PrologueComp results

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David Samuel Myers

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Jun 9, 2001, 8:16:20 PM6/9/01
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Please wander over to
http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/PrologueComp.html and stay a while.

A hearty thanks to everyone that made this a success.

-david myers

Ulrich Schreitmueller

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Jun 9, 2001, 10:25:23 PM6/9/01
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David Samuel Myers wrote:

Yay! I made second place... and I have to make a confession.

I actually wrote the whole of "Passing On" in about forty-five minutes. Plus
another fifteen for HTML formatting.
When I first heard of the PrologueComp, I realised I had only a few hours to
the deadline. So I just whipped something up and sent it in, never really
expecting it to succeed the way it did.
So of course I heartily agree with all the judges who criticised some of the
more awkward bits of my prose - given more time, I would have worked them
out. Or made them worse. Who knows?

To the judges who mentioned an actual game based on this prologue: I have (as
yet) little idea of what you would actually have to do in it. "Do not go into
the light", of course - if we learned anything from the Poltergeist movies,
it would be that.
But after turning around? No idea. Probably some sort of trip through the
Worlds Between, either like Lucifer's ascent to Earth in "Paradise Lost", or,
more intriguingly, a voyage through your own consciousness during which you
would have to confront past guilts and shortcomings (perhaps even in the
guise of biblical and mythological entities), something a la "Sanitarium".
As to what the "secret" is? Hm. Probably something different than I first
envisioned.
You see, the prologue is actually based in parts on a short story I wrote
four years ago, and while it shares some of the basic plot points, the
original story is much more low-key (for starters, no Emergency Room
defibrilation sequence), and the ending is definitely not suitable for your
average I-F game. For what it's worth, the story can be found at
www.geocities.com/electricmonk.geo/passingon.html - read it, if you like, and
compare it to the prologue.

Apart from that, I would like to raise my metaphorical hat to the judges who
took all that work upon themselves, and to all the other writers, especially
those who made the short list: Bloody brilliant, the lot of you. I'd like to
say more about some individual pieces, but maybe I'll wait with that until
some more people had their say about the competition.

Good night for now,
Uli

P.S.: Nick Montfort: Of course the medical workers don't give up because they
are hungry. They give up because the patient is utterly dead. Then they
notice they are hungry. At least that's what Hollywood has taught me about
them. :-)


Adam Cadre

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Jun 9, 2001, 11:39:41 PM6/9/01
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Hmm. Not one of the judges, in commenting on the winner, drew the (to me)
obvious parallel: The Inanimator! Clearly a round of firings in the
Textfire publicity department is called for.

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

W. Top Changwatchai

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Jun 9, 2001, 11:51:22 PM6/9/01
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David Samuel Myers <dmy...@ic.sunysb.edu> wrote in message
news:3b22a...@dilbert.ic.sunysb.edu...

...A very big thank you and congratulations to David Myers for organizing
and running this competition, as well as to all the judges, for the time and
effort that went into your reviews and the selection process.

From the first announcement I was captivated with the idea for this
competition, which I feel is strong enough to be repeated on a regular
basis, possibly with spinoffs (EpilogueComp, SceneComp). Like Uli, this is
the first IF comp I've entered. (I think the Lyttle Lytton doesn't
qualify.)

On a personal note, this type of competition seems tailor-made for someone
like me: a would-be author abounding with hundreds of ideas but who quickly
loses focus and steam.

The size restriction was inspired. (I wonder: how did this get
introduced?) As maddening as it was for me to squeeze my entry into the
requisite size, it did force me to concentrate on just what elements I
wanted to leave in, and how to present them.

I really enjoyed reading the other entries and seeing what sorts of games
and game elements other people seem to favor (making the assumption that
people tend to write the kinds of games they want to play). I would be
especially interested in seeing what the gaming experience would be like for
some of the more unconventional entries.

Finally, I appreciate all the comments my entry received. If one day I do
end up fleshing it out into an entire game, it would be interesting to see
if it lives up to the expectations of those judges that enjoyed it (or at
least clears up some items of confusion some judges may have had).

Top
--
W. Top Changwatchai
chngwtch at u i u c dot edu

David Samuel Myers

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Jun 10, 2001, 1:18:49 AM6/10/01
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In rec.arts.int-fiction Ulrich Schreitmueller <ulrich.sch...@student.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote:

> say more about some individual pieces, but maybe I'll wait with that until
> some more people had their say about the competition.

Nah, go ahead and blast away.

-d

David Samuel Myers

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Jun 10, 2001, 1:25:20 AM6/10/01
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In rec.arts.int-fiction W. Top Changwatchai <n...@spam.com> wrote:

> The size restriction was inspired. (I wonder: how did this get
> introduced?) As maddening as it was for me to squeeze my entry into the
> requisite size, it did force me to concentrate on just what elements I
> wanted to leave in, and how to present them.

Uh, I studied a number of games on my hard drive.

Typically, the opening text amounts to at most two screenfuls. It just
turns out that 2001 bytes is not a bad bound, and at least cuts off the
really long and over-elaborated entries.

-d

Sean T Barrett

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Jun 10, 2001, 12:26:19 AM6/10/01
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Ulrich Schreitmueller <ulrich.sch...@student.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote:
>Yay! I made second place...
[snip]

>I'd like to say more about some individual pieces, but maybe I'll wait
>with that until some more people had their say about the competition.

I made third place, and I want to say, I am quite satisfied to
have "lost" to both your prologue and especially to the winning entry,
which was the sole entry of the comp whose concept grabbed me so
hard I was saying "holy ****" repeatedly through the first half.
(I hope that doesn't set up unreasonable expectations for anyone
who hasn't read it yet; it was right up my alley, but not necessarily
yours.) But I'll also hold off on the details until people have
actually read the entries.

SeanB

Adam Cadre

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Jun 10, 2001, 12:30:16 AM6/10/01
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Top Changwatchai wrote:
> On a personal note, this type of competition seems tailor-made for
> someone like me: a would-be author abounding with hundreds of ideas but
> who quickly loses focus and steam.

Something bothered me about this whole exercise, and I think you've hit on
it. And I recognize that people had fun with this, and that no animals
were actually injured in the making of this film, etc., so forgive me if
this sounds peevish. That said -- I've gone on record in the past
grumbling about posts to r.a.i-f saying, "Hey, how about a game where...?"
and then just stating the premise of a game, so that someone who might
well have been working for months on a similar idea gets to watch someone
else spoil their work in the space of about three minutes. Similarly here:
we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted the
honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
I'd be pretty darn ticked.

W. Top Changwatchai

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Jun 10, 2001, 1:39:36 AM6/10/01
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Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote in message
news:9fut4o$nib$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com...

It's true that timing has a role in audience perception and acceptance of a
work.

But even if I were close to finishing a game, I think that I wouldn't want
to shut down the free exchange of ideas for fear that one will coincide with
mine. ("Boy! I hope nobody else comes up with my idea for a
'Survivor'-type IF game.") After all, ideas are floating around everywhere,
and simply turning off the tap in r*if doesn't mean your closely-guarded
idea won't be duplicated in some other medium, throwing off its desired
impact on the audience. We're all mining the same informational zeitgeist
here.

