Genre Study. Did anyone notice that post? Comments?

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Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Apr 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/24/95
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Just curious. I only got one reply to it. Seeing as how I asked for
folks to help me fill in gaps, that's none too encouraging, as I KNOW I
didn't even cover a small portion of the sci-fi plots out there, but was
going to wait for comments before adding to the list. As of right now,
I'm working on Genre Study #2: Fantasy. I'd like to hear where folks
would like me to go with this series of posts (Wow, is that a nice
straight line or what?). I mean, I'm covering 3 types of magic, 1 type
of setting, and then mostly skimming through the rest. What other genres
would you like to see posted about? What sort of suggestions can you
offer other writers in dealing with the nuances of those genres? Which
genres would you most like to see games written in? Do me a favor and
respond to at least 2 of the above questions, and not just the which
genres do you like question.

Anyways, I'll just settle back into the background here.
--
<~V~E~SOF~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< RTI T Imagination sold and | ~~\ >
< G O WAR E serviced here. | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Apr 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/25/95
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In article <3nhpmp$9...@nntp4.u.washington.edu>,
Dan Shiovitz <scy...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>In article <3nh74t$7...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

>Well, the stuff you covered gave some nice examples of sci-fi plots.
>Generally, most plots are going to fall into the Cool Widget catgory, the
>First Contact with Alien Species category, the Exploration of Unknown Space
>category, or the Humanity's Problems in 2*** category. I saw some decent
>examples of all of those mentioned. In general, imo, the genre of the plot
>is not nearly as important as the style or type of plot. The idea of a game
>based around being stalked by monsters is more central than whether the
>monster is a demon, a psycho killer, or the Terminator.

*shrug* Important or not, it's there, and is important enough to me to
write about. As you said, the genre is just part of the backdrop. Of
course, the backdrop is pretty much the most important part of the game.
Compare, say, Hollywood Hijinx, to Zork. Both possess nearly identical
plots, with only minor details changed. Yet, I found each interesting in
its own way. Partially because of the puzzles, sure, but if you've been
reading my posts, you see that puzzles make very little difference to me
as long as they are logical and fit in the game. In general then, the
only thing different is the setting, which often is a function of genre.
I have seen many games that might have been fun if the author had put a
little more thought into his setting, and spruced up the backdrop some more.

>It's important to work in the
>genre, I agree, but the genre should to my mind be more like the
>backdrop the game is set against, not the thing which defines the game.

But, there are only about 36 different plots. Everything else is details.

>Well, I'd like to see some thought put in about Real Life games. Most of the
>ones I've seen about real life just aren't that good. When I say real life, I
>mean modern-day, 1995, your basic city person. Now, part of this is because
>(let's all admit it), our lives aren't that interesting. Well, not
>interesting compared to say Robin Hood's or Captain Spiff of the Space
>Patrol's life.
>But surely there must be something we can do in this genre besides satires?
>(And there have been some good satires, and far more bad ones.)

I suppose you could say that. I would suggest, rather, that IF is a form
of escapism in its own right. I don't play a game just to look at the
same things I can see every day. Fiction, for many of us, is exotic
locales, dashing heroes, and dastardly villains. If you have an
interesting twist or idea that needs to be set in the modern day, by all
means. You'll notice that Tom Clancy does not write about every day
things. Neither does Stephen King, nor did Shakespeare. My (really far
in the future) upcoming game, Sight Unseen, is about a modern day college
student...who is not only blind, but is being stalked by a killer
vis-a-vie Cape Fear. But hey, that's just my opinion.
--
<~~TREV ERA~~~~~~~~~~~~~SIGHT~UNSEEN~~~~~~~~NO~RELEASE~DATE~YET~~~~~~|~~~~~~~>
< I W In the jungle of the big city, a predator stalks one | ~~\ >
< GO SOFT he considers easy prey, a blind student. Feel the fear | /~\ | >
<_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>

Dan Shiovitz

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Apr 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/25/95
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In article <3nh74t$7...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

Gerry Kevin Wilson <whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> wrote:
>
>Just curious. I only got one reply to it. Seeing as how I asked for
>folks to help me fill in gaps, that's none too encouraging, as I KNOW I
>didn't even cover a small portion of the sci-fi plots out there, but was
>going to wait for comments before adding to the list. As of right now,
Well, the stuff you covered gave some nice examples of sci-fi plots.
Generally, most plots are going to fall into the Cool Widget catgory, the
First Contact with Alien Species category, the Exploration of Unknown Space
category, or the Humanity's Problems in 2*** category. I saw some decent
examples of all of those mentioned. In general, imo, the genre of the plot
is not nearly as important as the style or type of plot. The idea of a game
based around being stalked by monsters is more central than whether the monster
is a demon, a psycho killer, or the Terminator. It's important to work in the

genre, I agree, but the genre should to my mind be more like the backdrop the
game is set against, not the thing which defines the game.

>I'm working on Genre Study #2: Fantasy. I'd like to hear where folks

>would like me to go with this series of posts (Wow, is that a nice
>straight line or what?). I mean, I'm covering 3 types of magic, 1 type
>of setting, and then mostly skimming through the rest. What other genres
>would you like to see posted about? What sort of suggestions can you

Well, I'd like to see some thought put in about Real Life games. Most of the
ones I've seen about real life just aren't that good. When I say real life, I
mean modern-day, 1995, your basic city person. Now, part of this is because
(let's all admit it), our lives aren't that interesting. Well, not interesting
compared to say Robin Hood's or Captain Spiff of the Space Patrol's life.
But surely there must be something we can do in this genre besides satires?
(And there have been some good satires, and far more bad ones.)

