Wearable Characters [was "Chick Flick"]

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green_g...@my-dejanews.com

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Oct 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/7/98
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In article <foxglove-061...@dialin1975.toronto.globalserve.net>,
foxg...@globalserve.net (Drone) wrote:
> But any "chick flick" type story (I'm thinking Steel Magnolias, Madison
> County, Little Women...) definitely belongs to a type that depends on
> getting you to crawl inside those characters and live there, and if it
> doesn't do this well, it would be like a fantasy that isn't very
> fantastic.

Which makes for an interesting question... While I can imagine what it takes
to make a believable NPC: * seems aware of their surroundings * responds
intelligently - or doesn't respond for intelligent reasons * able to
interact with the player * able to interact with their world * seems to
have a reason for being other than just a source of info/objects (to name
just a few - I'm sure there are tons more...?)

How do you create a PLAYER character than you can "crawl inside"? I seem to
recall (admitting that's its been a while since I visited here) that players
don't like the player character exhibiting emotions that they themselves
aren't feeling. Isn't having the PC automatically sob uncontrollably when
wronged by tall-dark-and-handsome when the human player would rather be
decking him :) considered bad form?

Kathleen (who had finally picked a title ("Past Perfect") only to discover
there was a movie with that name a few years ago <sob>)

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Irene Callaci

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Oct 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/7/98
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On Wed, 07 Oct 1998 20:01:26 GMT, green_g...@my-dejanews.com
(Kathleen) wrote:
>
>How do you create a PLAYER character than you can "crawl inside"? I seem to
>recall (admitting that's its been a while since I visited here) that players
>don't like the player character exhibiting emotions that they themselves
>aren't feeling. Isn't having the PC automatically sob uncontrollably when
>wronged by tall-dark-and-handsome when the human player would rather be
>decking him :) considered bad form?
>

You're right; I've seen lots of discussion that indicates
players don't want their emotional reactions dictated by
the game's author. On the other hand, we also had a
discussion not too long ago about what makes a memorable
player character. A lot of that discussion centered on
PCs with distinct personalities and definite reactions.
I can't make up my mind whether the success of any
particular method depends more on the author's skill or
the player's preference or the story itself.

irene

Drone

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Oct 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/7/98
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In article <6vgham$jrb$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>,
green_g...@my-dejanews.com wrote:

> In article <foxglove-061...@dialin1975.toronto.globalserve.net>,
> foxg...@globalserve.net (Drone) wrote:
> > But any "chick flick" type story (I'm thinking Steel Magnolias, Madison
> > County, Little Women...) definitely belongs to a type that depends on
> > getting you to crawl inside those characters and live there, and if it
> > doesn't do this well, it would be like a fantasy that isn't very
> > fantastic.
>
> Which makes for an interesting question... While I can imagine what it takes
> to make a believable NPC: * seems aware of their surroundings * responds
> intelligently - or doesn't respond for intelligent reasons * able to
> interact with the player * able to interact with their world * seems to
> have a reason for being other than just a source of info/objects (to name
> just a few - I'm sure there are tons more...?)
>

> How do you create a PLAYER character than you can "crawl inside"? I seem to
> recall (admitting that's its been a while since I visited here) that players
> don't like the player character exhibiting emotions that they themselves
> aren't feeling. Isn't having the PC automatically sob uncontrollably when
> wronged by tall-dark-and-handsome when the human player would rather be
> decking him :) considered bad form?
>

The nature of the player character? Oh, don't get me started. Everyone on
raif right now is probably hoping you don't get me started. This is my pet
issue.

If you haven't already, check out the thread titled "IF 'spective, retro-
and per-" started by Andrew. He opened with some deep thoughts on IF, and
part of the discussion branched into player character perspective.

Drone.

Doeadeer3

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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In article <361bd9e5...@news.csupomona.edu>, ical...@csupomona.edu
(Irene Callaci) writes:

>I can't make up my mind whether the success of any
>particular method depends more on the author's skill or
>the player's preference or the story itself.
>
>irene

Ditto.

I know that isn't very helpful, Kathleen, but that is the way it goes.

I have also seen a built-in player emotions or reactions in games that no one
has commented negatively on or mentioned at all. (Curses comes to mind, only a
few, but they are there.)

So I suspect that what most people don't like is when NEGATIVE (or vulunerable
or what some consider "feminine") emotions/reactions are automatically assigned
to the player (crying, fear, startlement, etc.) I, personally, also don't like
it when agression is (I have to hit/attack/kill someone to win or progress
further). To me there is no difference between disliking one built-in
emotion/reaction or the other.

OTOH, a whole game could be written with a definitive player character with
their own definitive emotions/reactions. But to date this does not seem to be
have been done except in snippets. I think more games will do that as we go
along and the players' reactions to this will be interesting.

