What could IF be?? (Part 2)

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Jean-Henri Duteau

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Sep 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/20/96
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Ooh, ooh, people responded to my post!! That should at least get me an
honourable mention in Cardinal's .sig! Now if only I had a catchy
phrase for him to put there. Hmm...

Anyways, on to part 2 of my discourse...

After working some more on the design of my one-room next-generation
example, I think the major flaw I have with current IF is the
perspective.

This was alluded in a few of the followups. By making the main
character us, we have to allow for all sorts of actions, since
different people will think and do things differently. Also, the
fiction would get quite annoying with all the "you don't want to"
messages as Brad rightly pointed out.

What I think I'm suggesting is a move from 2nd person to 3rd person
narrative. I think it's funny that in Conventional Fiction, 3rd
person is one of the more popular viewpoints followed closely by 1st
person. But I don't think I've ever read a serious work written in
2nd person. I'm not saying they're not out there, it's just that I
haven't read a memorable one. Yet, on the other hand, almost all IF
is written exclusively in the 2nd person. You do this, you do that,
what do you want to do now? No wonder our main characters are so
wishy-washy, they have to be by the viewpoint we take.

Now, however, this little excerpt of 3rd person viewpoint is exactly
the start that IF needs. The story I think would be much more
interesting. Yes, it's harder to program, but just think of the
possibilities, both from an author viewpoint and a user viewpoint.
Look at what the simple command "examine floor" brings up. All
because of changing the pronoun from "YOU" to "HE".

>The wanderer reaches the outer skirts of the big city.
>The air is filled with an odor foulness.
>What do you want him to do?

examine floor

>He looks at the floor and with a sudden feeling of disgust
>he recognizes that the soil below his feet hasn't born any life in ages.
>What do you want him to do?

enter the city

>Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
>thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
>see them again........

I think the atmosphere presented in this little excerpt wonderfully
shows my ideas for future IF. Try reading the last paragraph in
traditional IF with YOU being the protagonist. The feeling I get from
the above is "hmm, now that's interesting, just what did happen to my
family?" and suddenly a puzzle has materialized! If I go to the 2nd
person, "...weaken your knees, you start to...", I demand more from
the author since I know I'm not actually feeling that. I've seen
reviews of IF games in XYZZY and SPAG bemoaning those exact thoughts,
"Tell me WHY I feel that way!". Well here, it's become a puzzle.

I think writing IF in this new manner -- in the 3rd person giving the
ability to modify ALL the character's behaviour -- gives great freedom
to both the author and the reader.

Andrew stated my position best (unknowingly, I think):
>Because the stuff of character is not just a person's sex, race or age; it
>is their actions. Which, in the adventure game, are determined entirely by
>the player.

I complete agree with this statement, with an additional caveat that a
character is defined by their actions and their beliefs. And I
completely agree that "IN AN ADVENTURE GAME", these are completely
determined by the player. But I'm calling for us to take the next
step in our craft. Let's stop writing simple ADVENTURE GAMES
(although I have yet to solve any of the IF on gmd, so I probably
shouldn't be using the adjective simple 8-]) and start writing
Interactive Fiction.

As a closing, I want to apologize to the IF community, for a statement
I made in my last post...
>>
>> NOTE: This requires the authors to demand some basic intelligence and
>> desires on the part of the users.

> You know, if you want to look at that statement the wrong way, it
>could possibly offend the whole IF community...Nahh.

Brad makes the good point that my NOTE could be taken in the wrong
way. I want to make it clear that I'm not stating that today's IF
user has no intelligence or desires, just that I don't think we take
that into account when we're writing our works. With the new works,
we'd HAVE to take that into account. I'll just stop here because I'm
probably digging a deeper hole, but hopefully you all get the point.

Next post will talk about the future of IF tools...
--
Jean-Henri Duteau je...@myrias.com (work) je...@west-teq.net (home)
Fantasy Sports Guru -- Commissioner--RHL,RHHL,UFHL,CFFL.Owner--FFL,RCFFL
Interested in fantasy sports??? Check out http://west-teq.net/~jeand/
Currently working on RHS -- a GNU Hockey Simulator system. 8-)

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/20/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
> Now, however, this little excerpt of 3rd person viewpoint is exactly
> the start that IF needs. The story I think would be much more
> interesting. Yes, it's harder to program, but just think of the
> possibilities, both from an author viewpoint and a user viewpoint.
> Look at what the simple command "examine floor" brings up. All
> because of changing the pronoun from "YOU" to "HE".

