Replayability

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Malcolm Ryan

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Jan 4, 2006, 10:08:44 PM1/4/06
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I was reading an essay by C.S.Lewis recently concerning different kinds
and qualities of literature. He made the point that one distinction
between a good text and a not-so-good one is whether they stand up to
re-reading. Any book worth reading is, in his opinion, a book worth
re-reading.

Now I'm an avid re-reader. My bookshelf is full of texts that have been
read many times. So I am inclined to agree with Lewis. But it makes me
wonder how this relates to what we call "replayability" when it comes
to IF and games.

In interactive media, the focus of replayability seems to be on getting
a new and interesting experience each time we play. Yet this is
precisely what we do not get with books. In fact, if my personal
experience can be generalised, we do not desire this at all. We re-read
books in order to return to those favourite moments and experience them
again. We already know exactly what is going to happen, and yet there
is real pleasure is letting it creep up on us again.

Does this experience have a place in interactive fiction? Can people
name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?
If not, why not? Is it that games of this quality just haven't been
written yet? Or is there a fundamental difference here between
interactive and non-interactive storytelling?

Malcolm

Ashiq Alibhai

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Jan 4, 2006, 11:58:30 PM1/4/06
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With perfectionists, if you give them some indication they haven't
gotten 100% (maybe with the score system, say), you can expect this
kind of re-reading behaviour.

fel...@yahoo.com

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Jan 5, 2006, 12:38:21 AM1/5/06
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I believe we *do* have different experiences when we
re-read a book, because *we* change between reading
sessions. Moreover, the appeal of a book is of a
particular nature, different from that of a game. A game's
primary way to hook the audience is by direct
implication. Observing the same events repeatedly is
one thing. *Doing* the same things again and again is
something else entirely.

Now, there are many games I *would* want to play
again, some of them even better at storytelling than
your average book (think Planescape: Torment). Guess
what's stopping me: the sheer effort required to go
through them a second time (and the time I don't have
anymore, heh heh). I don't feel like I'd enjoy it as much
as the first time.

But that's just me,
Felix

Adam Thornton

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Jan 5, 2006, 1:59:32 AM1/5/06
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In article <1136439501.6...@g49g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,

fel...@yahoo.com <fel...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>I believe we *do* have different experiences when we
>re-read a book, because *we* change between reading
>sessions.

Depends on the book, too.

I just reread Gene Wolfe's _Book of the New Sun_. Astonishing series;
equally so on the re-reading, because now you are able to understand
many of the events in the light of knowledge you already have about the
characters, that you lacked the first time through.

Adam

Yaron

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Jan 5, 2006, 9:03:33 AM1/5/06
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If a work of IF (or traditional fiction) has a twist, you sometimes
want to go through it again, and experience the same things in light of
your new understanding. Adam Cadre's 9:05 comes to mind.

Daphne Brinkerhoff

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Jan 5, 2006, 9:16:11 AM1/5/06
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Malcolm Ryan wrote:

(stuff I snipped)

> Does this experience have a place in interactive fiction? Can people
> name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
> different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?
> If not, why not? Is it that games of this quality just haven't been
> written yet? Or is there a fundamental difference here between
> interactive and non-interactive storytelling?

At the risk of sounding cliched, I'll mention So Far and Jigsaw as two
games I've replayed for the reason you mention. "Hey, I feel like
meeting the Beatles again" or "That boy with the pipes... I miss him."
Hmm... seems like I'm interested in seeing favorite characters again.
Maybe that's key. I could see replaying Fallacy of Dawn for the sole
purpose of hanging out with Yahweh Porn again.

--
Daphne

Vivienne Dunstan

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Jan 5, 2006, 10:02:50 AM1/5/06
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Malcolm Ryan <malcol...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Can people
> name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
> different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?

Yes: Curses, Hitchhikers, and Guild of Thieves, to name just a few. In
each case I've replayed them (several times), not to follow alternative
paths, but to revisit specific scenes/puzzle I particularly enjoyed. I
don't play a carbon-copy route the second time, especially where there
are options about what to do next etc. (if a game isn't too linear), but
I'm replaying to replay certain scenes. I've been playing IF since the
early 1980s though so there's a nostalgia element in my case and I may
want to replay older games that I enjoyed a long time ago.

I'm actually far less likely to replay a game to find alternative
endings: not something that particularly appeals to me, partly for the
effort, partly because I'm not a completist in discovering different
parts of games. Well unless I played really badly the first time and got
a particularly "bad" ending. There is an exception to this though: games
that deliberately have multiple endings such as Tapestry and Vespers.
Those are rare examples where I replayed just for those.

Guess I view games in a similar way to reading books, though there is a
higher level of personal freedom/choice/involvement in them, in all but
the most obviously linear/scripted ones.

Viv

Branko Collin

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Jan 5, 2006, 1:11:03 PM1/5/06
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"Malcolm Ryan" <malcol...@gmail.com>, you wrote on 4 Jan 2006
19:08:44 -0800:

>Does this experience have a place in interactive fiction? Can people
>name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
>different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?
>If not, why not? Is it that games of this quality just haven't been
>written yet? Or is there a fundamental difference here between
>interactive and non-interactive storytelling?