In addition, my opinion is that ideas are cheap. It's how they're executed
that matters. So what if the name "Harry Potter" was derived from "Larry
Potter," either subconsciously or not? (My guess is that it was.) There's
a world of difference between the two authors' works.

That said, unsolicited posts like those you mention *do* annoy me, as well.
As do unsolicited posts that essentially say, "Here's an idea I've got which
I think other people should put a lot of work into realizing."

The crucial difference, for me, is the word "unsolicited." In the r*if
forums, I think people have not asked for these types of posts. The same
objection does not hold for minicomp entries, as well as post-comp
discussions of these entries.

So there. Nyaaah.

W. Top Changwatchai

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Jun 10, 2001, 2:01:34 AM6/10/01
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W. Top Changwatchai <n...@spam.com> wrote in message
news:NJDU6.8923$ki5.1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu...

> The crucial difference, for me, is the word "unsolicited." In the r*if
> forums, I think people have not asked for these types of posts. The same
> objection does not hold for minicomp entries, as well as post-comp
> discussions of these entries.

I'd meant to make a stronger statement in particular regarding the
PrologueComp. I believe this mini-comp raises many interesting issues about
what people look for in a game and in a prologue, and I believe the entries
can as a minimum provide concrete examples on which to base such a
discussion.

Alexandre Owen Muniz

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Jun 10, 2001, 2:55:33 AM6/10/01
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Ulrich Schreitmueller wrote:
>
> David Samuel Myers wrote:
>
> > Please wander over to
> > http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/PrologueComp.html and stay a while.
> >
> > A hearty thanks to everyone that made this a success.
> >
> > -david myers
>
> Yay! I made second place... and I have to make a confession.
>
> I actually wrote the whole of "Passing On" in about forty-five minutes. Plus
> another fifteen for HTML formatting.
> When I first heard of the PrologueComp, I realised I had only a few hours to
> the deadline. So I just whipped something up and sent it in, never really
> expecting it to succeed the way it did.
> So of course I heartily agree with all the judges who criticised some of the
> more awkward bits of my prose - given more time, I would have worked them
> out. Or made them worse. Who knows?

Mine was also a rush job; I had the title and the premise and a couple of sentences, but I
didn't really start writing until two hours before the deadline.
I tend to write huge complex sentences, and then break them into more digestable chunks as
I revise, but I didn't really have a chance in this case.

By the way, the real title is in fact "You: Tense, Ill.". "A Gardenburger..." is the
subtitle.

The only comment on the judges' comments I have right now is that the "Type 'about' to
tell how the heck you're supposed to do stuff." bit was left out on account of my entry
being within 10 bytes of the limit. But certainly, I agree it should be present in the
actual game.

And I do intend to implement this, eventually. I think it's doable. But I have other
priorities first, and this needs to simmer while I think of twists and puzzles and
backstory.

**Owen

Alexander Deubelbeiss

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Jun 10, 2001, 5:05:49 AM6/10/01
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David Samuel Myers schrieb in Nachricht
<3b22a...@dilbert.ic.sunysb.edu>...

>Please wander over to
>http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/PrologueComp.html and stay a while.
>
A brief question about the reviews for Compulsion: Several judges thought
the name "General Ira Asimov" was badly chosen. Am I the only one thinking
that it is meant to go together with this section from the second box quote:
"the compulsions are fairly simple - obey the commands of your superiors,
don't get self-destructive, things like that. "
to allude to Isaac Asimov's Three Commandments for robots?

Branko Collin

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Jun 10, 2001, 9:25:21 AM6/10/01
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On 9 Jun 2001 21:30:16 -0700, gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam Cadre)
wrote:

I find it wholly unfair that you post this! I was going to base a game
on this problem. Now you have spoiled it by opening your mouth. Where
is your honour, man?

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Jaz

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Jun 10, 2001, 12:02:04 PM6/10/01
to

Ulrich Schreitmueller wrote in message
<3B22DA93...@student.uni-tuebingen.de>...

>David Samuel Myers wrote:
>I actually wrote the whole of "Passing On" in about forty-five minutes.
Plus
>another fifteen for HTML formatting.
>When I first heard of the PrologueComp, I realised I had only a few hours
to
>the deadline. So I just whipped something up and sent it in, never really
>expecting it to succeed the way it did.

A high level of competition eh? ;)

Jaz


Emily Short

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Jun 10, 2001, 1:34:12 PM6/10/01
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In article <9fut4o$nib$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com>,
gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam Cadre) wrote:

> Top Changwatchai wrote:
> > On a personal note, this type of competition seems tailor-made for
> > someone like me: a would-be author abounding with hundreds of ideas but
> > who quickly loses focus and steam.
>

<snip intro>:

> we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
> to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted the
> honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
> were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
> spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
> I'd be pretty darn ticked.

I remain unconvinced that someone's little prologue, however apparently
similar in intent, would be enough to spoil a full game of yours.
Nonetheless, I see the point.

I was thinking that a wacky twist on this comp would be if, after the
prologues were written, would-be authors were allowed to bid for the right
to develop them into proper games, assuming the prologue-writer didn't
want to. [NB: I am not encouraging this. It was just a stray thought.]

I'd really like to see the game of Thirteen Cards, is all.

ES

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

David Samuel Myers

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Jun 10, 2001, 3:56:20 PM6/10/01
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Alexandre Owen Muniz <mun...@xprt.net> wrote:

> By the way, the real title is in fact "You: Tense, Ill.".
> "A Gardenburger..." is the subtitle.

My bad! I have fixed the webpages to reflect this.


Also, feel free to choose from our fabulous list of prizes, as indicated
on www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/rules.html:

... Top prize will be a choice of
a. "If on a winter's night a traveler" by Italo Calvino
b. "PICK UP AXE" (a play with IF roots)
c. "It was a Dark and Stormy Night"
collection of the best entries of the Bulwer-Lytton
contest for the most awful opening line to a
hypothetically awful novel...
d. "The Book Of Adventure Games II" by Kim Schuette.
(this contains maps and walkthroughs for lots of old-skool
adventures, including Inhumane by Andrew Plotkin)
e. IFComp2000 CD

> And I do intend to implement this, eventually. I think it's doable. But

More power to ya.


-david

Aris Katsaris

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Jun 10, 2001, 4:16:03 PM6/10/01
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Jaz <j...@1jason.com> wrote in message
news:9g0778$6fl5l$1...@ID-79891.news.dfncis.de...

Hmm... please tell us, how many weeks should one spend upon a
prologue? And judging from your answer how much time will one have to
spend upon an average-sized game?

Aris Katsaris

Ulrich Schreitmueller

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Jun 10, 2001, 4:47:52 PM6/10/01
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Aris Katsaris wrote:

I'm confused. Do you mean me, or the gentleman who made that comment which I'm
not sure how to take?

Uli

Aris Katsaris

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Jun 10, 2001, 5:54:03 PM6/10/01
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Ulrich Schreitmueller <ulrich.sch...@student.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote
in message news:3B23DCF8...@student.uni-tuebingen.de...

