Transcript Feb 21: Tour of Seltani

(Unlike most Discussion Club meetings, this one was held in the multiplayer environment of Seltani, which we had gathered to explore.)

Roland arrives.
Belford asks, “So who here is logging in for the first time?”
Roger says, “”Me, me”
two-star says, “Me.”
Gerynar says, “I am as well”
Belford says, “..Roger Yes, we can tell from the MUD quoting habits. :)”
Guest 1 says, “ME TOO”
Belford says, “(Which I also fall into readily, of course)”
Roger asks, “”Are the various worlds here notionally related thematically?”
Molly says, “hey, it turns out I have to shovel snow”
Molly says, “I gotta go now :(”
Guest 1 exclaims, “!”
Belford exclaims, “Sorry!”
Pavitra says, “Notionally, yes, it’s all under the umbrella of the Myst universe.”
Belford says, “The majority of the worlds here fall under the Myst umbrella… timing”
Roland says, “I probably can’t stay long either”
Roger says, “”Ah; thanks.”
Emily Short says, “Perhaps we should get started, then”
Guest 2 arrives.
You ask, “Belford, do you want to guide?”
Belford says, “That is, there’s this backstory where I came up with ways for normal Earth people to write Myst linking books, and they (you-all) started experimenting”
Belford exclaims, “Okay!”
Belford says, “We are standing in a cavern, two and a half miles under the New Mexico desert, where an ancient civilization thrived…”
Belford says, “The fact that the ancient D’ni were exterminated with poison gas *right here* should not worry you at all. Honest.”
Emily Short holds breath
Gerynar feels woozy
Belford says, “Also, the cavern is absolutely not infested with killer alien bats.”
Belford says, “But anyway.”
Emily Short says, “Nah, that’s the Unterzee”
Tsawac says, “They all migrated to – yes.”
Belford says, “Ha”
dfabulich arrives.
Belford says, “Anyhow, this is my experiment in a Twine-style MUD. Or in an all-text Myst Online system.”
Belford says, “I admire Twine’s model of “write text, then start marking it up to add special effects”. It works really well as a way to get people started.”
Belford says, “And while I have a long history of MUD involvement, the programming models have always been horrid.”
There is a chittering noise from somewhere.
Belford looks around
two-star says, “”Must be the bats.”
Belford says, “Sorry. Had to look up the syntax for that, actually. Been a while.”
Pavitra says, “The killer aliens are really much more like beetles than bats.”
Belford exclaims, “Very reassuring!”
You ask, “Wait, have you built in things that you can trigger secretly? or what?”
Belford says, “No, there I manually executed a line of code”
dfabulich says, “I just noticed that there’s a bug with quotation marks inside quotations”
Belford says, “The /eval command. I can do that here because I built the place”
dfabulich says, “Consider “this” in a sentence”
Emily Short says, “ah, I see”
Emily Short says, “So you can GM with moderate special effects”
Guest 1 considers.
Belford says, “Yes. Or I could set up more elaborate effects and trigger them”
Roger says, “”omg I’m in the Matrix right now”
Roland says, “The chalkboard currently exhibits the quote bug”
dfabulich asks, “Does /eval just cause the universe to emote? Or does it only do specific canned tasks?”
Guest 1 asks, “What’s the bug?”
dfabulich says, “The quotation mark points the wrong way.”
Belford says, “The thing about the quotes is that the font I chose has asymmetrical quotes.”
Belford says, “So you have to type curly-quotes to make it look good.”
Guest 1 asks, “Couldn’t you just have typed “this”?”
Belford erases the chalkboard and writes, “What does ‘EOL while scanning string literal’ mean? — An open-quote without a matching close-quote, in code somewhere.”
Pavitra says, “Fixing it would require automatically converting dumb quotes to smart quotes, which it currently doesn’t do at all.”
Pavitra says, “Instead, the dumb quotes are just shaped curly by the font.”
