Tragedy and the adventure game

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Brandon Van Every

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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In recent months I've been adding the art of Tragedy to my bag of literary
tricks. An ignoramus of a creative writer has to start somewhere. On the
advice of Lee Sheldon (he gave a workshop at the Game Developer's Conference
roadtrip in Seattle) I have been reading Aristotle's "Poetics," and now at
last I am beginning to understand the form.

It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.

It is commonly held that the adventurer must be given freedom of action,
that frustration with circumstance is to be avoided. That the player has a
"Bill Of Rights" and one must not frustrate him.

This is False.

The question is whether the audience KNOWS that they're supposed to
experience a tragedy. If they do, then they will play along. We are
observing this quite readily in The Game Of Immortals. Because Avatar knows
that he is telling a story, he does not shirk his tragic role at Poseidon's
hands. Whereas if he were a lesser storyteller and role-player, he would
believe fully in his inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of
Happiness. And he would feel angry. Cheated. Victimized.

You do NOT have to be happy, playing an adventure game.

Your needs do NOT have to be served.

However, there is a difference between frustrating a player as a matter of
poetic device, and frustrating them with irrational events that say "oh gee
you're dead." One is a plot, building to a climax. The other is garbage.

The most important feature of Tragic application in adventure games, is it
eliminates the expanding list of possibilities owing to the player's
freedom-of-choice. The universe is not simulated so as to allow the player
to move freely. Rather, the universe is directed so as to admonish him.
Several paths lead to progress, all of them bad. Any path taken, it gets
Worse. Until the player is at last let off the hook.

If the author is nice.

Victor Pelevin is not so nice. In "Omon Ra" he writes a story of cosmonauts
who are co-opted into suicide missions. There's a profound reversal at the
end, but in contemplation, one realizes he didn't HAVE to reverse a damn
thing. He could have left you to suffer, and like a good ghost story, this
realization is what scares you the most.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure is a lot more plausible when the plotline is
tragic. Concern over exponential expansion is mitigated, you need not
please the player. Corralling them, making them feel the anguish of frail
and futile movement upon this planet, is all part of the effect.


--
Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
If we are all Gods and we have thrown our toys the mortals away
and we are Immortal What shall we do
and we cannot die to entertain ourselves?


Adam Cadre

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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Brandon Van Every wrote:
> It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.

I'd suggest that you have a look at the extremely recent thread in
rec.games.int-fiction, "Tragic IF", before continuing to declaim upon
this topic.

-----
Adam Cadre, Anaheim, CA
http://www.retina.net/~grignr

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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Mary K. Kuhner wrote in message <73fibt$19sq$1...@nntp6.u.washington.edu>...
>
>Or to put it another way, you can violate any of the player's "rights"
>and your game may well still work for some players: it will probably
>fail to work for others. In your given example, I'd note that I'm
>willing to play second fiddle to another human being, for his/her
>enjoyment, so I'd be willing to be the foil to someone else's character
>in a roleplaying game: but in a solitary IF, it would be quite another
>matter.


And this begs a question: why? I'm going to offer a guess: because the
author of an adventure game has never properly prepared you to enjoy a
tragic role? By way of crude comparison, people go to horror films to be
scared. There are devices, both in plot and cinema, that are more or less
effective for preparing an audience for the experience. By the same token,
people witness a tragedy in order to feel miserable and then experience
catharsis. At one extreme, the catharsis may simply be that upon leaving
the theater, you feel a whole lot better about your own life!

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
to

Adam Cadre wrote in message ...

>Brandon Van Every wrote:
>> It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>
>I'd suggest that you have a look at the extremely recent thread in
>rec.games.int-fiction, "Tragic IF", before continuing to declaim upon
>this topic.


Shall do....

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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Adam Cadre wrote in message ...
>
>I'd suggest that you have a look at the extremely recent thread in
>rec.games.int-fiction, "Tragic IF", before continuing to declaim upon
>this topic.


Heh, almost missed that you said rec.GAMES.int-fiction, not
rec.ARTS.int-fiction. I can't read those articles yet, I haven't played
Photopia and it's been very specifically recommended to me as in line with
my interests. I'll get on it shortly, and I'll ask your forgiveness for any
repetitions meanwhile.

Incidentally, there are 23 occurrances of the word "tragic" and 58 of
"tragedy" in the DejaNews archive of rec.ARTS.int-fiction. Compare 300 hits
for the word "sword" and 400 for "dragon." Quantitatively speaking, we have
a lot to discuss.

I'd note that Infidel is not a Tragedy. It is a rough draft for a tragedy.
In Aristotelean terms the plot is not "whole": it has a beginning and an
end, but no middle. The middle is just a bunch of stupid puzzles, and
that's why you ultimately don't care when the bricks fall down on his head
at the end.

Some of the back articles on DejaNews theorized about Tragedy in terms of a
game that a player cannot win. But losing a game is not, in and of itself,
Tragic. There's a layman's definition of Tragedy: bad things happen, you
suffer, you get screwed. In the words of the scarecrow from The Whiz: you
can't win, you can't get even, and you can't get out of the game. And then
there's what bright guys like Aristotle had to say about it 2000 years ago.
Up until recently, I didn't know the difference. From the "Poetics":


"Now, one cannot undo traditional stories (I mean, for example,
Clytaemnestra's death at Orestes' hands, or Eriphyle's at Alcmeon's); but
one has to discover for oneself how to use even the traditional stories
well. Let us state more clearly what this involves. It is possible for the
action to come about in the way that the old poets used to do it, with
people acting in full knowledge and awareness; this is in fact how Euripides
portrayed Medea killing her children. It is also possible for the action to
be performed, but for the agents to do the terrible deed in ignorance and
only then to recognize the close connection, as in Sophocles' "Oedipus."
(This is outside the play: examples in the tragedy itself are Astydamas'
"Alcmeon" or Telegonus in the "Odysseus Wounded.") A third possibility
besides these is for someone to be on the verge of performing some
irreparable deed through ignorance, and for the recognition to pre-empt the
act. Besides these there is no other possibility: necessarily the agents
either ACT OR NOT ACT, either KNOWINGLY OR IN IGNORANCE." [emphasis mine]

"Of these, being on the verge of acting wittingly and not doing so is worst;
this is disgusting, and it is not tragic since there is no suffering. So no
one composes in this way, or only rarely (e.g. Haemon and Creon in the
"Antigone"). Performing the action is second; but it is better if the
action is performed in ignorance and followed by a recognition - there is
nothing disgusting in this, and the recognition has great emotional impact.
But the last case is best; I mean, fore example, in the "Cresphontes" Merope
is on the verge of killing her son but does not do it, but instead
recognizes him; the same happens with sister and brother in "Ipigeneia;" and
in the "Helle" the son recognizes his mother when on the verge of handing
her over."


So as far as Aristotle is concerned, Tragedy != you lose. Tragedy is a
change from good fortune to bad fortune. It is not required that the story
end on bad fortune. Indeed, at the last possible moment, catharsis may be
achieved by the reversal of the bad fortune. It is the narrowness of the
escape, the realization that one has been let off the hook, and that one
didn't HAVE to be, that is cathartic.

For example, Infidel would have been a Tragedy if the psychology of the
digger's ostricization from his archaeological peers, his estrangement from
his family, and his anti-Muslim sentiment had been developed. Not as a
matter of contempt, but rather as a tug against his noble ambitions of
scientific discovery. And if instead of making progress, he kept beating
his head against the proverbial brick (sandstone) wall. Precious objects
nearly rescued are snatched away by the fiendishness of long-dead Egyptian
architects. At the end, he nearly dies trying to rescue the most precious
artifact of all, the tomb collapses, he barely escapes with his life. But
finally, he recognizes that he at least escaped with his life, and that is
the catharsis. He is no longer ignorant about what is important. And the
narrowness of his escape is such that he could just have easily have been
dead, nobody would have cared. That's the Tragedy of it: to die ignoble,
unloved, and anonymous.

Mary K. Kuhner

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <73fgvc$28q$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>It is commonly held that the adventurer must be given freedom of action,
>that frustration with circumstance is to be avoided. That the player has a
>"Bill Of Rights" and one must not frustrate him.

>This is False.

More properly, as the Church of Eris would say, it's true, false,
and meaningless.

Or to put it another way, you can violate any of the player's "rights"
and your game may well still work for some players: it will probably
fail to work for others. In your given example, I'd note that I'm
willing to play second fiddle to another human being, for his/her
enjoyment, so I'd be willing to be the foil to someone else's character
in a roleplaying game: but in a solitary IF, it would be quite another
matter.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Palmer Davis

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.

Count me as "almost nobody" then... I've got an _Avalon_ of a
tragedy in development. Which should tell you everything that
you need to know about why it isn't available yet, and how long
it's going to be until it is....

> The question is whether the audience KNOWS that they're supposed

> to experience a tragedy. If they do, then they will play along....
> Whereas if he were a lesser storyteller and role-player....

> he would feel angry. Cheated. Victimized.

