3D Interactive Fiction?

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Rubes

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Jul 11, 2007, 2:16:49 PM7/11/07
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There have been discussions in the past here and at other sites about
the future of interactive fiction, and in some cases the topic of 3D
graphics has been raised. With the fairly rapid evolution of 3D game
engines over the past decade, some people have expressed interest in
seeing a union of interactive fiction and 3D graphics. The dialogue,
however, usually ends before any real discussion of how a marriage
like this would look and play. So I'd like to try and take this
discussion a step further.

Is 3D interactive fiction really something that this community could
envision playing? And, if so, what expectations would you have
concerning its look and gameplay?

Given that the goal here is for the incorporation of interactive
fiction into a 3D world, one would assume that text input and output
would need to be a central component. I'm interested in hearing how
people think that would work in a 3D environment.

And what about the 3D gameplay? Would people envision a first-person
perspective? Or a third-person perspective with a player avatar? How
would people feel about using the typical keyboard-mouse combination
to control movement and camera view? And if not that, then what?

And finally, would there be any particular expectations for the visual
representation of actions directed through text command entry?

I'm also interested to know if people here would be less interested in
this style of game, given the fact that game development would likely
be much less accessible to the individual developer than pure
interactive fiction.

Mike Rozak

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Jul 11, 2007, 6:07:06 PM7/11/07
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> I'm also interested to know if people here would be less interested in
> this style of game, given the fact that game development would likely
> be much less accessible to the individual developer than pure
> interactive fiction.

Actually, what I found with my first lot of content for
www.CircumReality.com is that 3D isn't onerous IF you severely limit it. For
example: CircumReality shows static images, so that cuts out animation
effort. Rooms are nodal, so there aren't any concerns about collision
shapes. Etc.

Having said that, it's not just 3D that takes extra work. You also have:
- Sound effects
- Dialogue and narration (I use text-to-speech to reduce the workload, but
it's still work.)
- More advanced NPC AI.
- New players who don't know IF tropes; they require work too.

> And finally, would there be any particular expectations for the visual
> representation of actions directed through text command entry?

You'll find that 90% of the actions, especially NSEWUD, examine, get, and
drop, are done via mouse clicks.

You can use (spoken) narration to work around the limits in
animation/graphics since narration is infinitely cheaper than good
animation/graphics.

Ryusui

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Jul 11, 2007, 6:39:54 PM7/11/07
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I suggest you take a look at "Hotel Dusk: Room 215", a.k.a. "Wish
Room: Memories of an Angel" for Nintendo DS.

Raksab

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Jul 11, 2007, 6:42:07 PM7/11/07
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Since IF almost by definition has few or no graphics, 3d or otherwise,
I'm not sure what kind of thing you have in mind.

I've seen the usual RPG games where you wander around like Super
Mario, killing enemies and collecting treasure and occasionally
stopping to flip a switch or open a door, but I can't see text fitting
in there.

The rogue-alike games are a rough combo of text and graphics, and like
IF, they are turn-based, but in the way it's the worst of both worlds:
neither pretty visuals nor a complex parser, in most cases. Usually
input is limited to one or two letters at a time, and the graphics are
symbols or simple tiles. (I like rogue-alikes, but as far as I can
tell, they're best suited for dungeon-crawling, not for solving
puzzles or telling stories with involved plot. There is some strategy
involved, but with all those dice rolls, it's not the same sort of
strategy one uses to play IF.)

Some Glulx games include still (as opposed to animated) visuals,
mostly for atmospheric effect since you can't "do" anything to the
picture. The game is all in the text, and you could conceivably play
most of them without the pictures.

I can imagine a game in the "slide show" style, like Riven, where you
click to go from one location to the next and to pick up items and
examine them ... you could replace all those actions with a text box
instead of mouse clicks directly on the picture. It might annoy
players to have to keep jumping between the text box and the visual,
but you could superimpose the box discreetly at the bottom of the
scene and I can see how that might work. Player types GET BALL and
sees the ball float into his inventory, player types NORTH and sees
the camera walk forward to the next location (or just sees the current
scene dissolve/fade into a new viewpoint). Player types GET SPORK and
text replies "Sorry, nothing like that is nearby." I can see that
working.

But I can't see a total 3-d engine working in tandem with a text box,
or at least, it'd be very complicated to do. IF is usually room-
based. So coding what items were "within reach" or not would be tough
if the player could be standing halfway between one area and another.
Suppose you're halfway between two trees and you type CLIMB TREE; the
game might get confused.

Also, IF is turn-based (game time progresses with each player move)
whereas 3-d roleplaying games tend to be either timeless (no time is
measured) or continuous (game time progresses in real time). I'm not
sure how the turn structure would fit into a 3-d game.

Rubes

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Jul 11, 2007, 7:03:37 PM7/11/07
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On Jul 11, 4:07 pm, "Mike Rozak" <MikeRo...@bigpond.com> wrote:
> Actually, what I found with my first lot of content forwww.CircumReality.comis that 3D isn't onerous IF you severely limit it. For

> example: CircumReality shows static images, so that cuts out animation
> effort. Rooms are nodal, so there aren't any concerns about collision
> shapes. Etc.

That's a good point, although you could argue that if the goal is to
unite IF and 3D, you would potentially be losing one of your potential
advantages by eliminating things like animation and collision.
Although certainly I understand that doing so reduces the huge amount
of work necessary to implement a system like that.

> Having said that, it's not just 3D that takes extra work. You also have:
> - Sound effects
> - Dialogue and narration (I use text-to-speech to reduce the workload, but
> it's still work.)
> - More advanced NPC AI.
> - New players who don't know IF tropes; they require work too.