dfabulich asks, “So it works if I do it “like this”?”
Roger says, “”Truly the downfall of the Mystian race”
two-star says, “probably it should be automatically changing double quotes to single quotes while it’s at it.”
Belford says, “Smartifying-quotes might be a good chat option”
Emily Short says, “If the whole universe is shaped by what you write, then I would assume punctuation is pretty powerful stuff”
dfabulich says, “Roger, they were just a bunch of D’nis.”
Belford says, “To answer dan’s question, /eval can run any code at all. The server’s scripting language is (almost) Python.”
Tsawac says, “My attempt to smuggle in umlaut punches was sadly curtailed.”
Pavitra pünches Tsawac in the arm.
dfabulich asks, “So, time to visit a world in particular?”
Belford says, “When I designed this thing, I wanted a nice clean model. I wound up with a nice model. It’s… kind of clean.”
Belford says, “Clunky in some ways. But it automates all the text updates, which I hear is a sore point in Twine.”
Roger asks, “”Is there a heartbeat or something?”
Belford says, “There is a heartbeat feature. This world doesn’t use it.”
Roger says, “”oh okay”
dfabulich says, “Roger, you don’t need to start with a quotation mark. It looks funny when you do. :-)”
Roger asks, “”How else would I say something?”
two-star says, “Just type it.”
Belford says, “You can set up changes to occur on a regular schedule. They’re suppressed for worlds that nobody is currently in, which means you need to write extra code to catch up”
Belford says, “This is a chat prompt, not a MUD-style command entry prompt”
Belford says, “So unmarked text is just spoken.”
Roger says, “Oh I see.”
Belford says, “The /eval and other special commands are marked by the slash.”
Roger says, “How ircian of you”
You ask, “So you could use the heartbeat to make NPCs do things?”
two-star says, “bah, I don’t have /eval permissions. That is probably wise.”
Belford says, “If you make your own world, you can /eval while you’re in it.”
Belford says, “This is an excellent way to experiment.”
Gerynar pokes at the walls and floor
Belford says, “Yes, you can have NPCs do things in real time.”
Belford says, “Really, there’s no object model, so there are no NPCs per se. It’s all text.”
dfabulich asks, “What are “notifications”?”
Belford asks, “Hm?”
Pavitra says, “If you’re in another tab when something happens, it can make a popup to get your attention.”
Belford says, “Oh, that”
Belford says, “Right”
Belford says, “Browser-level notifications of activity in your area”
dfabulich asks, “What’s the difference between idle and hidden?”
Belford asks, “There is no ‘hidden’?”
dfabulich says, “The Notifications dropdown has three options: None, When Idle, When Hidden”
dfabulich asks, “What do those mean?”
Roland says, “Think I need to head out”
Pavitra says, “Bye, Roland.”
Belford says, “Oh — when the tab is hidden”
Roland says, “BTW, the backwards quote thing happens when you type /playstate”
Roland says, “So long, all and Pavitra”
Roger says, “I feel properly-loin-girded for touring”
Roland disappears.
Belford says, “Ok, let us go somewhere”
Emily Short says, “I think Korvichtav was the first place on the list”
Belford says, “Ok”
Belford says, “Ok”
Pavitra follows the alley.
Pavitra leaves.
Roger says, “Surely you could /evail us all over there”
Guest 1 leaves.
Belford exclaims, “Bad form!”
dfabulich asks, “Do we walk there?”
Emily Short says, “http://seltani.net/portlink/54e8d5596b3d3005e547ec46 was the portlink”
Roger says, “Well yes”
Guest 1 arrives.
Emily Short says, “so I believe if you go to that, it should add a Korvichtav link to your booklet”
Emily Short says, “and then you can hop over”
Tsawac disappears.
Belford says, “I will walk around to the book gallery because I like having a book gallery”
Belford leaves.
Emily Short says, “or that”
dfabulich disappears.
Gerynar disappears.
The world fades away.
You are somewhere new.

