The Magic of IF Prose

1 view
Skip to first unread message

The Despoiler

unread,
Nov 26, 2003, 1:39:53 PM11/26/03
to
In all seriousness, I ask you:

Is there a more fulfilling way to write?

Phrasing your prose in the second person so that you are literally
imparting on another the reality trapped within your head. This is
communication at its most basic level.

"Suddenly, you hear movement outside your cell, the grind of metal on
metal. You blink as the heavy door is thrown open and rays of light
fall upon you..."

This is not just writing, this is writing with personal impact, with
genuine intimacy.

"She reaches out, caressing your cheek, her fingertips on your neck.
Leaning over you, she brings her mouth to your ear..."

The player is literally stepping into the author's mind.

"Her hands move down to the bonds on your wrists..."

Drawn into the story as in no other medium, quite literally BECOMING
the protagonist.

"...And glide past them..."

Such tension, longing... uncertainty.

"She clenches your hands for a second, then abruptly turns around and
stalks back to the door."

Every fibre of the reader's body is tense, wondering what will happen.

" 'Get rid of this trash.' She tells the guard."

OUCH!!!

____
The Despoiler

Ally

unread,
Nov 29, 2003, 6:53:41 PM11/29/03
to
original...@yahoo.com (The Despoiler) wrote in
news:3fc4e9d7...@news1.sympatico.ca:

> In all seriousness, I ask you:
>
> Is there a more fulfilling way to write?
>
> Phrasing your prose in the second person so that you are
> literally imparting on another the reality trapped within your
> head. This is communication at its most basic level.

I feel similar with the aborted WIPs I've cooked up during the
past 17 years or so... it almost feels like cramming your inner
landscape into somebody else's mind, sharing everything yet
leaving yourself out of it because it's actually that other person
who's experiencing these things now. How appealing! That's just
how you'd like to be able to communicate with your shrink :}

As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify with
whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of "you" can
make me become something I'm not and/or do not want to be.

I can *empathise*, of course, with an array of personalities wider
than whatever fits into my li'l old brain -- but then that's not
so different from books or movies told in the third or first
person, and I slip out of the "you"-me and back into thinking
about the author and/or the story, using it as a mirror, perhaps,
or fretting for the PC's fate, feeling compassion, or envy, or
antipathy or curiosity... but no real identification.

With introspective, story-oriented "games", I actually find the
first person perspective more appropriate. Guiding the PC along as
her/his/its/zir companion is not so ...offensive... to me.

If it touched me, I'll rearrange the story in my head anyway,
inserting (a version of) myself into it, facing whatever things
the author's thought up on my own terms... -- but treat me as if I
*were*, say, a protagonist out of "Pulp Fiction" or "Space
Troopers", and then expecting me to act *like* that character --
with no chance to deviate from the tracks laid out for me -- agh.
I dunno.

If there was a lot more IF, it'd be easier -- one could simply
stick to certain genres or authors. Maybe I'm just not obsessed
enough to, for instance, deal with 30-60 comp games just because
they're IF (just like I don't read books just because they're
books).

[transcript]


> " 'Get rid of this trash.' She tells the guard."

Hrr.

That, apparently, *did* work for me :)

~ally
--
E-Mail: kitzapoo {at} gmx {dot} co {dot} uk
ICQ: 136457018 * Jabber: kitty...@jabber.org * Y!: kitzapoo

David

unread,
Dec 1, 2003, 11:37:22 AM12/1/03
to
Ally wrote:


> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify with
> whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of "you" can
> make me become something I'm not and/or do not want to be.

I certainly don't ever feel that I *am* the character in anyway. The
character is someone else, despite the emphasis on "you" but I can still
become involved with the character in the same way that I would if the
story was told from the 1st or 3rd person perspective.

I think I'd relate the 2nd person more closely to the 3rd. Whereas 1st
person gives a much more personal feel, the 2nd tends to make you an
outsider looking in.

> With introspective, story-oriented "games", I actually find the
> first person perspective more appropriate. Guiding the PC along as
> her/his/its/zir companion is not so ...offensive... to me.

Yes, I think I'd agree. Although some IF I see more as a game-oriented
"story" =P

In fact, I think I prefer this sort of IF. I'd certainly prefer to
write it as a story.

Actually, what I'd really like to do is write a story of personal
discovery. I think IF works well for this since the reader is more
inside the story. It would be interesting to see a story come to
different emotional conclusions depending on the actions of the player
as well.

