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Mercury

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Dec 8, 2001, 11:45:01 PM12/8/01
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----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Content? Who needs it, when you can write in a way that looks good.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Writing that fails to cover the five Ws: Who What When Where Why falls under
this category. At any given point in the story the reader deserves to know
exactly who he is, what is going on, and why. The plot can progress, but
progress is not revelation. Revelation, the discovering of basic clues about
identity, is a fairly transparent plot device which is not satisfying at
all. So, the deliberate exclusion of vital, scene-forming facts for the sake
of making writing shorter or more minimal is extremely bad writing. If you
insist I give an example, I will use All Roads. At the beginning of All
Roads, I had no idea who I was, whether I had committed a crime, whether I
was in a fantasy world or the real one, and what the Darkness was. And
frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in on
these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
more.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ideas? Who needs them, when you can rip off other writers. No one will
notice because nobody has much of a memory or an attention span these days.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Magnus threatened to sue me over this one, which seems appropriate since
Uncle Zebulon's Will includes a mirror you can walk through. If I am not
incredibly mistaken, that reminds me of Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Walking through a mirror into an alternate reality is one of the most
memorable and unique ideas in Alice (which is a story chock full of unique
and memorable ideas, often copied), and it is well stolen in that game.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fun? Who needs it, when you can be pompous, deep and philosophical.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I would think this particular accusation would make game titles and authors
come to mind immediately, but if I must quote a game or two, I will refer to
Ian Finley's dystopian masterpeices. I do not, do not, I repeat, do not,
want to play through a game only to learn at the end that mankind should not
play God or that justice taken too far is really evil. Ian Finley is good at
writing fables, not games. I play games to get away from real life, and thus
the games must present some sort of solution to ages-old problems such as
justice and punishment, not merely re-iterate them for me. We all know that
justice can be evil, and that governments can be corrupt, fascist, and
sadistic. The last game I would ever want to play is one that is too closely
modeled after reality. If I wanted that, I would step outside on the street,
and watch the glory of our century go by in all its inherent unfairness and
impossible pain.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Descriptiveness? Who needs it when you can twist English grammar into more
and more unlikely shapes and call it genius.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
For some reason, the authors of the competition entries are under the
impression if you excite the senses and mystify the mind, that counts as a
description, but it does not. A description is supposed to relay the facts,
nothing more. That is what grammar is all about: communicating the facts.
Tell me how big it is, how fast it's going, and when it's going to hit me.
Don't tell me it looks like light bending in a kaleidoscopic circus, a
prismic echo of a forgotten memory of last night's date, with throbbing
hairy heat bending reality into evermore nonsensical words.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Puzzles? Who needs them when you can just make your game impossible to win?
(Yes I have played games like this.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
When I get through a game, I expect, at the very least, an uplifting and
happy ending. I don't care if that's not realistic. I said already a game
isn't supposed to be realistic. If it was realistic it would be depressing.
And along with the happy ending, I expect rewards, virtual or otherwise. For
the benefit of the game-illiterate, I offer the following basic diagram:

Game Structure:

Expectation of fun -------> Obstacle ---------> Reward for overcoming
obstacle
----------> Punishment
for not overcoming obstacle


Structure of the Average Comp Winner:

Text --------> Obstacle -------> Text

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Non-linear Plot? Who needs one when you can transcribe a short story onto
the computer and call it IF?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
There should be at least one major branch-point in the game where a chain of
events can go in two totally different directions. This is essential for
rescuing the player from a feeling that he is nothing but a pawn. Both
directions should be meaningful and logical, and neither of them should lead
to death or ruination.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
NPCs? Who needs them when you can code mindless cardboard-cutouts that
answer 90% of questions with a default reply.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't be bothered to give your NPCs some character, and that includes
character flaws, don't bother including them. People aren't perfect. Make
them get angry. Give them addictions and vices. And program them with some
custom replies for crying out loud. The relationship of the player with the
NPC should not be static, it should evolve and change. There is no such
thing as a good NPC (on your side) or an evil NPC (not on your side). Any
given NPC should be a mixture of pro-player and anti-player sentiments.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story? Who needs one when your game is really a preachy moral statement.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
See above, under Fun.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prize? Who needs it when all your reviewers know everything about writing
but nothing about writing games.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Story ie. Novel, Fiction, Narrative:

100% linear. Character is a member of a larger world in which he is but one
of my actors. Character explores and experiences this pre-fabricated world.
Character can die or experience tragedy because the reader simply watches
the character. The reader does not really think he is the character.

Game:

Non-linear. The player becomes the character and defines his world through
his actions. The character is free to change the course of the
reality-stream into a direction which suits him, and thus rewards him fully.
The essence here is that you have a chance to win, and win spectacularly.
You can win at darts, you can win at Solitaire, you can win at Chess, you
can win at PacMan, you can win at football, but for some reason you can't
win at IF. That's a very serious problem, the way I see it. Winning isn't
just about finishing, it's about succeeding and being happy.


Adam Thornton

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Dec 9, 2001, 12:53:26 AM12/9/01
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In article <h%BQ7.33096$KT.83...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,

Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Content? Who needs it, when you can write in a way that looks good.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Writing that fails to cover the five Ws: Who What When Where Why falls under
>this category.

Or at least under the category of "not basic journalism."

>----------------------------------------------------------------------------


>If it was realistic it would be depressing.

Wow. Another reason I'm glad I don't live in your world. Thanks,
Mercury!

>You can win at darts, you can win at Solitaire, you can win at Chess, you
>can win at PacMan, you can win at football, but for some reason you can't
>win at IF.

You can win at Pac-Man?

Since when?

You can play the game through 256 boards, at which point the display
sorta melts down and half the screen becomes unusable, but I don't think
that's winning in any traditional sense.

This is not intended, in any way, shape, form, or fashion, to denigrate
the frankly awesome achievement of Billy Mitchell. However, I would
claim that his victory was more against the entire human race, rather
than Pac-Man per se, as he was the first person to play Pac-Man to its
meltdown point while not losing a man and eating all the ghosts and
fruit. Or perhaps his victory is against the Pac-Man programmers:
notice that he does not use a pattern but relies, instead, on his
understanding of the ghosts' responses.

http://videogames.gamespot.com/features/universal/hist_pacman/p11_01.html

This, by the way, is what the human condition is all about.

(Darts, chess, and football all have opponents, so they fall into some
other category, since you're not matching yourself against the rules of
the game, as you are in Solitaire, but against an opponent's strategy.
Pac-Man and videogame/computer versions of football and chess occupy
some sort of intermediate space, where your opponent, although not
sentient, has some sort of strategy or at least tactics. I'm not sure
quite what this does to your argument.)

>That's a very serious problem, the way I see it. Winning isn't
>just about finishing, it's about succeeding and being happy.

Frankly, it sounds like your happiness has been really sorely lacking.
Perhaps a nice long break somewhere relaxing would do you good.

By the way, I hope you found _Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country_
less offensive than most of the games that placed higher than it (it
came in 33rd, for your quick reference). Although linear and lacking in
NPCs who underwent any sort of character development, it avoided most of
your other traps. And no one can accuse it of not having a happy
ending. Not even Mr. Goatse.cx.

Adam

Mercury

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Dec 9, 2001, 3:34:26 AM12/9/01
to
> >Writing that fails to cover the five Ws: Who What When Where Why falls
under
> >this category.
>
> Or at least under the category of "not basic journalism."
>

Ha ha, very funny. Journalism isn't any different from storytelling, except
one is describing a real event, and one fictitious. All types of writing,
even poetry, have as their primary purpose to communicate and to clarify,
not to confuse and muddle. Covering all the five W's might make you very
unpopular with certain full-of-shit creative writing critics, but it's the
only way to really, truly write. No one's saying you can't write well, or
with flair, but you have to cover the five W's, especially in prose.


> >If it was realistic it would be depressing.
>
> Wow. Another reason I'm glad I don't live in your world. Thanks,
> Mercury!

Well, lucky you.


> You can win at Pac-Man?
>
> Since when?
>
> You can play the game through 256 boards, at which point the display
> sorta melts down and half the screen becomes unusable, but I don't think
> that's winning in any traditional sense.
>

PacMan is a game where you can win in the sense that you can eat all the
ghosts. There is a certain course of action you can take to achieve some
degree of satisfaction and accomplishment.

> (Darts, chess, and football all have opponents, so they fall into some
> other category, since you're not matching yourself against the rules of
> the game, as you are in Solitaire, but against an opponent's strategy.
> Pac-Man and videogame/computer versions of football and chess occupy
> some sort of intermediate space, where your opponent, although not
> sentient, has some sort of strategy or at least tactics. I'm not sure
> quite what this does to your argument.)

My argument is that all games have winning conditions, except IF. Thus, IF
is not a game. You can hit the end of an IF game, but you can't win, not
most of the time.


> Frankly, it sounds like your happiness has been really sorely lacking.
> Perhaps a nice long break somewhere relaxing would do you good.