***

Sunlight fills the wide lobby, gleaming on the polished tiles. All four walls are lined with bookshelves. On a pedestal in the center of the room is a linking book.

The north shelves are labeled: Global – Private – Chatrooms – Work-In-Progress

The east shelves are labeled: Home Ages – Useful – Special Instances

The south shelves are labeled: Exploration – Puzzle – Tech – Garden

The west shelves are labeled: Mystery – Unsorted – New Ages – Recommended

You see Tsawac, dfabulich, Gerynar, Roger, Guest 1, Belford, Pavitra, Guest 2, and two-star here.

***

Roger appears.
dfabulich asks, “So, wait, what was the other way to get here?”
Guest 1 appears.
Emily Short says, “You can also find it by walking around to a library area”
Belford appears.
Roger says, “That was… suitably-disconcerting”
Pavitra appears.
Guest 2 appears.
Belford says, “Pavitra built this, which is awesome”
Pavitra grins and waves.
two-star appears.
Belford says, “One of my goals was to not be the de-facto ruler of the world here, but to let other people build hubs and curate collections”
You ask, “Is it hand-curated or is it pulling in new stuff automatically?”
Belford says, “It is done by hand”
Pavitra says, “Hand-curated, but everyone can contribute to doing so.”
Belford says, “We never reached the activity rate that would require more than one library.”
Roger asks, “What is the meaning of Home/New Ages?”
dfabulich says, “Whenever we visited a new world at the SF IF meetup, I would make the Myst linking world sound.”
dfabulich says, “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXll05CqOD4”
Roger says, “What you don’t just whooosh with your mouth”
Belford says, “Oh, yes, totally cue up the Riven soundtrack while you’re here, I recommend”
Emily Short says, “This is a classy joint with high production values, Roger”
Roger asks, “So this world is one… room?”
Pavitra says, “Yes.”
Belford says, “Yes.”
Guest 2 asks, “Out of curiosity – the empty D’ni worlds (and the poison gas reference). Is this canon? Uru-canon? Book-canon?”
dfabulich says, “Oh, no, to be clear, I made the sound verbally. WOAAHWOWOWOWOW”
Belford says, “Book and Myst Online canon.”
Pavitra says, “I considered installing more wings, but ultimately decided to use separate instances instead.”
Molly appears.
Roger asks, “Off the top of one’s head, how hard would a ‘take me to a random world’ feature be to implement?”
Belford says, “Roughly. The books disagree about where the cavern is, geographically”
Guest 2 asks, “And the gas?”
Molly says, “hey”
Pavitra says, “Hi.”
Belford says, “Roger: that would not be very easy. The book UI can’t be triggered by code; I wanted to keep that part of the system under control.”
Emily Short says, “I see the Mystery shelf is more hopeful than populated”
Pavitra says, “Speaking of Belford not being the dictator, by the way, since I’m the author of this world, I’m the one with GM privileges.”
A cloud drifts by overhead.
Belford says, “You could build a button that pops up a random bookshelf from a pre-built list of bookshelves.”
Emily Short says, “Nice”
Roger says, “Okay; just sort of getting a feel for the feel of things”
Belford says, “Of course I have a wizard flag so I could do stuff too”
Gerynar tries to jump up and catch the cloud
Belford says, “But that would be bad form, again”
Molly asks, “So, what have we talked about?”
Roger asks, “Can world’s generally reset themselves to a new instance, or would that be more of a manual process?”
Belford says, “One of the discussions that’s gone by is how suitable this engine is to a non-Myst-related, Twine-style design community”
Belford says, “There are a lot of consistency restrictions which ultimately stem from my view of the system as an Uru derivative”
You ask, “It seems like you could pretty easily make portals that were called something other than linking books, though, no?”
Guest 2 says, “Also the concentration on (physical) exploration.”
Roger says, “The engine qua engine must be, hrm, narratively-complete, it would seem to me”
Belford says, “Yes, the textual skinning is easy to change”
Molly asks, “Belford: Consistancy restrictions?”
Belford says, “But the assumptions about what portals can do are deeper”
Emily Short says, “I wish it were easier to invite other people into the same instance with you”
Roger says, “No gender-swapping portals, I suppose”
Emily Short says, “or generate a link to let people follow you wherever it is you’re going”
Belford says, “Like, a world can’t screw with your character in any way except “you’re forced out (go home)””
Roger says, “Or a global channel or holler, if there is not one, which seems like there is not”
Belford says, “I would like to add inter-world chat”
Realm message from Belford: Shouting works
Belford says, “That’s the /shout command”
Roger says, “Oh I see”
Belford says, “Which is slightly inconsistent. Narratively it’s a chat message sent through your linking booklet, not a literal shout”
Belford says, “I could extend that across worlds, I just haven’t put in any work on this thing recently”
Roger says, “Hmmm so a link booklet couldn’t have a link to ‘wherever Belford is right at the moment’ I guess”
Belford says, “I would prefer to keep to the model where you have to meet up somewhere”
Roger says, “Fair enough”
Belford says, “Also, the world author decides where the entry points are.”
Pavitra says, “That’s important for puzzle design.”
Roger says, “Ah hmmm yeah I suppose that does follow”
Belford says, “Right now, even when you meet up with someone, there’s no way to trade links. That’s a big gap.”
Belford says, “You have to manufacture a bookshelf somewhere”
Tsawac says, “Alas, no Trumps.”
Belford says, “True.”
Roger asks, “Other than pasting a url?”
Pavitra says, “Or borrow a public shelf, which is one of the benefits of Korvichtav.”
Emily Short says, “I had to go mess around a bit in order to get the URL that I pasted”
Emily Short says, “(by faking that I was making a shelf)”
Belford says, “Anyway, let’s go look at some special effects”
Roger says, “So a private shelf would be… what”
Molly exclaims, “Oo, F/X!”
Belford says, “A shelf can be marked “anybody can add books” or “not””
Belford says, “The ones here are public”
Roger says, “Ready the sound-whooshing machines”
Belford says, “The “age jam” shelf back at the plaza was locked off”
Belford says, “Anyhow. Let’s go to Caelios on the Tech shelf here”
Pavitra disappears.
dfabulich disappears.
The world fades away.