> >The wanderer reaches the outer skirts of the big city.
> >The air is filled with an odor foulness.
> >What do you want him to do?

> examine floor

> >He looks at the floor and with a sudden feeling of disgust
> >he recognizes that the soil below his feet hasn't born any life in ages.
> >What do you want him to do?

> enter the city

> >Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
> >toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
> >thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
> >see them again........

I think I disagree with both your claims.

First, it's no harder to program. It's just different string constants.

Second, your example works just as well for me in second person. Change
all the "he"'s to "you"'s, and I could accept it just as easily. It's not
like the technique has never been used before, either.

> Let's stop writing simple ADVENTURE GAMES
> (although I have yet to solve any of the IF on gmd, so I probably
> shouldn't be using the adjective simple 8-]) and start writing
> Interactive Fiction.

The traditional response to this is "You're new around here, aren't you?"

I don't want to stomp on new particpants, but you're not the first person
to say this...

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Werner Punz

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Sep 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/20/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:

Snip


>
>>Although feelings of fear try to weaken his knees, he starts to walk
>>toward the city. Sparks of memories seem to flash in his mind,
>>thoughts about his wife and his family. He wonders if he ever will
>>see them again........
>
>I think the atmosphere presented in this little excerpt wonderfully
>shows my ideas for future IF.

Thanks, I was in sorrow that people would hate it because it has such
a dark atmosphere, anyway what I wanted to say with this example was,
that description of feelings can be an important part of telling a
story. And in fact thats one of the biggest advantages a book has
compared to film.

I think the second person perspective can include feelings but it's
much easier to do that in a third person perspective without the
irritation of the player.

>I think writing IF in this new manner -- in the 3rd person giving the
>ability to modify ALL the character's behaviour -- gives great freedom
>to both the author and the reader.

I agree completely. And there is another point. First time players of
IF often are irritated by the second person perspective and its
shortcomings. They are used to the third person or first person
perspective from books.


Werner

we...@inflab.uni-linz.ac.at
http://witiko.ifs.uni-linz.ac.at/~werpu

----------------------------------------------
Check out ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive for something
which has been forgotten years ago.


Paul Trauth

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Sep 20, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/20/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:

: What I think I'm suggesting is a move from 2nd person to 3rd person
: narrative.

[...]

: Now, however, this little excerpt of 3rd person viewpoint is exactly


: the start that IF needs. The story I think would be much more
: interesting.

[...]

There are two reasons why most IF is written in the second person rather
than the third person more usual in traditional fiction.

First, it's the tradition. The very first one, 'Adventure', was written in
the second person. Zork followed in its footsteps.

Second, the main counter-example of non-second-person IF is the Scott Adams
games. Which, while they have their appeal... well, I was never much of a
fan of the Adams games; I always felt more like I was controlling a
marionette rather than playing the game due to the fact that they were told
in the first person. And i'd been spoiled on the Infocom parsers before i
saw the Adams games.

--
"But I don't want no tea. It gives me a headache." - Pete Puma
paul trauth: cartoonist, animator, programmer, raccoon. rac...@interline.net


John Wood

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Sep 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/21/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> writes:
> I think it's funny that in Conventional Fiction, 3rd
> person is one of the more popular viewpoints followed closely by 1st
> person. But I don't think I've ever read a serious work written in
> 2nd person. I'm not saying they're not out there, it's just that I
> haven't read a memorable one.

Just in case you want to try it, Italo Calvino wrote a novel in 2nd
person (I suspect as an experiment). I can't remember what is was
called - it wasn't "Invisible Cities". Look at the first page of a
Calvino novel and you'll soon know if it's the one. 8-)

The first quarter is about "my" quest to find the ending of an
incomplete book "I've" found in a bookshop. I enjoyed this part, but
not the rest - funnily enough, because the protagonist was too well-
defined, and wasn't me. I kept finding myself thinking "I wouldn't
[do/think] that", which is a problem I rarely suffer with IF.

Why does 2nd person work *for me* in IF but not conventional literature?
I wish I could tell you. But it does.

John


Magnus Olsson

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Sep 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/21/96
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In article <erkyrathD...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
>> Let's stop writing simple ADVENTURE GAMES
>> (although I have yet to solve any of the IF on gmd, so I probably
>> shouldn't be using the adjective simple 8-]) and start writing
>> Interactive Fiction.
>
>The traditional response to this is "You're new around here, aren't you?"
>
>I don't want to stomp on new particpants, but you're not the first person
>to say this...

Indeed.

Most of what you're saying, Jean-Henri, has already been said by other
people here on this newsgroup. Your views on second vs. third person,
charactertization of the protagonist, etc, are shared by many people -
and contested by many people as well.

And there's more to it than that. People haven't only been discussing
these issues, they have been trying to do something about them as well
(there is even some third-person IF on the IF archive).

And in the case of characterization, I think you're bashing down open
doors: these problems have been known for a *long* time and already
the mid-period Infocom games try to do something about it.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

David Baggett

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Sep 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/21/96
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In article <195594...@elvw.demon.co.uk>,
John Wood <jo...@elvw.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>Just in case you want to try it, Italo Calvino wrote a novel in 2nd
>person (I suspect as an experiment). I can't remember what is was
>called - it wasn't "Invisible Cities". Look at the first page of a
>Calvino novel and you'll soon know if it's the one. 8-)

It's _If on a winter's night a traveler_. It's not a very good book, in my
opinion, but still worth reading just to see how the experiment played out.

>Why does 2nd person work *for me* in IF but not conventional literature?

I think it can work in static fiction as well; I just don't think Calvino's
the one to do it. I think he was at his best in more conventional works
like _Marcovaldo_ and _The Watcher_. _T-Zero_, _Cosmicomics_ and _If on a
winter's night a traveler_ evidently did well with the more avant-garde
literary types, but I think that's mainly because these people A) know less
than zero about science and mathematics, and B) haven't ever played any
IF. :)

I don't think 2nd person has to seem so artificial. I've experimented with
it in static fiction and written a number of short stories where 2nd person
was the voice that made the most sense. In these cases, the final product
was quite natural. But if you set out to write a novel in 2nd person just
for the sake of experimentation, chances are it's going to seem like
gimmickry.

Just MHO...

Dave Baggett
__
d...@ai.mit.edu
"Mr. Price: Please don't try to make things nice! The wrong notes are *right*."
--- Charles Ives (note to copyist on the autograph score of The Fourth of July)

Cardinal Teulbachs

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Sep 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/22/96
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Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> wrote:

>Ooh, ooh, people responded to my post!! That should at least get me an
>honourable mention in Cardinal's .sig!

Have a look, my son.

>Now if only I had a catchy
>phrase for him to put there. Hmm...

Yes. You do need to work on that part, I'm afraid :)

>What I think I'm suggesting is a move from 2nd person to 3rd person
>narrative. I think it's funny that in Conventional Fiction, 3rd
>person is one of the more popular viewpoints followed closely by 1st
>person. But I don't think I've ever read a serious work written in
>2nd person. I'm not saying they're not out there, it's just that I
>haven't read a memorable one. Yet, on the other hand, almost all IF
>is written exclusively in the 2nd person. You do this, you do that,
>what do you want to do now? No wonder our main characters are so
>wishy-washy, they have to be by the viewpoint we take.

>Now, however, this little excerpt of 3rd person viewpoint is exactly
>the start that IF needs. The story I think would be much more
>interesting. Yes, it's harder to program, but just think of the
>possibilities, both from an author viewpoint and a user viewpoint.
>Look at what the simple command "examine floor" brings up. All
>because of changing the pronoun from "YOU" to "HE".

What is far more effective, in my opinion, is to construct the story
around the player/character relationship and use the first-person.
That is, have the game character recognize you, the player, and
respond to your commands conversationally:

>drive to rachel's house
You would have me do that? You would have me slay not only myself but
that fair creature, too? Shame, shame, fiend. I can't do what you
ask...yet I must. I must. My hand trembles as I twist the key...