For instance, if you chose to go west, through the sunlit medow, instead
of east, through the dark and scary forest, this will affect which route
you take to get to the end of the game, what adventures you have and
therefore what emotional experiences you have.

Perhaps if you fail to successfully complete one puzzle resulting with
the death of your friend (say he falls into a ravine), you won't be
willing to cross the next ravine you come to and have to find a
different way to make it to the next stage in the game.

I could go on and on with this train of thought but I'll leave it there =)

Lucian Smith

unread,
Dec 1, 2003, 12:28:14 PM12/1/03
to
David <David...@myrealbox.com> wrote in <3fcb6e4a$0$25670$cc9e...@news.dial.pipex.com>:

: Actually, what I'd really like to do is write a story of personal

: discovery. I think IF works well for this since the reader is more
: inside the story. It would be interesting to see a story come to
: different emotional conclusions depending on the actions of the player
: as well.

"Losing Your Grip", by Stephen Granade

http://wurb.com/if/game/1243

It's perhaps also interesting to note that (for me, at least) "Spider and
Web" (http://wurb.com/if/game/207) 'felt' different to me on different
playthroughs based on what I answered the, uh, guy who always asks you
questions. There's a final soliloquy by the guy that comments on your
actions, and it lends the work a different flavor (though it plays out the
same).

Another game that attempt to do this is "Metamorphoses"
(http://wurb.com/if/game/910), mostly centering around alternate puzzle
solutions.

-Lucian

David

unread,
Dec 1, 2003, 3:12:08 PM12/1/03
to
Thank you Lucian,

I thought that this would have been done already. I'll enjoy playing
this, methinks :)

Paul Drallos

unread,
Dec 2, 2003, 12:17:37 AM12/2/03
to
Ally wrote:
<snip>

> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify with
> whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of "you" can
> make me become something I'm not and/or do not want to be.
<snip>

I almost always become the player when I play an IF game. My wife
and I still talk about our first experience playing Zork together
as if we actually did all of those things. We never refer to it as
playing a game. It's always: "Remember when we finally figured out
how to work those controls and then we drained the lake and walked
out there to get that pump? That was so cool. Then we got into
the magic boat..." We DID those things. I love escapism.

M.D. Dollahite

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 5:46:29 AM12/3/03
to

I think it's partly the strength of the player's imagination and partly the
kind of game you're playing. Personally I have no trouble picturing myself as
an Antharia Jack type, or as a space prospector stumbling across an ancient
alien spacecraft; but some people do. It also depends on how the player
character is portrayed. The AFGNCAAP character of most Infocom games is fairly
easy to slip into, it becomes increasingly harder as the player character
becomes more concrete, and when you're flat-out told the character's name and
identity it turns into a "Being John Malkovich" situation. It's all acceptable
to my overactive imagination, but I can see where weaker imaginations could
have a problem with it.

Personally I like 2nd person best, unless there's a good story-rooted reason
for the player to be a companion to the player character instead of the player
character itself. I especially like the Zork: Grand Inquisitor approach of
having the parser as a definite companion commenting on your actions, but that
generally only works properly in a comedic game, and only when the author has
the skill to make the parser consistently witty.

Aaron A. Reed

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 7:44:09 PM12/3/03
to
Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote in message news:<Xns94439C05FD22...@62.153.159.134>...

>
> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify with
> whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of "you" can
> make me become something I'm not and/or do not want to be.
>
<snip>

>
> If it touched me, I'll rearrange the story in my head anyway,
> inserting (a version of) myself into it, facing whatever things
> the author's thought up on my own terms... -- but treat me as if I
> *were*, say, a protagonist out of "Pulp Fiction" or "Space
> Troopers", and then expecting me to act *like* that character --
> with no chance to deviate from the tracks laid out for me -- agh.
> I dunno.

I have always enjoyed games that bridge the gap between giving you a
specific character and treating you as a generic protagonist. In my
game "Gourmet" I tried to write in this style. You have a specific
character -- a somewhat overeager aspiring chef -- but you are never
told what gender, race, or age you are, or in fact much of any
information about yourself that doesn't relate to your cooking
ambitions. Likewise the location of your restaurant is never
specified, and I even took some pains to (not entirely successfully)
remove Americanisms from my writing.

The idea being, the story provides you with some indications of
character, but you are free to insert yourself into them. This ability
to bridge the gap between "solid character" (movies/fiction) and
"nameless protagonist" (Myst/laser tag) is I think something unique
and interesting about IF, and a style I quite enjoy.

