Multiple Readings of IF

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Peter Weyhrauch

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Mar 21, 1993, 4:08:07 PM3/21/93
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Hi, Folks.

David Whitten wrote last Friday:

"It is totally unrealistic to model real life, but a more complex story
would make this game playable the second time (or third or fourth)"

I have a question for i-f designers and players. Is it important for
you to be able to "read" an interactive fiction more than once?

It would seem a designer would be constrained if the definition of a
successful interactive fiction required multiple different readings
for the SAME person. Or perhaps it is like a movie. Each extra time
you see a movie it's different, and you don't (unless you are unrealistic)
expect it to feel like the first time.

One the other hand, a person buying an interactive fiction might want
multiple playings. Something about most bang for the buck.


Peter Weyhrauch
Oz Project

Paul Christopher Workman

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Mar 22, 1993, 3:46:18 AM3/22/93
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Excerpts from netnews.rec.arts.int-fiction: 21-Mar-93 Multiple Readings
of IF by Peter Weyhrauch@SCARECRO
> I have a question for i-f designers and players. Is it important for
> you to be able to "read" an interactive fiction more than once?

By "'read'... more than once", you mean in two (or more) different ways,
right? And not just start-from-the-same-beginning-and-work-your-
way-through-the-same-sequence-of-plot-points, but two different
plots, right?

> It would seem a designer would be constrained if the definition of a
> successful interactive fiction required multiple different readings
> for the SAME person.

Well, if the IF is going to be different for two different players
(and I think it would HAVE to to qualify as IF -- otherwise it
would not really be interactive) then it should be different for
the same player, playing in two different instances in two different
states of mind.

> Or perhaps it is like a movie. Each extra time
> you see a movie it's different, and you don't (unless you are unrealistic)
> expect it to feel like the first time.

Couldn't the same be said for any kind of fiction, filmed
or written? People re-read Joyce or Dante or whatever, finding
something new each time. This isn't so much interactivity
as much as insight based on building upon a previous (reading)
experience, though. Actually, though (we're back to the
first "though"), people who study in this manner will probably
claim to experience a sense of interactivity with the work from
just that building-on-previous-exposure-to-the-work situation;
this is interesting, considering that the text is fixed and
the author is probably dead; it implies a depth of the mind
of the work, so to speak. Perhaps this is a good definition
of "art." In any event, it's not directly related to IF since
the mechanisms of (what we call) IF are absent; although it
may be enlightening.

> One the other hand, a person buying an interactive fiction might want
> multiple playings. Something about most bang for the buck.

Yes. Also, again, it's questionable that it's really Interactive
Fiction if multiple distince readings are not different from
each other.

I think that the IF would have to be influenced on the
mindset of the reader as part of the individual reading of the IF.
Note this is different from text adventures; in a text adventure
an emotional response may be illicited from the reader but the
best way to proceed in the game is intellectually, non-emotionally;
this would best guarantee winning. In IF, with emphasis on
the *fiction*, as an art I mean, a purely intellectual approach
would be inappropriate or at least unnecessary; this is where
the mindset has, through interactivity, an influence on the IF.
So if Fred reads the IF work with a grim, ironic viewpoint, the
IF should react differently than it did to Bob's optimistic,
playful viewpoint, either in the tone of the text, the outcome
of the narrative, or at least the reaction of the other characters.

Changing the subject, this question reminds me of a premise
I've seen in various (traditional) fictions: a character
wished that s/he could "do it all over again" (i.e., feels
regret for the outcome of previous experience and would like
to try a different approach to his/her life), and some plot device --
help from God or angels, or a time machine, or whatever -- allows
the character to do just that. Generally, the character learns
that the other approaches are worse, or at least no better.
(Although the film "Groundhog Day" appears to do just the opposite
(haven't seen it yet)). In text adventures, re-playing the
game using experience from previous playings allows you to
solve puzzles accurately and with minimal cost. In true IF, this
technique probably wouldn't be applicable; changing your approach
to one problem would probably alter all remaining problems to the
extent that the previous experience would not be applicable in the
same way. This would be more like real life; for example, behavior
you learned from, say, early romantic excursions will guide
you through later such excursions, even though you would have
no real precognition of those later excursions (as you do in
re-playing a text adventure).

--paul

PS: do you all think I'm crazy, now?

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