention trademarks without infringing upon them.

I seem to recall that some game (The Wedding, methinks) specifically
said "There are no trademarks in this game", yet contained a pair of
Dock Martins.

--David Glasser
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com
Check out my new unfinished website at http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser
It is better than my two-year-old unfinished website at
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/6028/

FemaleDeer

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

Oh darn. I guess that shoots down my game in the works (the I planned to do
after I finish the other three games I have in the works), "The Suburbian
Dragon Who When to College".

And I thought it was a pretty good idea too.

FD I told you sarcasim doesn't translate well to an all text medium. Hehehe.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Femal...@aol.com "Good breeding consists in
concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain

Joe Mason

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

In article <88984665...@gateway1.brisnet.org.au>,

Dancer <dan...@SAY.NO.TO.SPAM.brisnet.org.au> wrote:
>>
>>For the record: yes, it was satire.
>
>Actually, it didn't read that way to me. I guess I've seen too many
>non-satire posts that had the same sort of flow and
>progression....Either that or it's cultural and I missed all the satire
>symbols.

I'm usually pretty good at picking up on satire - I spend an inordinate amount
of time sitting in the background sniggering at people who take post x
literally when its obviously a parody.

I managed to completely miss this one, though.

Joe


Joe Mason

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Mar 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/14/98
to

In article <350A1D60...@concentric.net>,

Bradd W. Szonye <bra...@concentric.net> wrote:

>So if I were to write a S&S fantasy game, I would do my best not to
>advertise that's what it was. Instead, I would set up the prologue to
>downplay the fantastic elements long enough to suck in those gamers who
>might like the game but would avoid it just because it's fantasy.

I'm not sure I'd put it this way. It's not that you want to avoid fantasy
elements in your prologue, its that you want your prologue to stand out. So in
the opening you should emphasize the things that are UNIQUE, which by
definition is not the fantasy cliches.

The best way to do this is, as you did with the con men, start the game with a
story you want to tell. A DETAILED story, not just "the player has to kill a
dragon/demon/evil wizard". Do this, and not only will the prologue write
itself, so will a lot of the game.

Joe

Neil Brown

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

At 18:06:30 on Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Stephen Granade wrote:
>On 13 Mar 1998, Magnus Olsson wrote:
>
>> In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.980313...@godzilla4.acpub.duke.edu
>>
>,
>> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>> >[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]
>> >
>> >Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've been
>> >*satirical*? Yeesh.
>>
>> To me, it is very obviously satirical, but like all good satire it
>> seems to have a serious intention. The question is on which side
>> Stephen is. He's clearly distancing himself from the excesses of the
>> "Originality Police" (like wanting to punish all authors of games with
>> the word "Dragon" in the title), but I would be very interested in
>> seeing his own views on the matter.
>
>For the record: yes, it was satire.

Humph. Just for the record, then, how many of your posts in the last
year have been serious?

For that matter, does Losing Your Grip actually exist, or is it just
another Avalon-type running joke?

- NJB
(Who's not entirely sure if he's being serious or not. Hell, it's too early in
the morning to tell really.)

Joe Mason

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

In article <19980314231...@ladder03.news.aol.com>,

FemaleDeer <femal...@aol.com> wrote:
>Oh darn. I guess that shoots down my game in the works (the I planned to do
>after I finish the other three games I have in the works), "The Suburbian
>Dragon Who When to College".
^^^^

I dunno, I see possibilities for linguistic wordplay the likes of which we
haven't seen since Nord n'Bert! (Not to mention surrealism. For some reason,
"Who When to College" brings visions of melting clocks.)

Joe


Ramee Gentry

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>
> Stephen Granade (sgra...@phy.duke.edu) wrote:
>
> > For the record: yes, it was satire.
>
> ...thus demonstrating that an award-winning IF author can still make a
> fool of himself in public.
>
> --Z
>
> PS: (actually, I meant *me*, folks)
>
> PPS: (but at least I recommended a good series of books.)