When I play games with a strong character, I tend to have the opposite
problem-- I get too into the character I'm supposed to be, and often
miss puzzles because I'm not thinking like an adventure gamer, but
like my character.

Michael Coyne

unread,
Dec 3, 2003, 11:37:15 PM12/3/03
to
Aaron A. Reed wrote:
>
> I have always enjoyed games that bridge the gap between giving you a
> specific character and treating you as a generic protagonist. In my
> game "Gourmet" I tried to write in this style. You have a specific
> character -- a somewhat overeager aspiring chef -- but you are never
> told what gender, race, or age you are, or in fact much of any
> information about yourself that doesn't relate to your cooking

Ditto with Risorgimento Represso. I deliberately avoided any mention of
the sex of the main character, reverting to things like "Well, my dear
young apprentice" and the like.

Whether it was worth doing, versus just having a strongly defined main
character, I don't know. Everyone I've spoken to just assumed a male
persona while playing... partly because the game was written by a male,
but also because the role of "sorcerer's apprentice" in literature is
typically male.


Michael

Ally

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:10:31 PM12/4/03
to
Paul Drallos <pdra...@tir.com> wrote in
news:S9CdnaJBaeU...@comcast.com:

Yes, I do that too, of course. *I* tip-toed across the coloured
squares in The Guild of Thieves, heck, *I* knocked weird lobster-
thingies off the pipes in Mario Bros (the three times I played
that)! -- Yet I didn't really feel like I was a thief myself, much
less a plumber. Instead I was "Ally pretending to be (or acting
like, or temporarily becoming) X" there -- where "X" need not
resemble anything the game designers ever thought of. I was using
*their* games as a playground for *my* imagination. Their
protagonists didn't really matter enough to enforce a different
playing style. And I love it when I get a chance to customize my
character, even if it's really just "decoration" -- attire,
favourite colour, form of address. I loved Moonmist for that
alone. Oh, and for letting me mess with the guests. Don't know if
there was a game in there somewhere -- like some hack'n'slash 3D
action games I used it as a playground. Like a very misbehaving
tourist :)

This approach won't work *too* well with story-heavy, mostly
linear games like, say, Shade or Photopia (or Triune or Shadows on
the Mirror, to name some more recent examples). They all touched
me, certainly more than aforementioned "playgrounds". But it
wasn't because the games told me that I, aka "Ally", experience
these things, and thereby somehow sucked me inside. Writing,
content, characters sucked me inside, not the 2nd person
perspective. Not that the 2nd person perspective is wrong and evil
in an un-gamey game, it just doesn't automatically put me where
the author wants me to be. It's other things that do that. (I'm
trying to keep this connected to the original post, see? :)

~Ally

Ally

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:14:10 PM12/4/03
to
ryu...@aol.com.NOSPAM (M.D. Dollahite) wrote in
news:20031203054629...@mb-m21.aol.com:

>>> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify
>>> with whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of
>>> "you" can make me become something I'm not and/or do not want
>>> to be.
>><snip>
>>
>>I almost always become the player when I play an IF game. My
>>wife and I still talk about our first experience playing Zork
>>together as if we actually did all of those things. We never
>>refer to it as playing a game. It's always: "Remember when we
>>finally figured out how to work those controls and then we
>>drained the lake and walked out there to get that pump? That
>>was so cool. Then we got into the magic boat..." We DID those
>>things. I love escapism.
>
> I think it's partly the strength of the player's imagination
> and partly the kind of game you're playing. Personally I have
> no trouble picturing myself as an Antharia Jack type, or as a
> space prospector stumbling across an ancient alien spacecraft;
> but some people do. It also depends on how the player
> character is portrayed. The AFGNCAAP

Whee, acronym hell... Let's see: Ageless, Faceless, Genderless,
Nameless, uhm... A Fairly Generic Nameless Computer AAdventure
Protagonist? Sorry, you've lost me *g*

> character of most Infocom
> games is fairly easy to slip into, it becomes increasingly
> harder as the player character becomes more concrete, and when
> you're flat-out told the character's name and identity it turns
> into a "Being John Malkovich" situation. It's all acceptable
> to my overactive imagination, but I can see where weaker
> imaginations could have a problem with it.

Oh, my imagination's probably vivid enough, if a little clueless
within many games' settings (and I can't visualise very well,
which is why I often miss having illustrations like many of the
otherwise not-so-hot 1980s games had them).