> Aris Katsaris wrote:
>
> > Jaz <j...@1jason.com> wrote in message
> > news:9g0778$6fl5l$1...@ID-79891.news.dfncis.de...
> > >
> > > A high level of competition eh? ;)
> >
> > Hmm... please tell us, how many weeks should one spend upon a
> > prologue? And judging from your answer how much time will one have to
> > spend upon an average-sized game?
> >
> > Aris Katsaris
>
> I'm confused. Do you mean me, or the gentleman who made that comment which
I'm
> not sure how to take?

It was meant towards Jaz - whose comment sounded to me vaguely
condescending...
I may have been mistaken, but I probably wasn't...

Aris Katsaris

Ulrich Schreitmueller

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Jun 10, 2001, 6:27:02 PM6/10/01
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Aris Katsaris wrote:

> Ulrich Schreitmueller <ulrich.sch...@student.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote
> in message news:3B23DCF8...@student.uni-tuebingen.de...

> > I'm confused. Do you mean me, or the gentleman who made that comment which
> I'm
> > not sure how to take?
>
> It was meant towards Jaz - whose comment sounded to me vaguely
> condescending...
> I may have been mistaken, but I probably wasn't...
>
> Aris Katsaris

Ah, good. Then I'm not the only one who got that impression.

Uli

l...@nu-world.com

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Jun 10, 2001, 10:21:02 PM6/10/01
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On 9 Jun 2001 19:16:20 -0500, David Samuel Myers
<dmy...@ic.sunysb.edu> wrote:

When I put that address into my browser, I get a "sorry, etc"
message.

Lelah

l...@nu-world.com

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Jun 10, 2001, 10:22:42 PM6/10/01
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Oops, never mind. Got it on a second try.

Lelah

Sean T Barrett

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Jun 11, 2001, 3:23:42 AM6/11/01
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Emily Short <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote:

>gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam Cadre) wrote:
>> we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
>> to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted the
>> honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
>> were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
>> spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
>> I'd be pretty darn ticked.
>
>I remain unconvinced that someone's little prologue, however apparently
>similar in intent, would be enough to spoil a full game of yours.
>Nonetheless, I see the point.

I agree with both these comments. I can sympathize with the annoyance
factor (one week after I started working on "A Storm Brought About By
A Moth's Flapping Wing", several years ago, someone posted the premise
to r.a.i-f); but on the other hand, comparing the idea to the full-fledged
work is a little odd. Should we be critical of the author of "The Garden
of Forking Paths" (not the Garden*burger*) for writing so many stories
about never-written books, thus "using up those ideas" so authors can't
write the actual books? (Well, the ones that aren't impossible.)
What if somebody cranked out a SpeedIF game in two hours that anticipated
one of your plots? Less likely given the typical SpeedIF rules, but
still possible.

I think the prologue competition was a very useful exercise, and
I learned several things from it: the importance (to some people)
of a good prologue; what things a variety of people think makes
a good prologue; and that I can get my writing moderately competitive
if I spend 5x as long on it as certain other people--all lessons
I'm not sure I could have learned as well in any other way.

SeanB

Neil Cerutti

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:07:43 PM6/11/01
to
David Samuel Myers posted:

>Please wander over to
>http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/PrologueComp.html and stay a while.
>
>A hearty thanks to everyone that made this a success.

Thanks for running the contest, David. Here are some general
comments on a few entries:

Alone?

It's hard to believe I'd remember where I left my shoes. I'm
sure I wouldn't be certain enough about them to cause my
stomach to lurch at their absence.

Fade Out

<Sings> I wish I'd gotten to know her, before I fell in
love.</Sings>

I don't think I want to play as a scraggly blond guy.

Using a movie script doesn't bode well for the interactivity.

Gathering

Neither judge who wrote about this one seems to have noticed
that it is an attempt to make an IF dramatization out of the
Magic: The Gathering trading-card game.

The Reckoning

There's a joke at the end of the "Soultaker" episode of MST3K
where the robots try to convince Mike that there is nothing in
between the "Happy land of fru-fru bunnies" and "straining gin
through old toast in a trashy back alley". This game seems to
take the same world-view.

Smoke

Guards?

It reminded me of this memorable bit of dialog from Ultima 4:

You meat a big guard.

>name

I am a guard.

>job

Guarding.

I hope the Ninja gets to match wits with entities more
promising.

"If only entering were the easy part," is confusing. So
entering *wasn't* the easy part? I doubt that's what the author
meant to say.

The Truth is Out There

Read: "You wander aimlessly around your large house." Pressed Alt-F4.

Unferth

Scorched butt-cheeks? Are those the same cheeks I tasted
earlier in the prologue?

Without Wings

Blue Peter? Chilling.

A.D. 2138

My world lies? Really?

Valentine

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Shitting together your ex-lover on the cellular phone
Make me confused.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

Neil Cerutti

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:41:38 PM6/11/01
to
Neil Cerutti posted:

>David Samuel Myers posted:
>>Please wander over to
>>http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Stu/dmyers/PrologueComp.html and stay a while.
>>
>>A hearty thanks to everyone that made this a success.
>
>Thanks for running the contest, David. Here are some general
>comments on a few entries:

Oops. I had meant to "edit a postponed message" not "post a
postponed message." So here's more.

>A.D. 2138
>
> My world lies? Really?

Um, yes. That is correct, sir. Doh!


The Book of the Dead

It's interesting that they had a death tax even in Egypt.

I think this is my favorite of the prologues. I promises an
interesting story, gives an indication of what play will be
like, and as a bonus features historical value.

Well, perhaps it would, depending on how much creative license
the author decides to take.

Catharsis

In stories, and in movies, I don't like the effect of a brief
"present" scene interrupted by an immediate flashback. It's
disorienting.

It's a bit cheeky to say that the pits are "the size of a
baby's grave." Are they baby's graves or aren't they? The PC
presumably knows the answer.

One more point, it might be more powerful if that were the last
sentence in the paragraph.

Compulsion

The Three Rules of Robotics mutated and biogenetically
implanted into soldiers. Could be very interesting.

The game cops an attitude! The statistics in the General Asimov
quote don't seem to jive with the 2500 person force. If only
100 servive of 2500, how many lives can Compulsion be saving?
Before, was *every* soldier dying?

I like the evidence of a spirited public, though detached,
debate, contrasted with the actual experience of Compulsioned
grunts.

Thirteen Cards, Well Suited

I love the opening section. It seems like a hoary old D&D
adventure cliche, and then the characters talk like
angst-filled bohemians. It was a fun contrast.

"From within the fire, you watch." This didn't work for me, as
I took it metaphoricaly at first.

There is a lot of absurd imprecision in the remainder. You
assume "a shape". The young man has "something" in his eye.
There is "something" to the young man that's interesting. I
would play the game "someday."

Trouble In Paradise

I like it. Angelic Noire!

The dialog seemed right. What was missing was the overwrought
descriptions of the client and the surrounding city that would
have fit well.

You: Tense, Ill.

A nice prologue, but the game it harbinges figures to be really
short. Is this Denny's?

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

Dennis G. Jerz

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:53:12 PM6/11/01
to
"Adam Cadre" <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote in message
news:9fut4o$nib$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com...