You can come sit in the corner with me, Andrew. There's enough pointy
hats here for both of us.

Sorry for going so ballistic, folks; I should have given Stephen more
credit.

--M

Michelle Cutbirth

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> Stephen Granade (sgra...@phy.duke.edu) wrote:
>
> > For the record: yes, it was satire.
>
> ...thus demonstrating that an award-winning IF author can still make a
> fool of himself in public.
>
> --Z
>
> PS: (actually, I meant *me*, folks)
>
> PPS: (but at least I recommended a good series of books.)
>

You can come sit in the corner next to me, Andrew. There's enough pointy
hats for all of us, I think.

Sorry I went so ballistic, folks. I should have given Stephen more
credit.

--M

Kenneth Fair

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

Two for the price of one!

In article <19980314184...@ladder03.news.aol.com>,
lucf...@aol.com (LucFrench) wrote:

>Well, in theory, you should say "All trademarks are owned by their specific
>owners." (Or whatever in the hell that line is.) And then list it out fully in
>a LEGAL section, along with the standard "This is freeware" shtick.
>
>"McDonald's is a trademark of McDonald's Inc.
>IBM is a trademark of International Buisness Machines
>7-11 is a trademark of " etc.

The Southand Corporation, IIRC.


In article <1d5vvdz.ev...@usol-csh-pa-001.uscom.com>,
gla...@uscom.com (The Glassers) wrote:

>I seem to recall that some game (The Wedding, methinks) specifically
>said "There are no trademarks in this game", yet contained a pair of
>Dock Martins.

"Doc Martens," IIRC, is the actual shoe brand name, so "Dock Martins"
is okay.

(Actually, I think it's "Dr. Martens," but I don't know for sure. Maybe
someone who has some can tell me.)


--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?

"UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT Information
is ENCOURAGED, ESPECIALLY to COMPUTER BULLETIN BOARDS." - Bob McElwaine

Bradd W. Szonye

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Mar 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/15/98
to

> I wrote:
> >So if I were to write a S&S fantasy game, I would do my best not to
> >advertise that's what it was. Instead, I would set up the prologue to
> >downplay the fantastic elements long enough to suck in those gamers
> >who might like the game but would avoid it just because it's fantasy.
>
Joe Mason wrote:
> I'm not sure I'd put it this way. It's not that you want to avoid
> fantasy elements in your prologue, its that you want your prologue to
> stand out. So in the opening you should emphasize the things that are
> UNIQUE, which by definition is not the fantasy cliches.

Thanks, that's really what I was trying to say. If you're going to write
a story about a couple of lovable con men trying to help out one of
their marks out of sympathy--and the setting is a fantasy world--you'd
do better to emphasize the character and plot elements before making a
big deal out of the genre setting itself.

Same goes for any story; the scenery comes second to plot,
characterization, mood, and other important elements. Now, the fantasy
setting is fertile ground for certain effects and occurrences, but if
you come out of the gate with big scenery and no quality story elements,
it'll get written off as "yet another fantasy hack job."

I'd be careful with the most common settings, however; the reason I
considered actually downplaying the setting was to avoid being
pigeonholed just for mentioning it. It's like the fellow who downgraded
works in the 97 competition just because they were in overused settings,
regardless of how good they were. Somebody like that might pass on the
game at the first mention of, say, dragons or peasants unless the good
hook comes first.



> The best way to do this is, as you did with the con men, start the
> game with a story you want to tell. A DETAILED story, not just "the
> player has to kill a dragon/demon/evil wizard". Do this, and not only
> will the prologue write itself, so will a lot of the game.

Of course, there's the possibility that my idea is a "lovable con men as
main characters" cliche, which would probably get passed over in
Hollywood. However, it's not an IF cliche per se, so with good
characterization and plotting it might not turn as many people off as,
say, a blatant "kill the dragon" adventure.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <1d5vvdz.ev...@usol-csh-pa-001.uscom.com>,

The Glassers <gla...@uscom.com> wrote:
>Kenneth Fair <kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu.REMOVEME> wrote:
>
>> I'll only mention that you'd be best sticking something like "ScotchGuard
>> is a registered trademark of 3M" in a footnote or in an "About this game"
>> command. Just to cover all bets.