The situation (say: stumbling across an ancient alien spacecraft)
isn't all *that* much of a barrier either. Nor is the "job" (say:
private eye). Many things I'm unlikely to ever (voluntarily) be or
experience are actually quite intriguing -- yet I'll always try to
"bend" the role I'm supposed to be playing. Compensation for an
out-of-my-control reality I suppose -- my sense of what I want to
be can be quite defiant. In other words, I'm taking it all too
seriously!

Now I'm afraid I sounded too strict about this... I didn't mean to
generalize so much or even tell authors what to do.

> Personally I like 2nd person best, unless there's a good
> story-rooted reason for the player to be a companion to the
> player character instead of the player character itself. I
> especially like the Zork: Grand Inquisitor approach of having
> the parser as a definite companion commenting on your actions,
> but that generally only works properly in a comedic game, and
> only when the author has the skill to make the parser
> consistently witty.

1st person worked very well for me in Rameses. I didn't perceive
it as comedic, of course; I really wanted to help the kid, but
more often than not he wouldn't let me. (Otherwise, I might have
identified a bit.)

The more I think about it, the more I feel I was too ...hm...
dogmatic (not quite the word I was looking for) in my first reply.
Whether I can identify or not is dependent on many more things,
each of which may "overwhelm" any of the others if it works for
me.

Take the 2nd person ("this is happening to YOU!") POV of Shrapnel.
I don't know if it was deliberate (it is, after all, an IF
convention), but seeing these events unfold *as* the protagonist
-- as someone I was (I suppose) *expected* to never, ever *want*
to be -- was... uhm... effective.

Er, sorry for not having a succinct point :}

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 12:39:03 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 02:14:10 +0100, Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote:
>Whee, acronym hell... Let's see: Ageless, Faceless, Genderless,
>Nameless, uhm... A Fairly Generic Nameless Computer AAdventure
>Protagonist? Sorry, you've lost me *g*

It's what Belboz calls you in Zork Grand Inquisitor: Ageless,
Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person.

There was a long history in IF of the authors believing that somehow
you could "become" a cleptomaniac who lived in a land of underground empires
and magic, but only if the protagonist had the same gender as you.

Mike Roberts

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 4:26:45 PM12/5/03
to
"L. Ross Raszewski" <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> >[AFGNCAAP?]

> It's what Belboz calls you in Zork Grand Inquisitor: Ageless,
> Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person.
>
> There was a long history in IF of the authors believing that somehow
> you could "become" a cleptomaniac who lived in a land of underground
> empires and magic, but only if the protagonist had the same gender
> as you.

I'd say it's a school of thought rather than just an historical artifact -
ongoing newsgroup traffic suggests a lot of players (and authors) think this
way today. There's one school of thought that sees the player character as
a full character with its own identity, and the player as *identifying with*
the PC, not actually *being* the PC, in much the same way we identify with a
protagonist in conventional fiction. The other school of thought
conceptualizes the player character as an actual projection of the player,
in an attempt to conjure something like a holodeck experience for the
player.

In the holodeck conception, you can put on a costume, but you still retain
your own physical appearance, so other characters in the game have to react
to you as the real-life *you*, the player. But that's technologically
impractical, at least beyond simple things like the gender-selector in
Leather Goddesses. So authors who want to work this way have to to the next
best thing: strip the game of any reactions that depend in any way on
physical appearance. That way, you don't run the risk of breaking the
illusion of actual player projection by calling a female player "him" or
telling a fifty-year-old she's about to leave home for college. The
drawback is that it's awfully limiting if you can't say anything about the
PC's personality, history, appearance, or motivations.

Which one you like better is a matter of taste, I think. The
characterized-PC thinking is more modern, in that it was invented more
recently, but it seems like a lot of people still prefer the
actual-projection type of game. In terms of game design, I think it's a
good idea to characterize the PC right from the beginning if you're going to
do it at all, so that you don't give the player a chance to misconstrue
"you" as being literal. Once a player has started to think in terms of
actual projection, it's extremely jarring to be told otherwise; but if you
nip that actual-projection thinking in the bud, there will be no bad
assumptions to contradict. Plus, players that really hate PC
characterization will know right away that it's not their kind of game.