***
You stand in a low, grassy hollow by a brook, in a circle of wooden benches. A path runs upstream.

A signboard rests on an easel near the path.

The sky is dark, thinly sprinkled with stars; a tiny blue moon floats just above the horizon. Edges of blue moonlight outline the hills around you.

You see Pavitra, dfabulich, Roger, Belford, Guest 1, Molly, and Tsawac here.

***

You are somewhere new.
Roger appears.
Belford appears.
dfabulich says, “WOOOOAHWOWOWOWOWOW”
Tsawac sits down.
Roger asks, “Can an object notify other players when a player is messing with it?”
Belford says, “I built the sky here to be variable. I have a little control panel.”
Tsawac says, “I assume by this point we are all sitting on the bench in awkward proximity.”
Molly sits down.
Roger says, “Neat”
Belford says, “The control panel is actually set up for the instance owner, not me per se”
Tsawac stands up.
Guest 2 appears.
dfabulich is still standing, thankyouverymuch
You sit and contemplate the night sky.
Molly says, “Hi, Guest.”
two-star sits down.
Belford says, “Everyone has a personal Caelios instance, and if you go there, you’ll get the controls”
Guest 1 stares at the sky.
Guest 1 says, “Wait but we just went here so are we in… I am confused.”
Gerynar appears.
dfabulich says, “The signboard says, “Go to your personal instance to test this; there will be a special control page in your linking booklet.””
Belford says, “Also — actually, get up, let’s go upstream and up to the tip of the hill”
Belford walks along the stream.
dfabulich says, “But I see no such thing”
Molly stands up.
Roger walks along the stream.
Pavitra walks along the stream.
You stand up and walk along the stream.
Belford climbs the hill.
Guest 1 walks up the path.
dfabulich walks up the path.
two-star walks up the path.
dfabulich climbs the hill.
Roger climbs the hill.
Molly walks up the path.
Gerynar walks up the path.
Guest 2 walks up the path.
Guest 1 climbs the hill.

***

Base of Hill

You are at the foot of a hill; a bubbling brook curves around its base and disappears behind it.

A tiny wooden bridge hops the brook. On the other side, wooden steps are set into the hillside, leading up towards the summit. Behind you, a paved path follows the stream towards a low hollow set with benches.

The sky is a tapestry of blazing stars; two small yellow moons hang directly overhead. Faint wisps of cloud drift across the moons.

In the yellow moonlight, you can make out an angular construction at the top of the hill.

You see Pavitra, two-star, Molly, Gerynar, and Guest 2 here.