Exactly. Which is why it generally would not be nearly as accessible
to individual developers. But I suppose the question is, might this
inaccessibility impact this community's acceptance of "3D-IF" in
general?

> You can use (spoken) narration to work around the limits in
> animation/graphics since narration is infinitely cheaper than good
> animation/graphics.

True, but again, sacrificing animation and graphics in this sense,
while practical, might be interpreted as a deficiency of the
implementation and lead to it being more likely ignored in the long
run.

I suppose what I'm getting at is, given today's technology, how might
an ideal 3D-IF implementation look and play?

Rubes

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Jul 11, 2007, 7:16:20 PM7/11/07
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On Jul 11, 4:42 pm, Raksab <theli...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Since IF almost by definition has few or no graphics, 3d or otherwise,
> I'm not sure what kind of thing you have in mind.

I don't have anything in particular in mind; the question was to see
if others could envision the two formats united together and, if so,
how an implementation like that might look and play. If not, however,
that is informative as well.

> I can imagine a game in the "slide show" style, like Riven, where you
> click to go from one location to the next and to pick up items and
> examine them ... you could replace all those actions with a text box
> instead of mouse clicks directly on the picture. It might annoy
> players to have to keep jumping between the text box and the visual,
> but you could superimpose the box discreetly at the bottom of the
> scene and I can see how that might work. Player types GET BALL and
> sees the ball float into his inventory, player types NORTH and sees
> the camera walk forward to the next location (or just sees the current
> scene dissolve/fade into a new viewpoint). Player types GET SPORK and
> text replies "Sorry, nothing like that is nearby." I can see that
> working.
>
> But I can't see a total 3-d engine working in tandem with a text box,
> or at least, it'd be very complicated to do. IF is usually room-
> based. So coding what items were "within reach" or not would be tough
> if the player could be standing halfway between one area and another.
> Suppose you're halfway between two trees and you type CLIMB TREE; the
> game might get confused.

Actually, the determination of which objects in a 3D world are 'in
scope' could be done different ways. Many engines allow you to check
for distance between the player and an object, as well as for visual
range (like if, say, an object is close by but behind a wall). You
could also determine if the object in question is within the visual
field, so a tree in front of the player and a tree behind the player
could easily be adjudicated. And if they are both in view and within
range, would it differ greatly from traditional IF if the parser
responded, "Which tree did you mean, the large tree or the little
sapling?"

> Also, IF is turn-based (game time progresses with each player move)
> whereas 3-d roleplaying games tend to be either timeless (no time is
> measured) or continuous (game time progresses in real time). I'm not
> sure how the turn structure would fit into a 3-d game.

This is certainly a potential concern, but I suppose there are ways
that a 3D game could be designed and structured to be more "turn-based-
like" (rather than actually turn-based). But this is certainly one of
the features about which I'm interested in hearing more ideas.

letmes...@gmail.com

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Jul 11, 2007, 11:17:28 PM7/11/07
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On Jul 11, 5:39 pm, Ryusui <TheRyu...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I suggest you take a look at "Hotel Dusk: Room 215", a.k.a. "Wish
> Room: Memories of an Angel" for Nintendo DS.

I own Hotel Dusk but haven't played it yet, this is a sign to start :-)

Mike Rozak

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Jul 12, 2007, 1:07:00 AM7/12/07
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Rubes wrote:

> I suppose what I'm getting at is, given today's technology, how might
> an ideal 3D-IF implementation look and play?

IF, as a vague and fuzzy genre, has a few "defining features":

- The use of lots of text narration... or more broadly, lots verbal
narration.

- Text entry for commands (which allows for complex actions)

- Lack of graphics, except perhaps still images.

- Puzzle oriented gameplay, as opposed to combat-oriented

- Emphasis on story

- Increasingly, an emphasis on NPC interaction (via talking)

- Short (<50 hr) gameplay. Most titles are more like 2-10 hours.

- Created by one author, usually an amateur.

- Works on any OS/device (due to text's portability and low resource usage).

- Single player

- Turn based

- Nodal rooms


Of course, these are all generalities. The more of these "defining features"
that you break, the less likely that people on rec.arts.int-fiction will say
you're creating IF. Depending upon which defining features you DON'T adhere
to, some people will say your game has turned into an adventure game, or a
MMORPG, or a MUD, or a FPS, etc. Genre, to an extent, is in the eye of the
beholder.

Specifically about your comment/question about using animation... As a
game's animation gets better, three important things happen (as I see them):
(1) Your game can no longer be created by a single person, or even a few
people. (2) Your need for narration plummets because the narration is
replaced by the animations/visuals, to the point where you're better off
without a narrator, and (3) because of the expense of the product, you
simplify the UI to gain more market share, and end up with a point-and-click
interface. At this point, you pretty much have an adventure game (according
to MY internal fuzzy definition of what an adventure game is.)

Jerome West

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Jul 12, 2007, 5:05:49 AM7/12/07
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On Jul 11, 7:16 pm, Rubes <SLCRu...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Is 3D interactive fiction really something that this community could
> envision playing? And, if so, what expectations would you have
> concerning its look and gameplay?

It's something that interests me a great deal. It's a continual source
of frustration to me that modern 3D games have entirely abandoned many
of the aspects of IF which make it great. I'm not referring to the
text-based input system so much as the detailed narratives, the
puzzles, the freedom of action and so on.

Two of my favourite modern games were Deus Ex and System Shock, which
went some way towards redressing this balance, though they were more
RPG-like really. Penumbra, an indie 3D horror game, also looks
interesting, although I've yet to try it out for myself. The only game
I can ever recall playing which really seemed like a work of IF, only
implemented in 3D, is a rather ancient game called Damocles.