--Mike
mjr underscore at hotmail dot com

Paul Drallos

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 12:05:42 PM12/6/03
to
Mike Roberts wrote:


>
> I'd say it's a school of thought rather than just an historical artifact -
> ongoing newsgroup traffic suggests a lot of players (and authors) think this
> way today. There's one school of thought that sees the player character as
> a full character with its own identity, and the player as *identifying with*
> the PC, not actually *being* the PC, in much the same way we identify with a
> protagonist in conventional fiction. The other school of thought
> conceptualizes the player character as an actual projection of the player,
> in an attempt to conjure something like a holodeck experience for the
> player.
>

There is a school of thought that is sort of between the two you described.
That is where the story/game starts out saying something like: You are
the youngest Starfleet officer to command his own ship. Or, you are a
female ground squirrle in Cedar, Michigan. It's mid-September, and you haven't
started yet to prepare for winter, etc.

In this setup, the player character is a full character whose age, gender,
and even species may be different from the player. But the player is
still supposed to *Be* that character and the game is written consistently
from that point of view.


Ally

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 12:19:35 AM12/7/03
to
David <David...@MyRealBox.com> wrote in
news:3fcb6e4a$0$25670$cc9e...@news.dial.pipex.com:

> Ally wrote:
>
>
>> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify
>> with whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of
>> "you" can make me become something I'm not and/or do not want
>> to be.
>
> I certainly don't ever feel that I *am* the character in
> anyway. The character is someone else, despite the emphasis on
> "you" but I can still
> become involved with the character in the same way that I
> would if the
> story was told from the 1st or 3rd person perspective.
>
> I think I'd relate the 2nd person more closely to the 3rd.
> Whereas 1st person gives a much more personal feel, the 2nd
> tends to make you an outsider looking in.
>
>> With introspective, story-oriented "games", I actually find
>> the first person perspective more appropriate. Guiding the PC
>> along as her/his/its/zir companion is not so ...offensive...
>> to me.
>
> Yes, I think I'd agree. Although some IF I see more as a
> game-oriented "story" =P
>
> In fact, I think I prefer this sort of IF. I'd certainly
> prefer to write it as a story.

It's funny how I seem to prefer relatively free-form play with PCs
I can flesh out myself, yet the most "important to myself" of my
sundry hopeless WIPs is based on a premise that's not unlike the
original poster's, with IF as a way to show others "what it's
like" (kinda allegorified into something more dramatic and
mysterious and such)...

...and not only that, but, to spite all I said before regarding
point of views, I also seem to gravitate toward the 2nd person
pespective to accomplish that goal -- as if to say "You are
(fable-)me now - Good luck dealing with *that*!"

Not very forthcoming of me, huh?... I guess it takes a pretty good
writer to pull it off. *sigh*


> Actually, what I'd really like to do is write a story of
> personal discovery. I think IF works well for this since the
> reader is more inside the story. It would be interesting to
> see a story come to different emotional conclusions depending
> on the actions of the player as well.
>
> For instance, if you chose to go west, through the sunlit
> medow, instead of east, through the dark and scary forest, this
> will affect which route you take to get to the end of the game,
> what adventures you have and therefore what emotional
> experiences you have.
>
> Perhaps if you fail to successfully complete one puzzle
> resulting with the death of your friend (say he falls into a
> ravine), you won't be willing to cross the next ravine you come
> to and have to find a different way to make it to the next
> stage in the game.

I find this interesting, though I wonder how much of a difference
it makes to the *player*. Unless they re-play at least once *and*
react differently the second (third, fourth, ...) time around,
they might not even notice (and perhaps shouldn't, unless you want
to make this look like a gimmick).

There's a variety of this that I'm especially fond of -- changing
not so much the PCs path through the game but the plot and its
meaning and the whole chain of cause and effect itself, with what
the game "thinks" you believe/consider important/consider "right"
becoming true.

Let me fumble for a hackneyed example... the amnesiac PC is
running from captors and a trial (told you it was "hackneyed"). To
name but two courses of action: will you try to destroy anything
that might be construed as evidence? The game will then make sure
it turns out you are, indeed, guilty, supporting, in a way, the
path you've chosen to walk. If, however, you act like you've been
framed and try to prove your innocence instead, you *will* be
innocent. The challenge would not be determining which is true, it
would be living with the choices you make. (This is just a simple
example of course -- it might work better with something more
psychological (say, nature vs. nurture/brain vs. soul/"sick" vs.
"special", etc.).)

I think Galatea was like that in a way. It worked pretty well for
me there, but it is of course a *short* game (pun not intended but
appreciated :) and, I feel, very well-suited to replaying.