Doe :-)

Doe doea...@aol.com (formerly known as FemaleDeer)
****************************************************************************
"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane." Mark Twain

TenthStone

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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ical...@csupomona.edu (Irene Callaci) caused this to appear in our
collective minds on Wed, 07 Oct 1998 21:50:52 GMT:

>On Wed, 07 Oct 1998 20:01:26 GMT, green_g...@my-dejanews.com
>(Kathleen) wrote:
>>

>>How do you create a PLAYER character than you can "crawl inside"? I seem to
>>recall (admitting that's its been a while since I visited here) that players
>>don't like the player character exhibiting emotions that they themselves
>>aren't feeling. Isn't having the PC automatically sob uncontrollably when
>>wronged by tall-dark-and-handsome when the human player would rather be
>>decking him :) considered bad form?

Unless you've enveloped the player in the game so much that he/she does
feel "into it," dictating emotion is a *very bad thing.*

Of course, the most annoying thing is being "stunned." If the player
character is stunned, authors, don't provide a prompt! The prompt
signifies to the player that action is free. If necessary, just give the
response: "Angered beyond your limits of self-control, your mind
freezes upon the idea of revenge: revenging yourself upon this madman,
this family, this world. The rage paralyzes you, binding you to your
spot."

>You're right; I've seen lots of discussion that indicates
>players don't want their emotional reactions dictated by
>the game's author. On the other hand, we also had a
>discussion not too long ago about what makes a memorable
>player character. A lot of that discussion centered on
>PCs with distinct personalities and definite reactions.

>I can't make up my mind whether the success of any
>particular method depends more on the author's skill or
>the player's preference or the story itself.

Personality can be expressed in many more ways than emotions.
Take a white box, for example.

>Look at the white box.
It's only a white box. Its sides are covered with ugly drawings all over.
Its lid is open, and there's a ruby ring in it. It's pretty small for a
box. It's made of paper.

>Examine the white box.
The box's top has been removed, revealing a stunningly beautiful
ruby-studded ring, glistening softly in the evening's twilight. A dull
white coat of paint covers the faces of the small, paper box, and the
childish art on the sides provides unfitting surroundings for the dazzling
jewel.

>Inspect the white box.
Your deeper examination shows the simple, whitish box to be of a durable
glossed-paper construction. Evidently, a young child has been allowed to
take a pen to the edges of the box, for meaningless doodles of flowers
and suns reach around the corners. Placed on the underside of the box for
safe-keeping, and obscuring some half-centimeter of the engravings, is the
top; its absence allows you to note the presence of a brilliant ruby
ring inside the box.

The three passages portray different views on the jewel. The first is a
simpleton's; the second, an artist's; the third, a trained observer's
(such as a scientist, or a detective).

-----------

The imperturbable TenthStone
tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@erols.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

Neil K.

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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ical...@csupomona.edu wrote:

> You're right; I've seen lots of discussion that indicates
> players don't want their emotional reactions dictated by
> the game's author. On the other hand, we also had a
> discussion not too long ago about what makes a memorable
> player character. A lot of that discussion centered on
> PCs with distinct personalities and definite reactions.

Indeed. This has come up a number of times over the years, and I know I
for one have expressed irritation at games that made a variety of assumed
emotional assumptions. Or games which made decisions on behalf of the
player. (>KILL SPIDER. "You reach out to kill the spider, but decide not
to and go and read a book instead.") But at the same time I find that the
game I've been working on for some time now has more and more such assumed
reactions. And there are games with such reactions that I haven't minded
at all.

For me I think the key difference between getting annoyed and not getting
annoyed is the degree to which the character you're playing is well-drawn
and realistic or just generic. If a game has a generic PC and you're
expected to step into the character's shoes then I get annoyed at sudden
and random "you feel X" remarks out of the blue. How dare the author
presume! But if you're specifically playing, or role-playing, a
well-defined person with a history and so on then such messages in
moderation can work. Especially if they're somewhat gradual; appearing
more frequently as the character becomes fleshed out as the game
progresses. So by the time the game says "you shake in terror" you're
either shaking a little bit yourself or feeling like - "right... my
character definitely would shake with terror here."

Though having said all that I'm sure those words will come back to haunt
me whenever my game is finally finished. :)

- Neil K.

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

Mary K. Kuhner

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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I can't say how authors make assigning motives to the PC work,
but I know some things that make it *not* work for me:

(1) Assigning motivations to the PC when it's transparently
done to save the author some coding. ("I don't want to think
about the consequences if the player does X, so I'll tell her
she doesn't want to do it.")

(2) Assigning motivations to the PC when it's transparently done
to save the plot. ("I can't figure out how to force the player
to do X. Aha! I'll just tell her she wants to do it.")

(3) This one is probably more of a personal preference (I'm not
a fan of highly stylized genres): Assigning motivations to the
PC when it's done to enforce genre conventions. ("I don't see why
the heroine would go into the basement without a weapon, but
that's what happens in these stories....")