> we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing


> to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted
the
> honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
> were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
> spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
> I'd be pretty darn ticked.


"There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9

From a certain minimalistic perspective, all stories have already been told
before. What matters is the telling.

--
Dennis G. Jerz, Ph.D.; (715)836-2431
Dept. of English; U Wisc.-Eau Claire
419 Hibbard, Eau Claire, WI 54702
------------------------------------
Literacy Weblog: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg


Adam Cadre

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:05:32 PM6/11/01
to
Dennis Jerz wrote:
> "There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9

That's pretty, but it's not actually true. Today's culture isn't as
stagnant as Qoheleth's. 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said,
See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell Inspiron.

> From a certain minimalistic perspective, all stories have already been
> told before. What matters is the telling.

Sure, the perspective that says that there are only 36 plots, or seven, or
two. ("Protagonist wanders around and stuff happens"; "Protagonist stays
in place and stuff happens.") Again, sounds clever, but it's not actually
a useful statement. [Prologue-Comp spoiler follows] Take "Trouble in
Paradise", for instance. If you read it and say, "Oh, that's nothing new,
there are millions of detective stories," you have Reduced Too Far. And
if I'd been working on an interactive hard-boiled detective story set
amongst the Judeo-Christian angels and you were to try to tell me that
this prologue doesn't spoil my premise, I'd laugh in your face.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Jun 11, 2001, 5:17:56 PM6/11/01
to
In rec.arts.int-fiction Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:
> And
> if I'd been working on an interactive hard-boiled detective story set
> amongst the Judeo-Christian angels and you were to try to tell me that
> this prologue doesn't spoil my premise, I'd laugh in your face.

Neil Gaiman -- I think the story title was "Murder Mystery".

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* My vote counts -- count my vote!

Ryan Franklin

unread,
Jun 11, 2001, 5:55:08 PM6/11/01
to
In rec.games.int-fiction Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:
> there are millions of detective stories," you have Reduced Too Far. And
> if I'd been working on an interactive hard-boiled detective story set
> amongst the Judeo-Christian angels and you were to try to tell me that
> this prologue doesn't spoil my premise, I'd laugh in your face.

Having read no less than three different short stories over the last two
years, by different authors, all revolving around exactly the same
premise (okay, okay, in one of them Jesus was the hard-boiled detective),
I might be willing to laugh right back at you. ;-)

Sure, there's something to be said for novelty; reading a story or playing
a game that has a premise I haven't seen before (or in a long while) makes
me happy. But it's how well the premise is _used_ that'll _keep_ me
happy. Now, if the prologue's premise was dead-on-exactly-identical to
the premise of a full work by a different author, yeah, I can understand
some hurt feelings. But the premise is hardly _spoiled_--it's not like
yesterday it was a good idea for a game and today it's garbage. It's just
that people who look at both might wonder if one inspired (or was riffed
on or even ripped off by) the other, which just makes for more interesting
author's notes, in my opinion.

--
i always find that kind of thing fascinating, actually
ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net

Sam Kabo Ashwell

unread,
Jun 11, 2001, 7:08:35 PM6/11/01
to
in article GEr8J...@world.std.com, Sean T Barrett at buz...@world.std.com
wrote on 6/11/01 8:23 AM:

> Emily Short <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>> gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam Cadre) wrote:
>>> we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
>>> to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted the
>>> honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
>>> were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
>>> spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
>>> I'd be pretty darn ticked.
>>
>> I remain unconvinced that someone's little prologue, however apparently
>> similar in intent, would be enough to spoil a full game of yours.
>> Nonetheless, I see the point.
>
> I agree with both these comments. I can sympathize with the annoyance
> factor (one week after I started working on "A Storm Brought About By
> A Moth's Flapping Wing", several years ago, someone posted the premise
> to r.a.i-f);

Ah, the gall-spewing abombination that is pre-emptive plagiarism. I wrote
some very profound stuff on this, but H.G. Wells beat me to it.

SKA

John Baker

unread,
Jun 11, 2001, 9:59:42 PM6/11/01
to
Sean T Barrett wrote:
> I can sympathize with the annoyance
> factor (one week after I started working on "A Storm Brought About By
> A Moth's Flapping Wing", several years ago, someone posted the premise
> to r.a.i-f);

The only piece of static fiction I ever wrote that didn't suck - I
subsequently found out had the same ending as "The Deerhunter". In
futile protest of the far better work I have not seen the movie to
this day.
--
John Baker
"He died in the clutches of the Internet." - My Travesty Generator

Sean T Barrett

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 12:27:02 AM6/12/01
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>In rec.arts.int-fiction Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:
>> [Trouble in Paradise]

>Neil Gaiman -- I think the story title was "Murder Mystery".

See, there you go. No point in me fleshing it out into a game, right?

SeanB

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 4:49:31 AM6/12/01
to

Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote in message
news:9fut4o$nib$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com...
> Similarly here:
> we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
> to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted
the
> honor of using them first.

*cough* *cough* Textfire demos *cough*.

:-)

Aris Katsaris


Tina

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 9:47:24 AM6/12/01
to
Just for the record, there's a couple minor spoilers for the Prologues in
here.

In article <9g3bqs$nr8$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com>,


Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:
>That's pretty, but it's not actually true. Today's culture isn't as
>stagnant as Qoheleth's. 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said,
>See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
>Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell Inspiron.

But there's nothing new about communication. Only the method and the speed
differ between a cellular phone and a caravan with a bag full of message
scrolls. See.

>Sure, the perspective that says that there are only 36 plots, or seven, or
>two. ("Protagonist wanders around and stuff happens"; "Protagonist stays
>in place and stuff happens.") Again, sounds clever, but it's not actually
>a useful statement.

But even if you don't break it down that far, there's not much new. I read a
lot. (A lot!) And I can't remember the last time[1] I came across a story that
had anything in it I couldn't relate to at least one other story, and more
often a hell of a lot more stories than that. The 'new' comes from the way
the story unfolds, not the elements it contains. The exact combination of
not just basic plot, but characters and setting and the order events occur
in and other such details is what makes a story interesting to me. If I
were looking for new and fresh plot elements each time I read I'd be out of
luck right damn quick.

> [Prologue-Comp spoiler follows] Take "Trouble in
>Paradise", for instance. If you read it and say, "Oh, that's nothing new,
>there are millions of detective stories," you have Reduced Too Far. And
>if I'd been working on an interactive hard-boiled detective story set
>amongst the Judeo-Christian angels and you were to try to tell me that
>this prologue doesn't spoil my premise, I'd laugh in your face.

As someone else has pointed out (and as no doubt others will point out with
even more specific examples) this is not an original idea. It's been done
before. There's an entire roleplaying game centering around angels (more
than one, actually... naturally) that has produced plots like this, on top
of published works of fiction. I don't in any way mean to dis the idea by
saying these things; it's still a fun idea and could easily be developed
into an interesting game. But if you were working on such a game and you
thought that the PrologueComp entry spoiled your premise, it would only
mean that you hadn't read the same stuff I did.

Occasionally I do run across a -combination- of plots I haven't seen done
before (though that one sure wasn't it), a story where it starts out
appearing to be one thing but turns out to be another. But even those
moments are rare.

