AI in NPCs = IF... Not!

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Phil Goetz

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Oct 30, 1994, 4:39:13 PM10/30/94
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Many times I've seen people on this group (including myself)
say, "We can't have real Interactive Fiction (IF) until we have
real non-player characters (NPCs)."

This semester I've been roleplaying every week with the University's
Strategy And RolePlayer's Association. And guess what? Even though
the gamemaster (GM) is able to make intelligent NPCs, the games still
don't attain the status of art. In fact, I would place computer
adventure games higher on the Art scale than I would roleplaying
games. The very best have interesting puzzles (sound familiar?).
The rest are combat sequences stitched together by meetings at which
you decide whom to kill next.

The sad fact is that, when people (or at least college students) are
given an alternate ego and an imaginary world to play in, the thing
they like to do best is to beat up on other people in that imaginary
world and accumulate wealth and power for themselves.

I suggest that, in IF as in roleplaying, the storyline is restricted
to quests. Many excellent stories, such as Hamlet, 1984, The Trial,
A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Silas Marner, Gateway,
and The Martian Chronicles can never be adapted for interactive fiction.
IF = Adventure, now and forever.

I might add that accurate historical novels about important events and
stories that involve long periods of time also seem IF-resistant.

Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Jamieson Norrish

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Nov 1, 1994, 4:00:17 AM11/1/94
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In article <CyI9H...@acsu.buffalo.edu> go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil
Goetz) writes:

Many times I've seen people on this group (including myself)
say, "We can't have real Interactive Fiction (IF) until we have
real non-player characters (NPCs)."

Or having multiple players at one time.

The sad fact is that, when people (or at least college students)
are given an alternate ego and an imaginary world to play in, the
thing they like to do best is to beat up on other people in that
imaginary world and accumulate wealth and power for themselves.

I rather think that you haven't seen enough roleplaying, then. You may
have seen people playing some game with rules that are for a
roleplaying game, but what you've described doesn't sound very much
like roleplaying to me.

I suggest that, in IF as in roleplaying, the storyline is
restricted to quests.

This depends almost entirely on what you define as quests. Anything
could be a quest, including a trip down to the shops to buy some milk.
Combat is not an essential part of roleplaying, nor are heroic quests.

IF = Adventure, now and forever.

Just why do you say this? Predicting the entire future of an area of
creative endeavour, when that medium is scarcely begun, seems a little
premature, to say the least.

While you may not be able to create perfect IF copies of such things
as Hamlet or The Trial, that does not mean that IF cannot be anything
other than "Adventure". The reason The Trial couldn't be done in IF is
that it is a work designed for a medium which is not IF, and which has
conventions and limitations that are not those of IF. It's rather like
it being impossible to recreate the Mona Lisa in sculpture - it just
wouldn't be the same. So what? That doesn't stop sculptors from
creating wonderful works in their own medium.

Jamie

Phil Goetz

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Nov 1, 1994, 10:08:07 AM11/1/94
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In article <JAMIE.94N...@akeake.its.vuw.ac.nz>,
Jamieson Norrish <ja...@akeake.its.vuw.ac.nz> wrote:

> The sad fact is that, when people (or at least college students)
> are given an alternate ego and an imaginary world to play in, the
> thing they like to do best is to beat up on other people in that
> imaginary world and accumulate wealth and power for themselves.
>
>I rather think that you haven't seen enough roleplaying, then. You may
>have seen people playing some game with rules that are for a
>roleplaying game, but what you've described doesn't sound very much
>like roleplaying to me.

Not counting LARPs, I would say I have roleplayed with about
100 different people in several different states. I think I have my
facts straight about what goes on in the roleplaying world. There are
a few games, notably Paranoia and Toon, that encourage what you call
roleplaying. But other than that, it's all quests. Dem's the facts.

Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Phil Goetz

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Nov 1, 1994, 9:09:26 PM11/1/94
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I wrote a response which was inaccurate. I said

>>I rather think that you haven't seen enough roleplaying, then. You may
>>have seen people playing some game with rules that are for a
>>roleplaying game, but what you've described doesn't sound very much
>>like roleplaying to me.
>
>Not counting LARPs, I would say I have roleplayed with about
>100 different people in several different states. I think I have my
>facts straight about what goes on in the roleplaying world. There are
>a few games, notably Paranoia and Toon, that encourage what you call
>roleplaying. But other than that, it's all quests. Dem's the facts.

Sorry, I exaggerated. It is not "all quests". But it is _almost_ all
quests. There is some excellent real roleplaying, but it
usually gets smothered in the end by the dread Roleplaying Munchkins
(power-seekers). So I am not optimistic about IF doing any better,
ESPECIALLY multiplayer IF.

Perhaps the major "advantage" IF has over roleplaying is that you can
do it with just one person. But when I think this over, its implications
are awful. We have enough TV mushrooms and Nintendo zombies in America
already. Maybe in New Zealand people still have a sense of community,
but here in Buffalo I at least do not. Roleplaying is one of the
few means of communal, participatory entertainment left.

Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu

Jamieson Norrish

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Nov 2, 1994, 7:41:01 AM11/2/94
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In article <CyLGp...@acsu.buffalo.edu> go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil
Goetz) writes:

Not counting LARPs, I would say I have roleplayed with about
100 different people in several different states. I think I have
my facts straight about what goes on in the roleplaying world.
There are a few games, notably Paranoia and Toon, that encourage
what you call roleplaying. But other than that, it's all quests.
Dem's the facts.

Which still makes me think you haven't seen enough roleplaying - given
that a definition of that is adopting a persona and playing that
character as a person. That you haven't had much experience with
people who play personalities, and do things other than "quests",
isn't a statement about roleplaying, except perhaps that it is rarer
than it should be.

Roleplaying is not limited to any genre, style of play, setting,
characters, plots, or what have you. It is, in essence, people
interacting. This can take a wide variety of forms, not at all limited
to "quests".

As for facts, I think you are confusing them with your personal
experiences.

To try and relate this back to IF, as I said in my last reply, I don't
think real roleplaying can be usefully achieved without having
multiple players or solving AI problems (sure, the player can adopt
the role of the character, but there won't be others to interact with,
and that makes it less than ideal).

Jamie

S.P.Harvey

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Nov 2, 1994, 8:47:07 PM11/2/94
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Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:

: I suggest that, in IF as in roleplaying, the storyline is restricted


: to quests. Many excellent stories, such as Hamlet, 1984, The Trial,
: A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Silas Marner, Gateway,
: and The Martian Chronicles can never be adapted for interactive fiction.
: IF = Adventure, now and forever.

The main reason these excellent works cannot be adapted (easily) to an IF
format is not solely the puzzle/quest content, but more likely the
realism of the characters. There's a little bit of Willy Loman in all of
us. Same as the Moody Dane and Stanley Kowalski. It's extremely
difficult to thrust the player into such a strong role. Hamlet is one of
the most demanding stage roles, and can only be fully explored by a truly
gifted actor (Olivier, not Gibson).

This aside, I think several of the titles you listed above can be made
into entertaining IF games. Naturally, they won't have the same place in
world literature as the original, but there's no valid reason not to
examine and explore the structure and characters.

For example:

HAMLET: An Interactive Tragedy

In this game, you play the bereaved son of a much-loved and
recently-passed King. Oddly, your mother (whom you love deeply) has
married your uncle, your father's brother. The daughter of the king's
chief advisor is infatuated with you. Her father distrusts you. You've
got a busy few weeks ahead.

Amazingly, two long-lost friends of yours appear jovially,
inquiring as to your disposition. This strikes you as odd, since you
haven't seen or heard from either of them since your days away at university.

Later that night, some courtiers tell the fantastic story of seeing the
ghost of your dead father. Intrigued, you agree to watch with them high
on the castle walls, in the hope of seeing your father one last time.