I think there's a lot that 3D games could learn from IF. It's a shame
that the mainstream game industry is so risk-averse and Hollywood-
like, churning out the same old rehashed products and endless sequels,
rather than trying to produce something a little more innovative.

Valzi

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Jul 12, 2007, 9:32:05 AM7/12/07
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Facade is a good (not great, except as an exercise) game made in a
full 3D engine. Check it out. It's free, though a large download
compared to ordinary IF.

http://interactivestory.net/

-Michael

Jon Hendry

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Jul 12, 2007, 10:14:52 AM7/12/07
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On Jul 11, 2:16 pm, Rubes <SLCRu...@gmail.com> wrote:
> There have been discussions in the past here and at other sites about
> the future of interactive fiction, and in some cases the topic of 3D
> graphics has been raised. With the fairly rapid evolution of 3D game
> engines over the past decade, some people have expressed interest in
> seeing a union of interactive fiction and 3D graphics. The dialogue,
> however, usually ends before any real discussion of how a marriage
> like this would look and play. So I'd like to try and take this
> discussion a step further.

Personally, all the IF I've ever played was 3-D, it's just that it was
depicted that way in my mind, not graphically.

(Indeed, some puzzles require you to be able to visualize the
positions of things three dimensionally, like the mast puzzle in
Infidel.

Rubes

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Jul 12, 2007, 12:53:21 PM7/12/07
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I think technically, Facade is not 3D, in that it does not use full 3D
models but rather 2D images arranged in a 3D-like setting. But the
point is made.

I'm not sure I would classify Facade as IF, although it has some
components of IF.

Rubes

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Jul 12, 2007, 12:54:46 PM7/12/07
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On Jul 12, 3:05 am, Jerome West <JeromeCW...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> It's something that interests me a great deal. It's a continual source
> of frustration to me that modern 3D games have entirely abandoned many
> of the aspects of IF which make it great. I'm not referring to the
> text-based input system so much as the detailed narratives, the
> puzzles, the freedom of action and so on.

So what specific components of IF would you want to see in a 3D game,
and how do you see those being incorporated from a gameplay
standpoint?

Jerome West

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Jul 12, 2007, 6:17:48 PM7/12/07
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I'd like to see a 3D game where I wasn't dragged along in a linear
path the whole time. I'd like freedom of movement within a large,
believably implemented environment. I'd like characters that had a
personality, rather than the usual clichéd stereotypes. I'd like the
storyline to be the main feature, the motivating factor behind the
game's creation, rather than it just being tacked on as an adjunct to
the action.

I'd like to see a game where I actually had to think about what to do
with the items and information I collect. I'm sick of wandering around
places where the only objects in sight are guns, ammo, health packs
and key cards. I'm bored with reading endless diary entries and
computer logs which are only there in a vain attempt to provide
atmosphere.

I don't really see textual input or output being involved. That would
seem jarring next to the graphical nature of the game. The one
possible exception might be for conversing with other characters, but
only if this could be done with something approximating natural
language (as bravely attempted by Façade). I guess we're still some
way off that point technically though.

But I believe that most of the things I outlined above are technically
possible. It's only that video games are a relatively young art, and
the means to make them are still pretty much within the hands of large
companies, who always prefer to cater to the lowest common
denominator. Once the tools mature to the level that they have with
art forms like music and film, things should begin to get rather more
interesting.

Andrew Owen

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Jul 12, 2007, 6:30:35 PM7/12/07
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I think the risk with trying to tie graphics to IF is that you end up
creating a sort of pop-up book equivalent. The best you can really
hope for would be an interactive graphic novel, but I think the extra
work involved in creating sufficient non-linear content for something
like Sin City would be prohibitive. It's hard enough to create decent
IF without images. My own feeling is that IF is fine as text only and
that the proper avenue for expressing graphic urges is in really good
feelies.

Rubes

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Jul 13, 2007, 1:12:19 PM7/13/07
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On Jul 11, 11:07 pm, "Mike Rozak" <MikeRo...@bigpond.com> wrote:
> IF, as a vague and fuzzy genre, has a few "defining features":

I find this very interesting. I think if you asked people here to list
some of IF's defining features, you would probably get a number of
varied responses. On close inspection, I'm not so sure I agree with
some of these. I suppose some of it has to do with separating out a
"defining" feature from a "unique" feature, but I'll try to only
consider the former.

> - The use of lots of text narration... or more broadly, lots verbal
> narration.

I'm not so sure I would use the qualifier "lots", but certainly text
narration would be appropriate.

> - Text entry for commands (which allows for complex actions)

That fits, yes.

> - Lack of graphics, except perhaps still images.

Fair enough.

I think, beyond this point, some of the items on your list become less
convincing. I think many of them apply to a large portion of IF, but I
would probably consider the above three items the main defining
features of IF.

> - Puzzle oriented gameplay, as opposed to combat-oriented

I think one could make a decent argument against this; certainly,
there is nothing preventing people from making combat-oriented IF (and
there are some, I believe, to varying degrees), and there are a number
of IF pieces that do not focus much on puzzles at all. In that sense,
I don't think I would refer to this as a defining feature, merely a
common feature.

> - Emphasis on story

I don't think this necessarily applies, either. I think there are
plenty of IF pieces that are pure puzzle-fests without much
significant story. True, much IF does fit this, but I would again
refrain from using this as a defining feature.

> - Increasingly, an emphasis on NPC interaction (via talking)

I'm not so sure I would say this. I think it is probably fair to say
"more and more IF games are placing an emphasis on NPC interaction,"
but I don't think I would include that as a defining feature.

> - Short (<50 hr) gameplay. Most titles are more like 2-10 hours.

That's a tough one, I think. Again, it's probably fair to say that
most works of IF would fall into this category, but certainly there
are some that do not, length depends partially on the proficiency and
determination of the player, and there is certainly nothing stopping
anyone from making a really long piece. It's a common feature, but not
necessarily a defining feature.