I drive safely, carefully. I don't need a blue-jacket on my shoulder
now. "And where were you headed, sir, if you don't mind my asking?"
What would I say to that? He would see my sweaty brow and desperate
grip. He would see blood being spilt even now in my head. He would
mark these eyes--the eyes of a murderer. Yet I am not hindered in
fact, and I reach the gabled house as the day begins to wane.

>open the front door
I'm overwhelmed by a dark foreboding. My eyes glance hastily
'round--what's that? Do I see eyes in every window? Panicked now, I
force the door open and fall inside.

I'm on a planet. That's what it is, a planet other than the earth. I
don't belong here; this landscape is hostile and strange. Whose
tea-cabinet is this, I ask? "Get out!" it screams. The whole room
concurs, plotting against me in the shadows, tearing at my back as I
turn and enter the hall...

>enter rachel's bedroom
I'm appalled! God, forgive me! My whole spirit rebels at this thought!
Yet, like the trance-dancers on the dark continent, a demon has taken
hold of my mind and I am powerless to stop myself...

[blah blah blah etc]

[I've used this technique in the past and it's very effective. It's
also very hard to do well. Granted, it all looks nice as presented,
but default responses and responses to even stupid commands must be
carefully crafted to fit the character's immediate situation or
otherwise the spell is broken. What if, for example, the character is
carrying a flashlight and the player types "throw flashlight at
tea-cabinet"? There ought to be a well-thought-out response for that,
given the particular circumstance the character is in at the moment.
In this case, he's about to murder Rachel, he's scared to death and
jittery, the guilt and horror of his impending act have rendered him
somewhat mad...]

>throw flashlight at tea-cabinet
Accursed tea-cabinet! I'll gladly do it! I raise the torch in fury,
ready to strike...but no. Rachel sleeps in the next room. Let her eyes
never open rather than have them opened only to be shut again by me.

[Ok. "Accursed tea-cabinet" is a bit over the top, but you get the
point. You have to avoid things like:]

>throw flashlight at tea-cabinet
I don't feel like throwing the flashlight at the tea-cabinet.

[Which means, of course, that there's a loooot of work involved. It
makes for a good story, though. One advantage is that it involves the
player morally in a way that just doesn't happen in standard i-f
stories. If there's a rapport of some sort between the character and
player, the "you are there" illusion is much easier to maintain. It
might seem paradoxical that the "you are there" feeling is better
maintained in this case than in the case of traditional, second-person
stories, but it's really not. When you play a second-person game, the
illusion tends to be destroyed by the fact that, even though it's
supposed to be you in the game, you're having to address yourself as
if you were another person. I mean, if you want to throw a flashlight
at a tea-cabinet, you just do it, right? You don't stop and verbalize
a "throw flashlight at tea-cabinet" command to yourself (and, unless
you suffer from a handicap of some sort, you don't need a machine to
do the throwing for you, anyway). It's when we want to order others to
do something that we verbalize commands, and it is obviously most
conducive to the "you are there" feeling when we give them those
commands in person. Hence, the problem with the third-person approach
Jean-Henri is describing: what's really going on there is that the
player is being forced to say "Hey! Computer! Go tell the wanderer to
open the door, will ya?" and there is a parallel sense upon receiving
the response that it is being relayed through the middleman as well
(since it is). With the kind of first-person/third-person mixture I
advocate, the middleman is eliminated.

The other beneficial effect of this perspective is that the player
gets to learn what's going on inside the character's mind from the
character's own mouth and without having to set up all kinds of
cumbersome dialogue events. In third-person stories, you have to rely
on the author's word when he tells you "the wanderer feels this way,
the wanderer feels that way," and in second-person stories there is
the oft-commented problem of the author presuming to tell the player
what the player thinks and how the player feels. With the character
speaking for himself, these problems are eliminated and it becomes
simply a question of the player observing the character's behavior
firsthand and making of it what he will.]

--Cardinal T

I mean, what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's
progress with soup cans in the kitchen pantry?
--Russ Bryan

Cardinal, I follow up your post in the hopes that some
day I too will be quoted in your sig.
--Matthew Amster-Burton

Hey! This isn't what I said! What'd you do with my
quote?
--Bonni Mierzejewska

Honorable Mention: Jean-Henri Duteau


Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/22/96
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David Baggett (d...@rice-chex.ai.mit.edu) wrote:
> It's _If on a winter's night a traveler_. It's not a very good book, in my
> opinion, but still worth reading just to see how the experiment played out.