***

Tsawac walks down towards the hollow.
Tsawac walks up the path.
Tsawac climbs the hill.
You climb the hill.

***

Top of Hill

A circular paved area crowns the hill. In its center stands a tall structure of pipes and spheres, braced by girders — apparently a fixed-view telescope. You could peer into the eyepiece.

A signboard by the telescope reads, “Now viewing: the Caelionis Nebula.” A linking page is pinned to the board.

A trail of wooden steps leads down the hill.

The sky is a tapestry of blazing stars; two small yellow moons hang directly overhead. Faint wisps of cloud drift across the moons.

You see Belford, dfabulich, Roger, Guest 1, Guest 2, Pavitra, Molly, Gerynar, and Tsawac here.

***
Belford says, “So you can look through the telescope and see the nebula”
Belford says, “(There is no restriction on how many people cna be looking thrugh the telescope at once)”
Belford refocusses the telescope.
You ask, “is there a way to make an object attach to one character at a time, if one wished to?”
Guest 1 asks, “You can refocus the telescope because we are in your instance?”
You ask, “e.g., a swing only one character is sitting in?”
Belford says, “The nebula description is generated by a little algorithm which uses a string as the seed”
two-star arrives.
Belford says, “I can change the seed — that’s the “Nebula name””
Pavitra says, “There’s not quite a native feature for that, but it’s possible to achieve the effect.”
Belford refocusses the telescope.
Molly says, “Oh, I didn’t notice the name was changing.”
Belford says, “Yeah. You could keep track of a currently-sitting property and refuse to allow a second person to sit down”
Belford says, “There’s hooks to clear such a property if the person leaves or links out.”
Emily Short says, “I’m curious because one of the things that seems appealing/interesting about multiplayer IF is having the players be not strictly equivalent”
Emily Short says, “so that they might have different abilities or experiences”
Pavitra says, “It’s possible to set per-player variables, as well.”
Belford says, “I implemented the same procedural-text structure that I’ve built a dozen times (Secret Hideout, etc) so you can make nice random descriptions.”
Emily Short says, “both for “we must work together” puzzles and for stories where different participants have unlike perspectives”
Belford says, “You could randomly assign a set of player variables the first time they enter your world”
Emily Short says, “aha”
Belford says, “Or you could use some pseudo-random factor based on their database ID (which is fixed)”
Belford says, “Mostly, worlds have completely separate variable namespaces. But you can set up two of your worlds to share data.”
Belford says, “You can also share data with someone else’s world by mutual agreement”
Belford says, “There is a very awkward interface for this”
Roger asks, “What exists, if anything, for transcripting?”
Belford says, “Nothing. Sorry.”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe something where there are three hats, and only one person can be wearing a given hat at a time, and the red hat grants the red abilities….”
Roger says, “Just wondering”
You ask, “If there are multiple instances of a given world, how does it know which one to read from? is it going to look for my personal instance of (otherworld) to check values?”
Molly asks, “Guest 1: What if there are more than three people in a world, though?”
Guest 1 says, “That’s true, that would be less fun for them.”
Guest 1 says, “Musical chairs, I guess.”
Molly says, “Haha”
Belford says, “Emily: um, there is an answer to that question, but it’s messy.”
Belford says, “The context in which any bit of code runs is an instance, rather than a world.”
Guest 1 asks, “So I can go to my own instance of this hill and change the sky. Is it possible for someone else to join me in my instance?”
Belford says, “In this discussion I’ve been using the word “world” loosely”
dfabulich says, “The mobile UI is kinda buggy”
Belford says, “Yes, that’s possible, but you’d have to go through some hoops”
Pavitra says, “Guest 1: Yes, if you put a link to your instance on a shelf somewhere.”
Guest 1 says, “Oh tricky.”
dfabulich says, “No way to resize sections”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe I am starting to get it.”
Guest 1 disappears.
Emily Short says, “http://seltani.net/portlink/54e8d4706b3d3005e547ec43 for them as need it”
Pavitra disappears.
The world fades away.
You are somewhere new.
Roger appears.

***

Lobby

You stand in a claustrophobic hallway, or maybe a walk-in closet. The stone walls are mostly bare: Here there’s a laminated poster that welcomes you to Bluedorn Museum of Science, and over there is a niche someone carved out to install a popcorn machine. The floor is covered in a thin carpet.