----

Thus, the opening room would be "Watch Platform" which would be described
as terribly windy and cold, the surf crashing on the rocks below. At
once, the ghost appears to you and tells of his murder. It's up to you
now to prove this and avenge his untimely death.

=====================================================================

Naturally, it's at this point where the plot would deviate. However,
there's still plenty of NPCs to question, locations to explore, death
attempts to avoid, etc. The plot would need careful reconstruction to
avoid being solvable simply by reading the text of the play.

Imagine simply taking the basic premise of Hamlet and making an IF out of
it. Update it. Make the player the heir to a large corporate fortune
who's been shafted by an unscrupulous minority shareholder.

I've had plans to update Macbeth into the cutthroat world of 1980's
junk-bond traders and lawyers instead of thanes and kings.

For my money, I can't imagine a richer source of ideas for IF than
Shakespeare.

Scott

--
----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------
"people who believe in politics/ are like people who believe in god:
they are sucking wind through bent straws."
- Charles Bukowski
----------------------| sha...@interaccess.com |--------------------------

Jamieson Norrish

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Nov 3, 1994, 5:57:05 AM11/3/94
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In article <CyMBB...@acsu.buffalo.edu> go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil
Goetz) writes:

Sorry, I exaggerated. It is not "all quests". But it is _almost_
all quests. There is some excellent real roleplaying, but it
usually gets smothered in the end by the dread Roleplaying
Munchkins (power-seekers). So I am not optimistic about IF doing
any better, ESPECIALLY multiplayer IF.

Well, certainly, there are too many munchkins around, and good groups
are hard to find. However, I try to be more optimistic about
introducing it into "IF" than you - I've seen roleplaying *start* to
work on various MU*s, so it is possible. Granted, though, they were
generally games without any sort of mechanical system (that is, there
was minimal interaction with the world and its objects - less so even
than in IF games). If mechanical rules were introduced for combat and
the like, then perhaps the role-playing would die off. But I don't
know.

I'd like to think that there are enough people out there who would
appreciate multiplayer IF which lacked the opportunities for
"power-gaming" and the like. It should be relatively easy to design a
game for multiple players, so that the player characters each had
their own goals etc, and a real place in the world. Of course, many
people might object that this takes the game away from being an
author-scripted work, since there are now more than one character
doing things, who may work together or against each other. However, I
don't care. :)

Perhaps the major "advantage" IF has over roleplaying is that you
can do it with just one person.

Definitely this is one of its advantages.

But when I think this over, its implications are awful. We have
enough TV mushrooms and Nintendo zombies in America already. Maybe
in New Zealand people still have a sense of community, but here in
Buffalo I at least do not. Roleplaying is one of the few means of
communal, participatory entertainment left.

Well, I think what IF has over TV and Nintendo games is that IF
requires active participation that involves more than physical reflex.
It is not the easily accessible entertainment that television or
arcade-type games are. Which is, of course, why they're not enormously
popular.

Would multi-player IF help form a community? On a networked game,
where the players might be (as in MU*s) halfway around the world from
each other, that community is restricted entirely to the inside the
game itself. But that isn't the only option. I believe that there's an
enormous scope for using what amounts to a MU* for small roleplaying
groups. The game master (the author of more traditional IF) creates
the world ahead of time, as usual, and then lets in the players -
remaining to provide NPCs (if necessary), and sort out tricky
problems. The advantage to face-to-face roleplaying is that the world,
to a large extent, exists independently of the attention of the GM -
so that the players can go in different directions and not require a
tedious switching back and forth on the part of the GM.

Anyway, again many people might object that this is not IF - I'm not
so sure. The author creates a story, a setting, characters, etc, and
sets it all down. Then the players enter the game, and play out that
story (or stories). Sounds to me very much like IF.