> - Created by one author, usually an amateur.

There are a number of pieces written by multiple authors.

> - Works on any OS/device (due to text's portability and low resource usage).

As long as the piece is written for an interpreter that has been
created for your operating system. There were a few works in this
year's IFComp that didn't run on my machine.

> - Single player
>
> - Turn based
>
> - Nodal rooms

I think it is probably safe to say these would probably fit as
defining features, although some could potentially be challenged by
newer works in the future while still being classified as IF. If
someone created a work that was not necessarily turn-based (I believe
this has been done, no?), would it no longer qualify as IF? I would
say these are pervasive features, but not necessarily defining ones.

> Of course, these are all generalities. The more of these "defining features"
> that you break, the less likely that people on rec.arts.int-fiction will say
> you're creating IF. Depending upon which defining features you DON'T adhere
> to, some people will say your game has turned into an adventure game, or a
> MMORPG, or a MUD, or a FPS, etc. Genre, to an extent, is in the eye of the
> beholder.

True, although one could argue that a 3D game that incorporates some
of the different features of IF isn't necessarily striving to be "IF"
per se, but perhaps something unique in and of itself. People may say
"that's not IF", but the goal is not necessarily to make IF, but
rather a game that borrows from IF. If someone created a 3D game that
is single player, turn-based, and has a nodal room structure, people
wouldn't necessarily call that IF. But if those are defining features
of IF that people enjoy, and it translates well into 3D, then perhaps
the result is something unique that has benefitted (in a way) from IF.

> Specifically about your comment/question about using animation... As a
> game's animation gets better, three important things happen (as I see them):
> (1) Your game can no longer be created by a single person, or even a few
> people. (2) Your need for narration plummets because the narration is
> replaced by the animations/visuals, to the point where you're better off
> without a narrator, and (3) because of the expense of the product, you
> simplify the UI to gain more market share, and end up with a point-and-click
> interface. At this point, you pretty much have an adventure game (according
> to MY internal fuzzy definition of what an adventure game is.)

I don't necessarily disagree with most of this, but I also don't think
it's correct to say it dogmatically. Some of it does depend on what
you mean by "gets better"; I think a great deal of animation _can_ be
done by a few people and can be done well. I also think the need for a
narrator depends very much on what you perceive the role of your
narrator is in a particular work; in some cases, narration can perform
functions that no amount of animation can offer. And I'm not sure
exactly how to respond to point (3), since that may be the case for
large profit-motivated companies but not necessarily the case for
amateur, independent developers.

Mike Rozak

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Jul 13, 2007, 7:39:01 PM7/13/07
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> I find this very interesting. I think if you asked people here to list
> some of IF's defining features, you would probably get a number of
> varied responses. On close inspection, I'm not so sure I agree with
> some of these. I suppose some of it has to do with separating out a
> "defining" feature from a "unique" feature, but I'll try to only
> consider the former.

I agree with your comments. You can find "IF" that breaks everyone of these
"defining features" but the more your break, the less likely that people on
rec.arts.int-fiction will call it "IF".

I don't care what genre you call your game, but one of the (many) problems
that I'm facing with CircumReality is that I've broken a lot of IF's
"defining features". When compared to a CRPG's defining feature, I've broken
even more of those. Same with a MMORPG or MUD. CircumReality doesn't fit
neatly into any genre. This is a problem because people that like IF because
of what IF is ("defining features"), hang out on rec.arts.int-fiction and
ilk; When I post about CircumReality, a large percentage of
rec.arts.int-fiction readers don't find the CircumReality experience
compelling because it's not what they're interested in (and because I still
have a lot of work left to do). When I post on CRPG sites and MMORPG sites,
I get the same issues. Ultimately, I have a problem because there isn't a
pre-existing community for whatever genre CircumReality is.

That's the problem with genres. If you stick with them, you can easily find
a community of people who are interested in your creation (assuming it's any
good). However, genres are also limiting. You're trying to work around the
limitations of IF by adding 3d graphics and whatnot. But as a consequence,
you move away from the genre's norms and find it harder to find people
interested in your game.


> And I'm not sure
> exactly how to respond to point (3), since that may be the case for
> large profit-motivated companies but not necessarily the case for
> amateur, independent developers.

If you can produce good-enough graphics without having to attract a large
number of customers, then great.

However, here's a quick summary of the history of adventure games:

Hunt the wumpus, adventure, Zork - Pure text.

Mystery house - Added BnW 1st person line drawings. Lousy parser and
descriptions. Very successful.

Mystery house descendents - Add color. More emphasis on graphics. No mouse
yet, so can't click.

Kings quest and descendents - Third person. Less text. Still typing in
commands(???). At some point add a mouse, and let players click. Clicking on
objects often provides a large menu of options.

Later Kings quest descendents (like Syberia) - Lots of effort on graphics.
No text displayed on the screen (other than subtitles of NPC speech). No
typing. Left clicking does the "obvious" thing. If there is right clicking,
then it brings up a short menu of "examine" and "use" (or similar). Drag
objects onto objects to combine.

Myst and descendents - Basically the same UI as Syberia, but 1st person.


My point about needing to dumb down the UI in order to attract more players
is a lesson from history. Lots of very intelligent people have tried to
maximize profitability over time as they have evolved from "Hunt the Wumpus"
into "The Broken Sword". Lots of experiments failed. The ones that succeded
had lots of graphics, no typing, and click-to-use.

If you're not looking to maximize profits (which I'm not) then you can
potentially avoid the adventure game click fest. However, be aware that by
adding graphics to your game, you're on the evolutionary path to Syberia,
and it'll take a lot of willpower to take a different direction...
especially when the "lack of community" for the new genre is taken into
account.


Hector Rodriguez

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Jul 14, 2007, 2:21:47 AM7/14/07
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Why not classify Facade as IF? How essential are the graphics to the
experience of playing?


Mike Rozak

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Jul 14, 2007, 7:26:43 PM7/14/07
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"Hector Rodriguez" <smh...@cityu.edu.hk> wrote in message

> Why not classify Facade as IF? How essential are the graphics to the
> experience of playing?

Again, the fuzziness of genres. I suspect the Facade team would classify
Facade as Interactive Storytelling because the "game" is about NPC's with
personalities, story/plot, and that it's not really a game. They would claim
that it's NOT IF because IF is about manipulating objects and solving
puzzles with the goal of "winning".

James Mitchelhill

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Jul 14, 2007, 7:55:21 PM7/14/07
to

Fortunately, in this case, there's no need to speculate about what the
authors think. In response to the question "Is Facade an interactive
fiction?" Andrew Stern (ie. half of the Facade team) responded:


In the past I've preferred the general definition of "fiction", as an
"imagined story", not tied to form. In this sense, interactive fiction is
pretty much equivalent to the general term "interactive story". Using this
definition for fiction then, interactive drama, e.g. Facade, is a form of
interactive fiction; Photopia would be text-based interactive fiction.

But most consider fiction to specifically be a text-based form, the way the
term is used in a bookstore, e.g. novels and short stories in the "fiction"
section.

At the same time, somewhat inconsistently I suppose, I considered the term
"drama" to in fact be tied to form: an enacted story with actors, e.g.
theater or movies. (But, I suppose you could make the argument that "drama"
shouldn’t be tied to form; while not quite a genre, it's a story with
certain properties, such as building tension, about serious subjects with
heavy emotion, etc. It's not a genre itself because you can have sci-fi
dramas, western dramas, etc.)

If you use the form-specific definition of fiction (text) and the
form-specific definition of drama (enacted), interactive drama is
complementary to IF: Facade is not interactive fiction, but interactive
drama; Photopia would be just interactive fiction. In this case, what is
the umbrella term for both — interactive story? Interactive narrative?
Sigh.

<http://grandtextauto.gatech.edu/2006/09/19/defining-if/#comment-96968>

--
James Mitchelhill
disord...@gmail.com

Hector Rodriguez

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Jul 15, 2007, 6:52:41 AM7/15/07
to

These are all interesting posts. My immediate response is that people
sometimes speak of fiction films (as opposed to non-fiction or
documentary films), so I am not sure that the term interactive fiction
should be restricted to text-based works. Ordinary language is
(fortunately? unfortunately?) very vague on this point...

If Facade is interactive drama, what is Galatea? Is it not, in some
ways, a form of drama? In any case, as much a form of drama as Facade
is? (These are not statements disguised as questions, but genuine
questions)...

Another reason to include Facade as interactive fiction: The issues
addressed in Facade (how to model conversation) are very important for
the IF community, as well.

I am not sure that, after all, Facade should be classed as drama. My
experience is that it has much more to do with IF than with anything I
would call drama...

Any attempt at clear-cut classification is probably hopeless, but this
sort of debate has important consquences (for ex., what kinds of work
can enter into competitions or accepted by this community as genuine
IF).

Emily Short

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Jul 16, 2007, 9:24:45 AM7/16/07
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On Jul 15, 11:52 am, Hector Rodriguez <smh...@cityu.edu.hk> wrote:
> These are all interesting posts. My immediate response is that people
> sometimes speak of fiction films (as opposed to non-fiction or
> documentary films), so I am not sure that the term interactive fiction
> should be restricted to text-based works. Ordinary language is
> (fortunately? unfortunately?) very vague on this point...
>
> If Facade is interactive drama, what is Galatea? Is it not, in some
> ways, a form of drama? In any case, as much a form of drama as Facade
> is? (These are not statements disguised as questions, but genuine
> questions)...

I wouldn't describe Galatea as interactive drama (but then, I'm not
sure whether, left to my own devices, I would call Facade that
either). My perhaps-hazy definition of drama would require that it
incorporate performance of some kind (and I think it would be tenuous
to argue that the player of these games is in any way performing a
role) and an audience.

I also think that (whether or not we call this medium "interactive
fiction" or not), it's worth recognizing that a medium with text-
centric input and output is going to be functionally much different
from a medium with graphical output. Even if the input still takes the
form of typed commands, the things that the author can show the
player, the types of storytelling possible, the techniques of
characterization and setting-development, and the requirements of good
puzzle-design are all going to be different.

So I'm uncertain about what "3D IF" means, but if it means "a work
with textual input and graphical output", then I would say that such a
medium might deserve the name "interactive fiction" but is going to
require some different design principles from textual IF. I have a
largely unexamined prejudice that says design of an interactive work/
game will be smoothest if the input and output match one another in
kind -- ie, that a text parser goes best with textual output, and for
graphical output you want a graphical interface as well, presumably
mouse-driven. But that's not to say I wouldn't try out such a hybrid
game if someone wanted to show it to me.

Rubes

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Jul 16, 2007, 12:57:05 PM7/16/07
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On Jul 16, 7:24 am, Emily Short <emsh...@mindspring.com> wrote:
> I also think that (whether or not we call this medium "interactive
> fiction" or not), it's worth recognizing that a medium with text-
> centric input and output is going to be functionally much different
> from a medium with graphical output. Even if the input still takes the
> form of typed commands, the things that the author can show the
> player, the types of storytelling possible, the techniques of
> characterization and setting-development, and the requirements of good
> puzzle-design are all going to be different.
>
> So I'm uncertain about what "3D IF" means, but if it means "a work
> with textual input and graphical output", then I would say that such a
> medium might deserve the name "interactive fiction" but is going to
> require some different design principles from textual IF. I have a
> largely unexamined prejudice that says design of an interactive work/
> game will be smoothest if the input and output match one another in
> kind -- ie, that a text parser goes best with textual output, and for
> graphical output you want a graphical interface as well, presumably
> mouse-driven. But that's not to say I wouldn't try out such a hybrid
> game if someone wanted to show it to me.

Fascinating stuff. I think, if nothing else, this discussion has
essentially filtered down to the question, "What defines interactive
fiction?" which I believe has been raised here at some point in the
past and which likely has defied a united answer. I think, as Mike
Rozak pointed out, the further you get from a game with text-centric
input and output the less likely it will be considered a work of IF,
but it certainly appears to be a very fuzzy and probably
inconsistently-applied boundary.

I do agree that a text-centric medium will be functionally very
different from a medium that incorporates graphical output. That said,
I suppose the question is this: can a medium that is designed around
graphical output also effectively incorporate text output? I think,
superficially, the concept of providing a significant amount of text
output in a graphical game would seem either redundant or bothersome.
Certainly I presume that providing a description of a room's exits
when they are clearly visible would be superfluous. But, as you imply,
there are very different things you can accomplish with text as
opposed to graphics, and I wonder if at least some of these things
would be useful in a graphical game.

I wonder if a specific example would be useful. As I had mentioned
elsewhere, take an object description from your Savoir-Faire. On
examining the andouillettes, you see the description:

"Veal cased in tripe. Tasty food. The servants used to eat them with
fried onions - a good, hearty smell that leaked out of the kitchen
while you played outside, until you went inside, and sometimes they
would let you eat at the kitchen table rather than with the Family."

Nothing you could get from just visually examining the graphical
representation of the andouillettes. But does a description like this
fit only in a text-centric game? Couldn't this also greatly enhance a
graphical game, even if the player must take the time to read it?

I don't disagree with your premise that the smoothness of a work
likely depends on the matching of input and output formats.
Introducing a text input (and output) interface to a predominantly
graphical game is likely to be clumsy and awkward, at least in its
initial incarnation. But I wonder if a game that has a deliberately
slow pace, encouraging more thoughtful consideration of input and
output, would facilitate this evolution?

I'm uncertain what "3D IF" is as well, which recalls the original
thread question, which is really just trying to probe people's ideas
of what it might be.

Rubes

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Jul 16, 2007, 1:05:48 PM7/16/07
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On Jul 14, 5:26 pm, "Mike Rozak" <MikeRo...@bigpond.com> wrote:
> Again, the fuzziness of genres. I suspect the Facade team would classify
> Facade as Interactive Storytelling because the "game" is about NPC's with
> personalities, story/plot, and that it's not really a game. They would claim
> that it's NOT IF because IF is about manipulating objects and solving
> puzzles with the goal of "winning".

Similar to our other discussion, but aren't there many works of IF
that don't specifically focus on object manipulation, puzzles, and
especially winning? It sounds like a rather narrow view of IF,
generally speaking.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 16, 2007, 1:41:58 PM7/16/07
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Here, Rubes <SLCR...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I do agree that a text-centric medium will be functionally very
> different from a medium that incorporates graphical output. That said,
> I suppose the question is this: can a medium that is designed around
> graphical output also effectively incorporate text output?

I note that verbal output is a staple of modern third-person graphical
adventures. (And, to some extent, first-person adventures -- although
less so.) Your example:

> "Veal cased in tripe. Tasty food. The servants used to eat them with
> fried onions - a good, hearty smell that leaked out of the kitchen
> while you played outside, until you went inside, and sometimes they
> would let you eat at the kitchen table rather than with the Family."

...wouldn't be out of place at all, as *spoken* text, in a game like
Syberia. (Except that it would be first-person text, and spoken in the
protagonist's voice.) And some of those games have (or permit) printed
subtitles that parallel the spoken text.

So what you're talking about isn't far at all from games that are on
the market today. Replacing the spoken text entirely with printed text
is a jump, but it's a smaller jump than starting with text IF and
adding a graphical environment.

(Of course it would be great to have the spoken narration too. But
then you're losing the flexibility that text IF takes for granted.
It's very hard to stitch audio snippets together into sentences, the
way we stitch text fragments in TADS/Inform.)

The tricky problem is the balance between text and graphics. And yes,
that problem exists in Syberia etc. Those games resolve the conflict
by relying mostly on graphics for gameplay, with the (spoken) text
supplying background color and plot details. Put brutally, you can
skip most of the text and still solve the game, although you'll
probably miss most of the story. Any game-critical clues in the text
get repeated upon request. (You know this gimmick: re-examining the
sausage gives a brief "Veal and tripe", because you meet someone who's
allergic to beef.)

I suspect the game balance there is influenced by what seem like small
interface details: spoken text is slow, you can't skim it on replays,
and there's no scrollback. You have to pay attention to those sorts of
details...

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
If the Bush administration hasn't shipped you to Syria for interrogation, it's
for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're innocent.

Valzi

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Jul 16, 2007, 3:57:09 PM7/16/07
to
On Jul 14, 5:26 pm, "Mike Rozak" <MikeRo...@bigpond.com> wrote:
> Again, the fuzziness of genres. I suspect the Facade team would classify
> Facade as Interactive Storytelling because the "game" is about NPC's with
> personalities, story/plot, and that it's not really a game. They would claim
> that it's NOT IF because IF is about manipulating objects and solving
> puzzles with the goal of "winning".

Of course, that would remove many of my favorite IF from the genre.
Galatea and Aisle, for example, are not IF at ALL under that quirky
definition. Interactive fiction is simply interactive fiction - albeit
with an implication of fiction imitating a book. That is, fiction that
is interactive and largely texual. That has nothing to do with puzzles
or manipulating objects, thought they are certainly not excluded.

Mike Rozak

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Jul 16, 2007, 8:10:30 PM7/16/07
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"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote

> (Of course it would be great to have the spoken narration too. But
> then you're losing the flexibility that text IF takes for granted.
> It's very hard to stitch audio snippets together into sentences, the
> way we stitch text fragments in TADS/Inform.)

Some random comments:

1) Narration in an animated world is problematical because the narrator
might say, "Jane daintily sips her tea, while romantically gazing at
Peter", but due to budget constraints, the animations would end up being
Jane and Peter standing, staring at one another, and nodding their heads.

2) Text-to-speech solves the "stitching text fragments" problems, but TTS
has the problem of not sounding as good as a real person. Actually, there is
a trick where the prosody of a recorded sentence can be changed, kind of
half way to TTS; this would work.


Hector Rodriguez

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Jul 16, 2007, 11:49:14 PM7/16/07
to
On Jul 17, 3:57 am, Valzi <valzis...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jul 14, 5:26 pm, "Mike Rozak" <MikeRo...@bigpond.com> wrote:

> Of course, that would remove many of my favorite IF from the genre.
> Galatea and Aisle, for example, are not IF at ALL under that quirky
> definition.

Thinking about Aisle, I wonder how much that particular work depends
on text. (I have not played it in some time, so I am speaking from
memory here). Could it not be done as a graphical interface, where the
user has to click on different objects, etc.? Wouldn't the basic
effect be the same? It is really all about the consequences of
different decisions, and this does not require a text-based interface.
(Again: remember I am speaking from memory).


Valzi

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Jul 17, 2007, 6:34:54 PM7/17/07
to
On Jul 16, 9:49 pm, Hector Rodriguez <smh...@cityu.edu.hk> wrote:
> Thinking about Aisle, I wonder how much that particular work depends
> on text. (I have not played it in some time, so I am speaking from
> memory here). Could it not be done as a graphical interface, where the
> user has to click on different objects, etc.? Wouldn't the basic
> effect be the same? It is really all about the consequences of
> different decisions, and this does not require a text-based interface.
> (Again: remember I am speaking from memory).

Of course it does not _require_ a text-based interface. I doubt there
are any works of IF that absolutely could not be translated into
something else. That's just it thought - it would be something else,
something other than interactive fiction, which _Aisle_ certainly is.

nameku...@gmail.com

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Jul 18, 2007, 9:30:24 PM7/18/07
to
Mike Rozak and Andrew Plotkin raise excellent points regarding
narration via both a camera and voice-overs in current 3D games. But
I remain unconvinced on the marriage.

Here's a short snippet from Curses describing an early event:

"As you disturb the still air, the attic key, which was balanced on
top of the demijohn, slips onto the floor and disappears into a crack
in the floorboards. Your spirits sink as it does, rattling down some
distance. How on earth are you going to get it back?"

Now, how does such a narration gets translated to a 3D game, or merely
graphical at that, and is able to evoke such vivid imagery and sense
of urgency?

Here's two tentatives, the first by cinematography alone (no literary
narration at all) and the second by camera coupled with voice
narration of the same account.

1) camera-only:
The camera follows as the player approaches the demijohn, floorbloards
cracking and the demijohn shaking gently. The camera then, zooms in
to the top of the demijohn and follows the key as it falls to the
ground and through a crack. If the game is not first-person, the
player avatar is seen desperating as he watches haplessly...

1) camera and voice narration:
The camera follows as the player approaches the demijohn, floorbloards
cracking and the demijohn shaking gently. The voice remarks: "As you
disturb the still air, the attic key, which was balanced on top of the
demijohn, slips onto the floor and disappears into a crack in the
floorboards." The camera then, zooms in to the top of the demijohn and
follows the key as it falls to the ground and through a crack. The
voice concludes: "Your spirits sink as it does, rattling down some
distance. How on earth are you going to get it back?" If the game is
not first-person, the player avatar is seen desperating as he watches
haplessly...

IMHO both fail. The first lacks story polishness, from taking some
banal setting and having no subjective means of describing it
creatively in an exciting manner, which is what literary narration is
all about: the author transforming boring events into enticing
happenings through the power of his own words. The camera only shows
plain boring facts: a key is lost through a hole in the ground.

The second sounds redundant, artificial, stiff and assynchronous. I
would get the first over it any day, which employs the "Silent Hill"
approach. Still, I'd get textual-only literary narratives over both
always.

Please stop trying to kill literature, theater, cinema, TV, games, IF
or whatever else different medium of expression mankind invents. They
do not replace previous media...

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 18, 2007, 11:27:16 PM7/18/07
to
Here, nameku...@gmail.com wrote:
> Mike Rozak and Andrew Plotkin raise excellent points regarding
> narration via both a camera and voice-overs in current 3D games. But
> I remain unconvinced on the marriage.
>
> Here's a short snippet from Curses describing an early event:
> [...]

Your example is of translating a prose description of an event into
cinematography. (It doesn't really have anything to do with the
*marriage* of text and cinematography. Or of IF and graphics for that
matter -- there is no interactivity in that paragraph.)

Of course translations are hard. I've been replaying _Shadow of the
Colossus_, which is a stunningly effective 3D adventure; it uses
cinematography, dynamic lighting effects, and body language -- and
only a bare few lines of dialogue. Translating *that* into *prose* (or
textual IF) would be very difficult. Any given work you named will
have been crafted to work in its medium.

> Please stop trying to kill literature, theater, cinema, TV, games, IF
> or whatever else different medium of expression mankind invents.