That's assuming that the PC is the tragic figure. There are
plenty of other characters available to play with without
minimizing the impact of the tragedy. (In my case, the tragic
figure is your father.)
--
Palmer Davis <pal...@secant.com>
Secant Technologies * 4853 Galaxy Parkway * Cleveland OH 44128

Mary K. Kuhner

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>And this begs a question: why? I'm going to offer a guess: because the
>author of an adventure game has never properly prepared you to enjoy a
>tragic role? By way of crude comparison, people go to horror films to be
>scared. There are devices, both in plot and cinema, that are more or less
>effective for preparing an audience for the experience. By the same token,
>people witness a tragedy in order to feel miserable and then experience
>catharsis. At one extreme, the catharsis may simply be that upon leaving
>the theater, you feel a whole lot better about your own life!

You changed the context of my post from "I don't want to play the
foil to another character unless that character is being played by
a human being" to "I don't like tragedy", so I don't have any answer
to your questions here. It's not actually the case that I don't like
tragedy.

I think I will back out of this conversation now: I don't feel it
is going to be productive. Sorry.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Bill

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Brandon Van Every wrote in message
<73fgvc$28q$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net>...

>It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.

I busted my chops on LGOP2 for a year while the company almost went out of
business. The game basically tanked.

Now that's what I call TRAGIC.

(if it wasn't for that, we never would have succeeded with RTZ)

Bill "but I learned something" Volk


Michael Straight

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

On Tue, 24 Nov 1998, Adam Cadre wrote:

> Brandon Van Every wrote:
> > It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>

> I'd suggest that you have a look at the extremely recent thread in
> rec.games.int-fiction, "Tragic IF", before continuing to declaim upon
> this topic.

Poor Adam thought he had a successful game on his hands before Brandon
came along and LIKED it.

SMTIRCAHIAGEHLT


Bjoern Guenzel

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On Tue, 24 Nov 1998 15:51:41 -0800, "Brandon Van Every"
<vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

Funny you start this thread now, as only yesterday I thought about the
possibly Epic dimension of games (ie a game that has as much impact
as, say, greek mythology...) while listening to Griegs Peer Gynt
Suites...

Also, one game I have wanted to make for ages has the intention to
make you feel lost and lonely - I expect that nobody will want to play
it, though (daydreaming I sometimes imagine being flamed on this group
for 'whining about making the wrong business decisions' in a few years
time :-).


>In recent months I've been adding the art of Tragedy to my bag of literary
>tricks. An ignoramus of a creative writer has to start somewhere. On the
>advice of Lee Sheldon (he gave a workshop at the Game Developer's Conference
>roadtrip in Seattle) I have been reading Aristotle's "Poetics," and now at
>last I am beginning to understand the form.
>

>It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>

>It is commonly held that the adventurer must be given freedom of action,
>that frustration with circumstance is to be avoided. That the player has a
>"Bill Of Rights" and one must not frustrate him.
>
>This is False.
>

>The question is whether the audience KNOWS that they're supposed to

>experience a tragedy. If they do, then they will play along. We are
>observing this quite readily in The Game Of Immortals. Because Avatar knows
>that he is telling a story, he does not shirk his tragic role at Poseidon's
>hands. Whereas if he were a lesser storyteller and role-player, he would
>believe fully in his inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of

>Happiness. And he would feel angry. Cheated. Victimized.

I don't really know what makes a tragedy but from some of the other
posts - so if a tragedy happens because of the heroes character flaws,
wouldn't it be cool if the tragedy in a game happens because of the
PLAYER's character flaws?
Perhaps you could even manipulate the player into developing flaws
with the right environment. Just as Hamlet might have become so
depressed because of his useless familiy (damn, I haven't even read
Hamlet yet, will start doing so tonight...).

>
>You do NOT have to be happy, playing an adventure game.
>
>Your needs do NOT have to be served.
>
>However, there is a difference between frustrating a player as a matter of
>poetic device, and frustrating them with irrational events that say "oh gee
>you're dead." One is a plot, building to a climax. The other is garbage.
>
>The most important feature of Tragic application in adventure games, is it
>eliminates the expanding list of possibilities owing to the player's
>freedom-of-choice. The universe is not simulated so as to allow the player
>to move freely. Rather, the universe is directed so as to admonish him.
>Several paths lead to progress, all of them bad. Any path taken, it gets
>Worse. Until the player is at last let off the hook.

Not sure about this - why do you think the universe needs to be
constrained in order to be desperate? A universe could just be
fundamentally desperate, you could still simulate it as completely as
possible.

[...]

One remotely tragic game that comes to my mind is Ultima 5, where you
have to betray some of your friends to make progress.
Also the Ultimas feel the most Epic for me - mostly because of the
brilliant music playing while you roam the landscape alone...:-)

I've been thinking about it in regard of Ultima Online, too. What
would be a deed of Epic dimension in a game like UO? You gain titles
like 'Admireable' after a while if you slay enough monsters, but in
the end, everybody could kill dragons. It's not like somebody risked
his life to save his village or a fair princess. In fact, if I see
somebody who is 'admireable', I am much more likely to think he did a
lot of macroing or has too much time on his hands... :-/

OTOH, many single player games theoretically have this Epic aspect -
in most games you set out to destroy something evil.
Again, it's the ultimas where I got the most Epic feeling - perhaps
because you are a part of the world, and if you talk to 'simple
people' they will tell you about their life and 'I hope the Avatar
will save us' etc... Basically you are adventuring in a context?

>--


>Cheers, 3d graphics optimization jock
>Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA
>-----------------------------------------------------------------------
>If we are all Gods and we have thrown our toys the mortals away
>and we are Immortal What shall we do
>and we cannot die to entertain ourselves?


Bjoern Guenzel

--

At times I felt I had to make up for a
sad lack of experiences by wild imagination.
(Urs Widmer, insufficiently translated by me)

Nathaniel_Ford

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

>Some of the back articles on DejaNews theorized about Tragedy in terms of a
>game that a player cannot win. But losing a game is not, in and of itself,
>Tragic. There's a layman's definition of Tragedy: bad things happen, you
>suffer, you get screwed. In the words of the scarecrow from The Whiz: you
>can't win, you can't get even, and you can't get out of the game. And then
>there's what bright guys like Aristotle had to say about it 2000 years ago.
>Up until recently, I didn't know the difference. From the "Poetics":

To get history straight here: the quote "You can't win, you can't get even, and
you can't stay out of the game." was one spoken by a chemist as a way to
describe entropy. Which seguys nicely into the idea of tragedy.

Entropy is the net force of the world acting to cabotolize systems. It is sort
of that sucking void we all fight against. If I were to classify Tragedy, I
would call it those actions that ultimately succumb to the entropy of the
situation, versus conquering it permenantly. It is a common delusion, IMHO,
that a game must have a solution in which you permenantly conquer it. It does
not. For instance, I got bored with games such as Starcraft and C&C because
after a point, the learning curve allows you to beat just about any situation.
I would love to see a game in which you could play that 'tragic', lost hero who
succumbs to the situation, who doesn't live through, *while still succeeding*.

Alternately, a game which might acurately reflect the reality of war, in that
the fresh, green army that you start with progresses slowly into a few, veteran
men who survive the last battle. If the programmers took the pains to make
every death along the way mean something, it could very well be viewed as a
tragic situation.

But, I must plead ignorance as well, since I haven't read the mentioned
newsgroups, and may be repeating something as well. Is that a bad thing?

-Nate, the Neonate


Dave G

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
Brandon Van Every wrote:
>
> Incidentally, there are 23 occurrances of the word "tragic" and 58 of
> "tragedy" in the DejaNews archive of rec.ARTS.int-fiction. Compare 300 hits
> for the word "sword" and 400 for "dragon." Quantitatively speaking, we have
> a lot to discuss.

And only 87 occurrences of the word "Aristotle". Clearly we have our
work cut out for us.

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Mary K. Kuhner wrote in message <73ha47$8re$1...@nntp6.u.washington.edu>...

>Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>>And this begs a question: why? I'm going to offer a guess: because the
>>author of an adventure game has never properly prepared you to enjoy a
>>tragic role? By way of crude comparison, people go to horror films to be
>>scared. There are devices, both in plot and cinema, that are more or less
>>effective for preparing an audience for the experience. By the same
token,
>>people witness a tragedy in order to feel miserable and then experience
>>catharsis. At one extreme, the catharsis may simply be that upon leaving
>>the theater, you feel a whole lot better about your own life!
>
>You changed the context of my post from "I don't want to play the
>foil to another character unless that character is being played by
>a human being" to "I don't like tragedy", so I don't have any answer
>to your questions here. It's not actually the case that I don't like
>tragedy.


And does that context change undeservedly? Rather, it would seem that you
hold one set of standards for participation in IF, another for traditioinal
linear media. Whereas it is my contention that the standards are still
mostly the same. They are simply not judiciously applied in IF often
enough.

>I think I will back out of this conversation now: I don't feel it
>is going to be productive. Sorry.


As you like. I'll leave the point to others.

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Nathaniel_Ford wrote in message <73i3io$j...@cocoa.brown.edu>...
>
>To get history straight here: the quote "You can't win, you can't get even,
and

>you can't stay out of the game." was one spoken by a chemist as a way to
>describe entropy. Which seguys nicely into the idea of tragedy.
>
>Entropy is the net force of the world acting to cabotolize systems. It is
sort
>of that sucking void we all fight against. If I were to classify Tragedy, I
>would call it those actions that ultimately succumb to the entropy of the
>situation, versus conquering it permenantly.