Jamie

Phil Goetz

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Nov 4, 1994, 2:35:31 PM11/4/94
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In article <399fes$p...@nntp.interaccess.com>,

S.P.Harvey <sha...@interaccess.com> wrote:
>Phil Goetz (go...@cs.buffalo.edu) wrote:
>
>: I suggest that, in IF as in roleplaying, the storyline is restricted
>: to quests. Many excellent stories, such as Hamlet, 1984, The Trial,
>: A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Silas Marner, Gateway,
>: and The Martian Chronicles can never be adapted for interactive fiction.
>: IF = Adventure, now and forever.
>
>The main reason these excellent works cannot be adapted (easily) to an IF
>format is not solely the puzzle/quest content, but more likely the
>realism of the characters. There's a little bit of Willy Loman in all of
>us. Same as the Moody Dane and Stanley Kowalski. It's extremely
>difficult to thrust the player into such a strong role. Hamlet is one of
>the most demanding stage roles, and can only be fully explored by a truly
>gifted actor (Olivier, not Gibson).

Problems with IF adaptations:

Hamlet: Involves the main character's indecision.
1984: Requires the viewpoint character to be destroyed.
The Trial: Similar. It is a sort of metafiction ;)
in that it is not about the story so much as about the world
in which such a story is possible. Very boring as IF, since
it is primarily about the powerlessness of the viewpoint character.
Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman: Characters lack clear
objectives. (If I'm wrong --- I haven't read/viewed these in
a long time --- I'll just find other examples.)
Silas Marner: Character's nature changes dramatically, which will
probably fail to happen to the participant.
Gateway: Half an adventure story, half about how the viewpoint character
is tormented by what he did in the past. Since this isn't revealed
until the last chapter, yet affects every chapter before it,
it is not obvious how an IF participant could play the part.
Martian Chronicles: The catching point in these stories hinge on very
specific actions of characters. An IF participant would either not
do the same things, spoiling the story, or would watch an NPC
do them, losing interactivity.

>HAMLET: An Interactive Tragedy
>
>In this game, you play the bereaved son of a much-loved and
>recently-passed King. Oddly, your mother (whom you love deeply) has
>married your uncle, your father's brother. The daughter of the king's
>chief advisor is infatuated with you. Her father distrusts you. You've
>got a busy few weeks ahead.

You've turned Hamlet into an adventure. The prompt, "What do I do next?",
is right at home with this material. Figure out what's happening, and
solve it.

>Thus, the opening room would be "Watch Platform" which would be described
>as terribly windy and cold, the surf crashing on the rocks below. At
>once, the ghost appears to you and tells of his murder. It's up to you
>now to prove this and avenge his untimely death.

Hamlet is not a story about finding the best way to avenge a death.

>I've had plans to update Macbeth into the cutthroat world of 1980's
>junk-bond traders and lawyers instead of thanes and kings.

Macbeth would do better. It's an adventure story.

Phil go...@cs.buffalo.edu

The Essential Addition

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Nov 4, 1994, 5:53:44 PM11/4/94
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In article <CyrD3...@acsu.buffalo.edu>,
Phil Goetz <go...@cs.buffalo.edu> wrote something about the problems with
translating certain works into IF:

>Hamlet: Involves the main character's indecision.
>1984: Requires the viewpoint character to be destroyed.
>The Trial: Similar. It is a sort of metafiction ;)
> in that it is not about the story so much as about the world
> in which such a story is possible. Very boring as IF, since
> it is primarily about the powerlessness of the viewpoint character.

(Other examples thoughtlessly deleted)


OK, here are some works that would work as IF:

Time Bandits: A lot of problem solving in this one!
Labyrinth: Sometimes it seems that this was BASED on interactive fiction.
Star Trek II: The greater majority of the action is Kirk solving problems.

The list of movies could go on and on, but check out the quality!

Yep -- Interactive Fiction as art has a brave, promising future.


--
/ I said you wouldn't understand -- The Essential Addition \
| You kill what you fear |
\ rbr...@netcom.com -- And you fear what you don't understand /

Adam Justin Thornton

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Nov 4, 1994, 8:33:19 PM11/4/94
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Hallway

This undistinguished hallway of Castle Elsinore runs north to Gertrude's
chambers and south to the chapel.

You hear a low voice murmuring in the chapel.