~Ally

Ally

unread,
Dec 7, 2003, 12:51:05 AM12/7/03
to
aaro...@go-utah.com (Aaron A. Reed) wrote in
news:20794061.03120...@posting.google.com:

> Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote in message
> news:<Xns94439C05FD22...@62.153.159.134>...
>>
>> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify
>> with whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of
>> "you" can make me become something I'm not and/or do not want
>> to be.
>>
> <snip>
>>
>> If it touched me, I'll rearrange the story in my head anyway,
>> inserting (a version of) myself into it, facing whatever
>> things the author's thought up on my own terms... -- but treat
>> me as if I *were*, say, a protagonist out of "Pulp Fiction" or
>> "Space Troopers", and then expecting me to act *like* that
>> character -- with no chance to deviate from the tracks laid
>> out for me -- agh. I dunno.
>
> I have always enjoyed games that bridge the gap between giving
> you a specific character and treating you as a generic
> protagonist. In my game "Gourmet" I tried to write in this
> style. You have a specific character -- a somewhat overeager
> aspiring chef -- but you are never told what gender, race, or
> age you are, or in fact much of any information about yourself
> that doesn't relate to your cooking ambitions. Likewise the
> location of your restaurant is never specified, and I even took
> some pains to (not entirely successfully) remove Americanisms
> from my writing.

Hm... sorry, I haven't "really" played your game yet (nor most of
the other comp games, and I'm already confused enough in my own
"native-language-labeled" kitchen ;), but it's one of those that
make the comp03 directory feel less ...cruddy, if I may say so.

My first reaction to your post, however, was this: "overeager
aspiring chef" is already quite specific in that being that person
is probably the point of the game and assumes certain motivations
and interests on the part of the PC and a readyness to don that
guise on the part of the player.

But it does seem like a good balance!

> The idea being, the story provides you with some indications of
> character, but you are free to insert yourself into them. This
> ability to bridge the gap between "solid character"
> (movies/fiction) and "nameless protagonist" (Myst/laser tag) is
> I think something unique and interesting about IF, and a style
> I quite enjoy.

Yah. When I did the obligatory "x me" in Gourmet, I quickly came
up a mental image of my game-self that's definitely not come out
of the game, even though "young" and "harried" certainly
contributed to it and helped me fill in the many blanks as I
subconsciously seemed to see fit.

I like having a choice in how I present my character to the game
(whether through whatever I have the PC do in the game, or through
a straightforward character generation stage, or the one thinly
disguised as the other) -- even if my choices don't actually
matter in the game proper.

> When I play games with a strong character, I tend to have the
> opposite problem-- I get too into the character I'm supposed to
> be, and often miss puzzles because I'm not thinking like an
> adventure gamer, but like my character.

I don't seem to be thinking at all while playing. Thank God/dess
for walkthroughs...

~Ally (going for the "Least Coherent Posting" Xyzzy)

Mike Roberts

unread,
Dec 8, 2003, 2:02:25 PM12/8/03
to
"Paul Drallos" <pdra...@tir.com> wrote:
> There is a school of thought that is sort of between the two
> you described ["holodeck" style vs. clear PC characterization].

> That is where the story/game starts out saying something like: You
> are the youngest Starfleet officer to command his own ship. Or, you
> are a female ground squirrle in Cedar, Michigan. It's mid-September,
> and you haven't started yet to prepare for winter, etc.
>
> In this setup, the player character is a full character whose age,
> gender, and even species may be different from the player. But the
> player is still supposed to *Be* that character and the game is written
> consistently from that point of view.

When you say the "player is still supposed to *Be* the character," you mean
they're supposed to *play* the character, in the sense of role-playing,
right? Because otherwise I don't understand how the player can *be* the
character but have a different age/gender/species/etc. If you do mean
they're supposed to play the character, then it sounds to me like you're
talking about the same I'm calling the "modern" school of thought; if not,
what are the differences?

J. J. Guest

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 8:01:07 AM12/9/03
to
Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote in message news:<Xns94439C05FD22...@62.153.159.134>...
>
> As a player/reader, however, I very often *cannot* identify with
> whatever role I'm supposed to slip into. No amount of "you" can
> make me become something I'm not and/or do not want to be.
> <snip>

I tend to prefer writing my games in the first person. Hopefully this
gives me greater freedom to characterise the PC without alienating the
player since they remain seperate entities. It also eliminates the
third-party authorial voice and allows for a dialogue between the
player and the PC. It becomes much easier to disallow actions as there
is no conflict between the player's commands and the desires of a PC
who is supposedly also the player. It would be interesting to develop
this relationship further and actually have the player and PC be at
odds with each other. An unco-operative PC who needs to be co-erced
into action could be the basis for a whole game. Something for me to
consider for my next game!