This isn't the only kind of Tragedy, but I agree it's one of the forms. And
I don't think Tragedy is ever about conquering something permanently. At
best, it's making it out alive by the skin of your teeth. At worst... well
we all know about that.

> It is a common delusion, IMHO,
>that a game must have a solution in which you permenantly conquer it. It
does
>not. For instance, I got bored with games such as Starcraft and C&C because
>after a point, the learning curve allows you to beat just about any
situation.

>I would love to see a game in which you could play that 'tragic', lost hero
who
>succumbs to the situation, who doesn't live through, *while still
succeeding*.


A great example of this kind of tragedy is "The Bridge Over The River Kwai."

>But, I must plead ignorance as well, since I haven't read the mentioned
>newsgroups, and may be repeating something as well. Is that a bad thing?


Nah. I was wondering if I was about to be taken to task for my bold
pronouncements about tragedy in adventure games. Turns out what I had to
say was plenty applicable to all of the discussions in rec.GAMES.int-fiction
about Photopia. I'm just pleased that Photopia exists, so that I can truly
say that ALMOST nobody writes Tragic adventures, and that a few prize
examples do exist.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Palmer Davis wrote in message <365C2D6E...@secant.com>...

>Brandon Van Every wrote:
>>
>> It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>
>Count me as "almost nobody" then... I've got an _Avalon_ of a
>tragedy in development. Which should tell you everything that
>you need to know about why it isn't available yet, and how long
>it's going to be until it is....


Love to see it.

>> The question is whether the audience KNOWS that they're supposed

>> to experience a tragedy. If they do, then they will play along....
>> Whereas if he were a lesser storyteller and role-player....


>> he would feel angry. Cheated. Victimized.
>

>That's assuming that the PC is the tragic figure. There are
>plenty of other characters available to play with without
>minimizing the impact of the tragedy. (In my case, the tragic
>figure is your father.)


Wow. Maximizing impact through 1st or 3rd persons is a deep discussion
indeed.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Bjoern Guenzel wrote in message <365c52f9...@news.lrz-muenchen.de>...

>On Tue, 24 Nov 1998 15:51:41 -0800, "Brandon Van Every"
><vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>Funny you start this thread now, as only yesterday I thought about the
>possibly Epic dimension of games (ie a game that has as much impact
>as, say, greek mythology...) while listening to Griegs Peer Gynt
>Suites...
>
>Also, one game I have wanted to make for ages has the intention to
>make you feel lost and lonely - I expect that nobody will want to play
>it,

The trick is, you cannot passively inform a player that they're "lost and
lonely." They won't care. You have to provide them something they want,
then take it away with the other hand. As they chase the thing they want,
you then have power. You can now shape the player's experience, make him
truly lost and lonely. Or whatever kind of effect you're trying to achieve.

That's why it would be so easy to rewrite the Infidel tragedy. What does
every adventurer want? GOLD! It's such a knee-jerk reaction that like an
aikido player, you could simply toss the player to the mat over and over
again....

>though (daydreaming I sometimes imagine being flamed on this group
>for 'whining about making the wrong business decisions' in a few years
>time :-).


Just don't do it in DOS or soemthing. :-)

>
>>In recent months I've been adding the art of Tragedy to my bag of literary
>>tricks. An ignoramus of a creative writer has to start somewhere. On the
>>advice of Lee Sheldon (he gave a workshop at the Game Developer's
Conference
>>roadtrip in Seattle) I have been reading Aristotle's "Poetics," and now at
>>last I am beginning to understand the form.
>>

>>It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>>

>>It is commonly held that the adventurer must be given freedom of action,
>>that frustration with circumstance is to be avoided. That the player has
a
>>"Bill Of Rights" and one must not frustrate him.
>>
>>This is False.
>>

>>The question is whether the audience KNOWS that they're supposed to

>>experience a tragedy. If they do, then they will play along. We are
>>observing this quite readily in The Game Of Immortals. Because Avatar
knows
>>that he is telling a story, he does not shirk his tragic role at
Poseidon's
>>hands. Whereas if he were a lesser storyteller and role-player, he would
>>believe fully in his inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit
of
>>Happiness. And he would feel angry. Cheated. Victimized.
>
>I don't really know what makes a tragedy but from some of the other
>posts - so if a tragedy happens because of the heroes character flaws,


Aristotle would say that it's not character that makes a Tragedy, it is
plot. Character is inferior to plot. A story could be about archetypical,
characterless persons, and to be a Tragedy, it must still have a plot.
Whereas characters can be dispensed with.

>wouldn't it be cool if the tragedy in a game happens because of the
>PLAYER's character flaws?
>Perhaps you could even manipulate the player into developing flaws
>with the right environment. Just as Hamlet might have become so
>depressed because of his useless familiy (damn, I haven't even read
>Hamlet yet, will start doing so tonight...).


That would be pretty cool. Actually, that's what I was attempting in The
Game Of Mallor. Only at the time, my methods were crude and
unsophisticated. I thought in terms of torturing players, subverting them
against themselves. I didn't know how to think in terms of plot
construction at the time, hence I was unable to give with one hand and take
with the other.

With one exception, The Game Of Mallor turned into a black comedy, not the
psychological tragedy I had originally envisioned. Meanwhile, I discovered
that comedy is easy. If the audience has a shared basis of experience,
doing gags about what's shared is trivial. We told a LOT of stupid fantasy
jokes, about how stupid the fantasy genre is. We laughed our asses off.

>>The most important feature of Tragic application in adventure games, is it
>>eliminates the expanding list of possibilities owing to the player's
>>freedom-of-choice. The universe is not simulated so as to allow the
player
>>to move freely. Rather, the universe is directed so as to admonish him.
>>Several paths lead to progress, all of them bad. Any path taken, it gets
>>Worse. Until the player is at last let off the hook.
>
>Not sure about this - why do you think the universe needs to be
>constrained in order to be desperate?

It doesn't NEED to be, it CAN be. i.e. you can successfully cut down your
workload. From a production standpoint, this is an advantage to Tragedy.

>A universe could just be
>fundamentally desperate, you could still simulate it as completely as
>possible.


Although I agree that it could be done, I think there are dangers here. If
you include everything, you risk including the extraneous. This can dilute
the impact of your plot. On the other hand, it could be an effective
mechanism for engineering a plot of Epic proportions. Aristotle had a lot
to say about Epic vs. Tragedy in the "Poetics," might be worth your time to
take a read. As a simple gloss, he thinks Tragedies are better than Epics
because they're shorter and the audience can remember what the heck is going
on.

An Epic might be an appropriate framework for an online virtual world
service....

>I've been thinking about it in regard of Ultima Online, too. What
>would be a deed of Epic dimension in a game like UO? You gain titles
>like 'Admireable' after a while if you slay enough monsters, but in
>the end, everybody could kill dragons. It's not like somebody risked
>his life to save his village or a fair princess. In fact, if I see
>somebody who is 'admireable', I am much more likely to think he did a
>lot of macroing or has too much time on his hands... :-/


Hmm, admirable persons. Aristotle said that you must not tell Tragedies
about people who are either too admirable or too wicked, because the results
are not credible and/or do not evoke pity and fear. Rather, it is the
middle sort of person who must be described, one that the audience can
identify with.

In traditional RPG hack 'n' slash, there is merely a mono-axial movement
from base persons to exceedingly admirable persons. The fortunes turn from
good to greater, it's a one-dimensional power fantasy. For RPG to have
tragic dimension, characters must be ordinary, and must experience turns of
fortune from bad to worse.

Traditional hard-core gamers will bitch and complain that this is not what
they want out of a game. The author's answer is: you have no IDEA or
CONTROL over what you want. A good author can make you want any old damn
thing. It's just that traditional RPG authors are not good, and traditional
gamers are trained for a lot of knee-jerk. They have deep expectations
owing to their long experience of genre at the hands of geek programmers.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Dave G wrote in message <365C9E...@bigfoot.com>...

>Brandon Van Every wrote:
>>
>> Incidentally, there are 23 occurrances of the word "tragic" and 58 of
>> "tragedy" in the DejaNews archive of rec.ARTS.int-fiction. Compare 300
hits
>> for the word "sword" and 400 for "dragon." Quantitatively speaking, we
have
>> a lot to discuss.
>
>And only 87 occurrences of the word "Aristotle". Clearly we have our
>work cut out for us.

49 of which are attributable to me, 47 of which are just my old "ad
homeinim" .sig and have nothing to do with the discussion of Tragedy! Well,
at least with the Photopia discussions you'll be hearing this guy's name a
lot more from me, I'm like a broken record. :-)

Noah Falstein

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Adam Cadre wrote:

> Brandon Van Every wrote:
> > It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>

> I'd suggest that you have a look at the extremely recent thread in
> rec.games.int-fiction, "Tragic IF", before continuing to declaim upon
> this topic.