A narrow doorway leads out into a larger room. Near the door is a whiteboard reading “next tour in _______ minutes”.

The buttery smell emanating from your bag of popcorn is tough to resist.

You see Guest 1 and Roger here.

***

Gerynar grabs a bag of popcorn.
Belford says, “In case you’re curious, I have no idea how many players this server can handle before it starts to choke.”
Guest 2 grabs a bag of popcorn.
Belford says, “It’s running on the smallest level of Amazon EC2 virtual server”
dfabulich appears.
Gerynar says, “quick, hide the popcorn”
Molly says, “Hello.”
You slip through the door and into the exhibit hall.

***

Hands-On Exhibits

This hall is filled with odd displays: an array of steel bars suspended behind a pane of glass, scratched crystals mounted on a table, glass tubes sealed in a dark case.
Another table is covered in sheets of tarnished metal.
The narrow doorway leads to the lobby, and through a wider passage you can see another exhibit hall.
You see one or two yellow crumbs on the floor.
You see Belford, Gerynar, Guest 1, Roger, Emily Short, Molly, Tsawac, Pavitra, and Guest 2 here.

***

The box full of glass tubes produces a harsh churning sound. Guest 1 is holding down one of the buttons.
Belford eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
Molly says, “I know Ryan has some sort of script for the tours”
Tsawac eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
Belford says, “I do not know the script”
Pavitra eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
One of the crystals glows pink and crackles as Belford touches it.
Gerynar eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
One of the crystals glows pink and crackles as Gerynar touches it.
Belford asks, “So, as we play with the toys, what other questions do people have?”
Gerynar eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
The box of glass tubes lights up and starts buzzing. Molly is holding down one of the buttons.
The box full of glass tubes hums and emits an orange glow. Molly is holding down one of the buttons.
The box full of glass tubes produces a harsh churning sound. Pavitra is holding down one of the buttons.
Roger says, “What’s the poop on this ‘global-always’ stuff”
Molly turns the crank, and the metal bars start spinning around wildly.
Belford exclaims, “Good question!”
The box of glass tubes lights up and starts buzzing. Guest 1 is holding down one of the buttons.
Belford says, “Most worlds have a global instance and a bunch of personal instances, one for each player.”
The box of glass tubes lights up and starts buzzing. Gerynar is holding down one of the buttons.
One of the crystals glows turquoise and shudders as Guest 1 touches it.
Gerynar eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
Gerynar eats a last swallow of popcorn.
Guest 1 eats a handful of popcorn, unmindful of a few kernels falling to the floor.
Belford says, “You can select which you go to when you link; there’s a hard-to-see pane that appears at the bottom of the right-ahnd colujmn.”
Belford says, “However, the author can mark a world as “global only” or “individual only””
Belford says, “The latter also rules out players visiting each others’ instance. It enforces solo play of that world”
Belford says, “Which is an important option for puzzle design”
Belford says, “Global-always enforces shared play; you can’t visit a private instance. I use that option for the District to make it more social”
Molly says, “Hello! We’re talking about personal and global instances here.”
Belford says, “I have drawn up plans for “group” instances, which are neither global nor personal but owned by a group/guild/club of players”
Belford says, “That isn’t implemented though.”
Sequitur says, “I was wondering if I’d manage to catch up”
Emily Short says, “I’m interested in the social aspect of things as well — best practices for getting groups together to play an area, for instance, and easy ways to link everyone into the same spot”
Belford says, “Yeah, all of that is underdeveloped”
Molly says, “Yeah, easier ways to get group play going would be nice”
Sequitur says, “The traditional MMO approach to that kind of thing is usually simply giving you an IM-esque friends list, often listing where your friends are.”
Belford says, “Indeed”
Gerynar walks on to the next exhibit.
Belford says, “Things I would do if I didn’t have to think about money”
Gerynar walks in from the next exhibit.
Roger says, “Some version of /who or /where might be nice”
Belford says, “BTW, if anybody wants to hire me to work on this engine, that would be awesome. I just say.”