Paul Drallos

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 8:34:40 AM12/9/03
to
Mike Roberts wrote:

> When you say the "player is still supposed to *Be* the character," you mean
> they're supposed to *play* the character, in the sense of role-playing,
> right? Because otherwise I don't understand how the player can *be* the
> character but have a different age/gender/species/etc. If you do mean
> they're supposed to play the character, then it sounds to me like you're
> talking about the same I'm calling the "modern" school of thought; if not,
> what are the differences?
>

I think you're right that the player assumes the role of the character in
the sense of role-playing. Perhaps the distinction between playing the
character and 'being' the character depends on the player's level of emersion
into the character. I accept the possibility of being the character
because often the memories of my actions in these games and the places I've
been seem like genuine memories and experiences. So I guess
that's what I mean by 'being' the character. But you're right. It is
just role-playing.

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 12:11:10 PM12/9/03
to
On Sun, 7 Dec 2003 05:57:55 +0100, Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote:
>"Mike Roberts" <mjrUND...@hotmail.com> wrote in
>news:RR6Ab.9$kA2...@news.oracle.com:
>
>> In the holodeck conception, you can put on a costume, but you
>> still retain your own physical appearance, so other characters
>> in the game have to react to you as the real-life *you*, the
>> player.
>
>That's the Holodeck's worst flaw as far as I am concerned...

Fortunately, it's not quite true; while you do indeed retain your
physical appearance, the holodeck tells the characters who you are
supposed to be, and they react to the character. They aren't reacting
to the real-life you, but to Dixon Hill, Sherlock Holmes, or Captain
Proton. (And the holodeck can, at the least, make you black and white.)

Ally

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 1:36:15 PM12/9/03
to
lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote in
news:OmnBb.3743$Mv5....@nwrddc01.gnilink.net:

Mh. Any known instances of "unmatching physiologies"? In Fair
Haven (or Spirit Folk. Who cares!), an Irish hologram refers to
Neelix as looking "like a goblin", which is kinda accurate
methinks. However, this strikes me as strange now that I think
about it. There seems to be some sort of "gullibility threshold"
for holodeck NPCs... Neelix would not have been able to "pass" at
all otherwise.

It might of course be possible to wrap yourself in a projection
and thereby change your appearance, not just your "role".

Uhm...

*ball-gags the Inner Trekkie*

~Ally

Mike Roberts

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 2:15:33 PM12/9/03
to
"L. Ross Raszewski" <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote:
> >mjr:

> >> In the holodeck conception, you can put on a costume, but
> >> you still retain your own physical appearance, so other
> >> characters in the game have to react to you as the real-life
> >> *you*, the player.
> >
> >That's the Holodeck's worst flaw as far as I am concerned...
>
> Fortunately, it's not quite true; while you do indeed retain your
> physical appearance, the holodeck tells the characters who you
> are supposed to be, and they react to the character. They aren't
> reacting to the real-life you, but to Dixon Hill, Sherlock Holmes,
> or Captain Proton.

That's a good point; the holodeck really is more of an RPG, and became more
clearly so as the various series progressed. So I guess even the holodeck
fits the "modern" school of IF thought. With respect to the AFGNCAAP,
presumably Captain Janeway (female) could choose to play Sherlock Holmes in
a holodeck story, and no one wouldn't think it odd when NPC's referred to
her as "him"? Or would the story change to make the Holmes character
female?

Ally <kitty...@ifrance.com> wrote (separately):


> Mh. Any known instances of "unmatching physiologies"? In Fair
> Haven (or Spirit Folk. Who cares!), an Irish hologram refers to

> Neelix as looking "like a goblin" [...]

(For non-fans, Neelix is a non-human alien crew member.) That's a relevant
example: the fact that the NPC remarks on the odd appearance demonstrates
that the NPC still sees Neelix's character as human, which means the story
doesn't change according to the people playing the PC's. If the story were
adjusted to make that character Talaxian, then Neelix's appearance would be
unremarkable. This would suggest that Holmes stays male when played by a
female.

I guess this means those of us who like characterized PC's can point
detractors to Star Trek to prove that it's the way it's done in the future
:).