> >Why does 2nd person work *for me* in IF but not conventional literature?
>
> I think it can work in static fiction as well; I just don't think Calvino's

> the one to do it. [...]


>
> I don't think 2nd person has to seem so artificial. I've experimented with
> it in static fiction and written a number of short stories where 2nd person
> was the voice that made the most sense. In these cases, the final product
> was quite natural. But if you set out to write a novel in 2nd person just
> for the sake of experimentation, chances are it's going to seem like
> gimmickry.

There was an excellent story in a recent issue of Asimov's Science
Fiction, which was in second person. Let me see if I can find it...

> Z

I cannot. I'm thinking it was July '96, because that's the recent issue I
can't find.

Oh well. It was a good example anyway.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/22/96
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m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:

>(there is even some third-person IF on the IF archive).

But not much. The majority is second-person, the
majority of the remainder is first-person. Third-person
IF is scarce enough to be an anomaly when it does crop up.

Why? Well, there is the matter of tradition, but more
important perhaps is the peculiar nature of the relationship
of author to audience in IF. Ordinary stories work on the
model of the author relating events that have supposedly
happened. The author pretends to be one of the participants
(first person) or not (third person). The listener pretends
to believe it, but is ultimately uninvolved in the action.
This model is not applicable to IF.

However, this is a weak argument, because neither is any
other model that's ever been tried.

In second-person IF, the player pretends to be a direct
participant in the story. So where does that leave the
author? Where is the narrative voice coming from?
Nowhere in the world of the game, that's for sure.
In first-person IF, the narrative voice comes from one
of the characters, but what is the player's role? That
of a disembodied voice, telling the narrator what to do.
This is not an appropriate element for most stories.
Although it might be interesting to write a game in
which it does fit:

Well, that was a refreshing night's sleep. It's nice
and cosy here in bed.
> get out of bed
Oh god. The voices are back. They want me to get out of
bed, and sure enough, I'm unwillingly obeying. It looks
like I won't get any rest for a while...

We've gotten used to the second person in games, even though
it doesn't really make sense. I can think of a few games
that have played with it - Sierra's "Conquests of Camelot"
fit the narrative voice into the story by giving Merlin the
power to watch over and speak to you at all times, and
"Nord and Bert" has a scene in a haunted house where it's
clearly the various ghosts. But these are exceptions.
The second-person in IF is a meaningless convention that
we've gotten used to, and which each new player has to
adjust to as well. However, it seems to fit the medium
better than the first or third persons.
--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/22/96
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John Wood <jo...@elvw.demon.co.uk> writes:

>Just in case you want to try it, Italo Calvino wrote a novel in 2nd
>person (I suspect as an experiment). I can't remember what is was
>called - it wasn't "Invisible Cities". Look at the first page of a
>Calvino novel and you'll soon know if it's the one. 8-)

It's "If On a Winter's Night a Traveller". A fine book.

>The first quarter is about "my" quest to find the ending of an
>incomplete book "I've" found in a bookshop. I enjoyed this part, but
>not the rest - funnily enough, because the protagonist was too well-
>defined, and wasn't me. I kept finding myself thinking "I wouldn't
>[do/think] that", which is a problem I rarely suffer with IF.

I read this book for a class in college. Some people in that class
objected fairly early on, that the book was making so many assumptions
about them. I had no such objections; perhaps I was used to it from IF.

Gareth Rees

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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Carl Muckenhoupt <b...@max.tiac.net> wrote:

> I read ["If on a winter's night a traveller" by Italo Calvino] for a


> class in college. Some people in that class objected fairly early on,
> that the book was making so many assumptions about them. I had no
> such objections; perhaps I was used to it from IF.

This reaction is a combination of a lack of experience with the
second-person form and Calvino's deliberately confusing ploy of making
the fictional "you" superficially similar to the reader (at least in the
first couple of chapters).

We are all used to first-person narrative, and few people now make the
mistake that such a narrative must be autobiographical: we all realise
that the "I" is a fictional character. After enough exposure to
second-person narrative, the reader realises that "you" can be a
fictional character too.