Guest 1 says, “You should get one of them Patreon thingees.”
Molly says, “Roger: You can see who’s logged in and where from the main page once you’re logged in, but it’s very rudimentary”
Belford says, “It’s currently in that awkward state where it could have a real player base if people knew about it, but nobody does because nobody’s ever here, because there are missing social features”
You ask, “are there any ages currently that you’d consider best-of-show in terms of providing a cool multiplayer game experience?”
Belford says, “Catalavir is a very small puzzle which is meant for a couple of people”
Molly says, “I’m not Belford, but Barbetween’s pretty good, even though there’s no global instance.”
Emily Short says, “yeah, I like Barbetween”
Belford says, “Barbetween is sort of serially-multiplayer”
Guest 1 asks, “How does that work?”
Emily Short says, “You leave written messages that affect the experience of the next person who plays”
Belford says, “You experience Barbetween solo, but — that”
Emily Short says, “We can’t visit it together because it’s individual-only”
Guest 1 says, “But we could leave each other messages that wouldn’t appear immediately but would appear later somehow, if we came back.”
Belford says, “I don’t think anyone’s done anything large-scale multiplayer.”
Emily Short says, “I made a little thing this afternoon that’s kind of rough-hewn still, but I’d be up for people poking at it if there’s any interest (but not if that’s too much of a hijack)”
Belford says, “I have some areas which accumulate changes as more players pass through.,”
Guest 2 asks, “Are there worlds that can be placed in ‘locked’ states? Is it considered poor design to have worlds that can be permanently altered?”
Belford says, “I think that’s all up in the air.”
Sequitur says, “”Asynchronous multiplayer” is a really unexplored field, just in general”
Belford says, “It’s perfectly possible to build a world that lets one player in and then never again.”
Emily Short says, “How very Jason Rohrer”
Belford says, “Is it poor design? Not if that’s what you wanted”
Guest 1 says, “Heavy.”
Guest 2 says, “Hmm…that has interesting possibilities from a contest perspective. First one to solve something gets the one and only access to the final world.”
Belford says, “I’ve built some puzzle-worlds which are *not* marked personal-only. An obvious conseqeunce is that the global instance is usually solved all the time.”
Molly asks, “Is there any way to reset that?”
Guest 1 says, “Reminds me of Ready Player One.”
Belford says, “I haven’t built in a way to reset it.”
Belford says, “I could.”
Belford says, “I went into global Catalavir last night and unset it, because of this tour.”
Belford says, “Given the current low usage rate, it would be reasonable to make a world that auto-resets once a night. But if the server got more popular that wouldn’t work out.”
Emily Short says, “(oops — Guest 3 is me in my other hat, for boring reasons to do with attempting to keep a transcript of this)”
Emily Short says, “(sorry if that was confusing)”
Sequitur says, “You could create a setup where, when an age becomes empty, it resets to its original state.”
Belford says, “Yes.”
Guest 1 exclaims, “I wondered how Guest 3 would have created a thing this afternoon!”
Emily Short exclaims, “through the magic of alternate accounts!”
Pavitra says, “In theory, one could design a puzzle in such a way that the last step, necessary to access the reward, automatically resets the puzzle to its original state.”
Guest 1 exclaims, “I wondered how Guest 3 would have created a thing this afternoon!”
Emily Short exclaims, “through the magic of alternate accounts!”
Pavitra says, “In theory, one could design a puzzle in such a way that the last step, necessary to access the reward, automatically resets the puzzle to its original state.”
Belford says, “Yes, but ther are always people who give up halfway through”
Sequitur says, “Maybe that’s an interesting experience”
Sequitur says, “Being able to stumble on a half-solved puzzle”
Belford says, “Sure”
Belford says, “You just have to be aware of the possibility”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe the puzzle needs to incrementally unsolve itself as time elapses.”
Emily Short says, “it’s a lot more work to make a puzzle that will be fun no matter in what state you find it, though”
Emily Short says, “(this is not a reason not to do it)”
Molly asks, “Guest 1: Like a drawbridge that slowly closes after you turn the crank fully?”
Guest 1 says, “I was thinking more like a series of drawbridges, and if it takes you too long to figure out how to open the fifth one, the fourth starts closing and pushes you backwards….”