>s

Chapel

This is the chapel of Castle Elsinore. A few pews face the altar, richly
decked out in gold ornamentation. Velvet draperies line the walls.

Claudius is on his knees in front of the altar, praying. He hasn't noticed
you yet.

>x draperies

That's not important.

>i

You have a swordbelt (being worn). On the swordbelt is a scabbard, which
contains your rapier.

>kill claudius

Are you sure? He's praying. You might send him to heaven, and you don't
want to do that.

>kill claudius
(with the sword)
(drawing the sword first)

Stealthily, you plunge your rapier into Claudius's back. Your sword
punctures his heart. Blood sprays all over the altar. He emits a
strangled squeak, and slumps to the floor, dead.

[Your score just went up.]

(usw)

Adam
--
ad...@io.com | ad...@phoenix.princeton.edu | Viva HEGGA! | Save the choad!
"Double integral is also the shape of lovers curled asleep" : Pynchon
64,928 | TEAM OS/2 | "Ich habe einen Bierbauch!" | Linux | Fnord
You can have my PGP passphrase when you pry it from my cold, dead brain.

Damien P. Neil

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Nov 4, 1994, 11:16:58 PM11/4/94
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In article <rbryanCy...@netcom.com>,

The Essential Addition <rbr...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Labyrinth: Sometimes it seems that this was BASED on interactive fiction.

LucasArts did a game based on Labyrinth. It wasn't a text adventure,
but it probably qualified as IF.

It's been ages since I played it, but I remember it as being excellently
done and filled with puns. (``We want a ROCK VIDEO!'' -- So, of course,
you haul out the camcorder and videotape a few rocks sitting around...)

- Damien

Mathematical Institute, (0865) 2-73525

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Nov 8, 1994, 7:20:28 AM11/8/94
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>
> Problems with IF adaptations:
>
> Hamlet: Involves the main character's indecision.
...

> Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman: Characters lack clear
> objectives. (If I'm wrong --- I haven't read/viewed these in
> a long time --- I'll just find other examples.)

Oh dear: there goes the American theatre, 1940-1960...

>
>>HAMLET: An Interactive Tragedy
>>
>>In this game, you play the bereaved son of a much-loved and
>>recently-passed King. Oddly, your mother (whom you love deeply) has
>>married your uncle, your father's brother. The daughter of the king's
>>chief advisor is infatuated with you. Her father distrusts you. You've
>>got a busy few weeks ahead.
>
> You've turned Hamlet into an adventure. The prompt, "What do I do next?",
> is right at home with this material. Figure out what's happening, and
> solve it.
>
>>Thus, the opening room would be "Watch Platform" which would be described
>>as terribly windy and cold, the surf crashing on the rocks below. At
>>once, the ghost appears to you and tells of his murder. It's up to you
>>now to prove this and avenge his untimely death.
>
> Hamlet is not a story about finding the best way to avenge a death.
>

Indeed, and I think perhaps the point is that an IF version of Hamlet
would revolve around such major crises as Hamlet being unable to get out
of the cupboard in Elsinore he's accidentally locked himself into while
trying to find the old ghost-proof armour he read about in the library
which Polonius gave him the key to after he... etc. This may not have
been quite what Shakespeare intended Hamlet's major preoccupations to be.

> i
You are carrying a hawk and a handsaw.
> nnw
Madness
You are now unable to tell which of your possessions is which.
> rub hawk
Ay, there's the rub. It is a hawk!
[Your score has just gone up by one point.]
> x seams
Seams? You know not seams.

Etc., etc. Terry Pratchett does this sort of thing better.

Graham Nelson

David Baggett

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Nov 8, 1994, 2:39:13 PM11/8/94
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In article <399fes$p...@nntp.interaccess.com>,
S.P.Harvey <sha...@interaccess.com> wrote:

>HAMLET: An Interactive Tragedy
>...

What you describe is not a tragedy. Just avenging a death is not tragic,
though revenge is certainly a very popular theme of Elizabethan (and
current) fiction.

