What process do you use to create plotlines?

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Marnie Parker

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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If you ever figure it out, share.

I don't find plots too hard to come up with, weaving it together with puzzles,
though, is very tough.

Doe :-) It helps if you read a lot.


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Peter Knutsen

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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gainaz wrote:
>
> What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing a
> "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
> presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
> choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
> character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
> nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
> could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
> tips? Thanks!

I don't know if this is useful, but have you thought about what kind
of character the player has? In proper roleplaying games, each
player has a character who is defined by a number of skills,
expertise in one or more areas that the average person knows
nothing about.

Maybe you should define the character, the protagonist on the
piece of interactive fiction, by what skills and abilities he
has, instead of just assming that he's the average person and
has no special skills? The "Fighting Fantasy" books written
by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone tended to assume that
the player's character was a generic "adventurer" or "dungeon
explorer" except for a few books that assumed that the player
was a mixture of fighter and wizard, and one where the player
was an apprentice thief.

Defining the character might help make your plotline more
focused. I think you should avoid giving the player a choice
of widely different character types, like letting him choose
to play either a fighter or a wizard. Instead you could
define the general type clearly (an absolute statement
that the player character is a wizard, or a mixture
of fighter and wizard, or a full wizard, or a thief, or
a merchant, or...) and then maybe let the player customize
the abilities of his character somewhat.

A thief would have several many skills, and different
thieves will emphasize different skills. One thief may
be an expert on traps and locks, another is the veteran
catburgler who can move silently and climb walls that are
almost smooth. A third variant is the disguise artist,
who is more of a spy type. He uses disguises and theatrics
skills to infiltrate guilds and organizations, and personal
charm to manipulate people.

A wizard could choose to be a generalist, having fair knowledge
of all types of magic - or he could choose to focus on one
or two types of magic while knowing little or perhaps nothing
about other magic types.

A fighter can likewise be a generalist or specialize as much
as he wishes. Besides the obvious meelee weapon skills you
have thrown weapons, missile weapons (bows and crossbows,
although sling or a primitive gunpowder weapon is possible),
unsophisticated (means it's easy to learn, but won't produce
spectacular results) unarmed combat which is generally called
brawling (punches and kicks) or wrestling (holds and throws)
or sophisticated unarmed combat (means it's very hard to learn
but when you've mastered it, you can do spectacular things)
which is typically divided into Karate and Judo. Besides
skills that are directly combat related, you have skills
that helps you fight better: Gauge Enemy, Psychological
Warfare. Feints that works on the short and long term are
also possible skills. Special maneuvers such as being able
to fight with a weapon in each hand, or switch the weapon
to the secondary hand if the first hand becomes damaged.
Fighting without the use of sight (called Blind Fighting),
or fighting while lying on the ground. A shield can be used
as a weapon too, to knock back enemies.

A warrior might have recieved training that helps
him to keep his courage even in extreme situations. Bravery
and personal charm can also help to inspire other people,
this is useful in military leaders, and just about everyone
else who might want to rally the population against someone.
A military leader also needs skill in tactics, and if he's
of high rank, strategy. Logistics skill is also useful,
although another member of the general staff can handle
this.


Your plotline should then fit the basic character type. If
the character is to be some kind of wizard, the plotline
could be a search for knowledge (of a magical nature). Or
maybe an attempt to infiltrate the domain of an evil
and suparnatural lord, one who cannot be defeated with
weapons - and not by any common magic. The quest is to
find out the vulnerabilities of this evil being, and
then use them to destroy him.

You can also use a concept from wargaming, called victory
points or victory conditions. Victory points are earned
through play, and the player might or might not be informed
of each point as soon as it is earned. For instance, if
the player managed to find a powerful magical artifact
(which doesn't have to be part of the main plotline) he
gains one or two victory points. When he learns one weakness
of the evil lord, he gains two victory points, and when
he learns the second weakness he gains another point
(the first weakness is more useful than the second, in
this case). If he also destroys the evil being, he gains
a further two victory points.

You can thus inform the player, once the adventure is over,
how well he performed. This is a deviation of all the
interactive books I've seen so far, which either has a
binary victory state (either you complete the main quest,
or else you fail utterly, usually through dying) or else
there is no clear victory. The story ends (and it might
have 32 different endings) and it's up to the player
to judge whether the ending was good, bad or neutral.

Victory conditions are assessed after the adventure is
over, but otherwise they are quite similar to victory
points. If the player manages to find one or both
weaknesses of the enemy being, but decides that he cannot
destroy the enemy, and thus returns to headquarters, his
performance is rated as 1-3 victory points. If he also
managed to destroy the enemy, he gets the full 5 victory
points (even if the destruction happened through sheer
luck of the dice, or a lucky but random choice of
options). If the player also managed to leave the castle
after having destroyed the enemy, his victory should
count for even more.

With a victory condition system, you can easily define
certain states such as

Utter failure (0 points)
Failure (1 point)
Stalemate (2 points)
Partial victory (3-4 points)
Total victory (5-6 points)
Glorious victoru (7 points)

--
Peter Knutsen
http://www.knutsen.dk

Philipp Lenssen

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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Maybe to make up the general plot, you just look at what you like best...
with the Jackson/ Livingstone books my favorite was City of Thieves (if
that's the english title), because you could really move around in the city,
play games, win stuff, go back and forth, and the whole thing made sense if
you mapped it and all.

For plot logic, it depends if you do it strictly on paper, or if you have
some real attribute variables or flag setting/ checking in the background.
And you should have that if you program it and don't do it on paper, cause
you can't really expect the player to use PC and Pencil.
If you split up the story in several sub-plots, make sure there's a
bottleneck leading from one of those to the next, with a non-linear action
inbetween. For example, a bundle of coins can be found in the woods, and
without the coins the watchman won't let you into the city. Now you only
have to think/ test through if each sub-plot is logical and working in
itself, plus has a single key (gold coins, magic potion etc) that leads to a
single door (watchman, evil wizard etc). You can also base everything you
refer to in later sub-plots on everything that must've happened in earlier
ones, for example when giving out options, or letting other characters talk,
etc. Plus, you know the motivation is always clear, and the character
doesn't end up in a cave not sure what he came looking for. The bottleneck
for such situations for example in my online game was to let the player tell
the ferry-man where he wanted to be taken to. If he said the wrong word,
he'd be stuck until he found out what he had to look for in the current
sub-plot. I know that letting the player guess a word is pretty much
impossible if you do it on paper. I once tried that and you really have to
ask letter by letter if you don't want to give it away. Remember that with
the books you could always cheat, but were not expected to, because you'd
ruin your own fun... somehow, in computer games this is different.

--
http://start.at/the.court

gainaz <gai...@uswest.net> schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:
WK1v3.4013$Gd5.1...@news.uswest.net...

Philipp Lenssen

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:
37BCB7F6...@knutsen.dk...
>..

> Maybe you should define the character, the protagonist on the
> piece of interactive fiction, by what skills and abilities he
> has, instead of just assming that he's the average person and
> has no special skills? The "Fighting Fantasy" books written
> by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone tended to assume that
> the player's character was a generic "adventurer" or "dungeon
> explorer" except for a few books that assumed that the player
> was a mixture of fighter and wizard, and one where the player
> was an apprentice thief.
>
> Defining the character might help make your plotline more
> focused. I think you should avoid giving the player a choice
> of widely different character types, like letting him choose
> to play either a fighter or a wizard.
>..