I replay games all the time (action games, shooting games). I have
replayed adventure games just for nostalgic reasons, or because I
wanted to be in their world again.

I also re-read whodunnits.


--
Wel zie ik het betere en prijs het;
toch jaag ik het slechtere na

Poster

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Jan 5, 2006, 6:16:06 PM1/5/06
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I have re-read books many times over for the reasons Daphne mentioned.
Not only that, but I think that re-reading gets you back to the
experience that you had when you first read it and lets you re-live it.
I think that good IF would do the same thing. I haven't re-played much
IF as of late because I haven't played much IF as of late, though, so I
have no empirical evidence to support my hypothesis.

~Poster
www.intaligo.com Building, INFORM, Doom metal

Malcolm Ryan

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Jan 5, 2006, 7:24:03 PM1/5/06
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Vivienne Dunstan wrote:
> Malcolm Ryan <malcol...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Can people
> > name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
> > different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?
>
> Yes: Curses, Hitchhikers, and Guild of Thieves, to name just a few. In
> each case I've replayed them (several times), not to follow alternative
> paths, but to revisit specific scenes/puzzle I particularly enjoyed. I
> don't play a carbon-copy route the second time, especially where there
> are options about what to do next etc. (if a game isn't too linear), but
> I'm replaying to replay certain scenes. I've been playing IF since the
> early 1980s though so there's a nostalgia element in my case and I may
> want to replay older games that I enjoyed a long time ago.

That raises an interesting point: When I re-read a book, I often skip
bits I know are boring from the first pass, jumping straight into the
middle and going backwards and forwards as I please. This would be a
lot more difficult with a piece of IF, and the labour of not just
reading everything from the beginning, but actually -doing- everything
over again may discourage re-reading. I wonder whether there is any
elegant way to overcome this? I know some long games have "level
passwords" which allow you to revisit particular levels once you've
reached them.

Malcolm

David Fisher

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Jan 5, 2006, 8:06:52 PM1/5/06
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"Malcolm Ryan" <malcol...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1136507043....@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...

> That raises an interesting point: When I re-read a book, I often skip
> bits I know are boring from the first pass, jumping straight into the
> middle and going backwards and forwards as I please. This would be a
> lot more difficult with a piece of IF, and the labour of not just
> reading everything from the beginning, but actually -doing- everything
> over again may discourage re-reading. I wonder whether there is any
> elegant way to overcome this?

Apart from just saving and re-reading the transcript (not very interactive),
one possibility is to have a "replay" option after the game ends, where
pressing Enter does whatever you did last time at that point; for example:


A shadowy figure approaches from the north, holding
a lantern high above his head.

> {player presses Enter}
(hide behind barrels)

You quickly hide behind the wine barrels. The stranger
shuffles past, unaware of your presence.


This is a bit of work for the game author, though; "what you did last time"
needs to be carefully managed if the player switches back to manual mode for
a while and then back to automatic. And it doesn't always mean "whatever
action you did in this room last time", because a room may have been visited
more than once in the original game. But I think it would be fun.

Maybe a less complicated way to do it in an environment with multiple
windows would be to have a simple way to copy text from the previous game's
transcript (in a separate window) to the current game session without
tedious cutting and pasting - an intelligent transcript viewer with a simple
"copy" action (a single mouse click or key command).

David Fisher


Ashiq Alibhai

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Jan 5, 2006, 10:54:03 PM1/5/06
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How about chapters? When you beat the game, write out a save file /
indicator: "This player beat the game, give them chapters." Then, when
you start a game, it lets you pick from any chapter (i.e. save point).

With inventory, you presumably give the person exactly enough of what
they need to continue from that point on, which can be a bummer if they
half-complete that secret quest. Saving inventory and appropriate data
at each chapter/savepoint could work, though. Fascinating idea.

Risujin

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Jan 6, 2006, 3:07:40 PM1/6/06
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Malcolm Ryan wrote:
> Does this experience have a place in interactive fiction? Can people
> name any IF games that they re-play in this fashion -- not to get a
> different outcome, but to enjoy experiencing the same one over again?
> If not, why not? Is it that games of this quality just haven't been
> written yet? Or is there a fundamental difference here between
> interactive and non-interactive storytelling?

I'm actually an avid re-player and not a re-reader. The only time I
re-read is when I've forgotten what happens. When I re-play games, its a
different story, literally. Each time you play a game (if the game
allows it) you get a different "story". Things unfold in a different
order. Re-playing has the advantage that you are already familiar with
how to play so the game flows easily.

There is no reason IF *couldn't* follow the same template, but I don't
think it typically does. With IF there are usually puzzles to solve and
there are only so many ways you can solve them. Running guns blazing
into a building full of bad guys results in a very large number of
scenarios, making replays interesting. IF cant always deliver this.

So the big reason behind re-reading a book and re-playing IF has to be
reliving the scenes, as already mentioned in other posts.

-- Risujin

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