A tragedy has a tragic hero -- a character who in the end suffers greatly
only because he made choices he was *forced* (by fate or by his
personality) to make.

It seems impossible for an IF protagonist to be a tragic hero, because the
author has now way of knowing what the protagonist will do. Certainly some
set of player actions may result in a tragic ending, but there is no way to
ensure that *all* action sequences will do so. (I know this is not what
you were claiming, but I think it is a very important issue.)

Once again, we find that IF seems crippled by its inability to support a
traditional plot. So although I think that great works of static fiction
are crucial to emulate in many ways, we shouldn't expect IF renditions of
these works to be successful, and we shouldn't necessarily dismiss IF just
because it can't support such "updated" works.

>For my money, I can't imagine a richer source of ideas for IF than
>Shakespeare.

How about all the stuff *he* ripped off? :)

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.
ADVENTIONS: We make Kuul text adventures! Email for a catalog of releases.

Greg Ewing

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Nov 9, 1994, 4:47:09 PM11/9/94
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In article <39ok51...@life.ai.mit.edu>, d...@case.ai.mit.edu (David Baggett) writes:
|>
|> A tragedy has a tragic hero -- a character who in the end suffers greatly
|> only because he made choices he was *forced* (by fate or by his
|> personality) to make.
|>
|> It seems impossible for an IF protagonist to be a tragic hero, because the
|> author has now way of knowing what the protagonist will do.

On the contrary, it sounds like an ideal scenario for IF.
The author sets up the situation so that the player is
forced to follow a particular path, which has an
inevitable tragic ending.

|> Certainly some
|> set of player actions may result in a tragic ending, but there is no way to
|> ensure that *all* action sequences will do so.

All current IF pretty much prescribes exactly what the player
will do, discounting useless activities which don't advance
the game in any interesting way. The great problem seems to
be making IF *more* flexible, not less. And here you've just
described a form in which inflexibility is a virtue!

|> Dave Baggett


|> d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.

Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, +--------------------------------------+
University of Canterbury, | A citizen of NewZealandCorp, a |
Christchurch, New Zealand | wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan Inc.|
gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz +--------------------------------------+

Andrew C. Plotkin

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Nov 9, 1994, 11:55:22 AM11/9/94
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Excerpts from netnews.rec.arts.int-fiction: 8-Nov-94 Re: AI in NPCs =
IF... Not! David Bag...@case.ai.mi (1462)

> What you describe is not a tragedy. Just avenging a death is not tragic,
> though revenge is certainly a very popular theme of Elizabethan (and
> current) fiction.

> A tragedy has a tragic hero -- a character who in the end suffers greatly
> only because he made choices he was *forced* (by fate or by his
> personality) to make.

> It seems impossible for an IF protagonist to be a tragic hero, because the
> author has now way of knowing what the protagonist will do. Certainly some
> set of player actions may result in a tragic ending, but there is no way to
> ensure that *all* action sequences will do so. (I know this is not what
> you were claiming, but I think it is a very important issue.)

I would offer, as a counterexample, _Infidel_. It's clear that the
object of the game is to get all the treasure, and when you get all the
treasure, there's a tragic ending. Not a very deep one, admittedly, as
the protagonist's "tragic flaw" is his outright nastiness and greed,
which are pretty obvious. But it works, because greed *is* a big part of
game players (when they're in game-playing mode.) _Infidel_ uses
standard IF plot-driving tactics (curiousity and running out of water)
to put you in a situation where you fall into behaving like that --
which is very easy, in the legacy of treasure-hunt games like Zork and
Colossal Caves -- and then whaps you with the result.

Well, I liked it.

--Z

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

David Baggett

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Nov 10, 1994, 12:44:06 AM11/10/94
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In article <39rg0t$h...@cantua.canterbury.ac.nz>,
Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

>On the contrary, it sounds like an ideal scenario for IF. The author sets
>up the situation so that the player is forced to follow a particular path,
>which has an inevitable tragic ending.