Looking at my own reactions, I don't want the author to surprise
me with an explicit character reaction: this means that they
should be cued, generally by slanting descriptions. If the
slime has consistently been described in terms of its distressing
appearance, I'm more willing to accept that the PC won't touch
it.

One phrasing I *really* dislike is:

>open door

You decide not to.

Clearly I wouldn't have typed "open door" unless in my conception
the PC decided to do it, and being directly countermanded with no
explanation is incredibly annoying. I would be a lot more willing
to cope with:

>open door

As you reach for the door you recall that violating a class I
security seal is a capital offense. That's a bigger risk than
you're willing to take just to satify your curiosity.

By providing some additional information this avoids giving the
impression that the game is arbitrarily overruling its supposed
player. Instead, it's filling in background so the player can
make better decisions in the future.

In the games that used assignent of emotions to the PC most
successfully, I never felt surprised by the PC's reactions:
they were the reactions I was feeling myself in identifying
with him/her. This is tough, but it's the target to aim for.

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

David Brain

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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() wrote:

> Kathleen (who had finally picked a title ("Past Perfect") only to
> discover there was a movie with that name a few years ago <sob>)

PG Wodehouse wrote an introduction to his novel "Summer Lightning" by observing
that three other books published that year had the same title. He hoped that people
wouldn't buy one of the others expecting it to be his, but on the other hand if people
bought his expecting it to be one of the others, he wouldn't complain...

So don't worry about it. It's a great name, anyway.

--
David Brain

Apotheosis can be somewhat unnerving.
-- Expecting Someone Taller, Tom Holt


green_g...@my-dejanews.com

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Oct 8, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/8/98
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In article <foxglove-071...@dialin1213.toronto.globalserve.net>,

foxg...@globalserve.net (Drone) wrote:
> If you haven't already, check out the thread titled "IF 'spective, retro-
> and per-" started by Andrew. He opened with some deep thoughts on IF, and
> part of the discussion branched into player character perspective.

Well it took me a while (there's an understatement), but I read every post
(and OT post) in that thread. Interesting. Not sure it answers my question
- other than to say that the community doesn't know what it likes, but it
recognizes it when it sees it (though it can't tell you why).

:)

Kathleen

green_g...@my-dejanews.com

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Oct 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/9/98
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In article <6vi72c$ol8$1...@nntp3.u.washington.edu>,

> One phrasing I *really* dislike is:
>
> >open door
>
> You decide not to.

vs.

> >open door
>
> As you reach for the door you recall that violating a class I
> security seal is a capital offense. That's a bigger risk than
> you're willing to take just to satify your curiosity.

Of course, you could do:

> open door
As you reach for the door you recall that violating a class I
security seal is a capital offense.

> open door
Sirens blare, lights flash, and a thousand storm troops seem to
materialize from nowhere. Within moments you are whisked away, your
identity erased, doomed to spend the remainder of your days in
a 10x10 cell.

--

Doeadeer3

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Oct 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/9/98
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In article <6vjist$9g2$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>, green_g...@my-dejanews.com
writes:

>Not sure it answers my question
>- other than to say that the community doesn't know what it likes, but it
>recognizes it when it sees it (though it can't tell you why).

EXACTLY.

Doe Lol.

graham...@hotmail.com

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Oct 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/9/98
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In article <361c0509...@news.erols.com>,

mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) wrote:
> ical...@csupomona.edu (Irene Callaci) caused this to appear in our
> collective minds on Wed, 07 Oct 1998 21:50:52 GMT:
>
> >On Wed, 07 Oct 1998 20:01:26 GMT, green_g...@my-dejanews.com
> >(Kathleen) wrote:
> >>
> >>How do you create a PLAYER character than you can "crawl inside"? I seem to
> >>recall (admitting that's its been a while since I visited here) that players
> >>don't like the player character exhibiting emotions that they themselves
> >>aren't feeling. Isn't having the PC automatically sob uncontrollably when
> >>wronged by tall-dark-and-handsome when the human player would rather be
> >>decking him :) considered bad form?
>
> Unless you've enveloped the player in the game so much that he/she does
> feel "into it," dictating emotion is a *very bad thing.*

Hey, maybe the author should lead the player's emotions around as an artist
leads a viewer's eyes around. So, if the game is successful, then no explicit
prompting is necessary for the average player. Well, anyway.

- GLYPH

David Glasser

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Oct 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/11/98
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<green_g...@my-dejanews.com> wrote:

> Not sure it answers my question
> - other than to say that the community doesn't know what it likes, but it
> recognizes it when it sees it (though it can't tell you why).

Like porn?

--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."

graham...@hotmail.com

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Oct 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM10/13/98
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In article <1dgr4bn.60...@usol-209-186-16-102.uscom.com>,

Yes, just like porn.

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