Ahh, I see you're trying to reduce my argument by making it all personal and
focusing in on me. Don't kill the messenger, even though he brings a message
which you don't want to hear.

>
> By the way, I hope you found _Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country_
> less offensive than most of the games that placed higher than it (it
> came in 33rd, for your quick reference). Although linear and lacking in
> NPCs who underwent any sort of character development, it avoided most of
> your other traps. And no one can accuse it of not having a happy
> ending. Not even Mr. Goatse.cx.
>

I don't even want to think about what kind of veiled insult this paragraph
represents.


Mercury

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Dec 9, 2001, 3:56:20 AM12/9/01
to
Everyone knows I'm depressed. It's the most obvious thing about me. Ever
wonder if it might be because of people like YOU, abusive, cruel, vicious
people who would enjoy nothing more than to cut me into peices slowly and
watch me suffer? You're sadists! That's why I'm depressed, because humanity
is a lost cause!


Mercury

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Dec 9, 2001, 3:57:31 AM12/9/01
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Heh, watch there be an incredibly abusive response to this. My my, what a
surprise. Why expect worthless animals to behave like men.


"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message
news:UGFQ7.33324$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com...

Mercury

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Dec 9, 2001, 3:58:20 AM12/9/01
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Uh, sorry, my extreme apologies to the animal kingdom. Uh, humans and
monkeys are in a class by themselves.


"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message

news:%HFQ7.33325$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com...

Matthew Clemson

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Dec 9, 2001, 7:48:38 AM12/9/01
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> For some reason, the authors of the competition entries are under
> the impression if you excite the senses and mystify the mind, that
> counts as a description, but it does not. A description is supposed
> to relay the facts, nothing more.

"Tiger, Tiger, burning bright".
"I wandered lonely as a cloud".

> When I get through a game, I expect, at the very least, an uplifting
> and happy ending. I don't care if that's not realistic. I said
> already a game isn't supposed to be realistic. If it was realistic
> it would be depressing.

Do you have the same problem with Macbeth? Hamlet? Romeo and Juliet?
Othello? The original Planet of the Apes?

Or - for that matter, there's a few games in general gaming that don't have
happy endings. I'll mention them in a footnote, 'cause of minor spoiler
risks. [1]

> There should be at least one major branch-point in the game where a
> chain of events can go in two totally different directions. This is
> essential for rescuing the player from a feeling that he is nothing
> but a pawn. Both directions should be meaningful and logical, and
> neither of them should lead to death or ruination.

How many plot-lead games can you think of that actually do that? I can think
of just one, off the top of my head - The Pandora Directive.

> If you can't be bothered to give your NPCs some character, and that
> includes character flaws, don't bother including them. People aren't
> perfect. Make them get angry. Give them addictions and vices. And
> program them with some custom replies for crying out loud. The
> relationship of the player with the NPC should not be static, it
> should evolve and change. There is no such thing as a good NPC (on
> your side) or an evil NPC (not on your side). Any given NPC should
> be a mixture of pro-player and anti-player sentiments.

You make it sound like writing an NPC is easy; it's not. A detailed NPC can
take up an entire game. Galatea does that. Compiled, she's 260k. You feel up
to writing several of her?

And, taking a few lines sprinkled through your post:

> I do not, do not, I repeat, do not, want to play through a game only
> to learn at the end that mankind should not play God or that justice
> taken too far is really evil.

> When I get through a game, I expect, at the very least, an uplifting
> and happy ending.

> The essence here is that you have a chance to win, and win


> spectacularly. You can win at darts, you can win at Solitaire, you
> can win at Chess, you can win at PacMan, you can win at football,
> but for some reason you can't win at IF.

IF works are not necessarily games.

My point is, you're arguing issues that a game needs to be popular and sell
well; IF doesn't *need* to sell, so it can afford to take some risks and be
art, rather than a game. And it *is*, on the whole - it's interactive
fiction. The term has deliberately moved away from the term "Adventure Game"
for roughly that reason.

Not to say that a game can't be art, or a work of art can't be a game, just
that some games lean towards being art, and some works of art lean towards
being games.

*** SPOILER SPACE ***


[1] Half-life springs to mind as a game with an ambiguous, rather than a
happy ending. Diablo is also a melancholy ending - one of 'Victory, but at
what cost?'. Fallout's another one, one of victory-but-rejection. You can't
argue that any of these are exclusively 'happy' endings.

-Matt


Ben A L Jemmett

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Dec 9, 2001, 9:49:09 AM12/9/01
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"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message
news:MIFQ7.33326$KT.86...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com...

> Uh, sorry, my extreme apologies to the animal kingdom. Uh, humans and
> monkeys are in a class by themselves.

As you have so aptly demonstrated, yes.

--
Regards,
Ben A L Jemmett.
(http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ben.jemmett/, http://www.deltasoft.com/)


Ben A L Jemmett

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Dec 9, 2001, 9:55:39 AM12/9/01
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"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message
news:h%BQ7.33096$KT.83...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com...

> The essence here is that you have a chance to win, and win spectacularly.
> You can win at darts, you can win at Solitaire, you can win at Chess, you
> can win at PacMan, you can win at football, but for some reason you can't
> win at IF. That's a very serious problem, the way I see it.

But what you're missing here is that IF isn't necessarily a game; it's
interactive fiction. Just as with noninteractive fiction, the ending
doesn't have to be happy. Can you 'win' a novel you're reading?

Imagine, if you will, an interactive version of Orwell's _Nineteen
Eighty-Four_ -- there could be no way to 'win', because in the setting of
the novel winning is not an option. Winston and Julia were doomed to end up
Room 101 at the very opening of the book. If there was some point at which
the player could stop this from happening, it'd be at the very first prompt
(I'm reminded of _Wargames_ here -- "The only way to win is not to play at
all."). Sure, the player's actions could alter the course of the game (the
protagonists could be disappeared because of one of their actions, Winston
could resist the call to O'Brien, anything) but the ending would never be
happy.

Francesco Cordella

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Dec 9, 2001, 11:25:25 AM12/9/01
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Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message

>At the beginning of All


> Roads, I had no idea who I was, whether I had committed a crime, whether I
> was in a fantasy world or the real one, and what the Darkness was. And
> frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in
on
> these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
> more.

Did you ever read Kafka?

> --------------------------------------------------------------------------


--
> Ideas? Who needs them, when you can rip off other writers. No one will
> notice because nobody has much of a memory or an attention span these
days.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
--

Did you ever read Aeneides?

>The last game I would ever want to play is one that is too closely
> modeled after reality. If I wanted that, I would step outside on the
street,
> and watch the glory of our century go by in all its inherent unfairness
and
> impossible pain.

Or maybe you can read Chandler.

> A description is supposed to relay the facts,
> nothing more. That is what grammar is all about: communicating the facts.
> Tell me how big it is, how fast it's going, and when it's going to hit me.
> Don't tell me it looks like light bending in a kaleidoscopic circus, a
> prismic echo of a forgotten memory of last night's date, with throbbing
> hairy heat bending reality into evermore nonsensical words.

Did you ever read Conrad?

f.


Gregg V. Carroll

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Dec 9, 2001, 12:31:48 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/8/01 11:45 PM, Mercury at NoS...@Spam.net posted:

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Content? Who needs it, when you can write in a way that looks good.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Writing that fails to cover the five Ws: Who What When Where Why falls under
> this category. At any given point in the story the reader deserves to know
> exactly who he is, what is going on, and why. The plot can progress, but
> progress is not revelation. Revelation, the discovering of basic clues about
> identity, is a fairly transparent plot device which is not satisfying at
> all. So, the deliberate exclusion of vital, scene-forming facts for the sake
> of making writing shorter or more minimal is extremely bad writing. If you
> insist I give an example, I will use All Roads. At the beginning of All
> Roads, I had no idea who I was, whether I had committed a crime, whether I
> was in a fantasy world or the real one, and what the Darkness was. And
> frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in on
> these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
> more.

I have to go with Adam on this one. Jornalism and fact-based writing always
has to do this, but fiction doesn't. It can, but it doesn't have to.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ideas? Who needs them, when you can rip off other writers. No one will
> notice because nobody has much of a memory or an attention span these days.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Magnus threatened to sue me over this one, which seems appropriate since
> Uncle Zebulon's Will includes a mirror you can walk through. If I am not
> incredibly mistaken, that reminds me of Alice Through the Looking Glass.
> Walking through a mirror into an alternate reality is one of the most
> memorable and unique ideas in Alice (which is a story chock full of unique
> and memorable ideas, often copied), and it is well stolen in that game.

Except that often creative ideas that look original on the surface are
merely copies themselves, dressed up in new clothing, but copies
nonetheless. I understand that you're talking about a specific reference
that's been literally reused, but that's not nescesarily a bad thing to do.

Not because it's high art or anything, but because I happened to watch it
again the other day, The Matrix makes frequent references to Alice in
Wonderland, and almost literally has the main character going through a
looking glass at one point. You could say that it's a lack of creativity,
but I'd say it's effective storytelling. The film is something of an
abstraction (for those who don't eat technology for breakfast) and using
references to Alice effectively puts everyone on the same page without
having to go through a lot of boring tech talk about VR and blah, blah,
blah. Follow the white rabbit, blue pill, red pill, falling down the rabbit
hole, the melting mirror... all appropriate references to Alice within the
context of the story.