I did that, on my site's online adventure... it really adds a lot of extra
work because you have to balance out pro's and con's of the various
characters so not one is much better fit to win.

--
http://start.at/the.court


Brett W

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
to

gainaz wrote in message ...

>What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing
a
>"Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
>presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
>choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
>character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
>nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
>could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
>tips? Thanks!


Usually good storylines are totally scripted, but general enough to allow
for minor variations.

If you wanted a random plot maker... Create a lot of template missions and
then supply specifics (places, names, money, maps, conditions). That's how
Daggerfall does it.

And don't worry about weaving forty million plots into one "super-plot". Tis
very hard. If you want to do this, do the standard short story formula. Get
a simple thing, for example, give a king a big jewel. Throw in a problem.
Like that they don't have the jewel. So they have to go get the jewel. Let's
say then they eventually get the jewel. Problem is someone stole it
afterwards. So they have to go get it back. But then after they give it to
the king, they find out it has innate magical powers and now he's using it
to take over the world. So they obviously have to stop that (or perhaps
not... hmmmm). So just basically get a straightforward plot, and take away
the straightforward bits. :)

BrettW

Ashley Price

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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Hi all

gainaz <gai...@uswest.net> wrote in message
news:WK1v3.4013$Gd5.1...@news.uswest.net...


| What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing
a
| "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
| presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
| choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
| character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to
create
| nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
| could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
| tips? Thanks!

Don't feel pressured into feeling you have to use all your story lines in
one game. Use one or two, you can then save the other ideas for later games.

You don't have to have many different plots for an excellent game - and
besides people will start badgering you to write another game and you won't
be able to do so if you use all your ideas in one game.

Personally though, I can't see anyone running out of ideas. I have just
started writing my first game (literally in the last week) in between work
and spending time with my wife, and I am brimming with ideas for my future
'masterpieces'.

Ashley


Nicolai Czempin

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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gainaz schrieb in Nachricht ...

>What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing
a
>"Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
>presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
>choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
>character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
>nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
>could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
>tips? Thanks!
>
>

There are tons of books out there for prospective novelists and
screenwriters.
I'm sure much of it can be adapted to games.
E. g.
Robert McKee "Story"
Albert Zuckerman "Writing the Blockbuster Novel"
Orson Scott Card "How to Write Science Fiction/Fantasy"
Linda Seger "Creating Unforgettable Characters"
and any books that amazon.com recommends with those

Nicolai Czempin
Ikarion Software GmbH
www.ikarion.com

Peter Knutsen

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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Philipp Lenssen wrote:
>
> Maybe to make up the general plot, you just look at what you like best...
> with the Jackson/ Livingstone books my favorite was City of Thieves (if
> that's the english title), because you could really move around in the city,
> play games, win stuff, go back and forth, and the whole thing made sense if
> you mapped it and all.

That's a good idea, but hard to implement: to have a world that
the player can move around in. Almost like a map, where the
player can move freely in the cardinal directions, instead of
starting at page/section 1 and then branching out and branching
out again.

Doing a map-type world on paper would be difficult but with a
computer it's easy. Only problem is, your game might look
like one of the old text-based adventure games, or a MUD.

The advantage of having a somewhat open world is that you can
have sidequests that the player can choose to take or chooes
not to take. But these only make sense if you either implement
some kind of victory grading, or if the game uses some kind
of simulation approach to certain events (typically combat)
instead of having every event be predestined (if you have
the Magic Sword, you can kill the Nasty Troll, if you do
not have the Magic Sword, the Nasty Troll kills you. period.).
Sidequests could give the player character various magic items
or abilities (such as rare, aquired skills or spells) that
can increase his chance of passing an uncertain encounter
(uncertain means that there is some randomness involved, and
usually the chance of passing depends on the characteristics
of the player character)

> For plot logic, it depends if you do it strictly on paper, or if you have
> some real attribute variables or flag setting/ checking in the background.

Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
the enemy in a desperate attack, if you're wounded and your
favourite sword has been shattered, is a classical gesture -
the neat thing is, sometimes you get away with it (I never
forget the evening that I accidentally completed the CRPG
"Eye of the Beholder". I was sure my two remaining characters
would get killed quickly, all I intended was to scout the
area, and then reload when my chars got killed). But the
sometimes-you-get-away-with-it feature only works if there's
a random factor involved (but it doesn't have to be totally
random))

> And you should have that if you program it and don't do it on paper, cause
> you can't really expect the player to use PC and Pencil.
> If you split up the story in several sub-plots, make sure there's a
> bottleneck leading from one of those to the next, with a non-linear action

I don't like the idea of bottlenecks too much. They should be
avoided as much as possible. If the creator of the game has
taken his time to make sure that there are several different
ways of passing an obstacle or solving a problem, I'll admire
him for trying to make his game more realistic.

> inbetween. For example, a bundle of coins can be found in the woods, and
> without the coins the watchman won't let you into the city. Now you only
> have to think/ test through if each sub-plot is logical and working in
> itself, plus has a single key (gold coins, magic potion etc) that leads to a
> single door (watchman, evil wizard etc). You can also base everything you
> refer to in later sub-plots on everything that must've happened in earlier

If it's a computer program, references can be modiied according
to what the player has done.

> ones, for example when giving out options, or letting other characters talk,
> etc. Plus, you know the motivation is always clear, and the character
> doesn't end up in a cave not sure what he came looking for. The bottleneck
> for such situations for example in my online game was to let the player tell
> the ferry-man where he wanted to be taken to. If he said the wrong word,
> he'd be stuck until he found out what he had to look for in the current
> sub-plot. I know that letting the player guess a word is pretty much
> impossible if you do it on paper. I once tried that and you really have to

Also on computers. The player might not be able to spell 100%
correct English or German - there's also the chance that the
person who made the game missspells the word that the player
is supposed to guess.

If you do feel a need to include some kind of word-guessing process
in the game, have it be in the form of a riddle, and make it
part of a side-quest that doesn't need to be completed in order
for the player character to complete the main storyline.

> ask letter by letter if you don't want to give it away. Remember that with
> the books you could always cheat, but were not expected to, because you'd
> ruin your own fun... somehow, in computer games this is different.

The books were problematic if you had a good memory (like me).
One casual glance at the wrong paragraph and it would stick in
my memory, at least for the next hour or so.

Also, I found the Jackson/Livingstone books somewhat annoying.
Often you had to find a specific item early on, and if you
didn't have that item you got killed. Also, the choices you
had to make (pick one door out of three) were pretty random,
there weren't any clues as to which of the doors didn't lead
to certain death.

> --
> http://start.at/the.court

Noah Falstein

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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gainaz wrote:

> What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing a
> "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
> presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
> choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
> character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
> nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
> could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
> tips? Thanks!

Hmm, there's so much to reply to that. The first thing that occurred to me was
an analogy to cooking. If you took all the ingredients from all your favorite
meals and tried to mix them together you'd be disappointed. You'd probably want
to start with just one meal and make it a simple one at that.