I can't tell you the number of times that -- back in the days when I was
still roleplaying staff on MUSHes -- I heard "I have this great new idea
for a character" followed directly by something I'd run across before, or
occasionally even already had in play on that very MUSH. And god knows I
myself have come up with ideas only to realize they're just a little too
like something that's been done recently and I don't have a good way to
make it seem fresh.

In an odd way, this is related to the reaction I had to reading a
particular comment on a particular entry. Dennis Jerz wrote, about the
Mercenary prologue,

"Instead of actually setting up a story, this prologue makes references to
2001, Star Wars ("negotiations" from Phantom Menace, and of course the
idea of the space mercenary)[....]"

The first thing that ran through my mind was "Star Wars? Dude, haven't
you ever read any old space opera?" (Bear in mind that I am one of the
only people in this country who has not -seen- _Phantom Menace_, so it's
news to me there are mercenaries in it, however.) "It's been done before"
may be a reasonable comment here, but it's funny that the judge's referent
for where it's been done was something so new, whereas my first thought was
of something that pre-dates my existence on this planet. [Not to mention
that while -space- mercenaries may be an idea that only goes back about 50
years or so, the concept of mercenaries on -this- planet is fairly old;
adding the 'space' bit didn't really change it that dramatically.]

My basic point here (I do have one, honest!) is that no, there really isn't
much, if anything, that someone hasn't already written about, but that
doesn't mean that people should stop writing about those things. One can
still put it together in a way that's interesting. So if one -is- working
on something and someone else comes up with something very similar, it's
not a reason to throw the idea away or feel it's been ruined. IMO.

--30--

[1] Actually, that's not true. There's a story in the July F&SF that
specifically relates to the dot.com world in a way that I haven't seen done
before. But even -it- contained some familiar fantasy elements, most
notably a kind of foreshortened Hero's Quest. But I digress.

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 10:16:23 AM6/12/01
to
Excellent comments, Tina. Of course the idea of the "handome scoundrel
pirate captain" is much older than Star Wars. That there are few stories
that "require" a cell phone, to the extent that with a little revision the
same premise can be used in a world in which information is carried by human
messengers. Consider the servants in Job who arrive at the dramatically
appropriate time to tell Job that his house has burned down, etc. Or,
consider the perfectly-timed arrival of messengers in Greek drama. I
believe Agamemnon begins with a servant waiting for the appearance of a
distant beacon fire, which was to be the sign that Troy was captured.

Adam, you indicated that he would get ticked off if somebody else put out a
quick-and-dirty version of a work that he'd been planning to craft into
something significant. Of course, I'd probably feel the same way... :-)


--
Dennis G. Jerz, Ph.D.; (715)836-2431
Dept. of English; U Wisc.-Eau Claire
419 Hibbard, Eau Claire, WI 54702
------------------------------------
Literacy Weblog: www.uwec.edu/jerzdg

"Tina" <ti...@eniac.stanford.edu> wrote in message
news:9g56hc$q86$1...@nntp.Stanford.EDU...

W. Top Changwatchai

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 10:31:20 AM6/12/01
to
I agree with most of your post (and I too have read stories about
hard-boiled angels), but I take issue with this minor tangential point:

Tina <ti...@eniac.stanford.edu> wrote in message
news:9g56hc$q86$1...@nntp.Stanford.EDU...

> In article <9g3bqs$nr8$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com>,
> Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:

> >Dennis Jerz wrote:
> > > "There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9
> >

> >That's pretty, but it's not actually true. Today's culture isn't as
> >stagnant as Qoheleth's. 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be
said,
> >See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
> >Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell
Inspiron.
>
> But there's nothing new about communication. Only the method and the speed
> differ between a cellular phone and a caravan with a bag full of message
> scrolls. See.

With communication, an advance in speed dramatically alters its very
essence: the types of exchanges it allows, the audience it can reach, the
flow of information it enables. It's like saying a state-of-the-art
workstation is nothing more than a Turing machine, or that a human being is
nothing more than the component atoms. While at some level this is true,
this sort of generalization ignores so many practical differences that it
becomes useless.

On the other hand, this doesn't change what I perceive to be the point of
the rest of your post (which I've omitted here for brevity): what's new
about *ideas* and creative works is not the 20-word summary but the bulk of
the work itself. Indeed, it can be especially satisfying to take what seems
to be a tired premise and infuse it with new life.

Top
--
W. Top Changwatchai
chngwtch at u i u c dot edu

Richard Bos

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 12:36:34 PM6/12/01
to
gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam Cadre) wrote:

> Dennis Jerz wrote:
> > "There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9
>
> That's pretty, but it's not actually true. Today's culture isn't as
> stagnant as Qoheleth's. 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said,
> See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
> Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell Inspiron.

Well, that's true if you approach it with fiction in mind, but on the
level at which Ecclesiastes was reasoning, a cell phone is identical to
a tom-tom: both are but means to get messages from one place to another,
and for both, the messages are usually not worth hearing. Technology is
less stagnant now, that's true; but I'd say that culture, actual, human
culture, is more stagnant if anything.
Of course, on that level, this also applies to IF. It won't, of course,
stop me from playing it anyway.

Richard

Adam Cadre

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 1:33:58 PM6/12/01
to
I wrote:
> [Ecclesiastes] 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See,
> this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
> Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell
> Inspiron.

Tina replied:


> But there's nothing new about communication. Only the method and the
> speed differ between a cellular phone and a caravan with a bag full of
> message scrolls. See.

Except that when you reduce this far, the distinction in question loses
all meaning. That is, sure, I could come up with a whole list of new
things, and you could shoot them down saying, "Oh, but if you ignore
elements X, Y and Z, this is really just the same as..." But what purpose
does this sort of sophistry serve? All it does is take the very useful
distinction of new/old and attempt to collapse it. And the same would be
true of someone who took the opposite tack and said, "Oh, so long as you
change even one letter of a story, you have a BRAND NEW story!" C'mon,
let's be pragmatic here.

> As someone else has pointed out (and as no doubt others will point out
> with even more specific examples) this is not an original idea. It's
> been done before.

Not in IF. Again, let's be pragmatic. The point is not to achieve some
impossible standard of Perfect Originality. It's to keep actual games in
progress from having their impact blunted. I have a number of works in
various stages of progress, and most of them have at least one element to
which I'm hoping people will react by saying, "Cool! Never seen *this* in
an IF game before!" There has been one occasion -- just this year, in
fact -- that this was my *main* impetus for writing the game, and so when
someone mentioned the premise, I threw it out. My remaining projects
aren't quite as one-dimensional and have other aspects that'd make me keep
working on them even if The Gimmick were spoiled. But still, they'd have
more impact were that not to happen -- and even putting aside selfish
concerns, wouldn't you the player rather that the actual *games* produced
by the IF community have as much of that "whoa, cool" effect as possible?

W. Top Changwatchai

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 2:14:27 PM6/12/01
to
Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote in message
news:9g5jq6$seq$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com...

> Again, let's be pragmatic. The point is not to achieve some
> impossible standard of Perfect Originality. It's to keep actual games in
> progress from having their impact blunted.