Now if a reference or a reused idea is implemented that has no bearing on
the story besides the fact that the author thinks it's cool and mysterious,
that's different. I can't speak about Zebulon because I haven't played it.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fun? Who needs it, when you can be pompous, deep and philosophical.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I would think this particular accusation would make game titles and authors
> come to mind immediately, but if I must quote a game or two, I will refer to
> Ian Finley's dystopian masterpeices. I do not, do not, I repeat, do not,
> want to play through a game only to learn at the end that mankind should not
> play God or that justice taken too far is really evil. Ian Finley is good at
> writing fables, not games. I play games to get away from real life, and thus
> the games must present some sort of solution to ages-old problems such as
> justice and punishment, not merely re-iterate them for me. We all know that
> justice can be evil, and that governments can be corrupt, fascist, and
> sadistic. The last game I would ever want to play is one that is too closely
> modeled after reality. If I wanted that, I would step outside on the street,
> and watch the glory of our century go by in all its inherent unfairness and
> impossible pain.

When I want to get away from real life, I fire up Quake III. When I want to
take an active part in something that has some meat on its bones, I play IF.
Or I read, since reading so-called "static" fiction is an active mental
sport IMO. The "interactive" tag to IF almost seems redundant to me, or a
point of distinction only (although I understand what it's really trying to
convey).

Besides, Quake is just a moral comment anyway if you care to go down that
path, and it's not even trying to be.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Descriptiveness? Who needs it when you can twist English grammar into more
> and more unlikely shapes and call it genius.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For some reason, the authors of the competition entries are under the
> impression if you excite the senses and mystify the mind, that counts as a
> description, but it does not. A description is supposed to relay the facts,
> nothing more. That is what grammar is all about: communicating the facts.
> Tell me how big it is, how fast it's going, and when it's going to hit me.
> Don't tell me it looks like light bending in a kaleidoscopic circus, a
> prismic echo of a forgotten memory of last night's date, with throbbing
> hairy heat bending reality into evermore nonsensical words.

Grammer is about making the playing field level so you don't have to
re-learn English everytime you pick up a new book. Grammer does not equal
fiction any more than a bucket of paint equals either Picasso or vandalism.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Puzzles? Who needs them when you can just make your game impossible to win?
> (Yes I have played games like this.)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> When I get through a game, I expect, at the very least, an uplifting and
> happy ending. I don't care if that's not realistic. I said already a game
> isn't supposed to be realistic. If it was realistic it would be depressing.
> And along with the happy ending, I expect rewards, virtual or otherwise. For
> the benefit of the game-illiterate, I offer the following basic diagram:

That's your preference. Not everyone shares it, and therefore it's not a
valid argument. Puzzle-less games are either intrinsicly rewarding or
they're not, which is partially the point, really.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Non-linear Plot? Who needs one when you can transcribe a short story onto
> the computer and call it IF?
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> There should be at least one major branch-point in the game where a chain of
> events can go in two totally different directions. This is essential for
> rescuing the player from a feeling that he is nothing but a pawn. Both
> directions should be meaningful and logical, and neither of them should lead
> to death or ruination.

Maybe. I can't say that every IF game I've played and enjoyed has done this,
but some have. I personally wouldn't nail it down as a requirement, but it's
nice when it happens. It's also extremely difficult to program. Every branch
point adds exponentially to the work needed to program the game (see: Losing
Your Grip). Unless the branches are near the end of the game, then there's
less to deal with, but if they're early on, you're in for sore fingers
typing all the code.

WISHBRINGER SPOILER : I just finished this game, and I actually was kind of
annoyed with it. There's a branch point in it, in the sense that the object
the game's *title* comes from doesn't even need to be used to win the game,
and I wasted a lot of time trying to find the friggin' thing in this tiny
game space (yeah, I know it was right in front of me, don't rub it in),
while solving puzzles all along, and then thinking, "Well, when do I need
this damn stone? Do I need it at all?" It complicated the game for me, got
in the way of me getting "into it" which is not good. In that sense, I think
the "branching" (although of puzzle-solving, not story) failed me. Perhaps
I'm too used to linear games, and it's not intrinsically a bad decision on
the part of the designer, but it pissed me off regardless.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> NPCs? Who needs them when you can code mindless cardboard-cutouts that
> answer 90% of questions with a default reply.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> If you can't be bothered to give your NPCs some character, and that includes
> character flaws, don't bother including them. People aren't perfect. Make
> them get angry. Give them addictions and vices. And program them with some
> custom replies for crying out loud. The relationship of the player with the
> NPC should not be static, it should evolve and change. There is no such
> thing as a good NPC (on your side) or an evil NPC (not on your side). Any
> given NPC should be a mixture of pro-player and anti-player sentiments.

See: branching. Program one, and then we'll discuss it.

> 100% linear. Character is a member of a larger world in which he is but one
> of my actors. Character explores and experiences this pre-fabricated world.
> Character can die or experience tragedy because the reader simply watches
> the character. The reader does not really think he is the character.

|>TAKE DICTIONARY. CONSULT DICTIONARY ABOUT "EMPATHY"

> Game:
>
> Non-linear. The player becomes the character and defines his world through
> his actions. The character is free to change the course of the
> reality-stream into a direction which suits him, and thus rewards him fully.

Even in the most open-ended IF, this is an illusion supported by the user
interface. The fact that you can make the PC solve the "locked gate" puzzle
and then the "annoying NPC who won't leave you alone" puzzle, restart the
game, solve the "annoying NPC" puzzle *first*, and then the "gate" puzzle is
not changing the course of the story. Well, it *is*, but it's not.

Non-linear implies changes in *goals*, and again, refer to programming NPCs
with complex emotions and branching plots. A lot of work to do. A *lot* of
work. If you're up to it, have at it.

> The essence here is that you have a chance to win, and win spectacularly.
> You can win at darts, you can win at Solitaire, you can win at Chess, you
> can win at PacMan, you can win at football, but for some reason you can't
> win at IF. That's a very serious problem, the way I see it. Winning isn't
> just about finishing, it's about succeeding and being happy.

Except that chess and football and solitaire and PacMan are so unlike real
life, and have so few variables that it's not worth comparing them. It's
like saying, well, we can clone a single cell, so let's get going on
resurrecting Elvis. Shit just ain't that simple.

Chess has very few variables that are complicated by the game space. IF has
a lot of variables that are complicated by the game space.

Gregg

Mike Duncan

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 12:04:21 PM12/9/01
to
On Sun, 9 Dec 2001 14:55:39 GMT, "Ben A L Jemmett"
<bal.j...@ukonline.co.uk> wrote:
>
>But what you're missing here is that IF isn't necessarily a game; it's
>interactive fiction. Just as with noninteractive fiction, the ending
>doesn't have to be happy. Can you 'win' a novel you're reading?
>
>Imagine, if you will, an interactive version of Orwell's _Nineteen
>Eighty-Four_ -- there could be no way to 'win', because in the setting of
>the novel winning is not an option.

Yes. Setting is one restriction.

(Hamlet spoliers follow. Yes, the play)

Character is another. Hamlet, as a character, is incapable of promptly
killing his stepfather at the end of Act I, Scene V. Instead he's
cautious and indecisive. (Popular example, yes I know, but..)

Say you're totally unfamiliar with Hamlet. You play an IF version. You
try to kill Claudius ASAP after the ghost shows up and suggests it's a
good idea. The game's author has several choices -

1. "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!" i.e. Hamlet does little
per the play.

2. Claudius dies messily. The cast survives. A lot of wonderful story
is wasted. Or Claudius shouts "Guards!" and they slaughter Hamlet. In
any case, things end rather quickly.

3. The PC Hamlet demurs, but is willing to act boldly at several other
non-canonial instances. Some, if not all, of the overall theme is
preserved in these options. It might be possible to save Ophelia, for
example, or not accidentally kill Polonius.

4. Some coincidence occurs which prevents Hamlet from assassinating
Claudius. Maybe C's too well protected at a given juncture, or Horiato
falls ill and Hamlet has to feed him chicken soup or something. But
these instances more or less steer the player toward the Shakespheare
ending.

5. It's revealed that Claudius is a vampire and cannot be killed via
traditional sword-hacking methods, at which point Buffy arrives via
time-warp. Hilarity ensues.

(BTW, this is all probably a bad example as Hamlet's overreaching
strategy, ACT INSANE, would be somewhat dificult to implement.)

Mike Duncan
http://www.boston.quik.com/mduncan/

Joe Mason

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 12:20:21 PM12/9/01
to
In article <MIFQ7.33326$KT.86...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,

You know, I was gonna post something about this yesterday, cause I seemed to recall
that you had posted before saying you had low self-esteem and were in therapy. But
I couldn't find the post on Google, so I held off in case I was wrong. Maybe that
was a mistake.