The same thing is true here. Branching text adventures are quite easy to create
compared to most other types of games - I'm not even sure I'd classify it as a
game unless it has some other qualities like those of the Jackson/Livingston
books mentioned elsewhere. Don't go for an intricate storyline right away.
Write a lot of stuff, try many different things, and pass them around to friends
to get their opinions. You'll gradually get a sense of what is working and what
isn't. Read other choose your own adventure books that you like and study them
for techniques. Try them out, try out variations - in general, get some
experience. Then you can add in increasingly intricate plots as you develop a
better internal sense of style and technique.

That's just one suggestion. There are many other ways to go about getting
proficient, but I think that just diving in and starting small is one of the
best ways to learn how to do many things.

--

Noah Falstein
The Inspiracy
Freelance Interactive Design
http://www.theinspiracy.com

n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com
To reply remove the obvious

Raymond Bingham

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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Need a good story? Just make sure the game has a terrific beginning,
something that catches your interest, really grabs ahold of you and
pulls you into the game. Then make sure the game has a definite
ending.

All the stuff in the middle is negotiable. Let the players do what
they want, but eventually you have to start pulling it together into
some form of an ending. Insert Miniquests, or whatever, to your heart's
delight. You'll probably need some boundaries, and perhaps a few
milestones (which could be paralell story lines, if you will).

(Unless you're happy with multiple endings which take the world into
divergent paths and change things... even so each of those endings
should be conclusive enough that the player feels like there has made
some impact.)

You can probably construct a big story graph if you will, with
decision points forming the edges of the graph, and the nodes are
different plot milestones. It should start narrow with a few
decision points, and then baloon out, then eventually converge to
a manageable ending, narrow on the end.

It is also important to remember that games are not novels, so
while books about plot are great, you have to think in terms of
a game. If you try to make it as detailed as a novel, you will
never finish your project, because novels are different
creatures... Though there is always that temptation to make
them the same.

Perhaps a book on screenplay/scriptwriting might also be useful
to you...

Good luck!!

Best regards,

PS. Just finished writing the campaign storyline(s) for Age of Wonders
(www.ageofwonders.com) and in that game, it actually has divergent
endings. But then, that's a strategy game... and the scenario
paths are much more controlled episodes... so I could kinda get away
with that. ;-)

--
*************************************************************************
*Raymond Bingham (aka. wReam...)* I am your typical mega-ultra-moderate,*
********************************* extra-hyper-average, super-duper- *
* 100 % PURE Unabashed Opinion * extremely-overly-mediocre person. *
*************************************************************************

Curt Siffert

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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I've got this website I wrote called StorySprawl
(http://www.storysprawl.com) that enables groups of
authors to write choose-your-own-adventure stories
together.

Recently I've become more interested in writing actual
IF and it occurred to me that using storysprawl would
be a great way to model a story. Most IF right now
is still linear - no matter what choices you make
early in the game, you still are pushed forward to
one of two or three possible conclusions (short of
early deaths). I've got a story on StorySprawl that
is over 100 chapters thick, with an average story
length of about 14 chapters - something like 20 or
30 possible endings. Writing your story through a
system like that would be a great way to model an IF
story and keep track of what plotlines are developed
and what aren't.

Curt


"gainaz" <gai...@uswest.net> sayeth:

Brent P. Newhall

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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On Thu, 19 Aug 1999, gainaz wrote:

> What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing a
> "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
> presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
> choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
> character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
> nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
> could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
> tips? Thanks!

WARNING: This is a subject of great interest to me, so you can expect a
long, rambling post.

Let's get this out of the way before saying anything else: Every Writer
Writes Differently. Each individual writer has his or her own methods and
systems for writing, and one person's advice may be 100% unworkable for
you. This also means that experimentation can often uncover a "better"
way to do things.

OK, how do I come up with a good plot? Usually, for me, it starts with
one idea; something that can be summed up in a sentence or two. I expand
on that iteratively, coming up with more and more complex characters,
subplots, etc. (call it the oyster method).

I recommend against weaving together every plotline you can think of;
it'll be very difficult for you to find time to address them all. Also
remember that you don't want to jerk the player's attention around from
one plot thread to another (think of Half-Life; despite the various things
to do, you always had one major plot thread that never left the player's
mind, namely getting their butt out of Black Mesa).

For a choose-your-own-adventure-ish game, I'd recommend that you work out
one major plotline. Get that thread completely fleshed out to your
satisfaction. *Then* add obstacles to that plot, and subplots and
characters, as desired.

Remember that many games are changed as they get playtested. A good
example is LucasArt's _The Secret of Monkey Island_, where there was
initially a fourth quest to complete before setting out to Monkey Island.
Once they got a rough version up and played through it, they realized that
having four quests was a bit much; it gave the player too much to do for
too little reward. So, they scratched one of the quests, and the game's
pacing tightened up dramatically (somebody please correct me if I'm
misremembering this somewhat). The moral of the story here is that you
should expect to be flexible in your plotting, and be willing to reshape
it as gameplay reveals unexpected problems.

Good luck!

Brent P. Newhall
Accountability Developer: www.other-space.com/stun/accountability/
Official comp.sys.be.help FAQ maintainer, www.other-space.com/be/faq.html
Personal homepage: www.other-space.com/brent/


Curt Siffert

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Aug 20, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/20/99
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td...@ecst.csuchico.edu (Tim Dunn) sayeth:

>Curt Siffert <sif...@best.com> wrote:
>> it occurred to me that using storysprawl would be a great way
>> to model a story.
>
>And can you give a link or description of StorySprawl?
>
>tim


I'm sure I left it in the previous posting - but, just in case -

http://www.storysprawl.com/

On the surface it's one of those sites that allows readers
to "write the next chapter" and specify a couple of possible
choices to make. But it's a lot more powerful than the others
I've seen and can be useful for several other purposes as well.

First, it's totally automatic - you don't have to mail your
new chapter to anyone for it to be approved. Second, there
is password access for if you want to edit your chapter later.
Moderators are on-hand to keep the story from getting (too)
stupid (although there's nothing wrong with some good
healthy stupidity, as long as it is in moderation. :-) )
You can elect to be notified by email whenever someone
follows up to your chapter. Multiple stories are supported.

There's a story in the "library" that is actually finished,
proving that with good software management it IS possible
to coax a group of people to actually finish one of these
things, despite the whole "combinatorial explosion" issue.

It's a good site for people who like reading CYOA stories,
those interested in collaborative creativity, writers... and
the theoretical aspects are kind of interesting too. I can
set up "private stories" for if someone wants to map out
different possible plotlines to a project of theirs. I've
had groups of private creative-writing groups express interest
in having their own space to develop their own story. Lots
of possibilities.

Hmm... what else... there's a bulletin board, and a "map"
utility to see all the plotlines laid out on the same page
in "thread" format.

I've got a licensed version of it in development, to launch on a
popular community site in the next two months or so - I've been
keeping the main version under wraps lately since I'm about to port
it to a better system, but what the hell. :-)

Curt

Philipp Lenssen

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Aug 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/21/99
to
Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:
37BD5F72...@knutsen.dk...

