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October 28, 2006

EL236 Game Stories: Round II

My first experience with Interactive Fiction wasn't exactly one that makes me want to go back and try it again...

Regardless, since my first go-around, I've learned a little bit more about the programming that goes into it and even helped make a game in Inform 7. The storytelling that goes into writing the game is hard to write.

In the transcript of the panel discussion that we read from Dr. Jerz's blog from his job at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, a student, Amanda, gives her perspective on what it's like to write a transcript and have to clip most of it away because of the limitations in the coding.

a lot of my creations were limited by my programming ability and so I originally wrote out a transcript of things that I wanted to happen in the game and when I went to program it, there would be glitches in things that I couldn’t put into those things that I wanted.

So I ended up cutting out a lot of that original material and some of it is stupid things like you forget to put in a comma and the whole thing won’t work. For someone who’s not used to that kind of thing it’s very, very frustrating.

In ordinary fiction (which can hardly be called ordinary, haha), the author has control over what stimuli the reader encounters. The author doesn't have control over how the reader interprets the stimuli (like tone, characters, motifs, etc.). I've been trying to understand that the storytelling in Interactive Fiction is not just what the author gives the reader--it is also how the player reacts to the story. In Interactive Fiction, most of the action is driven by how players react to the prompt the author gives the players.

Whereas in normal fiction, the story ends the same way all of the time regardless--in a linear fashion--Interactive Fiction allows for a bit of deviation from the norm. I imagine a web in my mind when I think of the realities that stem from one choice a player makes.

An author in IF has to write a transcript to predict what the player might say in response to the game. That's the hard part because people are unpredictable (don't we all know that). Storytelling isn't just telling a story anymore, it's telling a story in turns with the players who are responding to the choices and prompts the author designs.

While I'm finally coming to terms with this, and finally understanding what I need to do to make an IF game work, I'm still not sure I can do this. We'll see, though. Here's to Round II.

Posted by KarissaKilgore at October 28, 2006 2:49 PM


Yes, hopefully we will do better this time around. I do agree with you; I really think that my understanding was developed even more by having to actually build an IF game. The process of coming up with coding that works helps ones mind to think in the sense that you need to in order to play the game.

Posted by: Lori at October 30, 2006 11:28 AM

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