I think you should print out all your posts here since the first one on while
loops, and all responses, and show them to your therapist. They'll probably be
able to give you some insights that you won't accept from us.

(I'f have mailed this privately so it doesn't look like a public flame, but
"NoS...@Spam.net" obviously isn't your real email address, so I can't.)

Joe

ally

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 12:57:53 PM12/9/01
to
Just some fairly subjective comments. No flames, but spoilers for
Galatea toward the end.

First off, I might be concentrating on counter-arguing here, but that
doesn't mean I hate solid game design, or "gamey" IF for that matter.

On Sun, 09 Dec 2001 04:45:01 GMT, "Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Content? Who needs it, when you can write in a way that looks good.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Writing that fails to cover the five Ws: Who What When Where Why falls under
>this category. At any given point in the story the reader deserves to know
>exactly who he is, what is going on, and why. The plot can progress, but
>progress is not revelation. Revelation, the discovering of basic clues about
>identity, is a fairly transparent plot device which is not satisfying at
>all. So, the deliberate exclusion of vital, scene-forming facts for the sake
>of making writing shorter or more minimal is extremely bad writing. If you
>insist I give an example, I will use All Roads. At the beginning of All
>Roads, I had no idea who I was, whether I had committed a crime, whether I
>was in a fantasy world or the real one, and what the Darkness was.

What if that's never been the game's intention? I can't tell; I've
merely glanced at it. But that mere glance did "give me pictures".
It didn't make me think it was my goal to figure out the WWWWW, it
didn't tell me what to do, it just presented me with a situation that
was intriguing. I like to be intrigued.

>And
>frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in on
>these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
>more.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Ideas? Who needs them, when you can rip off other writers. No one will
>notice because nobody has much of a memory or an attention span these days.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Magnus threatened to sue me over this one, which seems appropriate since
>Uncle Zebulon's Will includes a mirror you can walk through. If I am not
>incredibly mistaken, that reminds me of Alice Through the Looking Glass.
>Walking through a mirror into an alternate reality is one of the most
>memorable and unique ideas in Alice (which is a story chock full of unique
>and memorable ideas, often copied), and it is well stolen in that game.

Mh. It's certainly not the most original concept anymore, just like
damsels in distress aren't. But isn't it more or less "public domain"
by now, part of a heritage/pool of universally known "basic
ingredients"? I really doubt Magnus expected (or wanted) players to
believe he was the first to come up with it.

>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Fun? Who needs it, when you can be pompous, deep and philosophical.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>I would think this particular accusation would make game titles and authors
>come to mind immediately, but if I must quote a game or two, I will refer to
>Ian Finley's dystopian masterpeices. I do not, do not, I repeat, do not,
>want to play through a game only to learn at the end that mankind should not
>play God or that justice taken too far is really evil. Ian Finley is good at
>writing fables, not games. I play games to get away from real life, and thus
>the games must present some sort of solution to ages-old problems such as
>justice and punishment, not merely re-iterate them for me. We all know that
>justice can be evil, and that governments can be corrupt, fascist, and
>sadistic. The last game I would ever want to play is one that is too closely
>modeled after reality. If I wanted that, I would step outside on the street,
>and watch the glory of our century go by in all its inherent unfairness and
>impossible pain.

Mh. I might write IF about it instead. I don't know Ian Finley, and I
don't know how much of "Kaged" was self-expression. I for one was too
"there" to feel as though I was being lectured at. It felt good to get
some of this real life ugliness out of my system by "sharing" my
nightmares with the game's. It took me a long time to pick up
"Photopia" again, though. It was a thoroughly draining experience the
first time I tried to play it-- but that, too, simply means it's
"reached" me somewhere.

In other words, why demand each and every work of IF work for you? I
suppose you're arguing against a specific trend or development here,
but does this spell the end of whatever-kind-of-game-you-like? I do
like the diversity. (Also goes for non-linear vs. linear, et cetera.)

>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Descriptiveness? Who needs it when you can twist English grammar into more
>and more unlikely shapes and call it genius.
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>For some reason, the authors of the competition entries are under the
>impression if you excite the senses and mystify the mind, that counts as a
>description, but it does not. A description is supposed to relay the facts,
>nothing more. That is what grammar is all about: communicating the facts.

But is it what storytelling is about? A novel (or poem or song) is not
a cooking recipe. An Edvard Munch or Paul Klee painting is not a
schematic diagram. And so on. I dunno. I guess I like it when I feel
like I'm looking at the author's mind.

"Shade", to mention a game I actually know, had me mystified in the
best possible sense. The "Why" there was not a "Why did XY happen?"
but a "Why did XY touch me?" Expecting IF to make "too much" sense is,
for me, like expecting my dreams to be perfectly rationally laid-out
symbols (sometimes they are.)

(None of that was supposed to mean that random gibberish is cool by
definition, even when it's how I write.)

>Tell me how big it is, how fast it's going, and when it's going to hit me.
>Don't tell me it looks like light bending in a kaleidoscopic circus, a
>prismic echo of a forgotten memory of last night's date, with throbbing
>hairy heat bending reality into evermore nonsensical words.

Despite what I said before, it's nonetheless a valid point (I think.)
But aren't you contrasting style 1 to a grotesque "bullshit version"
of style 2 here? I do prefer few (but evocative) words; snapshots of a
mood and "flair" can make me see more than a sober "relaying of
facts". Frankly, I don't want a box of puzzles to figure out, even
when they're consistent with the plot. I'd look at my source code if
I wanted to wreck my "left" brain.

>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Puzzles? Who needs them when you can just make your game impossible to win?
>(Yes I have played games like this.)
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>When I get through a game, I expect, at the very least, an uplifting and
>happy ending. I don't care if that's not realistic.

Yeah, I like a happy ending myself. But if the author doesn't "see"
one, if indeed the story itself doesn't "want" to end happily...?

>I said already a game
>isn't supposed to be realistic. If it was realistic it would be depressing.
>And along with the happy ending, I expect rewards, virtual or otherwise. For
>the benefit of the game-illiterate, I offer the following basic diagram:
>
>Game Structure:
>
>Expectation of fun -------> Obstacle ---------> Reward for overcoming
>obstacle
> ----------> Punishment
>for not overcoming obstacle
>
>
>Structure of the Average Comp Winner:
>
>Text --------> Obstacle -------> Text

That's a fairly depressing graph. I don't know if it represents the
structure of the average comp winner, but, done right, it might also
work like this:

Involvement -> Optional Stuff -> Reward: More Involvement
-> Punishment: More Involvement

Mh. Guess I'm just not a gamer. As others have said before, IF doesn't
neccessarily have to be a game in the strictest sense. An experience,
maybe?

>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Non-linear Plot? Who needs one when you can transcribe a short story onto
>the computer and call it IF?
>----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>There should be at least one major branch-point in the game where a chain of
>events can go in two totally different directions. This is essential for
>rescuing the player from a feeling that he is nothing but a pawn. Both
>directions should be meaningful and logical, and neither of them should lead
>to death or ruination.

I liked how Galatea seemed to branch out into somewhat seperate
interpretations of a single premise depending on the player's
behaviour. You might end up sharing stories like old friends, or walk
away from an AI exhibition, unaffected. But being a pawn can also be
part of a concept. As always, it depends on how well it's done. So
maybe I couldn't stand game x, but that doesn't neccessarily mean game
x is badly designed or written or oversteps the boundaries of what's
"acceptable" in IF. Why not let authors experiment?

I do understand the sentiment, I think--If the entire IF world
reverted to a Zork state of things, I would indeed be disappointed.
Back in those days, I *used* to be so disappointed with (even angry
at) what had become of "goth" music: clusmy, pretentious,
pseudo-philosophical, bloodless, uninspired....!! But now I'd rather
see it become good at being whatever it tries to be than *gone*. After
all, I don't have to listen to it.

Whew. I'm going to repeat myself forever if I don't stop while I
can...

~ally

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 12:59:23 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/9/01 12:04 PM, Mike Duncan at mdu...@pobox.com posted:

> (BTW, this is all probably a bad example as Hamlet's overreaching
> strategy, ACT INSANE, would be somewhat dificult to implement.)

|> ACT INSANE
You flip through a book and mumble something about "words, words, words."

Polonious gives you a look that would suggest he'd rather be caught dead
(That can be arranged, you think) than catch you snogging his daughter.

|> TALK TO POLONIUS ABOUT INSANITY
"If that's what being crazy is, then I'm senseless, out of it,
gone-down-the-road wacko," you say cheerfully.

"Umm. Yes, quite," Polonius offers, ever so slightly backing towards the
doorway.

Jon Ingold

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 2:31:25 PM12/9/01
to
> And
> frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in
on
> these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
> more.

Well, that's the game. If you don't want to play; that's your call.

But consider Cluedo. Or Agatha Christie. Or the films "Memento", "The Sixth
Sense", "The Usual Suspects" &c.