I don't think this is strictly required for fiction.

>> But yes, you can mention trademarks without infringing upon them.
>

>I seem to recall that some game (The Wedding, methinks) specifically
>said "There are no trademarks in this game", yet contained a pair of
>Dock Martins.

Well, if the spelling was "Dock Martins", then the game didn't contain
the trademark "Doc Martens", did it?

But note that variant spellings of a trademark are protected as well;
if you were to start a hamburger restaurant called "Mack Dunald's",
you'd get a letter from some lawyer very quickly.

Magnus Olsson

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <Eptyo...@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>,
>Dancer <dan...@SAY.NO.TO.SPAM.brisnet.org.au> wrote:
>>>
>>>For the record: yes, it was satire.
>>
>>Actually, it didn't read that way to me. I guess I've seen too many
>>non-satire posts that had the same sort of flow and
>>progression....Either that or it's cultural and I missed all the satire
>>symbols.
>
>I'm usually pretty good at picking up on satire - I spend an inordinate amount
>of time sitting in the background sniggering at people who take post x
>literally when its obviously a parody.
>
>I managed to completely miss this one, though.

I think this one was easy to miss because a) the subject has been
discussed a lot and generated some pretty heated debate, and b) the
article was just a light exaggeration of arguments that have been
stated quite alot in dead earnest. The "originality police" really
exists. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I guess what made me think of it as satiere was that Stephen was
attacking himself. One of the Fits in "Losing your Grip" takes place
in a college building, there's a dragon in the game, and there are
even elves in it (though Stephen, the sneaky bastard, called them
"Faeries" instead. But nobody escapes the Spanish Inquis... sorry, the
Originality Police!)

michael...@ey.com

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

I have a modest proposal:

In order to alleviate the extreme hunger suffered by truly original IF
writers, who must often sacrifice their jobs and paychecks to meet the
creative demands of their art, I suggest that we cook and eat the less
original writers for food.

This would solve a number of problems simultaneously. With the extra
sustenance provided by all the surplus food, the creative IF writers would
have more energy, allowing them to design more and better games for all of us.
Meanwhile, the herd of less-talented writers would thin, decreasing the amount
of hackneyed genre pieces currently clogging the archives.

It would also demonstrate the fact that satire (like fantasy, science fiction,
mystery and horror) is a tricky genre to write well. Unless you make it clear
at some point that you are being satirical, you can wind up causing an awful
lot of confustion.

--M

> >> Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
> >> >[snipped about 800 heated replies to Stephen Granade article]
> >> >
> >> >Er... has it occurred to anyone here that this article just might've
been
> >> >*satirical*? Yeesh.
> >>
> >> To me, it is very obviously satirical, but like all good satire it
> >> seems to have a serious intention. The question is on which side
> >> Stephen is. He's clearly distancing himself from the excesses of the
> >> "Originality Police" (like wanting to punish all authors of games with
> >> the word "Dragon" in the title), but I would be very interested in
> >> seeing his own views on the matter.
> >

> >For the record: yes, it was satire.
>

> Humph. Just for the record, then, how many of your posts in the last
> year have been serious?
>
> For that matter, does Losing Your Grip actually exist, or is it just
> another Avalon-type running joke?
>
> - NJB
> (Who's not entirely sure if he's being serious or not. Hell, it's too early
in
> the morning to tell really.)
>

Den of Iniquity

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

On Sat, 14 Mar 1998, Joe Mason wrote:
>I'm usually pretty good at picking up on satire - I spend an inordinate amount
>of time sitting in the background sniggering at people who take post x
>literally when its obviously a parody.
>
>I managed to completely miss this one, though.

