IF Discussion, Live Online

One of the things to come out of discussion at the first Oxford-London Meetup was the idea that it would be nice to have occasional scheduled discussion of IF on ifMUD. The MUD is always on and at least someone is almost always around, but much of the conversation is more general-interest. People also suggested that a) it would be nice to have a context for that discussion that was not exclusively about creation techniques, since so much of the existing mud conversation and intfiction discussion is so focused; and that b) it would be a good idea to provide some focus to these meetings by pre-announcing a topic to cover, so that people can think about examples to discuss.

I’m going to try this as a monthly Saturday thing. Sundays on ifMUD are used for weekly ClubFloyd meetings, and I don’t want to conflict with that. If you’re not familiar, ClubFloyd does group playthroughs of IF, often including recent comp winners or XYZZY nominees, and posts the transcripts. It’s been going on since 2007 and is by now a venerable institution, though attendance rotates quite a bit. If we can hit anything like ClubFloyd’s vitality and general usefulness, I will consider this idea a big success.

Saturday March 1, I will hang about at 8 PM GMT (= 3 PM Eastern, 12 noon Pacific) on the channel #theoryclub on ifMUD. (If you’re not familiar with the mud, see these instructions on how to get started: you will need to get an account, then @joinc #theoryclub to be able to see the conversation.)

Because this is something I’ve been thinking about a fair amount lately, I propose that the first session be on interiority, the inner life of characters. Some things we may discuss: What games do this particularly well? What mechanics are used, and to what effect? What aspects of interiority are not handled well in IF? Are there other possibilities we haven’t looked at? Are there experiences you’d like as a player that you’ve never encountered?

I’m open to suggestions for other topics as well — please feel free to propose future ideas.

23 thoughts on “IF Discussion, Live Online

  1. My alarm is set. The typical second person is in tension with exploring inner states; IF excels most at exploring an outer world but there are some games that manage this. I’ll have a think about this over the next month…

  2. What does “inner life” mean given IF’s output / input structure of play
    ? Is it time for a new term, one less tied to the novel?

    • Hm, I would have said the play structure doesn’t undercut the idea of inner life at all. Characters can be said to have an inner life in operas and plays, even if they expose that inner life through an aria or a soliloquy. Characters in film can be implied to have an inner life through all sorts of tricks, with voiceovers or cinematic effects meant to render a particular subjective experience.

  3. One of ToaSK’s great failings is that it never fully communicates that the barbarian’s inner life consists mostly of cartoon images of squirrels, hitting each other with cake. Paradoxically, this may also be it’s greatest success. Which is another way of saying: sorry I missed the thing! I’ll try to make the next thing! Saturdays can be tricky.

  4. Pingback: ifMUD IF discussion | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  5. [theoryclub]/23:38 Rob says, “actually I had one notion approaching coherency out of this conversation today, based upon work I’d tried out, that I still want to get working, that I didn’t share”
    [theoryclub]|23:40 Rob says, “I was during the aughts thinking about and working on a notion of units of interactivity in IF games”
    [theoryclub]|23:41 Rob says, “and at some point I applied it to conversations, with an eye to what Emily was hacking the groundwork into”
    [theoryclub]|23:42 Rob says, “and I thought, well, there’s a fundamental conversational interaction atom unit. player types something, game figures out some text to print back. in a conversation, there can be all this working out of what the player might type next, and what the interactor-NPC might say in response”
    [theoryclub]|23:44 Rob says, “and then I further thought, what if arbitrarily, the player character and the non-player character could flip at any point in the conversation. it’s still X says X1, Y has options Y1, Y2, Y3, because X said X1. doesn’t matter which one the player is controlling, each interaction has this structure”
    [theoryclub] Rob says, “the game has to figure out the right response through various weightings if it’s an NPC, otherwise the player has to do it. and the poor author has to think of this vast slew of choices following choices.”
    [theoryclub] Rob says, “but the choices the game code settles on for the next options for what the NPC says, or for what the PC can say next, is still chugging along the whole time”
    [theoryclub] Rob says, “in essence, the conversation code is deciding which menu of conversation options for each character. and if the player can flip between playing one or either character, that engine is still the same one”*
    [Robstuff] Rob says, “then what an author has to do, is play against the computer in multiple simulations, from either side, and record everything they write as a response”
    [theoryclub] Rob says, “because each atom of interactions is a pair, but either the player or the game can be the intitiator or responder of a pair”

    —–

    *[Robstuff] Rob says, “then what an author has to do, is play against the computer in multiple simulations, from either side, and record everything they write as a response”

    **[theoryclub]|23:57 Roger says, “Seems to hold together at first glance”

    • For the conversation aspect at least, this is not a million miles from what Versu does (did, I guess). Elements of dialogue are modeled with information about their applicability, and the available options are shown to the player character, or used as the basis of NPC choice if the NPC is speaking next.

    • *[Robstuff] Rob says, “then what an author has to do, is play against the computer in multiple simulations, from either side, and record everything they write as a response”

      Is what I imagine as an authoring tool, scripted in I7 and writing a playable script from I7.

      The author plays the game, the game plays the author, the author plays the game, the game — multiple simulations, from either side, the author authors both with the tool, and ‘record[s] erything they write as a response’ in Inform code written out and saved by the tool.

  6. There is a fundamental interaction atom unit. This interaction atom unit is a pair. It is expressed as this:

    “The player types something, then the game figures out some text to print back.”

    Each atom of interactions is a pair, but either the player or the game can be the intitiator or responder of a pair.

    — The Wheeler Conjecture

    2014, March, the 1st

  7. This bit from the B/introt PDF section 1, the software stack, seems like a different-software-layer unpacking of “The Wheeler Conjecture”, corollaries included:
    […] the picture is roughly so:
    the player typing at a keyboard
    (a) MATERIAL WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR
    (b) EXTENSIONS CHOSEN BY THE AUTHOR
    (c) THE STANDARD RULES
    (d1) MECHANICS OF PLAY (d2) DATA STRUCTURE SUPPORT
    (e) VIRTUAL MACHINE INTERFACE
    the virtual machine “hardware”
    —> …responds ?

    I have never thought, that I was thinking something new, that someone else in IF hadn’t thought before, or tried experiments with. I just think, that I have not expressed my ideas before, and that I should do, and possibly, finally have done. This exerpt from B-intro.pdf, sounds like “The player types something, then the game figures out some text to print back.”

    … with the second half extrapolated into (a) through (e) as far as the I7 engine is concerned. That I atomized it and called it a Conjecture, is why I assert that it is a conjecture. Because, I don’t think anyone atomized it and asserted it and called it something, before now. Someone else could have, along the way — but if no one else did before I did, then I want to claim rights to having asserted it, as an atomic principle of interaction.

    I have learned that, if it is my thing to claim, then strongly I claim it, as part of being a theorist and a creator in a field.

  8. Rob Wheeler on March 2, 2014 at 5:15 am said:

    There is a fundamental interaction atom unit. This interaction atom unit is a pair. It is expressed as this:

    “The player types something, then the game figures out some text to print back.”

    Each atom of interactions is a pair, but either the player or the game can be the intitiator or responder of a pair.

    — The Wheeler Conjecture

    2014, March, the 1st

    • This is The Wheeler Conjecture:
      There is a fundamental interaction atom unit. This interaction atom unit is a pair. It is expressed as this: Each atom of interactions is a pair, but either the player or the game can be the intitiator or responder of a pair.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s