Jon

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 3:35:28 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/9/01 2:31 PM, Jon Ingold at ji...@cam.ac.uk posted:

Not to create an argument, but just remember that films are a different
medium than writing, and you can get away with a lot more with regard to
keeping the audience in the dark (no pun intended). There's the additional
(and tangible) visual and musical cues, not to mention that movies are more
often viewed in one sitting, where a subtle hint or symbol, etc. doesn't
require a great deal of memory to sort through. Whereas reading a book or
playing IF can take place over days or weeks, and gets interrupted by
tedious things like, say, your boss unloading on you, or or kid getting in a
fight a school, or finding the girl/boy of your dreams and suddenly not
caring all that much about what Act 3 of Kallisti is all about (not to
single out that game, just a random example).

Part of what makes Memento comprehendable is the fact that it's short and
watched in one sitting. If I had to see a segment of it, let an day pass,
then watch the next segment, and so on, I don't know that I could have put
it together. I could barely keep up as it is, and I consider myself a pretty
attentive film watcher.

I think the games that are a bit "out there" have to either be short, or
they have to be compelling enough to overcome the lack of something explicit
to grab on to right away (a goal or a well-defined sense of PC, setting,
etc.).

"Shade" isn't that obtuse, but it is different, and I think the reason I
played it through is because I connected with the frustration of not being
able to find something important. That got me started. Just a month ago I
went *nuts* trying to find my wallet, which I misplace maybe once every 4
years, if that. I knew, *knew* I hadn't lost it, but I couldn't find it for
the life of me. Everybody goes through that at least once, and I think
that's the hook in "Shade" that got me past the fact that it isn't your
typical IF game.

I don't want to mention games that failed to do that for me, because I don't
want to accidentaly drag it through the mud in the process, but for me, a
game can be as wonky as it wants as long as something clicks. Writing
something like that requires a certain amount of skill, however. Not for an
individual, because you're bound to have at least one person "get it," but
for an audience, it's a different story.

Gregg

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 4:37:30 PM12/9/01
to
(I wrote, but lost the attribution; sorry, next bit is me)

>> By the way, I hope you found _Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country_
>> less offensive than most of the games that placed higher than it (it
>> came in 33rd, for your quick reference). Although linear and lacking in
>> NPCs who underwent any sort of character development, it avoided most of
>> your other traps. And no one can accuse it of not having a happy
>> ending. Not even Mr. Goatse.cx.

In article <mmFQ7.33321$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,


Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>I don't even want to think about what kind of veiled insult this paragraph
>represents.

I meant exactly what I said. There is no insult, veiled or unveiled,
in the above paragraph.

You bitched at length about games that weren't games, that didn't have
happy endings, that didn't meet whatever tight little criteria of
enjoyability your personal set of criteria for Acceptable Interactive
Fiction--which you then held up as some sort of Universal Model Of
Quality, and expected us all to admire, but no matter--enshrined.

Now, as it happens, I'm a great deal more familiar with _Stiffy Makane:
The Undiscovered Country_ than I am with any other game in the
competition, for one simple and, I hope, fairly obvious reason.

And that game comes much, much closer to your criteria than many of the
other games in the competition. It is, at least on one level, a piece
of lighthearted, escapist fluff. I have received reports from a few
people that it made them laugh. It has a clear winning condition and,
indeed, a very happy ending. Its flaws--on the Mercury Scale Of
Petulant Universal Quality--are that it is quite linear (although you
can do the first two scenes in either order, it doesn't make any real
difference, and you can't make the game unwinnable without losing more
or less immediately), and that its NPCs make no pretense at being
complicated characters. The only character development in the
story--and that's kind of dubious--is that of Stiffy himself.

There's even a very traditional puzzle based on the hoary old chestnut
of "get X and give it to Y in exchange for Z. Repeat" And you can't
argue that the opening scene doesn't set up the "W"'s quite
effectively.

Or are you just worrying about the possibility that I was calling *you*
Mr. Goatse.cx? If so, don't. I have no reason to believe that you
resemble him in the, er, salient respect, and I fervently hope--were I a
religious man, I'd pray--that I never have cause to find out.

His name arises because his most famous picture graces _SMTUC_, and he
was one of the "interviewees" selected for a quip at the beginning of
Robb Sherwin's review of the game. If you don't wish to play through
_SMTUC_ to find the picture, you can always go to http://www.goatse.cx.

Enjoy.

Adam

Papillon

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Dec 9, 2001, 4:03:19 PM12/9/01
to

<knowing who/what/where>

>> But consider Cluedo. Or Agatha Christie. Or the films "Memento", "The Sixth
>> Sense", "The Usual Suspects" &c.
>
>Not to create an argument, but just remember that films are a different
>medium than writing, and you can get away with a lot more with regard to
>keeping the audience in the dark (no pun intended). There's the additional
>(and tangible) visual and musical cues, not to mention that movies are more

... of course, on the other hand, it's often more *difficult* to figure out
what's going on when things are done badly. It's easier to keep names
straight when they're written in the text than when you have to *hope* some
character will say it and say it clearly enough for you to understand, and
that the actors don't look so similar that you don't realise they're playing
different characters...

In a game, particularly a text game, you have more freedom to examine (and
re-examine, and take notes on) things that puzzle you. In a movie, you're
just helplessly holding on for the ride, and hoping that the writer/director
will eventually get around to clarifying things. If you trust the w/d not to
suck and/or the plot of the movie is such that it's clear a mystery is
intentional, you can enjoy the process of discovery, but if you're just
plain confused there's not as much you can do to take control of the
experience. The process of discovery can be more meaningful in a game
because the player directs that discovery.

In any medium, it requires some effort on the part of the creators to convey
the important elements of the setting. It doesn't have to be all at once,
but if it doesn't happen by the end of the experience the player/viewer can
feel let down. I was fine with not understanding what was going on at the
beginning of All Roads, but at the end, I was still confused... after
reading all the reviews, I'm *still* confused... This isn't to say that I
think the game sucks, but I'm not very enthusiastic about it. Not my game.


Matthew Russotto

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 5:31:10 PM12/9/01
to
In article <UGFQ7.33324$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,

Try alt.support.depression.

Though perhaps you'd fit in better in alt.support.depression.flame

BTW, you should know that you're WAY down on my list of people who I'd
like to cut into pieces slowly and watch suffer. Probably,
anyway... you're name isn't Gates, is it?
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
=====
Get Caught Reading, Go To Jail!
A message from the Association of American Publishers
Free Dmitry Sklyarov! DMCA delenda est!
http://www.freedmitry.org

Adam Thornton

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Dec 9, 2001, 5:29:21 PM12/9/01
to
In article <u17phek...@corp.supernews.com>,

Matthew Russotto <russ...@wanda.pond.com> wrote:
>In article <UGFQ7.33324$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,
>Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>>Everyone knows I'm depressed. It's the most obvious thing about me. Ever
>>wonder if it might be because of people like YOU, abusive, cruel, vicious
>>people who would enjoy nothing more than to cut me into peices slowly and
>>watch me suffer? You're sadists! That's why I'm depressed, because humanity
>>is a lost cause!
>
>Try alt.support.depression.
>Though perhaps you'd fit in better in alt.support.depression.flame

Funny, I was going to suggest alt.suicide.holiday.

Adam

Matthew Russotto

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 5:34:53 PM12/9/01
to

Do they still offer how-to advice?

Mercury

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 5:45:23 PM12/9/01
to
After reading the replies, carefully as usual, I think what this boils down
to is My opinion about fiction versus Your opinion about fiction. I admit
I've never read any of the writers suggested, but I have read a deal of
"standard" fiction, even and especially award-winning "standard" fiction,
and without fail every single time the story ends on a positive note of
sorts, usually with "winning" or success conditions of some sort. The
protagonist flourishes, obstacles are overcome, and the "bad guys" are
offed, or at least a peaceful resolution is reached if not for the
protagonist then for the situation at large. Even in the most sinister and
depressive of stories this was the case.

The essence of any for-profit fiction is to give pleasure to the reader.
This pleasure might be erotic, then again, it might be intellectual. I
didn't derive much *intellectual* pleasure from playing some comp
entries/winners, and there sure as hell wasn't anything erotic about them
(which brings me to another point: are these games being written for
children?)

I frequently hear tell that developing a complex NPC requires a great deal
of coding. I just don't believe that's the case. While it's very true that
developing an NPC that can learn is an ordeal, your NPC's don't really have
to learn. You can program them with data about your world, and with a good
deal of prepared responses. It doesn't have to be hard, any harder than
writing a complex character in a traditional story or novel. It's really
about how well you write and whether you bother to give your NPC's
motivations. What I'm saying is: in the prepared responses you write for
them, give them some character.

Here are some aspects of great fiction:

- logic

- identification (*wanting* to be the protagonist, and yes, this is a huge
detraction from the oft-quoted classical tragedy format where the
protagonist gets trashed in a hundred different ways...personally I believe
this appeals to an effete, blood-hungry audience and is not all that
different from arena games...it's not to say Shakespeare wasn't brilliant,
but the audience he was writing for wasn't necessarily the most
compassionate)

- understandability (here is where the five W's come in)

- pleasure (often coming from sensory stimulation, albeit "imaginary")

- progression

- setting! (it's getting ignored more and more)

- happiness

When I read high-quality fiction it makes me happy, and it's quite hard to
explain why exactly. When I play IF I'm never happy.