>--
><_______________________...@uclink.berkeley.edu__|_\__/__>
--
+-------------------------------------------------------+-------------+
|The Grim Reaper ** scy...@u.washington.edu | Aude Sapere |
| ** sh...@cs.washington.edu +-------------+
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|_Music of the|
| | Spheres_: |
|Here there be dragons. | Nov '95 |
+-------------------------------------------------------+-------------+

Henry Hill

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Apr 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/27/95
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Other genres you might post a study for is maybe Horror. The
Lurking Horror is the only game I played in that direction apart
from The Horror of Rylvania, but I consider it one of the best
ones from Infocom. I would really appreciate more (good) games in
the genre, as most games seem to deal with Fantasy, which I hate!

Sciene Fiction is cool though, as long it's not another copy of
Planetfall "You are in a ship, come along planet/station/ship etc.
& discover some alien stuff". The idea is fascinating, but really
old I guess. If this idea is chosen nevertheless, the player has
to get the impression it's NOT another copy of something right
from the start. I never really played Deep Space Drifter just
because it reminded me way too much of Planetfall/Stationfall, too
much was copied I thought...

Gerry Kevin Wilson

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Apr 28, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/28/95
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In article <3nota9$3s7$1...@mhadf.production.compuserve.com>,
Henry Hill <10055...@CompuServe.COM> wrote:

>Other genres you might post a study for is maybe Horror. The
>Lurking Horror is the only game I played in that direction apart
>from The Horror of Rylvania, but I consider it one of the best
>ones from Infocom. I would really appreciate more (good) games in
>the genre, as most games seem to deal with Fantasy, which I hate!

One thing I'd like to encourage is for other folks to do their own Genre
Studies. As I stated in another post, I'm not the supreme authority on
everything, I just act like it. These posts would be far better with a
little feedback, filling in of gaps, and covering of other genres. See,
I'm not too big on real life, nor am I an expert on Eastern mythology,
nor do I know how best to get chills running down folks' necks. As they
say in soccer when the ball bounces over the fence. "A little help."

>Sciene Fiction is cool though, as long it's not another copy of
>Planetfall "You are in a ship, come along planet/station/ship etc.
>& discover some alien stuff". The idea is fascinating, but really
>old I guess. If this idea is chosen nevertheless, the player has
>to get the impression it's NOT another copy of something right
>from the start. I never really played Deep Space Drifter just
>because it reminded me way too much of Planetfall/Stationfall, too
>much was copied I thought...

See, now if everyone at least posted their likes and dislikes, with some
constructive criticism and such, then us writers would have a better idea
of what the text adventure market is like at this point, and could plan
accordingly.

Adam J. Thornton

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Apr 29, 1995, 3:00:00 AM4/29/95
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In article <3nqgsk$k...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

Gerry Kevin Wilson <whiz...@uclink.berkeley.edu> wrote:
>I'm not too big on real life

All right:

REAL LIFE: can differ greatly, of course, depending on who you are. But
since you're the sort of person who plays text adventures, we have a pretty
good guess.

Real Life, version 1: Undergrad. Sit in your room. Play text
adventures. Go to class when it's not too inconvenient, smoke a little
dope, drink a lot of beer. Maybe woo and win a boy/girlfriend. More
likely, strike out and crawl back into the bottle. The problem with
this one is that the plots tend to suck, and anyway, most of us are
kind of into I-F as escapism, and who wants to escape into the same old
place. _Busted_ comes fairly close to this genre, actually, although
few of us ever have the opportunity to be forewarned before the Men In
Blue come charging through the door to sieze our paraphernalia. The
various games set at college want to do this, except that they usually
end up in the "collect a lot of shit and drop it off somewhere"
category. Of course, *real* R.L.1 is usually like that: collect enough
reasonably good grades and get a diploma and a boot out into the hard
cold world.

Real Life, version 2: Dweeb. Sit around your smelly apartment in your
underwear, drinking beer, playing text adventures, and hoping that
_today's_ mail will have an offer for a job interview in it. Every so
often, snarl at the framed diploma on the wall and wonder why you
couldn't get a job after finishing college. This is even more plotless
and depressing--I tried a game in this genre, and had to give up,
although Arnold, the talking slime mold in the sink, was funny. Part
of it will be eventually recycled into the alt.tasteless game that I'm
never actually going to write.

Real Life, version 3: Graduate Student. Drink heavily. Smoke
cigarettes. Look bitter. Act bitter. _Be_ bitter. Drink some more.
Use big impressive words like "epistemological", "Foucauldian",
"imperialist rhetoric of hegemony", and "discursive". Drink some more.
This actually has potential for a plot: finish your dissertation before
your advisor dies or is snatched away by a school offering him/her a
better deal. The big con is that it's so unbearably depressing that I
need a drink. But implementing the cigarette pack is a nice exercise
under either TADS or Inform.

Hope this helps.

Adam

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JeffJetton

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May 2, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/2/95
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Hitting several nails squarely on their heads,

ad...@flagstaff.princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:
>REAL LIFE: can differ greatly, of course, depending on who you are.
>But since you're the sort of person who plays text adventures, we have
>a pretty good guess.
>[various amusing, but sadly accurate, examples snipped]

One more:

Real Life, version 4: Mr./Ms. Retro. Life was so much better when you were
a kid with no responsibilities. Latch on to remnants of the early 80's in
a sad attempt to recapture this lost youth. Wear your Hong Kong Phooey
T-Shirt, listen to Haircut 100, Kajagoogoo, and Men Without Hats. Play
Infocom games from their original 5.25 floppies. Object of the game could
be to complete your collection of "Wacky Packages". Cons: might trigger a
resurgence in the popularity of parachute pants.

- Jeff (who actually *does* still listen to Men Without Hats)

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