Gee, that would take all the fun out of the argument! :-)

Seriously, I would like to bring up the classic use of "Floyd" in
Planetfall, a very early tragic element in an otherwise very lighthearted
game, that has touched many people over the years.

Tragedy is a dangeous thing when creating expensive entertainment.
Novels, even plays can better afford it. The audience for tragedy,
although often more serious and adult, is also generally smaller - hence
the comparitive lack of tragic games and big-budget films. It's a good
case for tragedy as a possible element of inexpensive online
entertainment.

Lee Sheldon

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
>Seriously, I would like to bring up the classic use of "Floyd" in
>Planetfall, a very early tragic element in an otherwise very lighthearted
>game, that has touched many people over the years.
>
>Tragedy is a dangeous thing when creating expensive entertainment.
>Novels, even plays can better afford it. The audience for tragedy,
>although often more serious and adult, is also generally smaller - hence
>the comparitive lack of tragic games and big-budget films. It's a good
>case for tragedy as a possible element of inexpensive online
>entertainment.


Since I seem to have set Brandon on this tragic course with my suggestion to
read the Poetics, I've been looking for a place to jump in out of the
shadows. Thanks, Noah, for providing me with an opportunity. You're
absolutely right. While not tragedy in the Greek sense, Floyd's death is an
example we can all point to as one of the few instances of a higher emotion
being generated by a computer game. Another I often bring up is the
crippled, mishapen old lady who hands you the umbrella in "Trinity" and then
you go back in time to moments before the bomb fell on Hiroshima and meet a
beautiful little girl... The moment when I realized that little girl would
grow to be the crippled old lady touched me in a way most games never try.
And need we add that both of these are from text adventures from ancient
history: the middle period of Infocom?

I also agree that since this is theoretically a profit-based industry,
trying to shovel huge piles of tragedy at gamers might turn out to be as
personally rewarding as killing your father and marrying your mom (The film
Titanic not withstanding...). But reaching for a moment of great pathos
within any entertainment is a worthy ambition, and one that is tragically
not attempted very often. Both comedy and tragedy illuminate the human
soul. Both have a place in any entertainment medium, including games.

Lee

Adam Cadre

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
Bjoern Guenzel wrote:
> Also the Ultimas feel the most Epic for me - mostly because of the
> brilliant music playing while you roam the landscape alone...:-)

Have you ever played Star Control 2? The music for traversing space is
just glorious, whether it's real space, HyperSpace, or QuasiSpace. Any
one of these themes would have established the game's music as brilliant;
the fact that it contains all three propels it into the realm of the
mindblowing.

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

Matt Hawke wrote in message <365cb1c6....@news.uswest.net>...
>
>I think we need to look at the definition of Tragedy. I recently wrote
>an essay about the comparison about some stories I read and how they
>related to tragedy...
>
>Tragedy n. "A Fatal Flaw"


You've given "a" definition of Tragedy, not "the" definition. I don't have
a problem with some of your developments given this definition, but it's
only 1 kind of tragedy.

Also, I think you've given the definition of Hamartia, not Tragedy.

>That basically means it's a flaw a generally good person has that
>causes their death. Romeo's flaw was killing Tybalt... But if you look
>at this word for word Titanic isn't a tragedy, and even the hurricane
>damage in central america isn't. They didn't bring it upon themselfs.


Aristotle said Tragedy requires *undeserved* suffering. This is what evokes
pity and fear. If Romeo truly deserved to die for having killed Tybalt,
then who would feel sorry for him, and who would be afraid of wearing his
shoes? We wouldn't, because we would simply act differently, i.e. not kill
Tybalt. It's our helplessness in the face of suffering that evokes pity and
fear.

Matt Hawke

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

I think we need to look at the definition of Tragedy. I recently wrote
an essay about the comparison about some stories I read and how they
related to tragedy...

Tragedy n. "A Fatal Flaw"

That basically means it's a flaw a generally good person has that


causes their death. Romeo's flaw was killing Tybalt... But if you look
at this word for word Titanic isn't a tragedy, and even the hurricane
damage in central america isn't. They didn't bring it upon themselfs.

Writing IF tragedy is interesting because the character must die
because of their own fatal flaw. So, curiosity isn't considered
tragedy . . . watch out with that. Just because someone touched the
equipment in the engineering bay in my Trek games and were fried
doesn't mean it's tragic.

Doing it correctly would be to give them a choice, in face coax them
into the overall choice but make sure it's a choice that causes
several other actions to happen. So you're R+J IF game you're choice
would be to slay tybalt... at which point a neat cutscene would give
you some fun with it. From there, it's even more difficult to write a
way for the character to kill themselfs... so maybe R+J isn't a good
example. Point being, if they killed tybalt the bare minimum should be
he was hunt down and killed once he found Juliet again... it'd make a
nice ending with Juliet seeing her love killed before her eyes and
then taking her own life. . .

But I'm not one to argue with Mr. S.

Matt

Joe Mason

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
>Bjoern Guenzel wrote in message <365c52f9...@news.lrz-muenchen.de>...
>>
>>Also, one game I have wanted to make for ages has the intention to
>>make you feel lost and lonely - I expect that nobody will want to play
>>it,

I think I managed to miss the original message, and I hope I have the
attribution right.

The big problem I found when I tried this is being unable to sustain the
tone myself. The version of _In The End_ that I released (you can find
it in the competition96 directory on GMD, unless I'm remembering the year
wrong) ended up much shorter then I'd intended, almost skeletal.

When I went back afterwards to extend it, I found I couldn't keep the mood
up in myself enough to write about it. I don't think it would have been
a problem for static fiction, but IF is a lot more of a chore anyway
because of the amount of detail needed. Trying to fill in a lot of details
when the story you're writing is depressing really saps the will.

Joe
--
Surely you're not trying to tell us that you've never, nay _never_ walked
across miles and miles of Scottish heath searching for a witch only to
find that three go by all at once? -- Den of Iniquity

Neil K.

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Mary K. Kuhner wrote:
> >You changed the context of my post from "I don't want to play the
> >foil to another character unless that character is being played by
> >a human being" to "I don't like tragedy", so I don't have any answer
> >to your questions here. It's not actually the case that I don't like
> >tragedy.
>
> And does that context change undeservedly? Rather, it would seem that you
> hold one set of standards for participation in IF, another for traditioinal

> linear media. [...]

Sheesh. If you're going to go around altering the context and meaning of
other people's words, the least you can do is be polite and stop trying to
get in a last word when someone calls you on it.

- Neil K.

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

Dugan Chen

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote in article
<73fgvc$28q$1...@fir.prod.itd.earthlink.net>...

> It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.

What about Planetfall?

OH MY GOD! THEY KILLED FLOYED! YOU BASTARDS!

Dugan Chen

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
Nathaniel_Ford <Wum...@brown.edu> wrote in article
<73i3io$j...@cocoa.brown.edu>...

> I would love to see a game in which you could play that 'tragic', lost
hero who
> succumbs to the situation, who doesn't live through, *while still
succeeding*.
>

> Alternately, a game which might acurately reflect the reality of war, in
that
> the fresh, green army that you start with progresses slowly into a few,
veteran
> men who survive the last battle. If the programmers took the pains to
make
> every death along the way mean something, it could very well be viewed as
a
> tragic situation.

A lot of Japanese console RPG's are like this. Maybe you'll like
them better than IF.

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Neil K. wrote in message ...

> "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>> Mary K. Kuhner wrote:
>> >You changed the context of my post from "I don't want to play the
>> >foil to another character unless that character is being played by
>> >a human being" to "I don't like tragedy", so I don't have any answer
>> >to your questions here. It's not actually the case that I don't like
>> >tragedy.
>>
>> And does that context change undeservedly? Rather, it would seem that
you
>> hold one set of standards for participation in IF, another for
traditioinal
>> linear media. [...]
>
> Sheesh. If you're going to go around altering the context and meaning of
>other people's words, the least you can do is be polite and stop trying to
>get in a last word when someone calls you on it.


Excuse me, but this is a debate, not a name-calling session. Either deal
with the point or find something more entertaining to do. It is a
legitimate point: WHY does an audience often have different standards for IF
and traditional linear media? It is a deep and important subject, not
simply a matter of "oh you changed my context, my context is an
unapproachable ivory tower of clean logistical separation."

Dugan Chen

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
> Aristotle said Tragedy requires *undeserved* suffering. This is what
evokes
> pity and fear. If Romeo truly deserved to die for having killed Tybalt,
> then who would feel sorry for him, and who would be afraid of wearing his
> shoes? We wouldn't, because we would simply act differently, i.e. not
kill
> Tybalt. It's our helplessness in the face of suffering that evokes pity
and
> fear.

Did Floyd deserve to die?

Dugan Chen

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
> The trick is, you cannot passively inform a player that they're "lost and
> lonely." They won't care. You have to provide them something they want,
> then take it away with the other hand. As they chase the thing they
want,
> you then have power. You can now shape the player's experience, make him
> truly lost and lonely. Or whatever kind of effect you're trying to
achieve.

Except that this _always_ seems artificial in adventure and role-playing
games, which are often too obvious in relying on scripted events.
The loss of the helmet in Space Quest 1 smacked of manipulation.
As did the loss of party members in Final Fantasy II. I can't
think of any IF that ever tried this.

The only games that try this and manage to pull it off are the Quake
Mission Pack 1 (Gremlins steal your weapons. Kill them and get
them back) and The Legend of Zelda (A monster eats your magic
shield, and the only remedy is to buy a new shield).

> That would be pretty cool. Actually, that's what I was attempting in The
> Game Of Mallor. Only at the time, my methods were crude and
> unsophisticated. I thought in terms of torturing players, subverting
them
> against themselves. I didn't know how to think in terms of plot
> construction at the time, hence I was unable to give with one hand and
take
> with the other.

From what you're saying, I think you'll like Japanese role-playing
games. They have a devoted cult following here. All of them feature
grand (linear) storylines and obligatory tragic events. One of the
best, _Final Fantasy VII_, has been ported to the PC.

But Japanese role playing games and Western interactive fiction
are completely different medium.

> Hmm, admirable persons. Aristotle said that you must not tell Tragedies
> about people who are either too admirable or too wicked, because the
results
> are not credible and/or do not evoke pity and fear. Rather, it is the
> middle sort of person who must be described, one that the audience can
> identify with.

Like the characters in most (er, all) Japanese role playing games?



> In traditional RPG hack 'n' slash, there is merely a mono-axial movement
> from base persons to exceedingly admirable persons. The fortunes turn
from
> good to greater, it's a one-dimensional power fantasy. For RPG to have
> tragic dimension, characters must be ordinary, and must experience turns
of
> fortune from bad to worse.

In Final Fantasy II's VERY linear plot, to take one example, the
character's
fortune definitely gets worse as he progresses through the game.

> Traditional hard-core gamers will bitch and complain that this is not
what
> they want out of a game. The author's answer is: you have no IDEA or
> CONTROL over what you want. A good author can make you want any old damn
> thing. It's just that traditional RPG authors are not good, and
traditional
> gamers are trained for a lot of knee-jerk. They have deep expectations
> owing to their long experience of genre at the hands of geek programmers.

It would take a skilled IF author to pull off what you propose. Why
not write a tragic IF yourself, and prove that it's possible to
do it well?

David Glasser

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
Palmer Davis <pal...@secant.com> wrote:

> Brandon Van Every wrote:
> >
> > It occurs to me that almost nobody writes Tragic adventure games.
>

> Count me as "almost nobody" then... I've got an _Avalon_ of a
> tragedy in development. Which should tell you everything that
> you need to know about why it isn't available yet, and how long
> it's going to be until it is....

Hey! You can't make fun of Avalon any more! It's out! It's sitting
next to me! (Well, maybe not under that name. But "Once and Future" is
cool anyway. Reminds me of "Above and Beyond", which is sort of the
other halt of the story, eh?)

--
David Glasser gla...@NOSPAMuscom.com http://onramp.uscom.com/~glasser
DGlasser @ ifMUD : fovea.retina.net 4000 (webpage fovea.retina.net:4001)
Sadie Hawkins, official band of David Glasser: http://sadie.retina.net
"We take our icons very seriously in this class."

Stephen van Egmond

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
Great big spoilers for Infidel below.

In article <73gclb$93o$1...@oak.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,


Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>I'd note that Infidel is not a Tragedy. It is a rough draft for a tragedy.
>In Aristotelean terms the plot is not "whole": it has a beginning and an
>end, but no middle. The middle is just a bunch of stupid puzzles, and
>that's why you ultimately don't care when the bricks fall down on his head
>at the end.

Thank you very much for inadvertently ruining Infidel for a lot of people.

Please observe the FAQ's guidelines for posting spoilers.
--
,,,
(. .)
+--ooO-(_)-Ooo------------ --- -- - - - -
| Stephen van Egmond http://bang.ml.org/

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Dugan Chen wrote in message <01be1923$60a18360$278e42d8@desktop>...

>
>> Traditional hard-core gamers will bitch and complain that this is not
>what
>> they want out of a game. The author's answer is: you have no IDEA or
>> CONTROL over what you want. A good author can make you want any old damn
>> thing. It's just that traditional RPG authors are not good, and
>traditional
>> gamers are trained for a lot of knee-jerk. They have deep expectations
>> owing to their long experience of genre at the hands of geek programmers.
>

>It would take a skilled IF author to pull off what you propose. Why
>not write a tragic IF yourself, and prove that it's possible to
>do it well?

Sort of am. Currently it's tragic PBEM RPG not IF, and the genres are
somewhat different. You might think of PBEM RPG as a "planning tool" for
IF. I hope to convert the better episodes to 3D IF.

In the meantime, take a look at Photopia. It's a pretty successful effort.
The key is you have to accept the buy-in of the plot premise, though. If
you don't have the obvious instincts about the main character, and you
aren't trying/willing to do the obvious, then you aren't going to have your
emotional harpstrings pulled.

>> The trick is, you cannot passively inform a player that they're "lost and
>> lonely." They won't care. You have to provide them something they want,
>> then take it away with the other hand. As they chase the thing they
>want,
>> you then have power. You can now shape the player's experience, make him
>> truly lost and lonely. Or whatever kind of effect you're trying to
>achieve.
>

>Except that this _always_ seems artificial in adventure and role-playing
>games, which are often too obvious in relying on scripted events.
>The loss of the helmet in Space Quest 1 smacked of manipulation.
>As did the loss of party members in Final Fantasy II. I can't
>think of any IF that ever tried this.

I don't mean literally "take something out of the player's inventory that
they want back." That's crude. Time for another Poetics quote, regarding
"Kinds of Recognition." I think it's terribly relevant to the art of
manipulating a player:

8.2 Kinds of Recognition

We have already said what recognition is. Its kinds are:

(i) First of all, the least artistic kind (and the one which people use the
most, because of their lack of ingenuity) is that by means of tokens. [BVE:
the helmet in SQ1 as you describe above?] Some of these are congenital
(e.g. 'the spear of the earth-born bear', or stars such as Carcinus used in
his "Thyestes), and some are acquired; of the latter, some are physical
characteristics (e.g. scars), others are external (e.g. necklaces, or the
use of hte boat in the "Tyro"). It is possible to make better or worse use
of these. For example, Odysseus is recognized by means of the scar both by
the nurse and by the swineherds, but in different ways. Recognitions that
are used only for confirmation are less artistic (so too all recognitions of
that kind); recognitions which arise out of a reveresal, as in the
bath-scene, are better.

(ii) Second are those which are contrived by the poet; for that reason they
are inartistic. For example, Orestes in the "Iphigeneia" revealed his own
identity; Iphigeneia's identity is revealed by the letter, but Orestes
declares in person what the poet (instead of the plot) requires. This
brings it close to the error mentioned above: it would have been possible
actually to bring tokens with him. There is also the 'voice of the shuttle'
in Sophocles' "Tereus."

(iii) The third is by means of memory, when someone grasps the significance
of something that he sees. This is how it is in Dicaeogenes' "Cyprians,"
where he sees the painting and bursts into tears, and in the tale told to
Alcinous, where Odysseus listens to the lyre-player, is reminded of his past
and weeps; recognition results in both cases.

(iv) Fourth his that which arises from inference. For example, in the
"Choephori:" 'someone similar has come; no one is similar except Orestes; so
he has come'. There is also the recognition which Polyidus the sophist
suggested for Iphigeneia; he said that it was probable for Orestes to infer
that his sister had been sacrificed, and so it was now his turn to be
sacrificed. Also in Theodectes' "Tydeus," that he came to find a son, but
is perishing himself. And the recognition in the "Sons of Phineus;" when
the women saw the place they inferred that it was their fate to die there,
since that was where they had been exposed.

(v) There is also a composite kind arising from a false inference on the
part of the audience. For example, in "Odysseus the False Messenger," the
fact that he can bend the bow and nobody else is contrived by the poet as a
premise, as is his claim that he will recognize the bow which he has not
seen; and although he is going to make himself known by means of the former,
he actually does so by means of the latter, which involves a false
inference.

(vi) The best recognition of all is that which arises out of the actual
course of events, where the emotional impact is achieved through events that
are probable, as in Sophocles' "Oedipus" and the "Iphigeneia" (her wish to
send a letter is probable). Only this kind does without contrived tokens
and necklaces. Second-best are those which arise from inference.

Brandon Van Every

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Stephen van Egmond wrote in message <3_k72.967

>
>Thank you very much for inadvertently ruining Infidel for a lot of people.
>
>Please observe the FAQ's guidelines for posting spoilers.


Good grief haven't you people played this damn thing by now? I played it 15
years ago! Oh well I guess Treasures of Infocom are like old mold that can
never die....

Jon A Conrad

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>Stephen van Egmond wrote in message <3_k72.967
>>
>>Thank you very much for inadvertently ruining Infidel for a lot of people.
>>
>>Please observe the FAQ's guidelines for posting spoilers.

>Good grief haven't you people played this damn thing by now? I played it 15
>years ago!

Ummm... New people being born, and growing up, all the time, and all
that???.... Not everyone was fortunate enough to be in perfect synch with
the first wave of Infocom publications. It's to be hoped that new readers
discover this NG periodically.

Jon

Neil K.

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Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Neil K. wrote in message ...

> > Sheesh. If you're going to go around altering the context and meaning of
> >other people's words, the least you can do is be polite and stop trying to
> >get in a last word when someone calls you on it.
>
> Excuse me, but this is a debate, not a name-calling session. Either deal
> with the point or find something more entertaining to do. It is a
> legitimate point: WHY does an audience often have different standards for IF
> and traditional linear media? It is a deep and important subject, not
> simply a matter of "oh you changed my context, my context is an
> unapproachable ivory tower of clean logistical separation."

Hey, cool! Thanks, buddy. You illustrated my point perfectly.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
>
>Yes, I would like to see some really good
>tragic IF. And I don't think the fact that
>it's a tragedy needs to be given at the
>outset; however, I do think it's necessary
>to write the tragic ending in such a way
>that it's obvious that you have in fact
>reached the correct ending -- the one you
>were meant to reach.

However, in The Game Of Immortals I'm starting to see that more than one
tragic ending is possible. If you read my excerpt from the Poetics, you see
that Aristotle classifies several kinds of Tragedy. In addition, there are
several kinds of recognition by which to reach a tragic ending. So it is
possible to have several irons in the fire, and to focus on one specific
iron at the story's end, in order to bring the Tragedy to wholeness. This
is an almost inevitable process of free-form RPG if you're giving the other
players/authors their freedom. They choose to go off in unanticipated
directions, and you stretch your existing materials to compensate. Over
time, you realize that certain materials stretch easily, and others stretch
tenuously.

I'll give better concrete examples of this at some point in the distant
future. For the present, I will be satisfied to write ONE complete tragedy
for The Game Of Immortals.

>(Otherwise the
>players spend hours and hours -- nay,
>possibly days and weeks in some
>cases -- trying to find the happy ending,
>which could be very frustrating indeed.)


As long as each different ending is actually tragic, there is no problem.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
>
>What would be some plausible ways to *without breaking the tragic
>mood of emotion at the conclusion* make it clear to the player that
>this is the ending of the story that was meant to be reached?


One possibility is to sidestep. Have multiple tragic endings, all of which
result in complete narrative wholes. This is a matter of emphasis upon
different ingredients within the same soup.

Another is to build the sensation of Inevitability midway through the story.
You believe you have freedom of action at the outset, but as the story
progresses, you recognize the inescapable conclusion. You sap the will of
the player to explore further options. Thus the problem is not the end, it
is of the entire path that leads to the end.

A third is simply to allow a happy ending. It might not be an authorially
bad thing to do, in some circumstances. But you'd better know why you're
doing it. Gratuitous happy endings are sappy.

>> Some of the back articles on DejaNews theorized about Tragedy in terms of
a
>> game that a player cannot win. But losing a game is not, in and of
itself,
>> Tragic. There's a layman's definition of Tragedy: bad things happen, you
>> suffer, you get screwed. In the words of the scarecrow from The Whiz:
you
>> can't win, you can't get even, and you can't get out of the game.
>
>Those three ideas weren't original to TWOO, although their statement
>may have been (I don't know). I have heard it said, however, that
>they were originally published as the Three Laws of Thermodynamics.


Sorry I misspelled, it was from "The Wiz," an all-black musical based on The
Wizard Of Oz. Has all the regular characters, but they sing different
numbers, there's a subtext of racial exploitation, and that's what the quote
refers to.

>> either ACT OR NOT ACT, either KNOWINGLY OR IN IGNORANCE." [emphasis mine]
>
>Which makes a total of four possibilities, actually.
>
>> "Of these, being on the verge of acting wittingly and not doing so is
worst;
>> this is disgusting, and it is not tragic since there is no suffering.
>
>With variation, however, there *could* be. Say, for example, the
>protagonist nearly acts to the betterment of everything, but fails
>to do so out of ignorance; later he realises what he could have
>done as he is forced to live out the consequences of his inaction;
>admittedly, the bulk of the plot would probably fall after the
>inaction in question, so there would need to be some additional
>action later to avoid the problem of not having a good place
>to end the story.


All you're saying is "he is unwitting, he does not act." Recognition and
reversal is part of any complex plot. The basic framework of the plot is
still as stated.

This is a different framework from "he is witting, he does not act."

Athough, it is an interesting dilemma when the framework of action/inaction
and witting/unwitting is extended ad nauseum. Like waking up from nested
dreams, when you're not sure of the underlying reality. I don't know if
this can be Tragic, it is definitely Surreal.

>> So as far as Aristotle is concerned, Tragedy != you lose. Tragedy is a
>> change from good fortune to bad fortune. It is not required that the
story
>> end on bad fortune. Indeed, at the last possible moment, catharsis may
be
>> achieved by the reversal of the bad fortune. It is the narrowness of the
>> escape, the realization that one has been let off the hook, and that one
>> didn't HAVE to be, that is cathartic.
>
>This does not, however, defeat entirely the value of complete Tragedy
>(i.e., the protagonist is ultimately defeated). That has value as
>well, although it is admittedly more grim.


Tragedy is complete by virtue of having a Beginning, a Middle, and an End.
Not by virtue of the protagonist dying. Selecting one form of Tragedy as a
matter of authorial preference does not make it more complete than any of
the other forms.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
<365cf3b2...@news.bright.net>...

>"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>
>> > I would love to see a game in which you could play that 'tragic', lost
hero
>> > who succumbs to the situation, who doesn't live through, *while still
>> > succeeding*.
>>
>> A great example of this kind of tragedy is "The Bridge Over The River
Kwai."
>
>Ah, thank you. Now I understand what he meant by that.
>Yes, TBOTRK is an excellent work, very well done. I too
>would like to see a work of IF done similarly; essentially, the
>beloved protagonist's great goal that he has been striving
>toward for much of the story ends up being less important
>than something else, and he is forced to willfully sacrifice it.


Worse: he has created a monster.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Neil K. wrote in message ...

> "Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>> Neil K. wrote in message ...
>> > Sheesh. If you're going to go around altering the context and meaning
of
>> >other people's words, the least you can do is be polite and stop trying
to
>> >get in a last word when someone calls you on it.
>>
>> Excuse me, but this is a debate, not a name-calling session. Either deal
>> with the point or find something more entertaining to do. It is a
>> legitimate point: WHY does an audience often have different standards for
IF
>> and traditional linear media? It is a deep and important subject, not
>> simply a matter of "oh you changed my context, my context is an
>> unapproachable ivory tower of clean logistical separation."
>
> Hey, cool! Thanks, buddy. You illustrated my point perfectly.


Illustrated what? Nothing was added to the debate by your last remark. Are
you just worried about the structure of one-upsmanship for its own sake??!?

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
>
>15 years ago I thought it might be possible to attach a
>non-electronic typewriter to a television set and make
>a computer, if you knew what you were doing. Also,
>15 years ago, I figured anybody who had a home
>computer (or a colour television or a dishwasher) must
>be wealthy.


Huh. I bought 1/2 of an Atari 800 computer with saved-up allowance money
for $600. (I had been saving a long time.) My parents threw in the other
$600. I was 11 years old.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Mary K. Kuhner wrote in message <73l7os$1bgm$1...@nntp6.u.washington.edu>...
>
>Make your own damn points, in your own postings. Don't misquote
>me to make them.


Well nyah-ne-nah-ne-nyah-nyah to you too. I suppose it's my burden to
reread your point, you couldn't possibly have offered a sentence of clarity
rather than invective to one who clearly didn't understand?

From my standpoint I now see my error. I stopped paying close attention
when you said "I think I will back out of this conversation now: I don't
feel it is going to be productive. Sorry." It's like geez, so you don't
even want to talk, and my brain isn't even worth your time.

So, let me recast my original point. Forget my bumble of attributing the
words "linear media" to you. I do not in fact know how you personally read
linear media. But the point still stands:

It would seem that as a Role-Player, you are generous.

But as a lone reader of Interactive Fiction, you are selfish.

How do you feel about Books? If the author treats you with brutality, makes
you miserable, do you berate him? How do you express your grievance? By
never buying another book by that author again? By putting the book down
halfway through? By skipping to the end of the story, thereby thwarting his
narrative agenda? Or do you accept the plot for what it is, experience it,
and then read another book?

Films? Other linear media?

To recall your own words, why is IF "quite another matter?" I see no
necessity in IF being quite another matter. Rather, we are conditioned as
selfish adventurers with an inalienable "Bill Of Rights." The difference is
in the training of the players, not the potentials of the medium. IF can
have its tragic form and the player's will can be denied. Same as any book.
Or film.

In fact, Role-Playing is where I'd expect people to be LEAST generous in
these issues, as a matter of knee-jerk. Too many role-players are inferior,
they do not know the difference between suffering in their character and
suffering in their person.

We perhaps play Interactive Fiction as bad role-players.

There. Now, if you're thoroughly irritated with the conversation (I know I
am) I won't be shocked. But at least I've finally gotten straight what you
said, and I think I have responded appropriately to it, in exactly the same
vein as before. The issue does not dissolve.

If people follow up, or don't, so be it.