Adam Thornton

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Dec 9, 2001, 5:56:53 PM12/9/01
to
In article <7QRQ7.35510$KT.94...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,

Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>When I read high-quality fiction it makes me happy, and it's quite hard to
>explain why exactly. When I play IF I'm never happy.

A man goes to the doctor.

"Doc, it hurts when I do this."

"Well, don't do that, then."

Adam

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 6:37:21 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/9/01 4:03 PM, Papillon at papillo...@bigfoot.com posted:

> <knowing who/what/where>

>>> But consider Cluedo. Or Agatha Christie. Or the films "Memento", "The Sixth
>>> Sense", "The Usual Suspects" &c.

>> Not to create an argument, but just remember that films are a different
>> medium than writing, and you can get away with a lot more with regard to
>> keeping the audience in the dark (no pun intended). There's the additional
>> (and tangible) visual and musical cues, not to mention that movies are more

> ... of course, on the other hand, it's often more *difficult* to figure out
> what's going on when things are done badly. It's easier to keep names
> straight when they're written in the text than when you have to *hope* some
> character will say it and say it clearly enough for you to understand, and
> that the actors don't look so similar that you don't realise they're playing
> different characters...

Right, you can always page back. I was going to mention this but I lost
track of myself. Little out of it today. *Yawn*

> In a game, particularly a text game, you have more freedom to examine (and
> re-examine, and take notes on) things that puzzle you. In a movie, you're
> just helplessly holding on for the ride, and hoping that the writer/director
> will eventually get around to clarifying things.

...snip...

> In any medium, it requires some effort on the part of the creators to convey
> the important elements of the setting. It doesn't have to be all at once

Agree with all you say here. I guess the moral is you have to watch your
step no matter what the medium is, really.

Perhaps what I was leaning towards is that films are slightly more imediate,
closer to a real expereince as far as involving the senses, and I think that
plays into understanding more rapidly on a subconscious level. Often, with
text, you have to get past the language, or I should say, get in tune with
it, before you can get a handle on the events that are transpiring. And if
you have to make decisive decisions as well, as in IF, it can complicate
things. I don't know, maybe it varies from person to person. I enjoy reading
and writing very much, but I'm also aware that I'm a very visual person (I
usually "see" the scene of what I want to write, I don't "hear" the text in
my head first, that comes second... too much TV as a kid maybe), so I have
an easier time decoding oddly filmed stories better than oddly written
stories.

And I have no idea if that makes any sense at all.

Gregg

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 6:43:24 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/9/01 4:37 PM, Adam Thornton at adam@dev-linux. posted:

> His name arises because his most famous picture graces _SMTUC_, and he
> was one of the "interviewees" selected for a quip at the beginning of
> Robb Sherwin's review of the game. If you don't wish to play through
> _SMTUC_ to find the picture, you can always go to

Holy Christ. Now I know what Emily was takling about. Sweet Mother of God, I
feel like blowing my brains out just to forget I ever saw that.

Gregg

Papillon

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 6:32:21 PM12/9/01
to
"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:

>entries/winners, and there sure as hell wasn't anything erotic about them
>(which brings me to another point: are these games being written for
>children?)

Okay, you've just proved you haven't actually been *playing* the comp games.
:)

(While the actual stimulation provided by some games may vary, they
certainly weren't written for children...)

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 8:51:19 PM12/9/01
to
In article <ldt71uk8csf8snkas...@4ax.com>,

Papillon <papillo...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
>Okay, you've just proved you haven't actually been *playing* the comp games.
>:)
>
>(While the actual stimulation provided by some games may vary, they
>certainly weren't written for children...)

One could argue that if one were to take the linguistic roots of
"puerile" literally, _SMTUC_ was written for children.

However, if one wanted to avoid prosecution on charges of corruption of
minors, one would--as I do--aver that _SMTUC_ was most assuredly *not*
for children.

Adam

Adam Thornton

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 8:52:07 PM12/9/01
to
In article <B8396148.F56%gr...@midcoast.com>,

Gregg V. Carroll <gr...@midcoast.com> wrote:
>Holy Christ. Now I know what Emily was takling about. Sweet Mother of God, I
>feel like blowing my brains out just to forget I ever saw that.

Another satisfied customer.

Adam

Sean T Barrett

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 10:10:42 PM12/9/01
to
In article <9v14g7$168$2...@news.fsf.net>, Adam Thornton <adam@dev-linux.> wrote:
>Another satisfied customer.

What bothers me about people who troll is that basically they
set out to derive pleasure by bothering other people--wasting
their time, getting them annoyed/offended, etc.

Posting goatse.cx is not a troll, but it still fits the bill
for (a) what I don't like above and (b) not being even close
to on-topic in this newsgroup.

So now pretend I've flamed you for it, and we'll move on.

SeanB
(it's also SO last year)

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 9, 2001, 10:27:14 PM12/9/01
to
On 12/9/01 8:52 PM, Adam Thornton at adam@dev-linux. posted:

> Another satisfied customer.

It's going to be a long time before you hear me say, "How bad can it be?"
again, that's for effing sure. Last time I said that and regreted it was
just prior to viewing the unedited "Happiness In Slavery" video. One of
these days I'll learn my lesson.

I'm going to go take a shower now.

Gregg

Billy Harris

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 5:34:47 AM12/10/01
to
In article <9v14g7$168$2...@news.fsf.net>, Adam Thornton <adam@dev-linux.>
wrote:

> In article <B8396148.F56%gr...@midcoast.com>,

It's considered polite to warn people "This picture is F*cking
Offensive" before giving a URL to it. Kind of like you did for SMtUC,
and unlike you did for "Here's a famous picutre I used in my game".

And no, saying "The picture immediately below this line is not for
minors" does not count.

--
Billy Harris
wha...@mail.airmail.net

Jon Ingold

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 6:58:15 AM12/10/01
to
> Not to create an argument, but just remember that films are a different
> medium than writing, and you can get away with a lot more with regard to
> keeping the audience in the dark (no pun intended).

I always view IF much more from a cinematic perspective than a literature
one. It seems to me the analogy is closer that way. I think this arises from
the obsession that IF and IF players have with _location_; location is the
first things you are aware of in each game - it's the location followed by
the details within. It's a background with a foreground on top. That's true
in cinema because that's how visuals work (bar, I dunno, the animation at
the start of the Pink Panther films or something); in literature it tends to
take details and build outwards. (Yes, this is very general).

I learnt this from responses to My Angel - I was quite surprised to see how
many people complained at not having that bedrock of a firm location. But it
seems to be ingrained into the medium or the players.

Anyway. I'm not sure your point about cuing stands up, simply because if IF
you have an incredible amount of detail - not in one burst, but in the
various responses. As you try to interact with something, it's very easy to
bury lots of detail into an object based on how it pushes, pulls, turns,
etc. (the grey block in Zork II leaps to mind. Or all-the-stuff in So Far).
I do think there's a lot there. True, it's less subconcious and you do have
to parse it all in. But once you get into the mode of a piece of writing it
becomes less about the text and more what the text creates. Reading isn't
generally a process of taking words and fitting them together, and then
understanding what you've got. It's far more immediate than that.

Jon


Plugh!

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 8:40:31 AM12/10/01
to
"Mercury" <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote in message news:<MIFQ7.33326$KT.86...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>...

> Uh, sorry, my extreme apologies to the animal kingdom. Uh, humans and
> monkeys are in a class by themselves.

Hey, back off there & leave the monkeys out of it! You think you're
depressed? I've just heard that after 45 years they're thinking of
dropping the PG Tips chimps.

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 9:04:20 AM12/10/01
to
On 12/10/01 6:58 AM, Jon Ingold at ji...@cam.ac.uk posted:

Well, there's almost always wide-angle establishing shots in films when
there's a location and/or temporal change. For the most part, scenes start
with est. shots that let you know where you are, then moves into the
details. A really easy way to make the audience subconsciously uneasy is to
eliminate any kind of establishing shot, and jump right in. I think the
point I was trying to make, however, is that it's more difficult to inhibit
an audience from placing a location. Even an opening shot of two people
sitting in a booth with a plate of breakfast in front of each of them denies
the audience the wide-angle establishing shot, but you can pretty much
surmise that they're in a diner. Whereas, if you have a text version of the
same scene, that starts out something like,

"What?"
"Oh, nothing."
"Sure?"
"Not running on all cylinders yet, that's all."
"I'm not a morning person, either, but we need to get moving early."

you're almost completely in the dark as to location or context. You have a
temporal reference, but that's about it. It could very well be the dialogue
to the "breakfast" setup above, but there's no way to know that in the text
version if I hadn't said so outright.