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Dec 9, 2003, 2:56:34 PM12/9/03
to
On Tue, 09 Dec 2003 19:15:33 GMT, Mike Roberts <mj...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>That's a good point; the holodeck really is more of an RPG, and became more
>clearly so as the various series progressed. So I guess even the holodeck
>fits the "modern" school of IF thought. With respect to the AFGNCAAP,
>presumably Captain Janeway (female) could choose to play Sherlock Holmes in
>a holodeck story, and no one wouldn't think it odd when NPC's referred to
>her as "him"? Or would the story change to make the Holmes character
>female?

Hm. Not a bad question. I would imagine that, purely for the sake of
convenience, characters would use the gender-apropriate forms of
address, but the character would remain "officially" male (That is, as
Holmes, Janeway would not be expected to follow victorian conventions
of female behavior by other characters)

>
>(For non-fans, Neelix is a non-human alien crew member.) That's a relevant
>example: the fact that the NPC remarks on the odd appearance demonstrates
>that the NPC still sees Neelix's character as human, which means the story
>doesn't change according to the people playing the PC's. If the story were
>adjusted to make that character Talaxian, then Neelix's appearance would be
>unremarkable. This would suggest that Holmes stays male when played by a
>female.

There are several TNG examples wherein Worf participates in a holodeck
program without his obvious physical differences causing a problem ('I
am *not* a merry man.')

Gene Wirchenko

unread,
Dec 10, 2003, 1:40:46 AM12/10/03
to
lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote:

[snip]

>Fortunately, it's not quite true; while you do indeed retain your
>physical appearance, the holodeck tells the characters who you are
>supposed to be, and they react to the character. They aren't reacting
>to the real-life you, but to Dixon Hill, Sherlock Holmes, or Captain
>Proton. (And the holodeck can, at the least, make you black and white.)

I am waiting for the colour version.

Sincerely,

Gene Wirchenko

Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
I have preferences.
You have biases.
He/She has prejudices.

The Despoiler

unread,
Dec 10, 2003, 9:15:34 AM12/10/03
to
I was shocked and illuminated when Ally wrote:

>"You are
>(fable-)me now - Good luck dealing with *that*!"

Exactly! Tossed to the wolves without mercy! Can any other medium
achieve *this* level of immersion!

BTW, your insights have snowballed this thread into a constructive
discussion. That original post was nothing but shameless
self-promotion for my current work! ;)

Which reminds me...

Note to my "Demon Driven" beta-testers:

Sharpen your pencils! I'm putting the finishing touches on the
DreamQuest sequence, in which you the player will INTERACTIVELY
compose a poem, a poem which will affect the course of the game.

An IF first?
We shall see.

_____
The Despoiler

M.D. Dollahite

unread,
Dec 10, 2003, 5:47:09 PM12/10/03
to
>>example: the fact that the NPC remarks on the odd appearance demonstrates
>>that the NPC still sees Neelix's character as human, which means the story
>>doesn't change according to the people playing the PC's.
>There are several TNG examples wherein Worf participates in a holodeck
>program without his obvious physical differences causing a problem ('I
>am *not* a merry man.')

As with text games, Holodeck programs can be written with different levels of
abstraction applied to the players. Fairhaven doesn't have any particular
narrative to follow, so its characters were left more aware of actual physical
appearances; whereas the Worf examples are programs designed with more specific
narratives in mind, and so are made to ignore disparities between the actual
player and the authorial characterization.

It could also be mentioned that the Voyager Holodeck is vastly more
sophisticated (read: far-fetched) than the TNG one. The TNG holocharacters
weren't a whole lot more sophisticated than today's NPCs; they were just part
of the program and nothing more. In Voyager, the holograms were full AI
modules that simply had limiter subroutines to keep them in line with the
program. For example, in TNG it was an unusual and exception case for Moriarty
to become aware of things outside the program's parameters; in Voyager all you
have to do is turn off the ignorance subroutines.

In fact, when TNG first started, the Holodeck wasn't capable of simulating
people at all, only inanimate environments. NPC simulation was added in one of
the early episodes (season two, maybe, I don't remember exactly when) as an
upgrade.

Okay, I'm sure I've rambled on entirely too long for someone who's not even
really a trekkie, so I'll hit that "send" button now.

Michael Bechard

unread,
Dec 10, 2003, 8:55:52 PM12/10/03
to

Well, Rameses does this, somewhat. In some cases, no matter what you
tell the PC to do, he just refuses to, due to "character flaws."

Michael

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages