Game settings (I mean the story, not the code!)

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stephen.godrich

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May 25, 2001, 1:38:18 PM5/25/01
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Hi all,

I've been a lurker for quite a while and felt I should stop being so silent
and do something. I've been a fan of IF for many years but it's only recent
years I've really taken an interest in it again. I wouldn't call myself a
hardcore IF player which brings me to my question...

I've been toying with the idea of writing a game in Inform and the recent
arrival of the 4th edition of the designer manual has prompted me to wake up
and get on with some real game designing. The problem is that I don't
really know what setting I would like the story to be in. e.g. far future,
roman times, the present, etc. I was hoping I could pick a few brains and
find out the general consensus regarding which settings have been done to
death and which ones would people be interested in seeing done? Something
to inspire should I say! (also I'd hate to step on someone's toes by
writing something on similar lines to something someone else is working on!)

I'm a programmer by trade (for the moment) so I think I have the ability to
code a decent game and I'd like to give the game a 'magnetic scrolls' feel.
I'd like to get a combination of tried and tested with a bit of originality
mixed in. I also enjoy a good mix of story with puzzles and interaction!

I look forward to hearing any of your suggestions!

Cheers

Steve


Andrew Plotkin

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May 25, 2001, 1:50:50 PM5/25/01
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(Followups reduced to rec.arts.int-fiction)

In rec.arts.int-fiction stephen.godrich <stephen...@ntlworld.com> wrote:

> I've been toying with the idea of writing a game in Inform and the recent
> arrival of the 4th edition of the designer manual has prompted me to wake up
> and get on with some real game designing. The problem is that I don't
> really know what setting I would like the story to be in. e.g. far future,
> roman times, the present, etc. I was hoping I could pick a few brains and
> find out the general consensus regarding which settings have been done to
> death and which ones would people be interested in seeing done?

This same question was recently asked about puzzle types, and the
answer is the same: Everything has been done to death! Everything! Ha
ha!

Which is to say: no setting, however original, can *by itself* bring a
bad game to life. And no setting, however derivative, can bring down a
game that takes a creative, interesting, and intelligent approach to
its material.

I know that's a bloody useless answer to you, but it's true. Also:
write what you know; show, don't tell; and try to avoid spelling
errors.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Re-elect Al Gore in 2004.

Muffy

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May 25, 2001, 2:31:50 PM5/25/01
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"stephen.godrich" wrote:
>
> and get on with some real game designing. The problem is that I don't
> really know what setting I would like the story to be in. e.g. far future,
> roman times, the present, etc. I was hoping I could pick a few brains and
> find out the general consensus regarding which settings have been done to
> death and which ones would people be interested in seeing done? Something
> to inspire should I say! (also I'd hate to step on someone's toes by
> writing something on similar lines to something someone else is working on!)

I think pretty much everybody has their own ideas of what is a good
idea or a bad idea, what is done-to-death and what is still
interesting. I'm working on my own piece of IF, and I found coming up
with the actual 'tone' to be the most difficult part. I worried about
it to death: are IF players sick of this or that? I finally decided
that the only way to find out would be to get on with the game and let
people play it, and see how they feel.
(I did, however, decide to avoid mazes which require you to drop items
in order to map them, and flashlight-battery puzzles).
I've noticed that one person's "fresh" is another person's "annoying."
In terms of coming up with the setting, I've found a nice way of
stimulating creativity. If I'm working on a description or an idea and
I just can't picture it or find an original twist to it, I do a google
search on the text. Then I check out the results. I keep on searching
and looking, searching and looking. The little gestaltist maniac in my
brain manages to draw connections and shuffle things around to
accomodate the things I find on the resulting websites, and it's helping
me from being too "locked-in" to an original idea.
Or, it might just be scattering me and leading me astray, of course.

Muffy.

Emily Short

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May 25, 2001, 2:38:15 PM5/25/01
to
In article <sMwP6.1586$Tj4.3...@news2-win.server.ntlworld.com>,
"stephen.godrich" <stephen...@ntlworld.com> wrote:

> I've been toying with the idea of writing a game in Inform and the recent
> arrival of the 4th edition of the designer manual has prompted me to wake up
> and get on with some real game designing. The problem is that I don't
> really know what setting I would like the story to be in. e.g. far future,
> roman times, the present, etc. I was hoping I could pick a few brains and
> find out the general consensus regarding which settings have been done to
> death and which ones would people be interested in seeing done?

I could give you a little list of settings I'd be interested in seeing,
but then a) I would piss off the people who are already working on such
settings in secret and b) they might not suit you anyway.

However, re. *looking* for settings: what sorts of places interest you?
Where would you go if you could? Is there some time/era that you've read
up about or were into as a kid? It helps to pick something you're somehow
enthusiastic about already: if you're going to convey a sense of wonder to
other people, it helps if you feel it yourself.

</sermon>

ES

--
Emily Short
http://emshort.home.mindspring.com/index.htm

John E

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May 25, 2001, 6:24:09 PM5/25/01
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A few genres I'd like to see more of...

Modern gothic (think "The Crow") with a little magic.

Cyberpunk or modern sci-fi ("Snow Crash" "Diamond age")

And yes, a western.


stephen.godrich wrote in message ...


>Hi all,
>
>I've been a lurker for quite a while and felt I should stop being so silent

<snip>

Alexander Deubelbeiss

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May 25, 2001, 8:52:50 PM5/25/01
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Andrew Plotkin schrieb in Nachricht <9em61q$4uo$2...@news.panix.com>...
>(Followups reduced to rec.arts.int-fiction)
>
>[on what might keep a game from being bad]:

>[...]Also:


>write what you know; show, don't tell; and try to avoid spelling
>errors.

I'd like to take this opportunity to take this thread and run off with it in
a completely different direction, and ask an irrelevant question:
Whenever I see the word _mimesis_ used in connection with IF, it seems to
refer not to showing vs. telling (in opposition to diegesis) but rather to
maintaining internal consistency and reader immersion. Where does that
convention come from? I've heard about "crimes against mimesis", but did it
coin this usage?

Adam Cadre

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May 25, 2001, 9:20:36 PM5/25/01
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Alexander Deubelbeiss wrote:
>Whenever I see the word _mimesis_ used in connection with IF, it seems to
>refer not to showing vs. telling (in opposition to diegesis) but rather to
>maintaining internal consistency and reader immersion. Where does that
>convention come from? I've heard about "crimes against mimesis", but did it
>coin this usage?

Nope.

(I'm now going to recap a chunk of a post I wrote nearly three years ago.
Yay Google.)

As far as I know, the term first appears in Plato's REPUBLIC to refer to
speech within a play in which it is not supposed to be the playwright
speaking: a soliloquy in which a character enumerates the reasons why all
kings should be killed, for instance, may not reflect the views of the
playwright, even though the playwright wrote every word of the speech is
question. This is as opposed to "diegesis", in which the poet is, in
fact, the speaker (though whether that's even possible is a complicated
question.)

Aristotle extended the term "mimesis" to include not just speech but
action, which muddied things considerably (DW Lucas wrote an extended
piece on mimesis and eventually concluded that Aristotle's use of the
word is hard enough to define that it comes down to a matter of "Ah knows
it when Ah sees it.")

Moving into relatively modern times, Henry James and Percy Lubbock used
"diegesis" and "mimesis" essentially as fancy words for "telling" and
"showing". Isn't one hundred percent of a novel "told"? Of course.
What James and Lubbock were driving at, however, was more along the lines
of distinguishing between passages where you the reader feel as though
you're being spoken to by a narrator, and those in which you feel as
though action is unfolding before your eyes. Gerard Genette (who rocks,
by the way -- the fact that people can receive degrees in lit without
reading his stuff is a crime) took this a step further by insisting that
this be called "the illusion of mimesis."

Genette and Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan further confused the meaning of mimesis
by more or less reversing Plato's meaning, calling "diegesis" those
elements of a text relating to the world of the story and "mimesis" those
elements relating to the world of the author (which is, for those who
aren't *too* solipsistic, the same world the author shares with the rest
of us.) This plays nicely into the way Marxist critics use "mimesis",
which is essentially the degree to which the world of the story reflects
the world outside the story (eg, does the story make clear that the
wealth of the family chronicled in such and such a novel derives from the
suffering of tens of thousands, etc etc.?)

And this leads us to mimesis in IF, a term which I use mainly in
reference to elements of a work that reflect, to use a Zarfism, "how life
works." Limiting the PC's capacity to reflect the fact that most people
can't carry around a hundred different objects ranging in size from a
tube of toothpaste to a grand piano would be an example of mimesis.
Hunger and thirst routines would generally be an example of mimesis;
however, such routines that make the play pass out after going three
hours without eating would not be. Requiring periodic sleep is mimetic.
Loading rooms with "red herrings" -- things that would be in such rooms
in real life, even if they're not useful in the game -- is mimetic.

(End of recap.)

-----
Adam Cadre, Brooklyn, NY
web site: http://adamcadre.ac
novel: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060195584/adamcadreac

stephen.godrich

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May 26, 2001, 5:55:56 AM5/26/01
to
Well, you lot have certainly given me something to think about.

Keep the ideas coming - I've not got a firm picture yet but I have more
ideas than before! ;)

I think I'd like to try and inject a little humour but that is a lot
trickier than it would seem.

I also like the sound of something gothic. Anyway, I'll keep brainstorming
and let you all know what I decide.

You're a great bunch! Thanks for your help!

Cheers

Steve

P.S. I know exactly what you mean with typos in games! Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!


Greg Ewing

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May 27, 2001, 9:31:41 PM5/27/01
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Adam Cadre wrote:
>
> What James and Lubbock were driving at, however, was more along the lines
> of distinguishing between passages where you the reader feel as though
> you're being spoken to by a narrator, and those in which you feel as
> though action is unfolding before your eyes.

I guess the IF equivalent of this would be where a game
either tells the player explicitly what he/she feels, or
puts him/her in a situation designed to make him/her
feel it of his/her own accord.

--
Greg Ewing, Computer Science Dept, University of Canterbury,
Christchurch, New Zealand
To get my email address, please visit my web page:
http://www.cosc.canterbury.ac.nz/~greg

Jasp

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Jun 10, 2001, 5:51:01 PM6/10/01
to

"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
news:9em61q$4uo$2...@news.panix.com...

> (Followups reduced to rec.arts.int-fiction)
>
> In rec.arts.int-fiction stephen.godrich <stephen...@ntlworld.com>
wrote:
>
> > I've been toying with the idea of writing a game in Inform and the
recent
> > arrival of the 4th edition of the designer manual has prompted me to
wake up
> > and get on with some real game designing. The problem is that I don't
> > really know what setting I would like the story to be in. e.g. far
future,
> > roman times, the present, etc. I was hoping I could pick a few brains
and
> > find out the general consensus regarding which settings have been done
to
> > death and which ones would people be interested in seeing done?
>
> This same question was recently asked about puzzle types, and the
> answer is the same: Everything has been done to death! Everything! Ha
> ha!
>

I seem to remember reading an article saying that all works of fiction
consist of just five (Not entirely sure on the number but it was about 5)
basic plot types and the story is decided by how they are linked together. I
assume interactive ficiton follows a similar path.


Jasp

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Jun 10, 2001, 5:53:28 PM6/10/01
to

"John E" <john...@NOSPAMearthlink.net> wrote in message
news:dYAP6.21116$9D5.1...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

> A few genres I'd like to see more of...
>
> Modern gothic (think "The Crow") with a little magic.
>
> Cyberpunk or modern sci-fi ("Snow Crash" "Diamond age")
>
> And yes, a western.
>

I am especialy fond of the Dune books by Frank Herbert, Obviously avoid
plagurisms but something of a similar feel and setting could make excellent
IF.

Jasp,


Greg Ewing

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Jun 12, 2001, 8:47:47 PM6/12/01
to
Jasp wrote:
>
> I seem to remember reading an article saying that all works of fiction
> consist of just five ... basic plot types

Nah, there's only *one* plot: "Stuff happens
that makes a good story". :-)

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