It's probably simply due to length of the piece and the fact that it
started off OK - it is much easier to tell if the author is being
sarcastic, satirical or just plain awkward when the piece is lengthy and
detailed than when it's short and snappy.

--
Den


Magnus Olsson

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <6ejc0s$2uc$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, <michael...@ey.com> wrote:
>I have a modest proposal:
>
>In order to alleviate the extreme hunger suffered by truly original IF
>writers, who must often sacrifice their jobs and paychecks to meet the
>creative demands of their art, I suggest that we cook and eat the less
>original writers for food.

Citizen Gentry,

The people's court of r.a.i-f has found you guilty of creating an
extremely derivative piece of satire, and has issued a warrant for
your arrest and execution. Expect a visit from the originality police
soon.

:-)

Andy Wright

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

michael...@ey.com wrote:
>
> I have a modest proposal:
>
> In order to alleviate the extreme hunger suffered by truly original IF
> writers, who must often sacrifice their jobs and paychecks to meet the
> creative demands of their art, I suggest that we cook and eat the less
> original writers for food.
>

<g>
That would certainly liven up the IF competition too. Last-placed author
goes in the pot. First-placed gets choice cut?

Andy

Kenneth Fair

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <6ej3dr$1gq$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>, m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus
Olsson) wrote:

>In article <1d5vvdz.ev...@usol-csh-pa-001.uscom.com>,
>The Glassers <gla...@uscom.com> wrote:
>>Kenneth Fair <kjf...@midway.uchicago.edu.REMOVEME> wrote:
>>
>>> I'll only mention that you'd be best sticking something like "ScotchGuard
>>> is a registered trademark of 3M" in a footnote or in an "About this game"
>>> command. Just to cover all bets.
>
>I don't think this is strictly required for fiction.

No, it isn't. But it can't hurt.


--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?

"You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship, a
self-perpetuating autocracy..." - Dennis

Joe Mason

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <6ej4s4$4fq$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>
>I think this one was easy to miss because a) the subject has been
>discussed a lot and generated some pretty heated debate, and b) the
>article was just a light exaggeration of arguments that have been
>stated quite alot in dead earnest. The "originality police" really
>exists. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

No, it wasn't - it was a pretty outlandish parody, actually. I read it again.
If I'd read the original, I'd probably have noticed right away.

The reason I didn't notice was because the original never made it to my server:
I was replying to a reply that was treating it as serious.

Of course, it wasn't as much of an outlandish parody as cf's Comp97 reviews,
and those WERE serious (I think)...

Joee

Joe Mason

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Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

In article <6ejc0s$2uc$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, <michael...@ey.com> wrote:
>I have a modest proposal:
>
>In order to alleviate the extreme hunger suffered by truly original IF
>writers, who must often sacrifice their jobs and paychecks to meet the
>creative demands of their art, I suggest that we cook and eat the less
>original writers for food.

I agree fully - this sounds like an excellent solution. I'd be glad of a
little variety in my meals: the campus cafeterias are horrible. And if it
lets us get a little variety in our I-F - well! That's the best of both
worlds.

There is one tiny little point we have to consider first, though - how should
we split up the writers?

Obviously, there are just too many writers for us to taste-test each one if we
keep up the pace required to "meet the creative demands", so we'll have to
split the pool up somehow. I suggest a Web-based form where each of us can
log in and be given a serial number to feed to a Chomp98 program - the serial
number determines the random number seed that will guarantee each of us will
be assigned a unique hack for our next meal.

The problem, of course, is that some will be tempted to bypass Chomp98's
selection system in order to pick a writer that just sounds tastier. For
instance, what if Rybread Celsius ends up on the bottom of your list, and at
the top is something inedible sounding, like Zarf or Spatch? I know *I'd*
by tempted to just ignore Chomp98 and eat Rybread.

Other than this little point, which we really should deal with (perhaps a semi-
final round?) I think it's a great idea.