Ah, I think this reaches the core of where my opinion differs from yours.
Whereas I can see how it can be maddening to an author to have the central
gimmick of a work used first by somebody else, I don't believe that the
purpose of *this newsgroup* is to limit the exposition of such ideas. On
the contrary: I believe this newsgroup works best as a free-flowing,
brain-storming discussion of these ideas. (Again, with the caveat that the
ideas and discussion are not completely unsolicited.)

Perhaps the reason I'm not as offended as you about getting "scooped" by
someone else is that I feel the strength of the work lies in its
implementation, not in the gimmick itself.

Take "Photopia," for instance. As a puzzle fiend, I'm *in general* not very
impressed with puzzleless IF, nor with stories which push my emotional
buttons. Nor do I consider the POV shifts or the central story itself
groundbreakingly [is that a word?] original. But the way all the elements
were put together, the details presented and the strength of the writing,
made me enjoy this work very much.

That's why I tend to avoid sci-fi/fantasy novels, even though I love the
freedom and possibilities inherent in the genre. I find that many mediocre
writers tend to focus on gimmicks and ideas, but don't have the ability to
pull it off, to create a compelling, intelligent work.

Top

PS I say all this, but it's possible I'll completely change my tune when my
epic work based on the Donner Party expedition is preempted a week before
its release by somebody's offhand remark.

PPS Whoops.

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 3:22:39 PM6/12/01
to
"W. Top Changwatchai" <n...@spam.com> wrote in message
news:DIpV6.9129$ki5.1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu...

> With communication, an advance in speed dramatically alters its very
> essence: the types of exchanges it allows, the audience it can reach, the
> flow of information it enables. It's like saying a state-of-the-art
> workstation is nothing more than a Turing machine, or that a human being
is
> nothing more than the component atoms. While at some level this is true,
> this sort of generalization ignores so many practical differences that it
> becomes useless.

Are we talking about proving Ecclesiastes literally wrong? The book of
Ecclesiastes didn't exist at one time, either. I'm happy to follow this
thread away from the immediate context in which I posted the quote (the idea
that a full-fledged IF game could still be of value even if somebody else
had independently released a prologue that uses a similar premise) and into
the realm of technology.

>Adam Cadre wrote:
> > Dennis Jerz wrote:
> > "There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9
>
> That's pretty, but it's not actually true. Today's culture isn't as
> stagnant as Qoheleth's. 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said,
> See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
> Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell Inspiron.

A cell phone is certainly a huge advance over runners delivering oral
messages between distant parties. But, with a little rewriting, a story
premised upon a cell phone interaction can be adapted for a series of pay
phones instead. Whatever crisis that might be precipitated by "Oh, no, my
battery is dying!" could easily be translated into "Oh, no, I'm running out
of change!", and we can still become emotionally involved in the plight of
the protagonist. The same premise could be revised to involve portable
radios, two cans and a string, a hole in the wall (through which lovers may
whisper or enemies may hiss), or the aforementioned messengers. In Star
Trek, Data can interact with a holographic image of his dead father, in such
a way that offers more dramatic possibilities than a simple letter. But the
premise of conversing with a dead relative is not new -- Hamlet also spoke
with his father's shade, and countless mythological stories or tribal
rituals describe similar encounters.

Of course there was no such thing as a computer in ancient Hebrew history.
But ancient Jews did have the Ark of the Covenant, as well as prophets who
had the ability to see visions; further, angels appeared in dreams.
Likewise, the Greeks consulted the oracle at Delphi, and the medievalists
were fascinated by alchemy. These are, of course, not identical to
computers, but they do serve many of the same cultural functions -- they are
sources of wisdom, conduits of power, emblems of authority, opportunities
for abuse of knowledge, and so forth.

To the computer-literate denizens of this newsgroup, a computer may not at
all seem mystical and magical (remeber what Arthur C. Clarke says about
technology and magic), but then this group is not a random cross-section of
society. Technology permits us to do things that we had previously only
dreamed about; but we have been dreaming about them (and telling stories
about them) long before they were invented. Stories and inventions both
come from the same place.

Having said all that, I will readily admit that form and function are
intertwined. The overbearing acting style of melodrama largely disappeared
when follow-spots and (in movies) close-ups were invented. The role of the
script writer became more important, as the new acting style (where a raised
eyebrow or the pursing of the lips was actually visible to the audience)
called for a different kind of dialogue. But I don't see that as an issue
that equates directly to the issue of whether a premise released as a
prologue would "spoil" the value of a hypothetical IF game that used the
same premise. Perhaps the audience's expectations would be higher for the
later work, but the author of the full-fledged game would also have the
benefit of knowing the critical response to the prologue.

Dennis G. Jerz

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 3:23:45 PM6/12/01
to
Bare Room

You see a book. It appears to be the King James Bible.

>open book

It falls open to Ecclesiastes. But there seems something slightly odd about
the text...

>read book

"The words of the Designer, the son of Crowther, king in Colossal Cave.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Implementor, vanity of vanities; all is
vanity. What profit hath an author of all his labor which he taketh before
the keyboard? One PC passeth away, and another PC cometh: but the IF
Competition abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down,
and (if thou wouldst play "Trinity") another sun doth arise. The wind goeth
toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about
continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All
the bitstreams run into ftp.gmd.de; yet the archive is not full: unto the
players from whence the games come, thither they return again. All things
are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with
seeing, nor the fingers sated with typing. The thing that hath been, it is
that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and
there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be


said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before

us. There is no remembrance of former competition games; neither shall
there be any remembrance of games that are to come with those competitions
that shall come after. I the Implementor was king over
rec.arts.int-fiction. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom
concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath
Inform given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all
the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and
vexation of spirit. That which is twisty cannot be made straight: and that
which is leaving cannot be numbered 69,105."

Here, the text trails off into illegible silliness...

>quit

Sean T Barrett

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 5:06:28 PM6/12/01
to
W. Top Changwatchai <n...@spam.com> wrote:
>Whereas I can see how it can be maddening to an author to have the central
>gimmick of a work used first by somebody else, I don't believe that the
>purpose of *this newsgroup* is to limit the exposition of such ideas.

Which newsgroup? rec.arts.int-fiction, or rec.games.int-fiction?

(This is meant as a polite reminder for people to check
their headers and redirect threads as appropriate. Followups
set.)

SeanB

Tina

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 5:11:51 PM6/12/01
to
In article <9g5jq6$seq$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com>,

Adam Cadre <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote:
>I wrote:
>> [Ecclesiastes] 1:10: "Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See,
>> this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."
>> Because, y'know, Qoheleth's granddad had a cell phone and a Dell
>> Inspiron.
>
>Tina replied:
>> But there's nothing new about communication. Only the method and the
>> speed differ between a cellular phone and a caravan with a bag full of
>> message scrolls. See.
>
>Except that when you reduce this far, the distinction in question loses
>all meaning. That is, sure, I could come up with a whole list of new
>things, and you could shoot them down saying, "Oh, but if you ignore
>elements X, Y and Z, this is really just the same as..." But what purpose
>does this sort of sophistry serve? All it does is take the very useful
>distinction of new/old and attempt to collapse it.