Behold, I have climbed the shambling monolith of English literature
and plunged my spirit-touched sword into its skull. It collapses into
rubble! Next: theater and cinema...

What?

--Z

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

If the Bush administration hasn't thrown you in military prison
without trial, it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not
because of the Fifth Amendment.

Rikard Peterson

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Jul 19, 2007, 5:56:06 AM7/19/07
to
In article <1184808624....@g12g2000prg.googlegroups.com>,
nameku...@gmail.com wrote:

> Here's a short snippet from Curses describing an early event:
>
> "As you disturb the still air, the attic key, which was balanced on
> top of the demijohn, slips onto the floor and disappears into a crack
> in the floorboards. Your spirits sink as it does, rattling down some
> distance. How on earth are you going to get it back?"
>
> Now, how does such a narration gets translated to a 3D game, or merely
> graphical at that, and is able to evoke such vivid imagery and sense
> of urgency?

I've seen similar events done well in graphical games. The event
wouldn't have to become boring because of lack of text. Sands of Time
comes to mind as a game capable of evoking the vivid imagery and sense
of urgency you're looking for.

> Please stop trying to kill literature, theater, cinema, TV, games, IF
> or whatever else different medium of expression mankind invents. They
> do not replace previous media...

I'm glad both exist. I don't think graphical arts can replace the ones
based on words, but there's no inherent supremacy of the written word
either. A movie has to be different than a book, but neither is
inherently better than the other. Same thing with text and graphics in
games.

Rikard

Rowan Lipkovits

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Jul 19, 2007, 3:21:12 PM7/19/07
to
On Jul 18, 8:27 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

> Behold, I have climbed the shambling monolith of English literature
> and plunged my spirit-touched sword into its skull. It collapses into
> rubble! Next: theater and cinema...
>
> What?

Sounds like sample transcript from the expanded sequel to Conan Kill
Everything we've all been waiting for: CKE2: Conan Go to University,
Study Post-Modernism, Deconstruct Everything. Surely the dissertation
defense will go down in history as one of the great set-pieces of IF
history 8)

namekuseijin

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Jul 19, 2007, 3:47:33 PM7/19/07
to
On 19 jul, 00:27, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Your example is of translating a prose description of an event into
> cinematography.

Right, and while it's doable, it feels almost always sterile because
much of what the author conveys through his own omnipotent words
regarding the events and even what what characters feel is lost in
translation to an objective media. Movies or mainstream game
directors are quite powerless when it comes to put their words and
thoughts directly in the medium or conveying what characters are
feeling or thinking.

> there is no interactivity in that paragraph.)

Sure, but it's the author's response an interactive act: the player
entering that region for the first time. Suspension of disbelief
takes care of providing the player with the feeling that it's indeed
his/her fault through the result of his interaction...

> Of course translations are hard. I've been replaying _Shadow of the
> Colossus_, which is a stunningly effective 3D adventure; it uses
> cinematography, dynamic lighting effects, and body language -- and
> only a bare few lines of dialogue.

Wonderful game, indeed!

> Translating *that* into *prose* (or
> textual IF) would be very difficult.

Indeed. As an old translation of Quake to IF shows. :)

OTOH, I feel prose wouldn't be effective not because of any inherent
difficulty regarding translating cinematography to prose, but because
the subject matter of pure graphical action-adventure games like
this: it's essentially an exploration (little of that actually) and
puzzle (finding out weak spots and the correct timing) game with a
save-the-princess story tackled on. There's not much to prose about
other than describing the majestic beasts or the large bland regions
or the mechanics of climbing the monsters, finding their weak spots
and stabbing them to death.

It works in the media of 3D games wonderfully because that's just what
it is: a game and a shallow background story. Moody, yes, but just a
game.

The best IF out there is able to entice me a lot more and you, Mr.
Zarf, should know that better than most. But then again, not being
able to feel excited by playing your own games must be a severe
letdown! :P

> Any given work you named will
> have been crafted to work in its medium.

That's true. But I don't think IF has much to gain by adopting 3D
graphics, losing the colorful literary narration and even the parser
in favor of clicks for mechanical actions depicted on screen.

> Behold, I have climbed the shambling monolith of English literature
> and plunged my spirit-touched sword into its skull. It collapses into
> rubble! Next: theater and cinema...

very amusing! But those beasts will fall down with thunder... :)

Andrew Plotkin

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Jul 20, 2007, 10:59:18 AM7/20/07
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Here, namekuseijin <nameku...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> OTOH, I feel prose wouldn't be effective not because of any inherent
> difficulty regarding translating cinematography to prose, but because
> the subject matter of pure graphical action-adventure games like
> this: it's essentially an exploration (little of that actually) and
> puzzle (finding out weak spots and the correct timing) game with a
> save-the-princess story tackled on. There's not much to prose about
> other than describing the majestic beasts or the large bland regions
> or the mechanics of climbing the monsters, finding their weak spots
> and stabbing them to death.
>
> It works in the media of 3D games wonderfully because that's just what
> it is: a game and a shallow background story. Moody, yes, but just a
> game.

My view on this is, you may be surprised to hear, entirely different.

Let me take the other end of my earlier comparison. Just as one
paragraph of text is not an interaction, one visual cut scene is not a
full story. A scene can work, cinematographically, whether it is part
of a great story or is completely out of context. (Not that context
doesn't help, of course.)

If you're translating a work to another medium, you're depending on
the original author for a great story, but the scene-by-scene (or
line-by-line) effect is your creation as a translator.

--Z

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

You don't become a tyranny by committing torture. If you plan for torture,
argue in favor of torture, set up legal justifications for torturing
someday, then the moral rot has *already* set in.

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