Joe

The Glassers

unread,
Mar 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/16/98
to

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:

> I think this one was easy to miss because a) the subject has been
> discussed a lot and generated some pretty heated debate, and b) the
> article was just a light exaggeration of arguments that have been
> stated quite alot in dead earnest. The "originality police" really
> exists. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
>

> I guess what made me think of it as satiere was that Stephen was
> attacking himself. One of the Fits in "Losing your Grip" takes place
> in a college building, there's a dragon in the game, and there are
> even elves in it (though Stephen, the sneaky bastard, called them
> "Faeries" instead. But nobody escapes the Spanish Inquis... sorry, the
> Originality Police!)

Not to mention the fact that he has previously writte sci-fi mystery
games.

--David Glasser=
gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com

Rick Dague

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Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98
to

Andy Wright wrote:
> That would certainly liven up the IF competition too. Last-placed author
> goes in the pot. First-placed gets choice cut?

But what would we do in cases like that of Female Deer who dropped out
but promised an improved version of her game? Do we wait for the next
version before chowing down?

And then there's myself, who dropped out without sending *any* game to
Whizzard.

Hors d'oeuveres, anyone? Anyone in particular?
-- Rick

Brian C. Lane

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Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98
to

Nicholas Daley wrote:
>
> Jonathan Petersen wrote:
> [snip]

> > time: what's the legality of putting a trademarked business, such as
> > McDonald's or Burger King, in my game? If I put, "You are near
> > McDonald's"
> > or "You are standing near a 7-11" do I have any potential legal
> > troubles?
> > I don't want to pull a Detective and call Blockbuster Video
> > "Brickbuster".

> I always assumed that it was a legal no-no. Though I've noticed that


> some of John Grisham's books include trademarked names.
> I guess if they don't notice you'll get away with it, and if you don't
> abuse their products they'll ignore it. But if you say nasty things
> about their products and they notice it they could sue you (I think).
> But odds are with text adventures they'll never see it.

To hell with the lawyers ... Hmm, that sounds like a good title for a
game. Well, anyway. The way I look at is this. We are writers who are
describing things. If we cannot use trademarked names in our
descriptions of the world around us then we are screwed.

I know no law (not being a lawyer, and being much happier for it I'm
sure) but I would hope that as long as you are not misusing their
trademark (say slandering them or in an advertisement) then it shouldn't
bother them. I say shouldn't because as you know they have hordes of
lawyers (who really are mutated grues capable of being seen in daylight)
just waiting to pounce on you with a wicked letter or two (Remember The
New Zork Times!)

Brian

--
======================================================================
Nexus Computing http://www.eskimo.com/~nexus
Electronics, Embedded Software and Linux ne...@tatoosh.com

Erik Max Francis

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Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98
to

Brian C. Lane wrote:

> We are writers who are
> describing things. If we cannot use trademarked names in our
> descriptions of the world around us then we are screwed.

There's a difference here. It's one thing to avoid using trademarked
names in prose (say, Coca-Cola, Kleenex, etc.), because these are often
associated with everyday items, and calling them something else sounds
strange.

However, trademarks are intended to protect the integrity of one's
product and to prevent any other would-be cheats from making money off
of one's own name.

> I know no law (not being a lawyer, and being much happier for it I'm
> sure) but I would hope that as long as you are not misusing their
> trademark (say slandering them or in an advertisement) then it
> shouldn't
> bother them.

Trademark law says that 1. if the trademark name is different or 2. the
products being sold/attention being sought/etc. are in different fields,
then there is no trademark violation. So, theoretically, if I were to
start selling a computer game about space aliens from Mars and call it
Kleenex, I should win any suit brought against me, if it is clear that I
wasn't trying to make money off the trademark name (which will probably
be hard since Kleenex is such a household name, I would have to know
what I was getting myself into).

Trademarks also have another interesting property in which a trademark
holder who does not defend his trademark can lose it. If suit is
brought against you but you can show that all these other parties were
doing the same thing, the trademark holder knew, and didn't do anything
about it, then that can be used as a valid defense.