Other second-person narratives:

"Molly Zero" by Keith Roberts
"The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" by Gene Wolfe

--
Gareth Rees

Paul O'Brian

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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>David Baggett (d...@rice-chex.ai.mit.edu) wrote:
>> It's _If on a winter's night a traveler_. It's not a very good book, in my
>> opinion, but still worth reading just to see how the experiment played out.

>> >Why does 2nd person work *for me* in IF but not conventional literature?
>>
>> I think it can work in static fiction as well; I just don't think Calvino's
>> the one to do it. [...]

Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is also written in the 2nd person
voice, if I remember correctly...

--
Paul O'Brian obr...@ucsu.colorado.edu
"The brain is wider than the sky,/ For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include/ With ease, and you beside."
-Emily Dickinson-

Carl D. Cravens

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
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On Fri, 20 Sep 1996 20:06:20 GMT, erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:
>Jean-Henri Duteau (je...@myrias.com) wrote:
>> Let's stop writing simple ADVENTURE GAMES
>> (although I have yet to solve any of the IF on gmd, so I probably
>> shouldn't be using the adjective simple 8-]) and start writing
>> Interactive Fiction.
>
>The traditional response to this is "You're new around here, aren't you?"
>
>I don't want to stomp on new particpants, but you're not the first person
>to say this...

I question the usefulness of this goal. I, personally, want to play an
adventure game. I want a good story, but first and foremost I want a
game. When I want a story I'll go downstairs and pick out a book from
my vast collection of unread stuff.

This is not to say that I wouldn't like to see a true *interactive*
novel... but current technology is a long way from this. Nothing can be
done that wasn't accounted for by the writer... sure, you may say that
you have many options, but you really don't. You get to try many
things, but none of those things work and most IF really boils down to a
pick-a-path book... you have only *one* path that will lead you to the
end of the game. Some IF lets you choose what order to complete parts
of the story, but that's really inconsequential. There's no impact on
the plot if you get the key from the janitor before or after you find
the lost puppy.

I think that some people are getting too hung up on the "art" end of
things, wanting to create something that isn't possible with current
technology. And none of us (save perhaps a very few) are even close to
the people who are working on the artificial intelligence needed to pull
off this kind of work. *And*, from the output I've seen of the
propriatary interactive AI softwares... they're still just toys; the
first step on a long trail.

I'm glad that there is an awareness of the art of IF... a general
acceptance that we can continually be improving the quality of the work
produced. But I think this is a step-by-step process... I don't expect
to see a totally new form of IF to be written overnight, let alone see
everyone embrace it when it appears. (Notice the controversy over The
Legend Lives and how just putting in long spans of non-interactive
chapters to help establish the plot made several people dislike it. Any
new form will have its critics.)

--
Carl (rave...@southwind.net)
Hey, I ran Windows the other day, and it didn't crash!

John Wood

unread,
Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
to

Concerning Italo Calvino's 2nd-person novel, Dave Baggett wrote:
> It's _If on a winter's night a traveler_. It's not a very good book, in my
> opinion, but still worth reading just to see how the experiment played out.

That's the one! I spent about five minutes trying to remember the name.
Glad it wasn't just me that didn't like it - I thought it was me not being
"literary" enough. I much preferred _Cosmicomics_, but like you I'm glad I
read _If..._ just to see how it was. I'll have to try one of the other
2nd-person works mentioned.

John

Estelle Souche

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Sep 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/23/96
to

In article <yxsg249...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>, Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> writes:
>Carl Muckenhoupt <b...@max.tiac.net> wrote:
>
>> I read ["If on a winter's night a traveller" by Italo Calvino] for a
>> class in college. Some people in that class objected fairly early on,
>> that the book was making so many assumptions about them. I had no
>> such objections; perhaps I was used to it from IF.
>
>This reaction is a combination of a lack of experience with the
>second-person form and Calvino's deliberately confusing ploy of making
>the fictional "you" superficially similar to the reader (at least in the
>first couple of chapters).
>
<snip>
>--
>Gareth Rees

About Calvino's novel: I remember of reading that Calvino was directly
inspired by some theories of semiology (I'm not sure it's the right
English word, in French "semiologie"). He wrote a text about it
in a book of Oulipo, titled "Comment j'ai ecrit un de mes livres"
(How I wrote one of my novels).