To achieve the same effect in film, you'd have to have either really tight
closeups on the actors, which is somewhat unnatural, or play the dialogue
over the black before the fade-in, and cut out the visual elements. Even
then, however, you'd have to omit or downplay the background noise of
silverware clinking and the general chatter of other customers, which would,
subconsciously, suggest a diner or something close to it, just because
people are so familiar with that kind of ambient noise. It's ambient, but we
recognize it internally as being ambient to a specific collection of
locations; resurants, diners, and the like. In the written dialogue above,
you're not even sure of the character's sexes, but in film, barring any
other cue, sex of the speaker can usually be determined by vocal tone
recognition that's ingrained in us starting Day One. No, not always, but 90%
of the time you can.

So my point, really, was that it's easier to isolate a reader and keep them
from grabbing on to something, and therefore it's easier to abuse than in
film. In film, you really have to go out of your way to keep the audience
from not forcing a location, time, or meaning on to a scene, and the sheer
difficultly of it enforces a degree of care into the process. Memento is a
notable, not only because it does this well, but because it's not simply a
gimmick, it's a device to basically force empathy for the main character;
the audience is as confused as he is, therefore we understand what he's
going through, and his actions therefore make sense (or are at least
understandable), whereas they might not be if the story was linear (well, it
is linear technically, but a special case).

There's a reason why you don't see a lot of shots in film that suddenly pull
out, revealing that it's just a set and the actors really *are* actors
rehersing a scene. It's cliche and it harsly betrays the audience and their
willingness to suspend disbelief. In my expereince, it seems more common
(and acceptable?) to betray a *reader* into beleiving something that seems
to be true is not, in terms of setting, and location and time, and things we
take for granted in film, and I think it's abused more often than not,
because authors aren't as constrained by the "cues" that happen almost
automatically in film. As soon as you shoot a scene, in it's rawest form,
you already have 50-75% of what you need, and what the audience needs, and
the editing adds the final percentage in terms of context of previous
scenes, audio cues, and so on. To undo all that and do it well in film is
very hard, but I think that's less the case with pure text. It's still hard
to write it, I'm not saying it's easy, but *relatively* less so than in
film, IMHO.

Gregg

Jon Ingold

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 12:36:49 PM12/10/01
to
> Whereas, if you have a text version of the same scene, that starts out
something like,
>
> "What?"
> "Oh, nothing."
> "Sure?"
> "Not running on all cylinders yet, that's all."
> "I'm not a morning person, either, but we need to get moving early."

Oh, certainly, I agree. However, in *Interactive* Fiction, this is a lot
less common indeed, simply because it's damn difficult (to the point of
rewriting the standard libraries) to inhibit the player from getting a
location. Or, in the specific of your example, have a conversation where you
don't know who you're talking to. Which is why I link IF to Cinema rather
than writing, again. Perhaps also because it exists within a certain frame
of information which writing doesn't usually.

> So my point, really, was that it's easier to isolate a reader and keep
them
> from grabbing on to something, and therefore it's easier to abuse than in
> film.

I think, in some ways, it's just a weaker effect in books. Take Harry
Potter - the twist in the film has a lot of subtle cluing, and [though I
didn't see it without knowing the twist anyway] I suspect it's more
satisfying than in the book; where you go "Oh, right. Fair enough then".

Obviously; it's still up to the writer to *sufficiently* guide a reader
through. If people lose interest, well, that's not good. But there's a
balance between what _has_ to be done, and what _should_ be done.

Jon


David Thornley

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 1:31:59 PM12/10/01
to
In article <UGFQ7.33324$KT.85...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,
Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>Everyone knows I'm depressed. It's the most obvious thing about me. Ever
>wonder if it might be because of people like YOU, abusive, cruel, vicious
>people who would enjoy nothing more than to cut me into peices slowly and
>watch me suffer? You're sadists! That's why I'm depressed, because humanity
>is a lost cause!
>
Being depressive myself, I've learned a few things about it.

If you're clinically depressed, it's not because other people are
cruel, it's what's going on in your mind or brain or both. Naturally,
unpleasant people are going to make you feel worse, but not having
them isn't going to change your depression.

Furthermore, if you're depressed, you'll tend to see other people as
being unpleasant, and you will tend to see humanity as a lost cause.
You've got at least some of the causality reversed.

So, based on what you've written, I strongly advise you to consult
your doctor, if that's at all possible. Please take care of yourself.


--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

David Thornley

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 2:00:24 PM12/10/01
to
In article <B839353D.F45%gr...@midcoast.com>,

Gregg V. Carroll <gr...@midcoast.com> wrote:
>On 12/9/01 2:31 PM, Jon Ingold at ji...@cam.ac.uk posted:
>
>>> And
>>> frankly, I did not care. If the writer could not be bothered to let me in
>> on
>>> these utterly basic facts, he could hardly interest me in wanting to learn
>>> more.
>
>> Well, that's the game. If you don't want to play; that's your call.
>>
>> But consider Cluedo. Or Agatha Christie. Or the films "Memento", "The Sixth
>> Sense", "The Usual Suspects" &c.
>
>Not to create an argument, but just remember that films are a different
>medium than writing, and you can get away with a lot more with regard to
>keeping the audience in the dark (no pun intended).

OK, so let's get back to Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr. Heck,
let's talk about Harry Potter.

J.K. Rowling does not lay down all the facts at once. She creates
perceptions that do not correspond to the reality, for the purpose of
throwing in revelations at the climax of the story. (These are not
classic mystery stories, since Rowling does not provide the necessary
clues to deduce what's going on earlier in the story - either that,
or I'm a lousier mystery reader than I thought.)

For that matter, Harry starts the series in the position of not knowing
who he is, or what's going on, or why.

While there are enough people who don't like the Harry Potter books,
I would think that relatively few are bothered by the mystery involved,
but rather by some of Rowling's characterization and her fictional use
of magic.

>I think the games that are a bit "out there" have to either be short, or
>they have to be compelling enough to overcome the lack of something explicit
>to grab on to right away (a goal or a well-defined sense of PC, setting,
>etc.).
>

True, although there's a lot of personal preference involved. There
were people that really liked "Halothane", including me, and I don't
see that the game gave me anything to grab on to.

There was a game released this year, that I absolutely loved, in which
the PC literally didn't know whether he was alive or dead.

Basically, there's a whole lot of personal subjective taste involved
in any art form, IF not being an exception. It is a mistake for
anybody to confuse their taste with universal principles.

David Thornley

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 2:23:31 PM12/10/01
to
In article <7QRQ7.35510$KT.94...@news4.rdc1.on.home.com>,
Mercury <NoS...@Spam.net> wrote:
>After reading the replies, carefully as usual, I think what this boils down
>to is My opinion about fiction versus Your opinion about fiction.

Completely true.

I admit
>I've never read any of the writers suggested, but I have read a deal of
>"standard" fiction, even and especially award-winning "standard" fiction,
>and without fail every single time the story ends on a positive note of
>sorts, usually with "winning" or success conditions of some sort.

While this is the case in most stories, it certainly isn't in all.
Orwell's 1984 is the classic example, and there are others. I don't
generally care for dystopian literature of any sort, but as said
above that's my opinion (and apparently yours as well).

For that matter, I greatly enjoy the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and
it would be very hard to call many of his endings "winning". Ever
read Stephen King's "Pet Sematary"?

>The essence of any for-profit fiction is to give pleasure to the reader.
>This pleasure might be erotic, then again, it might be intellectual.

For highly varying values of the word "pleasure", which apply only to
certain subsets of readers. I doubt that there's a book out there that
everybody who can read it will enjoy.

>I frequently hear tell that developing a complex NPC requires a great deal
>of coding. I just don't believe that's the case. While it's very true that
>developing an NPC that can learn is an ordeal, your NPC's don't really have
>to learn. You can program them with data about your world, and with a good
>deal of prepared responses.

That belief is the result of experience. People have tried writing
complex NPCs, and have found them to require a large amount of work.
Having studied artificial intelligence at the grad school level, I
assure you that academics who work hard in the field don't know how
to make characters like that.

You could try designing an NPC according to your ideas. Enter it
into the IF Art Show if nothing else, if you succeed. I think you
are dramatically underestimating the difficulty, but I've been
wrong before.

It doesn't have to be hard, any harder than
>writing a complex character in a traditional story or novel.

No, that's not correct. When you write a traditional story,
you get to know ahead of time what situations and questions
that character reacts to, and if you've got a good mental image
of that character you know how he or she will react. That
image is incredibly hard to transfer into a computer program,
so that, given what goes on, the character will say or do what
you envision.

It's really
>about how well you write and whether you bother to give your NPC's
>motivations.

In conventional fiction, that's true. In IF, it's not a matter of
bothering to give NPCs motivations as in implementing them. Again,
a large number of very intelligent and creative people have put in
a large amount of work on doing such things, and have not gotten
very far. If there is a way to write NPCs with motivations that
behave credibly in IF, without a tremendous amount of work, lots
of people have failed to get the idea.

>When I read high-quality fiction it makes me happy, and it's quite hard to
>explain why exactly. When I play IF I'm never happy.
>

There is high-quality fiction that is not intended to make you happy.

In any case, since you don't know why good fiction makes you happy,
it seems to me that you will have difficulty in explaining what sort
of IF would make you happy (if there is such a thing), and I'd
suggest that IF may just not be your thing. It appeals to a small
minority of people, after all, and so there's no obvious reason
why it should appeal to you.

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 2:51:43 PM12/10/01
to
On 12/10/01 2:00 PM, David Thornley at thor...@visi.com posted:

> While there are enough people who don't like the Harry Potter books,
> I would think that relatively few are bothered by the mystery involved,
> but rather by some of Rowling's characterization and her fictional use
> of magic.

I know a few people like that. I'm not familiar with the Potter series or
Agatha for that matter, so I can't comment.

>> I think the games that are a bit "out there" have to either be short, or
>> they have to be compelling enough to overcome the lack of something explicit
>> to grab on to right away (a goal or a well-defined sense of PC, setting,
>> etc.).

> True, although there's a lot of personal preference involved. There
> were people that really liked "Halothane", including me, and I don't
> see that the game gave me anything to grab on to.
>
> There was a game released this year, that I absolutely loved, in which
> the PC literally didn't know whether he was alive or dead.
>
> Basically, there's a whole lot of personal subjective taste involved
> in any art form, IF not being an exception. It is a mistake for
> anybody to confuse their taste with universal principles.

Right, I;m not trying to argue that there should be, or that there is. Quite
the opposite. What I'm saying is that "Halothane" (which I'm also not
familiar with, but I'll take a stab in the dark in any case) was probably
written well, and well conceived underneath the "mystery," so it's not a
question if it's an oddball game or not, but a question of, well, effort I
suppose, that the author put into it. Which is the shorthand version of why
I got on this tangent to begin with, in response to Mercury (who, without
putting words in his mouth via paraphrasing, was suggesting that games that
aren't sparkling clear from the outset are intrinsically flawed for the IF
medium. I can see what he means between the lines, that it can be
frustrating if it's not done well, but I wasn't ready to agree with his
solution).

I think that's how on I got on this sidetrack, anymore. I'm not sure I
remember! Ack!

Gregg

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 3:14:57 PM12/10/01
to
On 12/10/01 12:36 PM, Jon Ingold at ji...@cam.ac.uk posted:

>> Whereas, if you have a text version of the same scene, that starts out
>> something like,
>>
>> "What?"
>> "Oh, nothing."
>> "Sure?"
>> "Not running on all cylinders yet, that's all."
>> "I'm not a morning person, either, but we need to get moving early."

> Oh, certainly, I agree. However, in *Interactive* Fiction, this is a lot
> less common indeed, simply because it's damn difficult (to the point of
> rewriting the standard libraries) to inhibit the player from getting a
> location. Or, in the specific of your example, have a conversation where you
> don't know who you're talking to. Which is why I link IF to Cinema rather
> than writing, again. Perhaps also because it exists within a certain frame
> of information which writing doesn't usually.

I drifted off IF and into fiction there in my argument, so yes, I would
agree. IF is kind of a strange territory where my case might lose a little
steam. A closer comparison might be text IF versus interactive *film*
(wouldn't that be something). Or maybe someone using HyperTADS or somesuch
to supliment text IF with an elaborate collection of short Quicktime movies
that varied slightly according to the game state, or something of that ilk.
Not sure...?

>> So my point, really, was that it's easier to isolate a reader and keep
>> them
>> from grabbing on to something, and therefore it's easier to abuse than in
>> film.

> I think, in some ways, it's just a weaker effect in books. Take Harry
> Potter - the twist in the film has a lot of subtle cluing, and [though I
> didn't see it without knowing the twist anyway] I suspect it's more
> satisfying than in the book; where you go "Oh, right. Fair enough then".

I think I drifted towards exactly what you're saying here, with the idea
that film is more immediate than text. If for no other reason than because
of time constraints and that people rarely watch a film over a course of
days or weeks, so the cueing is more subtle, but at the same time, that's in
response to the fact that it's a more natural medium for absorbtion than
text, and you don't want to beat people over the head with it. I'm reminded
of "Don't Be A Menace While Drinking You Juice In The Hood" when one of the
Wayans brothers would pop into the frame occasionally during blatently
"deep" moments in the film, yelling, "Message!" It's like, "Okay, we get it
already," wheras perhaps in text, occasionally the expression is not obvious
enough, and too obtuse, and easier to make that mistake.

What I'm getting at here, ditching the film/text comparision alltogether, is
essentially reading Hamlet versus seeing a production of it. *Totally*
different expereinces of the text.

But then, all this could be debunked by the fact that playing IF is
flexible. Nobody's timing you, yet plenty of people play any given game in
one sitting. I don't, and never have, so maybe my perspective and subjective
experience is skewed because of that. IF is more like a good novel I drag
out for a few weeks and savor than it is like a film I'm mesmorized by in a
couple of hours. Heck, I just started playing Trinity again a month ago for
the first time in a decade and I still haven't finished it yet.

> Obviously; it's still up to the writer to *sufficiently* guide a reader
> through. If people lose interest, well, that's not good. But there's a
> balance between what _has_ to be done, and what _should_ be done.

Exactly.

Gregg

Gregg V. Carroll

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 3:34:10 PM12/10/01
to
On 12/10/01 2:23 PM, David Thornley at thor...@visi.com posted:

>> I admit
>> I've never read any of the writers suggested, but I have read a deal of
>> "standard" fiction, even and especially award-winning "standard" fiction,
>> and without fail every single time the story ends on a positive note of
>> sorts, usually with "winning" or success conditions of some sort.

> While this is the case in most stories, it certainly isn't in all.
> Orwell's 1984 is the classic example, and there are others. I don't
> generally care for dystopian literature of any sort, but as said
> above that's my opinion (and apparently yours as well).
>
> For that matter, I greatly enjoy the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and
> it would be very hard to call many of his endings "winning". Ever
> read Stephen King's "Pet Sematary"?

That was one of the best endings to a novel he ever wrote, IMO. Like 1984,
it's an impossible "happy ending" setup. You just know it's going to keep
sliding into darker and darker territory, and even though the ending is
horrid, it's almost a relief that it's not a happy one, because that would
have been a betrayal of the novel. It paints a complete and almost
unwavering picture of human emotions as a weakness, which is pretty atypical
of him, despite his rep.

> No, that's not correct. When you write a traditional story,
> you get to know ahead of time what situations and questions
> that character reacts to, and if you've got a good mental image
> of that character you know how he or she will react. That
> image is incredibly hard to transfer into a computer program,
> so that, given what goes on, the character will say or do what
> you envision.

It's almost like you have to break down the workings of how your brain is
filtering the responses of your fictional character in order to write an
adequte NPC. But then, you're really coding an AI that can do nothing but
write an NPC creatively. Generate the text spontaneously on the fly. Eek.
Even attempting such a thing should earn one a lifetime achievement award in
the Comp.



>> When I read high-quality fiction it makes me happy, and it's quite hard to
>> explain why exactly. When I play IF I'm never happy.
>>
> There is high-quality fiction that is not intended to make you happy.
>
> In any case, since you don't know why good fiction makes you happy,
> it seems to me that you will have difficulty in explaining what sort
> of IF would make you happy (if there is such a thing), and I'd
> suggest that IF may just not be your thing. It appeals to a small
> minority of people, after all, and so there's no obvious reason
> why it should appeal to you.

It could be a group consciousness of the personalities people who are
attracted to writing IF and their general tendencies towards stories they
like to read and/or code. That's an awfully generalized statement though and
I'm not sure it's even remotely clear that that's the case. Just a thought.

Gregg

Mercury

unread,
Dec 10, 2001, 7:40:41 PM12/10/01
to
After reading some of the comments given back, I've thought about it and
changed my mind. There is a place for dystopian, depressing, or "negative"
endings in fiction, even outside the classical Tragedy format. Some of the
works quoted are at least somewhat familiar to me, and I remember a few
others I've read, and yes, there's definitely a place for depression in
fiction. Hell, a lot of the writers are/were depressed, so it seems fine.

There's also been a deal of argument against the idea that the five W's
should be used as a guide in fiction. What I can say to that is it does
depend on the reader. I'm impatient, and I'm not very fond of reading off
the computer screen. I want the newspaper facts, and I want them right away.
Then again, someone else might prefer a slow strip-tease of the relevant
facts spread over a number of pages.

As for the rest of the arguments and ideas and things said about me, I won't
give them any credence by responding to them because I didn't see any
intelligence in them.


Xander

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Dec 16, 2001, 5:13:51 AM12/16/01
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Mercury wrote:
>After reading the replies, carefully as usual, I think what this boils
>down to is My opinion about fiction versus Your opinion about fiction. I
>admit I've never read any of the writers suggested, but I have read a
>deal of "standard" fiction, even and especially award-winning "standard"
>fiction, and without fail every single time the story ends on a positive
>note of sorts, usually with "winning" or success conditions of some
>sort.

Just out of interest, could you give a few examples of books you
liked?

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