Brandon Van Every

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to

Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
<365cfa36...@news.bright.net>...

>"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>> Aristotle would say that it's not character that makes a Tragedy, it is
>> plot. Character is inferior to plot. A story could be about
archetypical,
>> characterless persons, and to be a Tragedy, it must still have a plot.
>> Whereas characters can be dispensed with.
>
>Whoah. That's guaranteed to be misunderstood

By someone, sure.

>and flamed.

No pity for such. Flaming as an act of ignorance is, well, flaming.

>Let me clarify what I think he's saying, and he can correct me if
>I'm missing it. But I think he's not saying that a work without
>characters would be effective; rather, he's saying that the Tragedy
>is in the plot more than in the characters.

No, he is saying very strongly that the Tragedy is in the plot. Not the
characters. He makes a five point argument about why this is so. I need to
find an online version of the Poetics, I'm tired of typing stuff out! :-)

>> With one exception, The Game Of Mallor turned into a black comedy, not
the
>> psychological tragedy I had originally envisioned. Meanwhile, I
discovered
>> that comedy is easy. If the audience has a shared basis of experience,
>> doing gags about what's shared is trivial. We told a LOT of stupid
fantasy
>> jokes, about how stupid the fantasy genre is. We laughed our asses off.
>
>You realise, of course, that we've now switched to the modern
>definition of comedy, which is altogether different from the
>definition of comedy as the counterpart to tragedy.


Pity Aristotle didn't finish the parts about comedy in the Poetics, or at
least they are lost to us. Must have been that evil finger-dipping monk
from The Name Of The Rose. :-) Anyways, please enlighten us as to the
difference of definitions? Aristotle does mention that comedy is an error
or disgrace that does not involve pain or destruction. Such as a comic
mask: the face is distorted, but not from pain.

>> Hmm, admirable persons. Aristotle said that you must not tell Tragedies
>> about people who are either too admirable or too wicked, because the
results
>> are not credible and/or do not evoke pity and fear. Rather, it is the
>> middle sort of person who must be described, one that the audience can
>> identify with.
>

>That's the usual, although the death of an extremely respected
>person can be quite tragic too, if done well. Think Gandalf.
>(The fact that he didn't actually die is only relevant later, as
>the reader is definitely supposed to assume that he's dead.
>The other characters all do.)

Hmm. Actually the quote from the Poetics is a little more specific:

7.2 First deduction

"The construction of the best tragedy should be complex rather than simple;
and it should also be an imitation of events that evoke fear and pity, since
that is the distinctive feature of this kind of imitation. So it is clear
first of all that decent men should not be seen undergoing a change from
good fortune to bad fortune - this does not evoke fear or pity, but
disgust."

Is Aristotle merely off-base? Maybe not. One way to read it, is to say
that the complexity of the plot is paramount. We're not talking about
Gandalf dying heroically, that's a simple plot. We're talking about Gandalf
going through suffering after suffering after suffering. Each one worse and
worse and worse. Indeed, this is perhaps disgusting. He's a good man, why
should he suffer so? We do not feel fear, or pity, rather we feel righteous
indignation (disgust). What mean, cruel Fate torments Man? Does this sound
like the story of Job in the Bible? I've not read the whole thing....

We feel fear and pity when the protagonist is like us. Some good, some bad.
Because then we cannot escape the possibility of Justice in the suffering,
even though the suffering is undeserved. We are guilty and ashamed, what
might we have done wrong? What is our frailty? How close were we to
pursuing the same folly?

If an ordinary man is neither good nor bad, then his plot can go through
recognition and reversal. It is not one-sided, like the story of Gandalf,
or the story of Job.

With Gandalf, there is indeed a reversal, but it's not a Tragic reversal.
The reversal is that fortune swings to Good again, he's alive. That's not a
Tragedy. (What is it, just "Drama?")

Geoff Bailey

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to

In article <73krsh$ebp$1...@ash.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>Stephen van Egmond wrote in message <3_k72.967
>>
>> Thank you very much for inadvertently ruining Infidel for a lot of people.
>>
>> Please observe the FAQ's guidelines for posting spoilers.
>
> Good grief haven't you people played this damn thing by now? I played it 15
> years ago! Oh well I guess Treasures of Infocom are like old mold that can
> never die....

I, for one, hadn't. For that matter, I haven't played Planetfall yet, but
I've become pretty resigned to the fact that few people spoiler flag the
qrngu bs Syblq in that. [ It only took one to do the damage, of course. ]
But being resigned to it is not the same as being happy about it.

(I do have Masterpieces, so I will play them someday, but not until I get a
home computer again.)

Cheers,
Geoff.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Geoff Bailey (Fred the Wonder Worm) | Programmer by trade --
ft...@cs.usyd.edu.au | Gameplayer by vocation.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Stephen van Egmond

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
In article <73krsh$ebp$1...@ash.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>Good grief haven't you people played this damn thing by now? I played it 15
>years ago! Oh well I guess Treasures of Infocom are like old mold that can
>never die....

It happens to be that Infidel is one of the ones I haven't gotten to:
other, more appealing efforts caught my eye every time. I did, however,
know about the ending from reading it in a (properly spoilered) post.

But that is beside the point. New people will come to interactive fiction
all the time, and will not have played the games you have. It is
exceptionally unkind to ruin the experience for them in this way.

For those who haven't seen the FAQs on this point, it is nice
to your readers to indicate spoilers for particular game(s),
then skip a whole bunch of lines before going on with your
post. (If you're using vi or emacs, throw in a ^L.)

/Steve

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:


> > I would love to see a game in which you could play that 'tragic', lost hero
> > who succumbs to the situation, who doesn't live through, *while still
> > succeeding*.
>
> A great example of this kind of tragedy is "The Bridge Over The River Kwai."

Ah, thank you. Now I understand what he meant by that.
Yes, TBOTRK is an excellent work, very well done. I too
would like to see a work of IF done similarly; essentially, the
beloved protagonist's great goal that he has been striving
toward for much of the story ends up being less important
than something else, and he is forced to willfully sacrifice it.

My favourite quote from that movie: "I HATE the British."
(Context required for understanding.)

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
mkku...@kingman.genetics.washington.edu (Mary K. Kuhner) wrote:

> >It is commonly held that the adventurer must be given freedom of action,
> >that frustration with circumstance is to be avoided. That the player has a
> >"Bill Of Rights" and one must not frustrate him.
>
> >This is False.
>
> More properly, as the Church of Eris would say, it's true, false,
> and meaningless.

Then it's false. A statement that's partly true and partly false is,
when taken as a whole, false.

> Or to put it another way, you can violate any of the player's "rights"
> and your game may well still work for some players: it will probably
> fail to work for others.

Or you can adhere to all of them and the same applies.

> In your given example, I'd note that I'm
> willing to play second fiddle to another human being, for his/her
> enjoyment, so I'd be willing to be the foil to someone else's character
> in a roleplaying game: but in a solitary IF, it would be quite another
> matter.

I'm pretty sure a sufficiently well-written IF could be very
effective with a tragic ending. Many of the greatest works
of literature of all time have been tragedy.

It's true that a lot of people don't have much taste for
tragedy; however, it's also true that a lot of people
don't have much taste for quality literature. They'd
rather read a list of half-baked jokes; so be it. You
can't please all the masses. So write something
you'd like to have associated with yourself.

Personally, I think the idea of Tragic IF is
excellent. I do think we could do with more
of it. It would have to be well-done, of course,
but comic IF isn't much good if it isn't well-done,
either. Detective is a comedy (in the sense in
which we're using the term here), and Hamlet
is a tragedy. The conclusion I draw from this
is that comedy is not inherently more fun to
read than tragedy. In fact, tragedy can
be a very thoroughly enriching experience
if it's done right.

Yes, I would like to see some really good
tragic IF. And I don't think the fact that
it's a tragedy needs to be given at the
outset; however, I do think it's necessary
to write the tragic ending in such a way
that it's obvious that you have in fact
reached the correct ending -- the one you

were meant to reach. (Otherwise the


players spend hours and hours -- nay,
possibly days and weeks in some
cases -- trying to find the happy ending,
which could be very frustrating indeed.)

It would be tricky to do that without
breaking the mood, but I imagine it's
possible. It merely requires some
careful planning and good writing.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Incidentally, there are 23 occurrances of the word "tragic" and 58 of
> "tragedy" in the DejaNews archive of rec.ARTS.int-fiction. Compare 300 hits
> for the word "sword" and 400 for "dragon." Quantitatively speaking, we have
> a lot to discuss.

In which case we should probably dispense with the pleasantries and
start breaking into specifics.

I'll pose one question to get the ball rolling; it relates to my
other post on this topic:

What would be some plausible ways to *without breaking the tragic
mood of emotion at the conclusion* make it clear to the player that
this is the ending of the story that was meant to be reached?

> I'd note that Infidel is not a Tragedy.

I can't say, since I haven't played it.

> Some of the back articles on DejaNews theorized about Tragedy in terms of a
> game that a player cannot win. But losing a game is not, in and of itself,
> Tragic. There's a layman's definition of Tragedy: bad things happen, you
> suffer, you get screwed. In the words of the scarecrow from The Whiz: you
> can't win, you can't get even, and you can't get out of the game.