But this misses the sting of tragedy, which is that the tragic hero is
ultimately responsible for his own fate. (I'm ignoring Greek tragedies
like Oedipus where fate itself is really to blame.)

All I see happening in the game you describe is that the player's going to
be peeved that he just followed what the author dictated (not necessarily
feeling any emotional attachement to these actions) and then got screwed.

I don't know; to me it's just not the same. I think you need at least some
real choice on the player's part for the tragic element to work. Macbeth
makes a conscious decision to go one way or the other, and after that
moment the tragic outcome is fully determined. This is what good tragedy
is all about.

Perhaps you could have a *single* decision point. But you'd have to make
*both* decisions result in tragedy, and this seems a bit implausible.

>All current IF pretty much prescribes exactly what the player will do,
>discounting useless activities which don't advance the game in any
>interesting way.

True, and though I do advocate an emphsis on traditional plotting in IF
works, I don't think that tragic IF works are going to be successful
without *multiple* traditional plots.

That said, I think that something like _Antigone_ could possibly work as an
IF tragedy, because it seems likely that many players would make the same
choices as Antigone, if for no reason other than to see what happens. :)

But this is a very limited kind of tragedy, where you present the player
with an impossible situation and then watch him hopelessly try to squrim
out of it.

Dave Baggett
__


d...@ai.mit.edu MIT AI Lab He who has the highest Kibo # when he dies wins.

Phil Goetz

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Nov 10, 1994, 12:35:28 PM11/10/94
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In article <39sbv6...@life.ai.mit.edu>,
David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>Perhaps you could have a *single* decision point. But you'd have to make
>*both* decisions result in tragedy, and this seems a bit implausible.

I see no need for having a single decision point, nor for having
all outcomes be tragic.
How about, some decisions lead to tragedy, some to "triumph"?

------------------------- triumph
\ \ \
\ \ \_______ triumph
\ \ \

tragedy tragedy tragedy

Phil

(who refuses to accept the idea that (x != tragedy) => (x == comedy))

Fred Sloniker

unread,
Nov 11, 1994, 3:01:57 PM11/11/94
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David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:

>But this misses the sting of tragedy, which is that the tragic hero is
>ultimately responsible for his own fate. (I'm ignoring Greek tragedies
>like Oedipus where fate itself is really to blame.)
>
>All I see happening in the game you describe is that the player's going to
>be peeved that he just followed what the author dictated (not necessarily
>feeling any emotional attachement to these actions) and then got screwed.

Good call. (:3 Dunno how many people out there have played 'Loom', by
Lucasarts; it's a fairly easy, extremely linear graphic adventure with a
rather sad ending (I won't spoil it, though). The first time I played, I
didn't really notice the linearity, if for no other reason than I just
happened to choose what the designers had intended me to do; near the end,
though, when I realized the direction the plot was taking and didn't *want*
to take that direction, I tried all sorts of things to weasel out of it,
to no avail. Then I played it again, with the intent of making the story a
little perkier, and couldn't do it; I was forced to have my character do
incredibly stupid things and have him be personally responsible for widespread
destruction because that's how the 'plot' was written. If I'd known ahead
of time that Loom was a tragedy, I probably wouldn't have bought it.

I'll spoil the plot of Loom, if anyone's interested, to make more specific
comments and gripes.

---Fred M. Sloniker, stressed undergrad
L. Lazuli R'kamos, FurryMUCKer
laz...@u.washington.edu

"Bart, don't use the Touch of Death on your sister." --Marge Simpson

The Grim Reaper

unread,
Nov 13, 1994, 4:06:19 PM11/13/94
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In article <3a0ijl$d...@nntp1.u.washington.edu>,
Fred Sloniker <laz...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>David Baggett <d...@ai.mit.edu> wrote:
[...]