BTW, his book "The castle of crossed destinies" (Le chateau des
destins croises) uses quite a lot of combinatorics: all the
characters gather in a castle, but tarot cards on the table, and
tell their story according to the cards (also using the cards
put by the previous characters, but in a different order)...

Estelle (fan of Calvino's books! :-) )
Home page: http://www.ens-lyon.fr/~esouche/
Oulipo page: http://www-rennes.enst-bretagne.fr/~bruhat/oulipo/

athol-brose

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
to

On 23 Sep 96 16:25:40 GMT, Paul O'Brian <obr...@ucsu.Colorado.EDU> wrote:
>Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is also written in the 2nd person
>voice, if I remember correctly...

As is Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City".

--
"Oh! Isn't that that game where the guys come out of the ship at night
and shoot things?" (overheard near my computer)


Neil K. Guy

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Sep 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/24/96
to

Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:

: And there's more to it than that. People haven't only been discussing

: these issues, they have been trying to do something about them as well

: (there is even some third-person IF on the IF archive).

Speaking of which, has anyone else tried "Past Tense," a game that
allows you to switch between the present and past tense in the game? I
haven't played it through, but have fiddled with it a bit. I think it's
an interesting experiment.

I don't know, though. Much as I find second-person present-tense to be
annoying in text adventure games, I do find the alternatives not
overwhelmingly compelling. With conventional fiction the author generally
adopts the conceit (consciously or not) that he or she is an omniscient
chronicler, relating a specific series of events in the past. This works
because you, the reader, can't alter the story in any way. However text
adventure games provide the well-constructed illusion of choice, which
makes the present tense seem more appropriate. And the second-person
notion (directing a player or taking on the role of a player) has been
discussed here ad nauseum, I think.

- Neil K.

--
the Vancouver CommunityNet * http://www.vcn.bc.ca/
(formerly the Vancouver Regional FreeNet)

Neil K. Guy

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

John Wood (jo...@elvw.demon.co.uk) wrote:

: Just in case you want to try it, Italo Calvino wrote a novel in 2nd


: person (I suspect as an experiment). I can't remember what is was
: called - it wasn't "Invisible Cities". Look at the first page of a
: Calvino novel and you'll soon know if it's the one. 8-)

"If on a winter's night a traveller" is the English title.

: The first quarter is about "my" quest to find the ending of an


: incomplete book "I've" found in a bookshop. I enjoyed this part, but
: not the rest - funnily enough, because the protagonist was too well-
: defined, and wasn't me. I kept finding myself thinking "I wouldn't
: [do/think] that", which is a problem I rarely suffer with IF.

Indeed. I did get that feeling of "hey waitaminute - why should I do
that?" when reading it. It was an interesting experiment though.

- Neil K.

--
the Vancouver CommunityNet * http://www.vcn.bc.ca/
(formerly the Vancouver Regional FreeNet)

Neil K. Guy * n...@vcn.bc.ca * Vice president & Webmeister

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

n...@vcn.bc.ca (Neil K. Guy) writes:

>Magnus Olsson (m...@marvin.df.lth.se) wrote:

>: And there's more to it than that. People haven't only been discussing
>: these issues, they have been trying to do something about them as well
>: (there is even some third-person IF on the IF archive).

> Speaking of which, has anyone else tried "Past Tense," a game that
>allows you to switch between the present and past tense in the game? I
>haven't played it through, but have fiddled with it a bit. I think it's
>an interesting experiment.

Well, you haven't played it through becase it's impossible to play through.
It isn't a complete game. Yes, it is an interesting experiment. Some of
the messages sounded odd in the past tense, of course. And it's a little
strange to give commands that are then apparently executed at some point
in the past. But then, think of what it would be like if your commands
were in the past tense as well:
> LOOKED
Hallway
You were in an east-west hallway. There was nothing unusual here.
> WENT EAST
and so on.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Sep 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/25/96
to

In article <yxsg249...@stint.cl.cam.ac.uk>,

Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>We are all used to first-person narrative, and few people now make the
>mistake that such a narrative must be autobiographical: we all realise
>that the "I" is a fictional character.