I think Dennis Jerz's post is much better than my current response to
this, so I highly suspect I should just point people to it instead, but
basically: for the purposes of story-telling, I see little-to-no
difference in these methods, with the proviso that I mean in appropriate
settings. There is no real dramatic difference between a runner weaving
through the market to reach your character and then gasping out "Sir! Sir!
Someone set fire to the palace!", and you receiving a call on your cell
phone informing you the White House is ablaze. The latter is -certainly-
not original just because it contains a cell phone, and would not have
been even if put out the day after the mobile phone was invented.

>> As someone else has pointed out (and as no doubt others will point out
>> with even more specific examples) this is not an original idea. It's
>> been done before.
>
>Not in IF. Again, let's be pragmatic. The point is not to achieve some
>impossible standard of Perfect Originality. It's to keep actual games in
>progress from having their impact blunted.

But... things I read outside of IF (and, less frequently, watch) and games
I play that don't count as IF -do- change how original or interesting I
view a work of IF as being. While there are certain things I look at that
are particular to the medium itself -- mostly related to timing and flow,
plus of course puzzles and puzzle-like things -- as an entertaining work
of fiction it goes into a larger corpus of things to be compared with.

Possibly this is not true of everyone (in fact, it seems likely, given
we're having this exchange) but I can't imagine it's only true of me,
either, if for no other reason than I'm just not interesting enough to be
unique. :)

> I have a number of works in
>various stages of progress, and most of them have at least one element to
>which I'm hoping people will react by saying, "Cool! Never seen *this* in
>an IF game before!"

I suppose to some extent I can understand this, but...

> There has been one occasion -- just this year, in
>fact -- that this was my *main* impetus for writing the game, and so when
>someone mentioned the premise, I threw it out.

This one, I'm afraid, I don't.

Maybe it's just that IF is a smaller corpus of work than, say, specific
genre fiction, but quite honestly, if authors of static fiction (which,
hey, you are! so pay attention here :>) succumbed to that impulse, there
are things I feel are quite good stories that would likely never have been
written. The only reason why I could understand this is...

> My remaining projects
>aren't quite as one-dimensional and have other aspects that'd make me keep
>working on them even if The Gimmick were spoiled.

...if it really is as one-dimensional as you say, or if the premise that
was mentioned was -pivotal- to the game you tossed out. Even then, 'understand'
is not necessarily the same as 'agree'.

I have, a number of times, seen people say "this story is much like the
one in Game X", but it does not always end with "therefore, it is boring
and also Game X did it better". Sometimes it ends with "but is actually
done well." Bearing that in mind...

> But still, they'd have
>more impact were that not to happen -- and even putting aside selfish
>concerns, wouldn't you the player rather that the actual *games* produced
>by the IF community have as much of that "whoa, cool" effect as possible?

Sure. But apparently I get my 'whoa, cool' effect from a different vector
than you're alluding to here. My 'whoa, cool' effect might just come with
a story with a very common set of plot elements, but that just happens to
have been done by a very gifted author who manages to make the story vivid
enough that I don't even notice that I've seen it a dozen times before. So,
let me turn around that question, in a manner of speaking: Wouldn't you, as
an author, prefer that people enjoy your work not simply because it is
'original' but rather because they find it well-crafted in general?

John Hill

unread,
Jun 12, 2001, 2:20:56 PM6/12/01
to
In article <3b25...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net>, "Ryan Franklin"
<ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net> wrote:

> (okay, okay, in one of them Jesus was the hard-boiled detective),

Me want! Me want hard-boiled Jesus. Please. Where?

Ryan Franklin

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Jun 12, 2001, 7:21:37 PM6/12/01
to

The one in particular I was thinking of was a series of stories written by
Matt Marchese and Alan Scott, posted to talk.bizarre back in, um, '98.
They can be found at http://tbwa.volcano.org if you know how to search for
it.

Originally, this paragraph was going to be instructions on how you, too,
can search the TBWA for the "Two-Fisted Jesus Tales," but it turns out
that I was able to find direct links to a website with articles from
all kinds of silver-age talk.bizarre oldbies that put them all in one
place! I tell ya, some days I'm awfully impressed with my
resourcefulness. ;-)

http://thenetnet.com/fiction/jesus.html is chapter 1 (Kiss Me, Holy)
http://thenetnet.com/fiction/twofist2.html is ch. 2 (The Big Resurrection)
http://thenetnet.com/fiction/twofist3.html is ch. 3 (Vengeance is Mine)
http://thenetnet.com/fiction/twofist4.html is ch. 4 (I, the Judge)


....that I remembered these stories at least 3 years after reading them in
a newsgroup is pretty amazing, and a credit to Matt Marchese and Alan
Scott. (A shameless plug on their behalf for those who _do_ want to
surf through the TBWA.) And, yes, there was an interesting
meta-discussion at the time all about how far back the concept for
two-fisted tales of Jesus went, and it went back pretty far. Something
about the noir detective genre gets people spiritually-minded, maybe.

--
god should've been played by sidney greenstreet
ry...@cobweb.scarymonsters.net

Greg Ewing

unread,
Jun 13, 2001, 1:02:24 AM6/13/01
to
Neil Cerutti wrote:
>
> The statistics in the General Asimov
> quote don't seem to jive with the 2500 person force. If only
> 100 servive of 2500, how many lives can Compulsion be saving?
> Before, was *every* soldier dying?

The bit about saving lives is obviously propaganda.
As such, it doesn't necessarily correspond to
reality...

--
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

Greg Ewing

unread,
Jun 13, 2001, 1:14:02 AM6/13/01
to
"W. Top Changwatchai" wrote:
>
> It's like saying a state-of-the-art
> workstation is nothing more than a Turing machine

It's rather *less* than a Turing machine, actually,
since a real Turing machine has unlimited memory. :-)

Jason Melancon

unread,
Jun 13, 2001, 2:25:22 AM6/13/01
to
On 12 Jun 2001 10:33:58 -0700, gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com (Adam
Cadre) wrote:

> wouldn't you the player rather that the actual *games*
> produced by the IF community have as much of that "whoa, cool"
> effect as possible?

I, the player, prefer to see well-written, fleshed-out games in their
own right over games whose *only* claim to fame is a gimmick. In
general, I don't like things that are only good once and then you have
to throw them out.

I realize the IF medium is new-ish, but any effort to keep the
discussion in r*if pure and devoid of particular kinds of ideas is
doomed. IF is different from other fiction, but it's not that
different; ideas will seep in from the outside world. And eventually
newness won't be enough anymore. (Yes, of course, new things can
exist for a while.) As a player, looking back in fifty years, I'd
rather the best works of the golden years of IF be known not *simply*
for their constant use of radical, startling new tricks.

This is not to say that I'm glad you trashed your WIP, or that you
should continue such an awful tradition! On the contrary, I hope you
resurrect them when you have time, because I enjoy reading your stuff.

--
Jason Melancon

Sean Elliott

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Jun 13, 2001, 3:30:51 AM6/13/01
to
A game, like a good song, has its best impact (for me, the player) has
it's best impact with atmosphere. Too much of the current market is
driven by the want for the next "whoa, cool" effect, and a lot of games
are ignored because they don't have the latest
graphics/animation/whatever. Some of the best games I've played are
atmospheric, rather than "that looks/sounds/is sooo cool."