Note that is explicitly not the same thing as in copyright law, where
the copyright holder has no obligation to bring suit, and choosing not
to does not harm his rights in the future in any way.

> I say shouldn't because as you know they have hordes of
> lawyers (who really are mutated grues capable of being seen in
> daylight)
> just waiting to pounce on you with a wicked letter or two (Remember
> The
> New Zork Times!)

But "The New Zork Times" wasn't trademarked. "The New York Times," I'm
sure, is, but they're not the same thing.

--
Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE / mailto:m...@alcyone.com
Alcyone Systems / http://www.alcyone.com/max/
San Jose, California, United States / icbm:+37.20.07/-121.53.38
\
"I've got the fever for the / flavor of a cracker"
/ Ice Cube

Paul O'Brian

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Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98
to

On Mon, 16 Mar 1998 michael...@ey.com wrote:

> I have a modest proposal:
>
> In order to alleviate the extreme hunger suffered by truly original IF
> writers, who must often sacrifice their jobs and paychecks to meet the
> creative demands of their art, I suggest that we cook and eat the less
> original writers for food.

You think you're pretty Swift, don't you?

Paul O'Brian
obr...@colorado.edu
http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~obrian


Kenneth Fair

unread,
Mar 17, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/17/98
to

In article <350EA198...@alcyone.com>, Erik Max Francis
<m...@alcyone.com> wrote:

>Brian C. Lane wrote:

>> I say shouldn't because as you know they have hordes of
>> lawyers (who really are mutated grues capable of being seen in
>> daylight)
>> just waiting to pounce on you with a wicked letter or two (Remember
>> The
>> New Zork Times!)
>
>But "The New Zork Times" wasn't trademarked. "The New York Times," I'm
>sure, is, but they're not the same thing.

In the case of "New York Times" v. "New Zork Times," the trademark need
not be identical for you to be violating it. There just needs to be
the possibility of consumer confusion. Selling fake Rolexes and calling
them "Roll-X" or "Rolecks" isn't going to cover your butt when you get
sued by Rolex.

(By the way, *I* agree there's not much confusion between the New York
Times and the New Zork Times. But with the possibility of losing one's
trademark if one doesn't defend it, the lawyers tend to shoot first and
ask questions later.)


--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?

Science is determined not by the nature of the question,
but by the nature of the questioning.

Giles Boutel

unread,
Mar 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/18/98
to


Rick Dague <tri...@geocities.com> wrote in article
<350D25...@geocities.com>...


> Andy Wright wrote:
> > That would certainly liven up the IF competition too. Last-placed
author
> > goes in the pot. First-placed gets choice cut?
>
> But what would we do in cases like that of Female Deer who dropped out
> but promised an improved version of her game? Do we wait for the next
> version before chowing down?

. .ooOO(Mmmm, female venison)
<( 0,0 )>


ascii doodling aside - we should definitely just go for the meatiest
entrant - so there are bigger prizes!

-Giles

Joe Mason

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Mar 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/18/98
to

In article <01bd520f$827a92a0$67330a0a@WC034319>,

Giles Boutel <bout...@wcc.govt.nz> wrote:
>
>ascii doodling aside - we should definitely just go for the meatiest
>entrant - so there are bigger prizes!

Quick - everybody take their pictures off the Web! That way they won't know
which of us is biggest!

Joe

FemaleDeer

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Mar 18, 1998, 3:00:00 AM3/18/98
to

>Subject: Re: [Originality] Re: Satire
>From: "Giles Boutel" <bout...@wcc.govt.nz>

>> But what would we do in cases like that of Female Deer who dropped out
>> but promised an improved version of her game? Do we wait for the next
>> version before chowing down?
>
> . .ooOO(Mmmm, female venison)
><( 0,0 )>

OUCH!

FD :-) Remember, deer have sharp little hooves.

>kick the muncher


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concealing how much we think of ourselves and how
little we think of the other person." Mark Twain

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