Perhaps it deserves to be pointed out that it wasn't always so. The
(almost) total interchangeability of the first- and third-person
perspectives in fiction is relatively new.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se)

Laurel Halbany

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Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

>Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> writes:
>> I think it's funny that in Conventional Fiction, 3rd
>> person is one of the more popular viewpoints followed closely by 1st
>> person. But I don't think I've ever read a serious work written in
>> 2nd person. I'm not saying they're not out there, it's just that I
>> haven't read a memorable one.

I recommend to you Iain Banks's novel _Complicity_. It is written in
the third person, except for particular scenes (including the opening
one), which are in second person present tense--and those are from the
point of view of a very nasty criminal in the book. Banks manages to
make it engrossing (and horrifying) but not a cheap trick, if that
makes any sense.

----------------------------------------------------------
Laurel Halbany
myt...@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/users/mythago/


Den of Iniquity

unread,
Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

On Sat, 21 Sep 1996, John Wood wrote:

> Jean-Henri Duteau <je...@myrias.com> writes:
> > But I don't think I've ever read a serious work written in 2nd
> > person
.

> Just in case you want to try it, Italo Calvino wrote a novel in 2nd
> person (I suspect as an experiment).

Never heard of it. One that may be more accessible is the much more
memorable... um, er... 'Complicity' by Iain Banks (I think that's the one)
which has sections (only a fraction of the book) in the second person, and
IMO it nestled into the fiction so well that after a couple of slightly
uncomfortable paragraphs I was reading away as happily as if it was normal
third person. Easier to cope with than his weird Scottish dialect bits in
'The Bridge' and the very weird phonetic bits in 'Feersum Endjinn' (as
Iain M Banks, of course).

As far as I'm concerned after a brief 'induction' period the brain copes
quite happily with interpreting any well written work whatever the
'person' and whatever the tense. And IMO that goes for i-f, too. The
critical factor is that it must be written well enough to submerge the
reader in the written world.

--
Den

Art Gecko

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Sep 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/26/96
to

Paul O'Brian (obr...@ucsu.Colorado.EDU) penned:

> Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas is also written in the 2nd person
> voice, if I remember correctly...

That's true, and although I didn't like the book for other reasons, I
adjusted to the style quickly. Interestingly, not only are "you" a
female (to bring in one thread), but you're not a character who's
particularly admirable. I hated her, anyway.

If you're thinking about writing an IF game in which the player is
not only well-defined, but somewhat unpleasant, it might be worth a look.


--Liza

--
ge...@retina.net http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/
MSTie #69957 "I've always thought that girdles
are highly erotic (on women)." - web comment


Frank Williams

unread,
Sep 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/28/96
to

Gareth Rees <gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
>Other second-person narratives:

> "Molly Zero" by Keith Roberts
> "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" by Gene Wolfe

Also: "Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas" by Tom Robbins

FTW
-----
Frank T. Williams
Project Manager iSTAR internet inc. www.istar.ca
There are no monkeys in an empty barrel


Phil Goetz

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Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

In article <baf.84...@max.tiac.net>,
Carl Muckenhoupt <b...@max.tiac.net> wrote:

>m...@marvin.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>
>>(there is even some third-person IF on the IF archive).
>
>But not much. The majority is second-person, the
>majority of the remainder is first-person. Third-person
>IF is scarce enough to be an anomaly when it does crop up.

Scott Adams' adventures are written in third person.


Phil Goetz

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) writes:

Um, every Scott Adams adventure I've ever seen is in the
first person. "I am in a swamp", not "He is in a swamp".
Except the Inform port of Adventureland, of course, which
is in the second person (presumably because that's what all
the default messages in the libraries used.)

Phil Goetz

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Sep 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/30/96
to

In article <baf.84...@max.tiac.net>,
Carl Muckenhoupt <b...@max.tiac.net> wrote:
>go...@cs.buffalo.edu (Phil Goetz) writes:
>
>>Scott Adams' adventures are written in third person.
>
>Um, every Scott Adams adventure I've ever seen is in the
>first person. "I am in a swamp", not "He is in a swamp".
>Except the Inform port of Adventureland, of course, which
>is in the second person (presumably because that's what all
>the default messages in the libraries used.)

Yes, oops. But the effect is about the same as third person
- you see another character, not yourself, whom you control -
while very different from second person.

Phil

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