That being said, the "whoa, cool" effect is still pretty cool.

Sean

W. Top Changwatchai

unread,
Jun 13, 2001, 9:27:30 AM6/13/01
to
Greg Ewing <s...@my.signature> wrote in message
news:3B26F69A...@my.signature...

> "W. Top Changwatchai" wrote:
> >
> > It's like saying a state-of-the-art
> > workstation is nothing more than a Turing machine
>
> It's rather *less* than a Turing machine, actually,
> since a real Turing machine has unlimited memory. :-)

Got me there. ^_^ Though it's interesting you used "real" to describe
"Turing machine."

Mark Musante - Sun Microsystems

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Jun 13, 2001, 9:58:26 AM6/13/01
to
Emily Short (ems...@mindspring.com) wrote:
> I'd really like to see the game of Thirteen Cards, is all.

Textfire Poker.


-markm

John Colagioia

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Jun 13, 2001, 10:45:05 AM6/13/01
to
"Dennis G. Jerz" wrote:

> "Adam Cadre" <gri...@cascadia.drizzle.com> wrote in message

> news:9fut4o$nib$1...@cascadia.drizzle.com...


> > we've *all* got hundreds of ideas. The people who actually *are* willing
> > to put the work into fully implementing them should be the ones granted the
>

> > honor of using them first. If one of the ideas I have on the back burner
> > were scooped by, say, a comp game, well, that's life. But if it'd been
> > spoiled by a 2K text piece that someone cranked out in 45 minutes, well,
> > I'd be pretty darn ticked.

> "There truly is nothing new under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9

> From a certain minimalistic perspective, all stories have already been told
> before. What matters is the telling.

Well, yes, one can reduce all stories--or all technologies--to a mere riff
based on some previous concept with only superficial alterations. My personal
favorite version of this "game" is to reduce all of fiction to a small set of
plots when, really, "the number of existing plots" are all a matter of
perspective. I mean, I can espouse my system of "two types of fiction": One
in which the protagonist survives, and one in which he doesn't. Someone else
might talk about the shape of the journey (stay home, travel among friends,
travel among enemies, or travel far away), the nature of the quest (ascension,
vengeance, creation, or survival), the numbers of protagonists and antagonists,
or any number of other specific details of the plot which can be easily
pigeonholed.

In my personal opinion, though, while they're all valid, it's all irrelevant.
The plot (and I'm being very careful where I step, here) is not the most
critical part of the story. The setting isn't, either, nor is any particular
feature of the story, itself. The reason is because no one of these things can
stand on its own, though many writers have tried, in many types of media.

I mean, quick quiz. Which stories am I talking about (by plot)?
- Kid grows up to be the hero his father was meant to be, through the dual
mechanations of an unknown family friend and the villain once opposed by the
heroic father.
- Hero enters a deadly place to save the life of a friend.
- Protagonist snaps due to the death of a loved one and seeks vengeance.
How about these (by setting)?
- People stuck on a deserted island
- Explorer stuck in a fantasy cave system
- Cowboys in the American Old West

We could go on, but I'm guessing everyone who actually considers the different
examples can think of at least three stories each to go with them. The
critical piece is something that's easy to overlook: The relationship between
these things, and the way they fit together to tell the whole story.
"Gilligan's Island" is very different from "The Swiss Family Robinson," despite
similarities in setting. Batman, Hamlet, and thousands of other figures have
the same superficial plot, but are (perhaps surprisingly, in some cases) very
different stories. Heck, even the Zork games amongst each other and with
respect to other cave crawls are quite different, despite overwhelming
similarity. Star Trek could be pretty much the same show on a cruise ship, a
submarine, or a truck cruising the Australian outback. Well, you'd probably
want to change the name, but the stories wouldn't be significantly impacted.

This is, in fact, why I once said that originality and novelty often didn't
work for me. It's because the novelty often becomes the centerpiece of the
work, putting everything else (including the aforementioned relationships and
construction) on the backburner.

So, while I can see the potential pain of being "scooped" on a new(ish)
concept, I'd suggest taking a good look at the work in question. If it really
doesn't bring anything interesting to the table besides the handful of
novelties, then, yes, it perhaps should never have been created in the first
place. However, if there is anything else to it, then there's absolutely no
reason to discard it. As has been said before, science fiction is almost
exclusively based on the premise of exploring new places and meeting aliens.
People have been exploring and meeting foreigners for millenia. This does not
make the newer stories any less good.

Hmmm...I think I've typed up more than enough on an issue I'm not really
involved with, at this point, so I'll quietly step back out...


Magnus Olsson

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Jun 13, 2001, 11:46:51 AM6/13/01
to
In article <YSJV6.9283$ki5.1...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>,

W. Top Changwatchai <n...@spam.com> wrote:


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Adam J. Thornton

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Jun 11, 2001, 10:28:51 AM6/11/01
to
In article <GEr8J...@world.std.com>,
Sean T Barrett <buz...@world.std.com> wrote:
>I agree with both these comments. I can sympathize with the annoyance

>factor (one week after I started working on "A Storm Brought About By
>A Moth's Flapping Wing", several years ago, someone posted the premise
>to r.a.i-f);

And probably revealed that it had been used in a (vastly unfair) puzzle
in Discworld I.

>but on the other hand, comparing the idea to the full-fledged
>work is a little odd. Should we be critical of the author of "The Garden
>of Forking Paths" (not the Garden*burger*) for writing so many stories
>about never-written books, thus "using up those ideas" so authors can't
>write the actual books?

I'm pissed about _The Library Of Babel_. There's just no point anymore.
I can't write *anything*! Even this Usenet post is redundant!

I have dispatched my alter ego to travel to Buenos Aires, put a bowl of
Cheerios on a particular grave, and thereunto pee.


Adam

--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Adam J. Thornton

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Jun 13, 2001, 3:13:58 PM6/13/01
to
In article <3b26ff04....@news.newsguy.com>,
Jason Melancon <afn5...@afn.org> wrote:

>In general, I don't like things that are only good once and then you
>have to throw them out.

Remind me never to borrow a Kleenex from you.

mattF

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Jun 13, 2001, 11:58:33 PM6/13/01
to
>
> Textfire Poker.
>


You better hope Adam C didn't just kick his monitor in.


^_^


-mattF

Jason Melancon

unread,
Jun 14, 2001, 5:33:50 AM6/14/01
to
On 13 Jun 2001 19:13:58 GMT, ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton)
wrote:

> In article <3b26ff04....@news.newsguy.com>,
> Jason Melancon <afn5...@afn.org> wrote:
>
> >In general, I don't like things that are only good once and then you
> >have to throw them out.
>
> Remind me never to borrow a Kleenex from you.

Borrow?! I would hope I wouldn't have to. Besides, I wash my
hankies, TYVM.

--
Jason Melancon

FB

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Jun 14, 2001, 11:05:15 AM6/14/01
to
>
> Ah, the gall-spewing abombination that is pre-emptive plagiarism. I wrote
> some very profound stuff on this, but H.G. Wells beat me to it.
>

I thought the actual term was "plagiary by anticipation".

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