Those three ideas weren't original to TWOO, although their statement
may have been (I don't know). I have heard it said, however, that
they were originally published as the Three Laws of Thermodynamics.

> either ACT OR NOT ACT, either KNOWINGLY OR IN IGNORANCE." [emphasis mine]

Which makes a total of four possibilities, actually.

> "Of these, being on the verge of acting wittingly and not doing so is worst;
> this is disgusting, and it is not tragic since there is no suffering.

With variation, however, there *could* be. Say, for example, the
protagonist nearly acts to the betterment of everything, but fails
to do so out of ignorance; later he realises what he could have
done as he is forced to live out the consequences of his inaction;
admittedly, the bulk of the plot would probably fall after the
inaction in question, so there would need to be some additional
action later to avoid the problem of not having a good place
to end the story.

> So as far as Aristotle is concerned, Tragedy != you lose. Tragedy is a


> change from good fortune to bad fortune. It is not required that the story
> end on bad fortune. Indeed, at the last possible moment, catharsis may be
> achieved by the reversal of the bad fortune. It is the narrowness of the
> escape, the realization that one has been let off the hook, and that one
> didn't HAVE to be, that is cathartic.

This does not, however, defeat entirely the value of complete Tragedy
(i.e., the protagonist is ultimately defeated). That has value as
well, although it is admittedly more grim.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
ha...@fear.com (Matt Hawke) wrote:

> so maybe R+J isn't a good
> example.

Pick one of Shakespeare's *good* tragedies.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
Noah Falstein <nfa...@best.com> wrote:

> Seriously, I would like to bring up the classic use of "Floyd" in
> Planetfall, a very early tragic element in an otherwise very lighthearted
> game, that has touched many people over the years.

That's a good point: Tragedy, done right, is very touching.

A Separate Peace, anyone?
(Wow, that would make a huge IF)

> Tragedy is a dangeous thing when creating expensive entertainment.
> Novels, even plays can better afford it. The audience for tragedy,
> although often more serious and adult, is also generally smaller - hence
> the comparitive lack of tragic games and big-budget films. It's a good
> case for tragedy as a possible element of inexpensive online
> entertainment.

Like IF? I think that makes sense.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Lee Sheldon" <lee...@mindspring.com> wrote:

> I also agree that since this is theoretically a profit-based industry,

?

CMP notwithstanding, I'd hardly call us a profit-BASED industry.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Aristotle would say that it's not character that makes a Tragedy, it is
> plot. Character is inferior to plot. A story could be about archetypical,
> characterless persons, and to be a Tragedy, it must still have a plot.
> Whereas characters can be dispensed with.

Whoah. That's guaranteed to be misunderstood and flamed.

Let me clarify what I think he's saying, and he can correct me if
I'm missing it. But I think he's not saying that a work without
characters would be effective; rather, he's saying that the Tragedy

is in the plot more than in the characters. You can have Tragedy
without any significant character development (although adding
the character development will enhance the expereince) but
you can't have Tragedy without plot.

> With one exception, The Game Of Mallor turned into a black comedy, not the
> psychological tragedy I had originally envisioned. Meanwhile, I discovered
> that comedy is easy. If the audience has a shared basis of experience,
> doing gags about what's shared is trivial. We told a LOT of stupid fantasy
> jokes, about how stupid the fantasy genre is. We laughed our asses off.

You realise, of course, that we've now switched to the modern
definition of comedy, which is altogether different from the
definition of comedy as the counterpart to tragedy.

> Hmm, admirable persons. Aristotle said that you must not tell Tragedies
> about people who are either too admirable or too wicked, because the results
> are not credible and/or do not evoke pity and fear. Rather, it is the
> middle sort of person who must be described, one that the audience can
> identify with.

That's the usual, although the death of an extremely respected
person can be quite tragic too, if done well. Think Gandalf.
(The fact that he didn't actually die is only relevant later, as
the reader is definitely supposed to assume that he's dead.

The other characters all do.) A better but less well-known
example would be Morgenes, and in that case you only
gain respect for him as you find out more about him post
mortem, which makes his death seem even *more* tragic.
Note, however, that there was a connection on a personal
level that brings to bear during the death scene itself.
There is also the issue of substitution, which applies in
both examples. The respected figure dies in order to
preserve someone more mundane. In spite of the
necessity of it given the situation, it just feels tragic.

- jonadab

Jonadab the Unsightly One

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> >And only 87 occurrences of the word "Aristotle". Clearly we have our
> >work cut out for us.

I do think we would be amiss to discuss Tragedy without mentioning
Shakespeare a few times and Shelley at least once.


- jonadab

Mary K. Kuhner

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>Excuse me, but this is a debate, not a name-calling session. Either deal
>with the point or find something more entertaining to do. It is a
>legitimate point: WHY does an audience often have different standards for IF
>and traditional linear media? It is a deep and important subject, not
>simply a matter of "oh you changed my context, my context is an
>unapproachable ivory tower of clean logistical separation."

You took my statement, which was a comparison and contrast of
face-to-face roleplaying games and computer text adventures, and
persist in trying to make it be about the difference between IF
and "traditional linear media". This makes nonsense of what I said.
I don't care to continue a conversation, or debate, or anything
else with someone who is interested in what I say only as a
springboard to make his own points.

Make your own damn points, in your own postings. Don't misquote
me to make them.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu


David Glasser

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Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
Stephen van Egmond <svane...@home.com> wrote:

> Great big spoilers for Infidel below.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> In article <73gclb$93o$1...@oak.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

> Brandon Van Every <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> >I'd note that Infidel is not a Tragedy. It is a rough draft for a tragedy.
> >In Aristotelean terms the plot is not "whole": it has a beginning and an
> >end, but no middle. The middle is just a bunch of stupid puzzles, and
> >that's why you ultimately don't care when the bricks fall down on his head
> >at the end.
>

> Thank you very much for inadvertently ruining Infidel for a lot of people.
>
> Please observe the FAQ's guidelines for posting spoilers.

Because the raif FAQ does mention that, right? Right?

OK, that's one more addition. I can't horribly plagiarize your FAQ, can
I?

Jonadab the Unsightly One

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Good grief haven't you people played this damn thing by now?

No.

> I played it 15
> years ago!

15 years ago I thought it might be possible to attach a


non-electronic typewriter to a television set and make
a computer, if you knew what you were doing. Also,
15 years ago, I figured anybody who had a home
computer (or a colour television or a dishwasher) must
be wealthy.


- jonadab

Bjoern Guenzel

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
On Thu, 26 Nov 1998 16:25:44 -0800, "Brandon Van Every"
<vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
[...]

>In the meantime, take a look at Photopia. It's a pretty successful effort.
>The key is you have to accept the buy-in of the plot premise, though. If
>you don't have the obvious instincts about the main character, and you
>aren't trying/willing to do the obvious, then you aren't going to have your
>emotional harpstrings pulled.

Does Photopia have an URL? Thanks in advance!
[...]


Bjoern Guenzel

--

At times I felt I had to make up for a
sad lack of experiences by wild imagination.
(Urs Widmer, insufficiently translated by me)

Sean Timarco Baggaley

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
*** POSSIBLE SPOILER FOR ANYONE WHO HASN'T READ LORD OF THE RINGS RECENTLY.
***
(But it's a long way down already.)


Brandon Van Every wrote in message
<73ll7p$n7s$1...@ash.prod.itd.earthlink.net>...


>
>Jonadab the Unsightly One wrote in message
><365cfa36...@news.bright.net>...

>>"Brandon Van Every" <vane...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>>

>>> Aristotle would say that it's not character that makes a Tragedy, it is
>>> plot. Character is inferior to plot. A story could be about
>archetypical,
>>> characterless persons, and to be a Tragedy, it must still have a plot.
>>> Whereas characters can be dispensed with.


>>Whoah. That's guaranteed to be misunderstood


>By someone, sure.


>>and flamed.


>No pity for such. Flaming as an act of ignorance is, well, flaming.


And unjustified. Brandon ain't kidding, folks.


>>Let me clarify what I think he's saying, and he can correct me if
>>I'm missing it. But I think he's not saying that a work without
>>characters would be effective; rather, he's saying that the Tragedy
>>is in the plot more than in the characters.

>No, he is saying very strongly that the Tragedy is in the plot. Not the
>characters. He makes a five point argument about why this is so. I need
to
>find an online version of the Poetics, I'm tired of typing stuff out! :-)


http://classics.mit.edu//Aristotle/poetics.html

It's an 80K download in .txt format.

(They've got plenty more stuff on their site too. Project Gutenberg doesn't
seem to have done Aristotle yet, which is a bit of a surprise.)


>>> With one exception, The Game Of Mallor turned into a black comedy, not
>the
>>> psychological tragedy I had originally envisioned. Meanwhile, I
>discovered
>>> that comedy is easy. If the audience has a shared basis of experience,
>>> doing gags about what's shared is trivial. We told a LOT of stupid
>fantasy
>>> jokes, about how stupid the fantasy genre is. We laughed our asses off.


>>You realise, of course, that we've now sw