>Good call. (:3 Dunno how many people out there have played 'Loom', by
>Lucasarts; it's a fairly easy, extremely linear graphic adventure with a
>rather sad ending (I won't spoil it, though). The first time I played, I
>didn't really notice the linearity, if for no other reason than I just
>happened to choose what the designers had intended me to do; near the end,
>though, when I realized the direction the plot was taking and didn't *want*
>to take that direction, I tried all sorts of things to weasel out of it,
>to no avail. Then I played it again, with the intent of making the story a
>little perkier, and couldn't do it; I was forced to have my character do
>incredibly stupid things and have him be personally responsible for widespread
>destruction because that's how the 'plot' was written. If I'd known ahead
>of time that Loom was a tragedy, I probably wouldn't have bought it.
Well, it's been a little while since I've played Loom, but I don't really
recall what really stupid things you were forced to do. Besides switching
places with that boy, and so the dragon kills him... Oh, wait. Now I recall.
I suppose you're referring to the scene at the end, where you have to use the
Draft of Opening on the cage you're in, and so the evil priest is able to
get the draft and use it? I agree, that is rather forced. But still, it's
just one instance. And as for being a tragedy... Hmm, I'm not sure. Most
tragedies end with no hope, I'd argue, or at least no hope for the main
character. But this one seems to end with hope, with some sort of promise
of a chance for a better world.

>I'll spoil the plot of Loom, if anyone's interested, to make more specific

Go for it. I've added a spoiler warning to the top, so...

>
> ---Fred M. Sloniker, stressed undergrad

+----------------------------------------------------------+
| One .sig to rule them all, one .sig to find them... |
| One .sig to bring them all and in the darkness bind them |
+----------------------------------------------------------+
| The Grim Reaper (Reaper of Souls, Stealer of .sigs) |
| scy...@u.washington.edu |
+----------------------------------------------------------+

Fred Sloniker

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Nov 14, 1994, 4:29:48 PM11/14/94
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The Grim Reaper <scy...@u.washington.edu> wrote:

SPOILERS AHEAD!

>Well, it's been a little while since I've played Loom, but I don't really
>recall what really stupid things you were forced to do. Besides switching
>places with that boy, and so the dragon kills him... Oh, wait. Now I recall.
>I suppose you're referring to the scene at the end, where you have to use the
>Draft of Opening on the cage you're in, and so the evil priest is able to
>get the draft and use it? I agree, that is rather forced. But still, it's
>just one instance.

'Stupid' isn't the word I should perhaps choose to use. How about 'sad'?
Some examples: the last leaf on the tree, the rabbit in the bush, having to
terrify the shepherds to get past them, the whole business with burning out
the dragon to get past her (which sets up Rusty's death later on), and of
course the bit with the priest you mentioned... There is a feeling that the
horrible carnage unleashed on the world is not his fault, but yours. IMHO.

>And as for being a tragedy... Hmm, I'm not sure. Most tragedies end with no
>hope, I'd argue, or at least no hope for the main character. But this one
>seems to end with hope, with some sort of promise of a chance for a better
>world.

Not for Hetchel, though. Or Bobbin (I'm sorry, but being turned into a swan
is *not* my idea of a happy ending). Or for the half of the world that's
stuck with Chaos...

I guess the thing I disliked most about Loom was the feeling of personal
responsibility for all the sucky stuff that happened in the game. The first
time around, I was feeling a touch arrogant (magic is a great power trip), so
I *did* feel responsible for how badly things turned out. That's why I played
again, to see if I could find a better ending-- which is when the extreme
linearity of the plot hit me. I couldn't make anything better, which made it
the game's fault.

A tragic IF wouldn't work for me because I wouldn't feel personally
responsible for the results; it'd be the stupid game that forced me to make
that choice. (I'm not sure how I feel about "Infidel", which is tragic only
if you go for those last few points.) OTOH, a game with the potential for a
tragic end, or that even tries to talk you into that end, is fine-- as long
as you have the capacity to make another choice.

To put it simply: I don't like the concept of 'fate' in IF any more than I
do in real life. (:3

---Fred M. Sloniker, stressed undergrad

L. Lazuli R'kamos, FurryMUCKer
laz...@u.washington.edu

Third Rule of Superhero Comics: If you sell well, you are immortal.

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