>
> Philipp Lenssen wrote:
> >
> > Maybe to make up the general plot, you just look at what you like
best...
> > with the Jackson/ Livingstone books my favorite was City of Thieves (if
> > that's the english title), because you could really move around in the
city,
> > play games, win stuff, go back and forth, and the whole thing made sense
if
> > you mapped it and all.
>
> That's a good idea, but hard to implement: to have a world that
> the player can move around in. Almost like a map, where the
> player can move freely in the cardinal directions, instead of
> starting at page/section 1 and then branching out and branching
> out again.
>

Actually, it's not that hard to just have the map... the tough thing on
paper is real change within that map, other then letting the player write
down values... (which I tried to avoid in my paper style games, because I
found the writing and rolling dices to be a little subtracting from the
reading)... now you move from 2d to 3d, like imagine a map with x and y, and
suddenly a whole new dimension z for changes/ time line.. 'cause you have to
completely rewrite the map, as soon as the event occurs. You cannot just
rewrite the parts of the location where the change is actually noticeable...
'cause they lead to numbers of the old map!

>..


> If you do feel a need to include some kind of word-guessing process
> in the game, have it be in the form of a riddle, and make it
> part of a side-quest that doesn't need to be completed in order
> for the player character to complete the main storyline.

>..

Well, in one case I used it, it was a riddle, and I made sure talking to
another character would make the answer become more clear. In another case,
you were able to look up certain words in the history of this certain
fantasy world, revealing absolutely needed maps and other important stuff.
Come to think of, if anyones interested in writing a story with the
Madventure Online engine I'll write a quick how-to.

> > ask letter by letter if you don't want to give it away. Remember that
with
> > the books you could always cheat, but were not expected to, because
you'd
> > ruin your own fun... somehow, in computer games this is different.
>
> The books were problematic if you had a good memory (like me).
> One casual glance at the wrong paragraph and it would stick in
> my memory, at least for the next hour or so.

>..

Even worse with the choose you own adventure comics... a glance at a picture
revealed a lot more, and too much. Talking of different types of these
choose your own adventure, there was a crime movie in german television
where you could switch between two channels, both movies the same fictional
time, but each from the POV of a different characters. Whenever these two
characters met, you got the same movie, and when they parted you had
completely different ones.

--
http://start.at/the.court


Tim Dunn

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Aug 21, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/21/99
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Brandon Van Every

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Aug 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/25/99
to

> On Thu, 19 Aug 1999, gainaz wrote:
>
> > What process/es do you use to create plotlines in your games? I'm writing a
> > "Choose Your Own Adventure"/"Fighting Fantasy" type of game (i.e. the game
> > presents text describing your situation and gives you a few options to
> > choose from - which option you choose determines what happens next to your
> > character). I just wanted to know if they're any methods you use to create
> > nice, intricate plots. I started off with writing down every story idea I
> > could think of - but I'm having problems weaving them all together. Any
> > tips? Thanks!

I use other people. I've been GM-ing free-form PBEM RPGs for the past year and
a half. Using other people gives you a natural "push" forwards that keeps you
from getting stuck, automatically introduces creative randomness, and if you
choose the right players accomplishes 1/2 of the work for you. The key is
learning how to direct the energy successfully so that a coherent story is
improvised by all the participants. Over time, using other people will teach
you a lot about (in)coherent plot construction, particularly with regards to all
the branches an adventure story might take. The most important principle I have
discovered so far is [PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PART] "The Rule of Three." Never
have more than 3 independent story elements, or in the real world your story
will fall apart! [GO BACK TO SLEEP NOW] I'm currently on The Game of Mallor
III and in all honesty, the plot isn't really rolling yet. But it's more
coherent than the previous 2 attempts and I think it far more likely that the
game will reach a satisfying plot conclusion. Knock on wood that real-world
work doesn't intervene. :-)


--
Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

Experts eliminate the simpler mistakes in favor of the more
complex ones, thereby achieving a higher degree of stupidity. :-)


Brandon Van Every

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
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Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message

>
> Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
> more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
> player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
> that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
> has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at

Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience. Ever
seen a tragedy?

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
to
In article <7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
> Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming
experience. Ever
> seen a tragedy?

There is a difference between a tragedy and what one might call a
"victim" story. Classically, the tragic figure believes himself to be
quite powerful and in control right up to the point where the
tragic event occurs.

A victim story would be the reverse: The heroic figure believes
himself--well, frankly =herself-, since women are unfortunately popular
figures in these kinds of stories--to be powerless, right up to the
point where she decides she's not.

In either event, without some degree of power and control, what's the
point of interactivity?
--
[ok]


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

Noah Falstein

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Aug 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/26/99
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Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
> >

> > Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
> > more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
> > player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
> > that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
> > has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
>

> Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience. Ever
> seen a tragedy?
>

I've seen a lot of them. But I haven't played any - unless you count a Quake
deathmatch I tried once. There are some things that work fine in linear drama
that fail badly in the interactive field. Another example is comedy of the
Charlie Chaplin kind - it's fun to laugh at someone in constant misfortune, but
not fun to be that person. In my opinion Douglas Adams doesn't get this, as
evidenced by how hilarious his books are and how painful his games like
Bureaucracy and Starship Titanic are. At least with HHGTTG he had Steve Meretsky
tempering his inclinations.

> --
> Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
> Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA
>
> Experts eliminate the simpler mistakes in favor of the more
> complex ones, thereby achieving a higher degree of stupidity. :-)

--

Philipp Lenssen

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:
37C5D058...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com...
>..

> At least with HHGTTG he had Steve Meretsky
> tempering his inclinations.
>..

Still, one major point being: things are not under your control (yellow
bulldozer), they're far too complex (getting the babel fish), and too
chaotic to make sense anyway (random time warps later on). Well, in a book,
if the plot isn't under the main-characters control, that won't stop it from
continuing. In an Infocom game, it does. In other words, er, if you're stuck
you won't get the running gag.

--
http://start.at/the.court


Jake Wildstrom

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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In article <37C5D058...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com>,

Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote:
>Brandon Van Every wrote:
>> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
>> >
>> > Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
>> > more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
>> > player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
>> > that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
>> > has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
>> Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience. Ever
>> seen a tragedy?

I think that Photopia, while not necessarily a tragedy (as was discussed at
great length earlier this year), is certainly an example of this sort of
experience. It is certainly the case that you are not in control, and you know
from the _beginning_ that you are not in control. No changes you make in future
scenes will affect that first critical scene. And nothing you do in that scene
can really affect it either.

+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jake Wildstrom |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+

Gerry Quinn

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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In article <7q4ipv$fk0$1...@nnrp1.deja.com>, okbl...@my-deja.com wrote:
>In article <7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
> "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>>
>> Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming
>experience. Ever
>> seen a tragedy?
>
>There is a difference between a tragedy and what one might call a
>"victim" story. Classically, the tragic figure believes himself to be
>quite powerful and in control right up to the point where the
>tragic event occurs.

No problem then, if my last game of HOMM was anything to go by...

- Gerry Quinn
http://bindweed.com

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
news:7q55db$oeh$2...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
> Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
> news:7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

> >
> > Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
> > >
> > > Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
> > > more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
> > > player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
> > > that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
> > > has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
> >
> > Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience.
> Ever
> > seen a tragedy?
>
> Ever played one?

Infidel.

> Games are a different medium.

No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are, because
they don't know any better.

Noah Falstein

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
> news:7q55db$oeh$2...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
> > Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
> > news:7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
> > >
> > > Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
> > > >

> > > > Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
> > > > more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
> > > > player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
> > > > that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
> > > > has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
> > >

> > > Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience.
> > Ever
> > > seen a tragedy?
> >
> > Ever played one?
>
> Infidel.
>
> > Games are a different medium.
>
> No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are, because
> they don't know any better.
>
>

Whoa! Leaving aside the condescending tone, are you actually saying that
stories and games are the same medium? How can you possibly rationalize that?
And when you make statements like that, implying that you of course are an
accomplished writer and game developer and assuming the person you are talking
to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or were you simply
trolling?

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to

Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote in message
news:37C6AE2C...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com...

>
>
> Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> > Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
> > news:7q55db$oeh$2...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
> > > Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
> > > news:7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...
> > > >
> > > > Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
> > > > >
> > > > > Having some kind of simulation aspect in the game can make it
> > > > > more fun. It increases replay value, and I suspect that the
> > > > > player will feel more "in control" or "powerful" if he sees
> > > > > that his character can overcome obstacles if the character
> > > > > has the relevant skill, or is lucky (throwing yourself at
> > > >
> > > > Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming experience.
> > > Ever
> > > > seen a tragedy?
> > >
> > > Ever played one?
> >
> > Infidel.
> >
> > > Games are a different medium.
> >
> > No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are, because
> > they don't know any better.
> >
> >
>
> Whoa! Leaving aside the condescending tone, are you actually saying that
> stories and games are the same medium?

Yep.

> How can you possibly rationalize that?

Is Donkey Kong not the quest of a hero to save the heroine, overcoming obstacles
in his path?

> And when you make statements like that, implying that you of course are an
> accomplished writer and game developer and assuming the person you are talking
> to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or were you simply
> trolling?

Think what you like Mr. Expert. Instead of brandishing your own credentials,
let's debate it!

Nathan Mates

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
In article <7q6usc$4i8$1...@birch.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>>Or were you simply trolling?

>Think what you like Mr. Expert. Instead of brandishing your own
>credentials, let's debate it!

Analysis: definitely trolling.

Nathan Mates
--
<*> Nathan Mates - personal webpage http://www.visi.com/~nathan/
# Network Programmer, Battlezone 2: see http://www.pandemicstudios.com
# NOT speaking for Pandemic Studios or Activision, ONLY myself
# "What are the facts, and to how many decimal places?" -R.A. Heinlein

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Nathan Mates <nat...@visi.com> wrote in message
news:3lDx3.556$ok4....@ptah.visi.com...

> In article <7q6usc$4i8$1...@birch.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
> Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> >>Or were you simply trolling?
>
> >Think what you like Mr. Expert. Instead of brandishing your own
> >credentials, let's debate it!
>
> Analysis: definitely trolling.
>
> Nathan Mates

Do you have a debating point to make, Nathan? I'm waiting for your insightful
comments on the relationship between stories, computer games, and the definition
of "media."

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Raymond Bingham <ra...@fc.hp.com> wrote in message
news:7q7174$rph$1...@fcnews.fc.hp.com...
>
> I would definitely say that the standards for a "good story" in a
> videogame are far, far, far lower than they are in novels...

I'm not so sure I agree if you are willing to include a broad class of novels,
like all the junky novels. Or the best works of interactive fiction. Recently
I've thought that many novels may not have fundamentally more intricate stories
than any other medium, just a slower pace or more granulated passage of time.
What a screenwriter might accomplish in 10 seconds a novelist might describe in
detail for 3 pages. Sometimes some people bitch and moan that movies only
accomplish the action of "a short story," implying that the sheer length of a
novel is somehow better. I am inclined to believe that such people savor the
moment-by-moment length of a novel, that they intrinsically value the slowness
of a read as opposed to its high-level concepts.

It's like, can you make your point in few words, or do you beat around the bush?

> Perhaps it has to do with the visual aspect, or the advantages of
> having lots of distractions...

I am inclined to compare different-yet-similar media at the level of abstract
main ideas rather than their specific implementation details. This is the basis
for my provocative statement that yep, film, TV, theater, and video games are
all the same media. Sure at the level of mechanical equipment they are
obviously not, but how much is that just an implementation detail for delivering
a psychological experience? The psychological structuring of the experiences
remains a constant, it's how human beings construct their existence into
something meaningful. I think that many game developers are ignorant of the
fact that they are communicating stories even in simple games like Asteroids.
Complete with rising action, recognitions, reversals, climaxes, etc. Look at
the history of Hollywood sci-fi movies and you may start to see that Hollywood
didn't exactly communicate sophisticated stories all the time either. Why
assume that what's written in one medium is fundamentally more psychologically
compelling or sophisticated than what is written in another medium? The
empirical evidence doesn't bear this out in many cases.

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:935790296.24275.0...@news.demon.co.uk...

> Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> > Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote:
> > > Brandon Van Every wrote:
> [...]

> > > > > Games are a different medium.
> > > >
> > > > No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think
> > > > they are, because they don't know any better.
> > >
> > > Whoa! Leaving aside the condescending tone, are you
> > > actually saying that stories and games are the same
> > > medium?
> >
> > Yep.
>
> Hmmm.

>
> > > How can you possibly rationalize that?
> >
> > Is Donkey Kong not the quest of a hero to save the heroine,
> > overcoming obstacles in his path?
>
> No, it's a bloke jumping over barrels.
> Does anyone playing DK actually care about the damsel or
> the monkey? The game is what it's about, not the (rather
> feeble) story.

If an author writes a book or a director makes a movie, do you automatically
care about the characters? No, he/she should have written something to make you
care about the characters. There's a difference between no story and a poorly
written story. Writing a story does not guarantee quality!

But I think your take would be that the game is about manipulating a joystick
through an obstacle course. More comparable to a sport than a story. Still,
what makes a spectator sport exciting or boring? I would submit that it is the
dramatization, the overlay of story that human beings put upon almost everything
they percieve, that makes the sporting event interesting or uninteresting. And
the creation of interest does follow certain psychological laws, IMHO.

> So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block
> loses block, block meets another block?

The main character - yourself - attempts to keep the world orderly but
ultimately succumbs to the complete loss of control. I see it as Man vs. Self
and/or Man vs. Nature.

> > > And when you make statements like that, implying that
> > > you of course are an accomplished writer and game
> > > developer and assuming the person you are talking

> > > to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or


> > > were you simply trolling?
> >
> > Think what you like Mr. Expert. Instead of brandishing
> > your own credentials, let's debate it!
>

> Sounds like trolling to me...

By now, don't you know better than to assume that Brandon Van Every doesn't take
a subject seriously? That would be like assuming that Russ Williams, after some
bounded period of time, won't call someone a fuckwit. ;-) I'd suggest you dust
off your debating mitts and talk about the value/valuelessness of the concept,
or else be comfortable in how you choose to perceive the underlying mechanisms
of computer games.

Simply put: all computer games are stories.

Prove or disprove.

Adam J. Thornton

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
In article <7q6usc$4i8$1...@birch.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>Is Donkey Kong not the quest of a hero to save the heroine, overcoming obstacles
>in his path?

Yes. At some level, all entertainment is isomorphic. Great. Wonderful.
Just not very useful. Space Invaders and Hamlet are the same thing, you
know.

I know this is going to fall on deaf ears, but please have this particular
tired discussion somewhere other than rec.arts.int-fiction. Followups set,
though I have no doubt they'll be changed back.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Brandon Van Every

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to

Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote in message
> Brandon Van Every wrote:
> > Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
> >
> > > Games are a different medium.
> >
> > No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are, because
> > they don't know any better.
>
> And when you make statements like that, implying that you of course are an
> accomplished writer and game developer and assuming the person you are talking
> to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or were you simply
> trolling?

Incidentally, you're free to make any choices you want about what you personally
think it "of course" implies, or what I "assumed." It's a free country after
all. I'd only observe that it's your problem and you should check your
assumptions at the door.

I assume that in throwing down such a gauntlet, you intend to make good on it by
offering many deep insights as to why computer games and other storytelling
media are, in fact, different? With your years of experience I would expect no
less than some very precise insights on where the boudary lies, if there indeed
is one. I do hope you have much to offer besides semantic warfare, as the
observation that films and computer games do not run on the same technological
equipment is trivial and not worth debating.

Noah Falstein

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote in message
> > Brandon Van Every wrote:
> > > Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
> > >
> > > > Games are a different medium.
> > >
> > > No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are, because
> > > they don't know any better.
> >
> > And when you make statements like that, implying that you of course are an
> > accomplished writer and game developer and assuming the person you are talking
> > to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or were you simply
> > trolling?
>
> Incidentally, you're free to make any choices you want about what you personally
> think it "of course" implies, or what I "assumed." It's a free country after
> all. I'd only observe that it's your problem and you should check your
> assumptions at the door.
>
> I assume that in throwing down such a gauntlet, you intend to make good on it by
> offering many deep insights as to why computer games and other storytelling
> media are, in fact, different? With your years of experience I would expect no
> less than some very precise insights on where the boudary lies, if there indeed
> is one. I do hope you have much to offer besides semantic warfare, as the
> observation that films and computer games do not run on the same technological
> equipment is trivial and not worth debating.

Brandon, I'm tempted to use your exact style and say, "Games and stories are
fundamentally different. People who haven't written stories and designed games
think they're the same because they don't know any better." But that does nothing
but serve to antagonize. Which is my point. If you are going to make cogent
arguments about the similarities or differences of games and stories, that's one
thing. Trying to pre-empt any counter argument by saying anyone with a contrary
view "doesn't know anything" is, as you put it, semantic warfare which you have
shown repeatedly is your true aim. Take for example your response to Russ William's
example of Tetris:


> > So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block
> > loses block, block meets another block?
>
> The main character - yourself - attempts to keep the world orderly but
> ultimately succumbs to the complete loss of control. I see it as Man vs. Self
> and/or Man vs. Nature.
>

You can apply this same argument to virtually any field of human endeavor. Driving
a car is a story. "Man seeks to find direction and avoid danger, seeking forward
progress in today's technological world." Building a model airplane is a story.
"Man strives to bring order to the apparent chaos of a pile of balsa wood." Cooking
a meal is a story. "Man struggles to transform the raw materials of life into
sustenance suitable for consumption." It's easy to call everything a story. But if
everything is a story, what use is the insight?

OK, some useful content for those of you who have not deleted this thread already.
Although I think that stories and games are quite different media, I find the areas
where they are similar and different to provide useful insights. Hal Barwood, who
co-wrote many screenplays (my favorites are Dragonslayer and his contributions to
Close Encounters - he's the second WWII navy pilot off the mothership) before
turning to computer games and co-designing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
and the upcoming IJ and the Infernal Machine, had this insight: What is dramatic
tension in a movie, with the main character in a difficult and exciting situation,
looks a lot like an adventure game puzzle from the POV of the character. Luke is
running through the Death Star with Leia. He comes to an open shaft. Stop!
Stormtroopers are coming up from behind. Close the door! They might open it.
Blast the controls! How to extend the bridge - oops! Find some other way out - the
grappling hook! This could be played out quite easily in an adventure game with
real-time action elements, like a Tomb Raider or Jedi Knight engine.

See, actual insight with useful applications. No insults. Of course, I may have
hurt someone's ego by pointing out that Hal actually has done some good stuff in the
past, but I find it useful to know whether someone with an insight actually has a
practical basis in knowledge supporting that insight - it's a little quirk I have.

Further discussion of semantics will undoubtedly proceed - but without me.

Link

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message ...

> Simply put: all computer games are stories.

Supposing they are, then the fundamental difference is that stories must be
entertaining to read, while videogame stories must be entertaining to
create.

Attempts to critique a videogame based on literary theory are misguided.
Those critics don't show a mature appreciation for the medium.

- Mike


PaG

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Simply put: all computer games are stories.
>

> Prove or disprove.

By your definition, is there anything that isn't a story?

PaG


Rainer Deyke

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Aug 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/27/99
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Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:7q5qft$sg1$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> Rainer Deyke <rai...@hotpop.com> wrote in message
> news:7q55db$oeh$2...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

> > Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
> > news:7q3sd3$7gs$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

> > > Being "in control" or "powerful" is only one kind of gaming
experience.
> > Ever
> > > seen a tragedy?
> > Games are a different medium.
>
> No they aren't. People who can't write stories just think they are,
because
> they don't know any better.

"Story", in games, is about fantasy fullfillment. However, even if you
fantasize about tragedy, this kind of fantasy translates poorly into games.
Games are about overcoming obstacles. If the obstacles cannot be overcome,
or the player is not in control of overcoming these obstacles, there is no
game.

On a side note, a lot of the old "swarm" games could be considered
tragedies. If you defeated one wave of opponents, another, bigger wave
appeared. This cast the player into the role of a tragic hero. However,
the player was still "in control" and "powerful", and his eventual defeat
came about by some minor mistake which he could have prevented (in theory).


--
Rainer Deyke (rai...@hotpop.com)
"In ihren Reihen zu stehen heisst unter Feinden zu kaempfen" - Abigor


Russ Williams

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
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Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> > Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> > > Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote:
[...]

> > > > How can you possibly rationalize that?
> > >
> > > Is Donkey Kong not the quest of a hero to save the heroine,
> > > overcoming obstacles in his path?
> >
> > No, it's a bloke jumping over barrels.
> > Does anyone playing DK actually care about the damsel or
> > the monkey? The game is what it's about, not the (rather
> > feeble) story.
>
> If an author writes a book or a director makes a movie, do
> you automatically care about the characters? No, he/she
> should have written something to make you care about the
> characters.

Straw man.

If a book or movie doesn't have characters people care
about, then it's quite likely to fail. If it doesn't have a
story, then it's practically certain to fail. This has nothing
to do with whether or not games need/are stories.

> There's a difference between no story and a poorly
> written story. Writing a story does not guarantee quality!

But why does DK need a story? What if you just had to
get to the top because that's the game?

> But I think your take would be that the game is about
> manipulating a joystick through an obstacle course.
> More comparable to a sport than a story.

Not much of a sport, but, yes I'd say that's a better
generalisation for games than calling them stories.

> Still, what makes a spectator sport exciting or boring?

Who cares? Sport is something you do, not something
you watch[1]. Same with games. The fun comes from
pitting your wits and/orskills against the developers/
machine/yourself/other players.

> I would submit that it is the dramatization, the overlay of
> story that human beings put upon almost everything they
> percieve, that makes the sporting event interesting or
> uninteresting. And the creation of interest does follow
> certain psychological laws, IMHO.

But games aren't a spectator sport. They're an activity.
You need to look at the psychological reasons why
people *play* sports, rather than why they *watch*
them.

> > So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block
> > loses block, block meets another block?
>
> The main character - yourself - attempts to keep the world
> orderly but ultimately succumbs to the complete loss of
> control. I see it as Man vs. Self and/or Man vs. Nature.

Really? I see it as a cool puzzle game.
I think you're reading *way* too much into this. Tetris has no
story, no characters, just blocks and simple gravity.

> > > > And when you make statements like that, implying that
> > > > you of course are an accomplished writer and game
> > > > developer and assuming the person you are talking
> > > > to is not, it's customary to give some credentials. Or
> > > > were you simply trolling?
> > >

> > > Think what you like Mr. Expert. Instead of brandishing
> > > your own credentials, let's debate it!
> >
> > Sounds like trolling to me...
>
> By now, don't you know better than to assume that
> Brandon Van Every doesn't take a subject seriously?

I figure you like the Discord/Eris bit - stirring up chaos
and confusion to see if something interesting falls out
of the discussion...

> That would be like assuming that Russ Williams, after
> some bounded period of time, won't call someone a
> fuckwit. ;-)

:P

> I'd suggest you dust off your debating mitts and talk
> about the value/valuelessness of the concept, or else
> be comfortable in how you choose to perceive the
> underlying mechanisms of computer games.
>

> Simply put: all computer games are stories.
>
> Prove or disprove.

Tetris doesn't have a story. It doesn't have characters
or a plot or a narrative of any kind. There is no clearly
defined end unless you fail. It's merely a test of
conditioned reflexes and thinking under pressure.

---
Russ

[1] - Ok. This is complete bollocks, but games tend to neatly combine
the 'taking part' with the 'couch potato' aspects, so pretty much anyone
can get involved.

Geoff Howland

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
to
On Fri, 27 Aug 1999 15:44:59 -0700, "Brandon Van Every"
<vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>> So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block
>> loses block, block meets another block?

Gotta love it!

>The main character - yourself - attempts to keep the world orderly but
>ultimately succumbs to the complete loss of control. I see it as Man vs. Self
>and/or Man vs. Nature.

You can narrate or make a story out of anything, that doesnt mean the
story and what you are making the story about are the same media.
From my perspective its obvious that you are fitting them together by
saying that you can narrate what happens, so its a story in a way,
when they are quite obviously very different in how they are produced,
used and the results that come from them.

Making them not looking like a duck, sounding like a duck, or tasting
like a duck...


-Geoff Howland
http://www.lupinegames.com/ http://www.gamedev.net/

JeffR

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
to

Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote in article
<935801026.29078.0...@news.demon.co.uk>...

[snip]

> Who cares? Sport is something you do, not something
> you watch[1].

[snip]

OK... gotta jump in here. I don't understand this assertion and its
relevancy.

How do you explain the success of "spectator" sports, then? Indeed, if
sport were something in which people only participated and did not observe,
I daresay there would be no such thing as professional sports.

l8r! :)


Jeff
--
---------------------------------------------------
jrr

"We sleep, but the loom of life never stops,
and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down
is weaving when it comes up tomorrow."
--Henry Ward Beecher
"Life Thoughts"

Gerry Quinn

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
to
In article <7q748l$d01$1...@birch.prod.itd.earthlink.net>, "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>Simply put: all computer games are stories.
>
>Prove or disprove.
>

False - computer games have stories, but are more than stories. Stories
do not create explicit world simulations.

My view is that a computer game that concentrates on story is likely to
be no more successful in its genre than a DOOM novelisation is likely to
be successful as literature.

Peter Knutsen

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
to

Brandon Van Every wrote:

> Do you have a debating point to make, Nathan? I'm waiting for your insightful
> comments on the relationship between stories, computer games, and the definition
> of "media."

If you write a story, and I sit down to read it, or watch it, or
listen to it, then you're in completely, utter, total and 100%
control of what happens.

Not so when I play a game. At least, if the game is that way,
I'm quit playing it. In a roleplaying game or a computer game,
I want to take part in the story and affect the events and the
outcome, not just lean back and relax like a nice boy while you
tell me the story. I want to influence the story, heavy influence.

> --
> Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
> Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

--
Peter Knutsen

Russ Williams

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Aug 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/28/99
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JeffR <j...@paralynx.com> wrote:
> Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
> [snip]
>
> > Who cares? Sport is something you do, not something
> > you watch[1].
>
> [snip]
>
> OK... gotta jump in here. I don't understand this assertion
> and its relevancy.

See the footnote in my original post.

> How do you explain the success of "spectator" sports,
> then?

Because to play most sports, you need to be reasonably
fit. You can't play football if you're 70 years old or if you
weigh 400lbs. Most people aren't up to playing their
favourite sports and/or don't have a team to play with.

Consider the popularity of sports with kids. Not just
school teams, but kicking a tennis ball around in the
street or whatever.

Look at it this way: would you rather watch a great
touchdown on TV, or would you prefer to have scored
it?

> Indeed, if sport were something in which people only
> participated and did not observe, I daresay there
> would be no such thing as professional sports.

Probably not.

---
Russ

JeffR

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote in article
<935847887.13224.1...@news.demon.co.uk>...

> See the footnote in my original post.

OK... guess I missed that. I'll see if I can find it again.

[snip]



> Look at it this way: would you rather watch a great
> touchdown on TV, or would you prefer to have scored
> it?

I'm still not sure I understand how you can make the statement that "sport
is something you do, not something you watch" (to paraphrase somewhat). I
infer from this that if you're only watching it and not actually
participating, then it's not sport. What is it then if I'm couch-potatoed
in front of a hockey or baseball game? I am watching a sport[ing event].
Sure, I'm not participating, but it's still sport.

The same applies re: scoring the touchdown myself vs. watching it; I watch
sports because I do not have the physical ability to participate -- at
least at a professional level -- and so I experience it vicariously, the
only way I can. How does that make it "not" sport?

> > Indeed, if sport were something in which people only
> > participated and did not observe, I daresay there
> > would be no such thing as professional sports.
>
> Probably not.

Heh. I guess we can agree here, at least. ;)

Geoff Howland

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
On 29 Aug 1999 04:38:03 GMT, "JeffR" <j...@paralynx.com> wrote:

>I'm still not sure I understand how you can make the statement that "sport
>is something you do, not something you watch" (to paraphrase somewhat). I
>infer from this that if you're only watching it and not actually
>participating, then it's not sport.

_Someone_ has to do thing for it to be a sport.

>What is it then if I'm couch-potatoed in front of a hockey or baseball game?

The sport is going on, being participated in by other people, you are
just watching.

> I am watching a sport[ing event].
>Sure, I'm not participating, but it's still sport.

Right. A sport that you arent participating in and are watching.

>The same applies re: scoring the touchdown myself vs. watching it; I watch
>sports because I do not have the physical ability to participate -- at
>least at a professional level -- and so I experience it vicariously, the
>only way I can. How does that make it "not" sport?

It doesnt. It only makes it not a sport if no one is doing anything.
'Spectator sport' is a term for a sport that can be watched by other
people, and is popular to do so. Not, that the spectators have
anything to do with the game being a sport.

JeffR

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
Geoff Howland <ghow...@lupineNO.SPAMgames.com> wrote in article

[snip]

> It doesnt. It only makes it not a sport if no one is doing anything.
> 'Spectator sport' is a term for a sport that can be watched by other
> people, and is popular to do so. Not, that the spectators have
> anything to do with the game being a sport.

Ah. I getcha now. Good thing, too, 'cause I think we're kinda off-topic
-- in both groups.

Russ Williams

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
JeffR <j...@paralynx.com> wrote:
> Russ Williams <ru...@algorithm.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> > See the footnote in my original post.
>
> OK... guess I missed that. I'll see if I can find it again.

(re: "sport is something you do")
#[1] - Ok. This is complete bollocks, but games tend to
#neatly combine the 'taking part' with the 'couch potato'
#aspects, so pretty much anyone can get involved.

It wasn't supposed to lead to a semantic argument...

> [snip]
>
> > Look at it this way: would you rather watch a great
> > touchdown on TV, or would you prefer to have scored
> > it?
>

> I'm still not sure I understand how you can make the
> statement that "sport is something you do, not
> something you watch" (to paraphrase somewhat). I
> infer from this that if you're only watching it and not

> actually participating, then it's not sport. What is it


> then if I'm couch-potatoed in front of a hockey or

> baseball game? I am watching a sport[ing event].


> Sure, I'm not participating, but it's still sport.

It's someone else playing the sport, though. From
your POV, it could just as easily be a film or a TV
show or a live concert. Spectating is not the same
thing as sport.

> The same applies re: scoring the touchdown myself
> vs. watching it; I watch sports because I do not have
> the physical ability to participate -- at least at a
> professional level -- and so I experience it vicariously,
> the only way I can.

Exactly.

> How does that make it "not" sport?

Spectator sports mostly exist because the majority
of the population is incapable of participating, not
because watching is a better alternative.

---
Russ

Dave G

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
Russ Williams wrote:
> Spectator sports mostly exist because the majority
> of the population is incapable of participating, not
> because watching is a better alternative.

Spectator sports exist because watching sports is an entertaining
activity. Watching sports is not a 'substitute' for playing sports;
it's just a different activity altogether. Lots of able people
(including professional athletes) love to watch sports on TV. I like to
both watch and play (at different times, of course).

Often, watching is a better alternative than playing. For one thing,
most sports don't allow the players to drink beer and eat nachos during
the game. :)

okbl...@my-deja.com

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
to
In article <h7sx3.4459$r4....@news.indigo.ie>,

ger...@indigo.ie (Gerry Quinn) wrote:
> >
> >There is a difference between a tragedy and what one might call a
> >"victim" story. Classically, the tragic figure believes himself to be
> >quite powerful and in control right up to the point where the
> >tragic event occurs.
>
> No problem then, if my last game of HOMM was anything to go by...

Heh. Victim or tragedy? The other thing that a tragedy has
(traditionally) is a hero with a fatal flaw which he does not recognize
and is his undoing.

Maybe "a belief that he's better at HOMM than he actually is." ;-)

--
[ok]


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

Roger Charles

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Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
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> If an author writes a book or a director makes a movie, do you automatically
> care about the characters? No, he/she should have written something to make you
> care about the characters. There's a difference between no story and a poorly

> written story. Writing a story does not guarantee quality!

Hell no, but it sure helps!

> > So what's the story with Tetris? Block meets block, block
> > loses block, block meets another block?
>

> The main character - yourself - attempts to keep the world orderly but
> ultimately succumbs to the complete loss of control. I see it as Man vs. Self
> and/or Man vs. Nature.

No you don't, you're just twisting the meaning of "story" in order to
apply it to things that have no story just for fun. Hey, you gave it
your best shot. Next time, you might want to tell us the intricate and
immersive story of Pac-Man, eh? That shouldn't make you look like an
twit.

> Simply put: all computer games are stories.

By twisting and playing with words, yes, anything can be a story. Come
back and post your thoughts about stories once they've become
meaningful. I have a few years.

Simon

Giles Boutel

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Aug 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/30/99
to

Gerry Quinn <ger...@indigo.ie> wrote in message
news:kIMx3.4607$r4....@news.indigo.ie...

> In article <7q748l$d01$1...@birch.prod.itd.earthlink.net>, "Brandon Van
Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
> >Simply put: all computer games are stories.
> >
> >Prove or disprove.
> >
>
> False - computer games have stories, but are more than stories. Stories
> do not create explicit world simulations.

I just have to say this. Stories do not *necessarily* create explicit world
simulations. Thinking along the lines of 1984, The God Game, or even Time
out of Joint.


>
> My view is that a computer game that concentrates on story is likely to
> be no more successful in its genre than a DOOM novelisation is likely to
> be successful as literature.
>

I think a more appropriate analogy would be a Mills and Boon computer game
that concentrates on story. DIfferent kettle of fish, methinks (though it's
late, and I'm too tired to explicate).

-Giles

Giles Boutel

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Aug 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/30/99
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Noah Falstein <n...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com> wrote in message
news:37C72603...@theinspiracy.NOSPAM.com...

>
> You can apply this same argument to virtually any field of human endeavor.
Driving
> a car is a story. "Man seeks to find direction and avoid danger, seeking
forward
> progress in today's technological world." Building a model airplane is a
story.
> "Man strives to bring order to the apparent chaos of a pile of balsa
wood." Cooking
> a meal is a story. "Man struggles to transform the raw materials of life
into
> sustenance suitable for consumption." It's easy to call everything a
story. But if
> everything is a story, what use is the insight?

The tale is, as always, in the telling.

-Giles

Stefan Blixt

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Sep 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/2/99
to
Russ Williams wrote:
>> How do you explain the success of "spectator" sports,
>> then?
>
>Because to play most sports, you need to be reasonably
>fit. You can't play football if you're 70 years old or if you
>weigh 400lbs. Most people aren't up to playing their
>favourite sports and/or don't have a team to play with.

Also, sports function in a nationalistic or regional way.
We cheer for our team or player and when they defeat
the other team, the victory is greater than just one team
beating another team. In one sense one nation of couch
potatoes beat en entire other nation of couch potatoes.

In this sense there is a distinction between most IF and
most arcade games. Ordinary games are more competitive
(Quake tournaments etc.) and IF is something you do on
your own (I remember playing text games with my friends
when I was younger, and I never liked it unless I was at
the keyboard).

The discussion in this thread also looks like a definition
discussion: what is a _story_?

/Blixt


BrenBarn

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Sep 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/3/99
to
>(I remember playing text games with my friends
>when I was younger, and I never liked it unless I was at
>the keyboard).
Although I've never played a "text game" in collaboration with anyone, I
have several times joined forces with a friend to attack a work of graphical
IF. (And by graphical IF I mean "what I call graphical IF." :-) And it was
fun, regardless of who controlled the mouse.
Why you'd want to know this I don't know. . . Why I told you I don't
know. . .

From,
Brendan B. B. (Bren...@aol.com)
(Name in header has spam-blocker, use the address above instead.)

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

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