I-F Sketches

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Roger Carbol

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Nov 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/5/96
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It strikes me that in most 'artistic' modes of expression (and forgive
me if I gloss over that turn of phrase right at the moment) there exists
a way for the artist to create a piece of art very quickly and typically
without much detail. Perhaps the clearest example is in drawing, where
it is common for artists to practice sketching things.

It has also struck me that to some degree this doesn't really exist
as an avenue for I-F writers, per se.

One possibly solution is to write walkthroughs. IE write a transcript for
a game which you have not written and quite possibly do not ever plan
to write.

I know that this has been included as an early design step in a few
people's descriptions of how they write I-F. I guess I was wondering:

1) How many people regularly write some sort of transcript while designing
and implementing a piece of I-F? (And no, purely mental transcripts don't
count -- I think everyone does that, intentionally or not.)

2) How many people write transcripts for games which they are fairly
certain they will never create? If so, has it been helpful?


Just wondering...


Roger Carbol .. r...@col.ca .. You don't know how to write a game.

Brad O`Donnell

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Nov 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/5/96
to Roger Carbol

Roger Carbol wrote:
>
> It strikes me that in most 'artistic' modes of expression (and forgive
> me if I gloss over that turn of phrase right at the moment) there exists
> a way for the artist to create a piece of art very quickly and typically
> without much detail. Perhaps the clearest example is in drawing, where
> it is common for artists to practice sketching things.
>
> It has also struck me that to some degree this doesn't really exist
> as an avenue for I-F writers, per se.
>
> One possibly solution is to write walkthroughs. IE write a transcript for
> a game which you have not written and quite possibly do not ever plan
> to write.
>
> I know that this has been included as an early design step in a few
> people's descriptions of how they write I-F. I guess I was wondering:
>
> 1) How many people regularly write some sort of transcript while designing
> and implementing a piece of I-F? (And no, purely mental transcripts don't
> count -- I think everyone does that, intentionally or not.)
>

Not really transcripts...more of a strange quasi-object-tree-decision
map. Back a long time ago (happily programming in GW-BASIC) I used to
take a notebook, and on each page, I would write notes about a given
object, be it a room, item, or NPC. For a room, I would take note of
the static objects and items , and for each of them I would make a list
of uses and actions; and maybe possible changes to come later in the
game. Then I would write the room in BASIC. This was as close to a
transcript as I got, but I think it's kind of a neat method, and I
mention it here because it requires a fairly concrete sense of where
the game is going to go (and how to get there, hence the similarity
to a transcript.)

> 2) How many people write transcripts for games which they are fairly
> certain they will never create?

(Raises hand) It's fun to think up games that are nearly _impossible_
to create... (ones where the NPC's are impressive, or the physical
model is accurate...)

> If so, has it been helpful?

Sure; when you're thinking about J. Random Game, an idea for a
situation or puzzle might pop up that you can use in your
Masterpiece.


--
Brad O'Donnell

Andrew Plotkin

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Nov 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/5/96
to

> 1) How many people regularly write some sort of transcript while designing
> and implementing a piece of I-F? (And no, purely mental transcripts don't
> count -- I think everyone does that, intentionally or not.)

> 2) How many people write transcripts for games which they are fairly


> certain they will never create?

Neither, I'm afraid. Writing text is by far the hardest part for me, so I
always delay it as long as possible, and I never do it for a game that
won't see the light of day.

--Z

--

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

Stephen Granade

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Nov 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/6/96
to

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com> erky...@netcom.com (Andrew
Plotkin) writes:
> > 1) How many people regularly write some sort of transcript while
> > designing and implementing a piece of I-F? (And no, purely mental
> > transcripts don't count -- I think everyone does that, intentionally
> > or not.)
>
> > 2) How many people write transcripts for games which they are fairly
> > certain they will never create?
>
> Neither, I'm afraid. Writing text is by far the hardest part for me, so
> I always delay it as long as possible, and I never do it for a game that
> won't see the light of day.

I'm with Andrew on this one. Given the amount of effort I have to put
into producing usable text, I find my productivity drops if I force myself
to write out verbatim portions of the game beforehand.

--
Stephen Granade | "It takes character to withstand the
sgra...@phy.duke.edu | rigors of indolence."
Duke University, Physics Dept | -- from _The Madness of King George_

C.K. Smith

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Nov 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/6/96
to

Brad O`Donnell (s7...@romulus.sun.csd.unb.ca) wrote:

: Roger Carbol wrote:
: >
: > It strikes me that in most 'artistic' modes of expression (and forgive
: > me if I gloss over that turn of phrase right at the moment) there exists
: > a way for the artist to create a piece of art very quickly and typically
: > without much detail. Perhaps the clearest example is in drawing, where
: > it is common for artists to practice sketching things.

I'm presently trying to get myself started on my first game. At first I
thought I'd try to write something in the sci-fi genre. Since my ideas were
so mixed up at the time, I opened up my word processor and tried to write
the first few paragraphs of a short story to at least get the mood/tone
down.

I then put this idea on the back burner, and started thinking about an
entirely different setting and plot (a fantasy murder mystery, actually).
I again opened up a word processor, but since my ideas were a little
more concrete, I started writing a plot synopsis rather than a story,
figuring that I could decide on the tone later.

I think the best thing to do is sketch as you say, by actually trying to write
either a short story, plot synopsis or something of the sort. If you
attempt to write sentences and paragraphs, you force yourself to
make your thoughts logical and cohesive, and this often helps you to generate
new and better ideas! It's the whole process of applying a structure to
the ideas to focus creativity that I find helpful. Of course, I expect
to have quite a few of these fragments before I come up with something
that can be developed further.

Regards,

--
===============================================================================
Cameron Smith | Computer Engineering & Mgmt. IV
Chair, McMaster IEEE Student Branch | McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, CANADA
===============================================================================
http://ieeesb.eng.mcmaster.ca/~cameron


John Wood

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Nov 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM11/9/96
to

Roger Carbol <r...@col.ca> asks:

> 1) How many people regularly write some sort of transcript while designing
> and implementing a piece of I-F? (And no, purely mental transcripts don't
> count -- I think everyone does that, intentionally or not.)

Well, I'm a wannabe author so I don't do anything "regularly" yet. However,
I am writing part of the Silly Game.

I wrote a transcript (5 sides longhand A4) for a sequence that was (sort-of)
timed, including some of the more likely blind alleys. This was partly to
clear up in my mind how it actually worked, including how long things were
likely to take. It also enabled me to explain it better to my S.O. and
chief critic.

I didn't feel a transcript was necessary (or particularly useful) for the
rest of my section, which is chiefly based on interactions with NPCs or
objects. Here, I mostly used the old catalog method that other authors
have already mentioned.

> 2) How many people write transcripts for games which they are fairly

> certain they will never create? If so, has it been helpful?

Well, I wrote a "pseudo-transcript" of a Jethro Tull game that I posted
some months ago, but that was just a bit of fun. I also used a transcript
when explaining a story technique I was discussing with Mike Phillips.


I've a question too: do you find that most of your design work is done
on paper, or on the computer? I seem to be able to design better away
from my PC, and only turn to it when it comes time to start programming
(or when I need to email design ideas to a co-author).

John


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