Belford says, “I don’t want to neglect the larger IF scene which is not about all puzzles all the time. :)”
Pavitra says, “Now I’m imagining a Puzzle Imp that wanders around, locking doors and spinning dials at random.”
Sequitur says, “”Another thought is a puzzle design where every solution to the puzzle creates a new problem variant for the next person to go through.”
Belford says, “You can make a fully Twine-style narrative CYOA world, although it usually makes sense to make those solo-only”
Emily Short says, “the typical Twine piece is so very much narrative- rather than location-driven that it’s kind of hard to imagine how that could ever be multiplayer”
Belford says, “Yeah”
Molly says, “Belford: I had an idea related to that, actually”
Guest 2 asks, “Well, combining the comment earlier about ‘abilities’ for characters — there could be the control ability – only one player can make choices, but everyone can comment/make suggestions?”
Pavitra says, “I have to go, but it’s been great seeing all of you here. Have fun with the rest of the tour, all.”
Belford says, “Thanks for coming”
Pavitra disappears.
Molly exclaims, “Bye!”
Molly says, “Ah, shoot”
Belford says, “I like the control thing”
Belford says, “Someone has the conch”
Guest 2 asks, “Right – the result being something like ClubFloyd for Twine?”
Molly asks, “How’d you decide who has control, though?”
Belford says, “Whoever picks it up first, and if they leave someone else can pick it up”
Molly says, “That’s good, but maybe something randomized would be more fun.”
Guest 1 says, “Or you could gang up and pile on top of the conch holder and steal it from them.”
Sequitur says, “It could apply only to the branching choices, so that everyone can play around with the other hypertext features within a given passage”
Molly says, “(For a given definition of fun.)”
Belford says, “It would be a rather different feel, since it would notionally be one protagonist in a space with commentators rather than many players in a space”
Belford says, “But it could work.”
Emily Short says, “I was thinking about something where there would be a lot of layers of description depth, so different players in a spot would be likely to have focused on different aspects of the story”
Guest 1 says, “After one minute the conch gets very hot and you’re forced to drop it.”
Sequitur says, “Players in a group could vote on which branching choice to move through.”
Roger asks, “Is there an NPC-like thing anywhere to tour to?”
Sequitur asks, “Twitch plays Twine?”
Molly says, “Sequitur: That’s very similar to an idea for a Seltani world I had.”
Belford says, “There are some worlds with NPCs and I’m blanking on which ones they are.”
Guest 2 asks, “You could do something like Suspended — different players see the world in different ways?”
Belford says, “Hang on.”
Belford says, “It’s perfectly possible to build a world that lets one player in and then never again.”
Emily Short says, “How very Jason Rohrer”
Belford says, “Is it poor design? Not if that’s what you wanted”
Guest 1 says, “Heavy.”
Guest 2 says, “Hmm…that has interesting possibilities from a contest perspective. First one to solve something gets the one and only access to the final world.”
Belford says, “I’ve built some puzzle-worlds which are *not* marked personal-only. An obvious conseqeunce is that the global instance is usually solved all the time.”
Molly asks, “Is there any way to reset that?”
Guest 1 says, “Reminds me of Ready Player One.”
Belford says, “I haven’t built in a way to reset it.”
Belford says, “I could.”
Belford says, “I went into global Catalavir last night and unset it, because of this tour.”
Belford says, “Given the current low usage rate, it would be reasonable to make a world that auto-resets once a night. But if the server got more popular that wouldn’t work out.”
Emily Short says, “(oops — Guest 3 is me in my other hat, for boring reasons to do with attempting to keep a transcript of this)”
Emily Short says, “(sorry if that was confusing)”
Sequitur says, “You could create a setup where, when an age becomes empty, it resets to its original state.”
Belford says, “Yes.”
Guest 1 exclaims, “I wondered how Guest 3 would have created a thing this afternoon!”
Emily Short exclaims, “through the magic of alternate accounts!”
Pavitra says, “In theory, one could design a puzzle in such a way that the last step, necessary to access the reward, automatically resets the puzzle to its original state.”
Belford says, “Yes, but ther are always people who give up halfway through”
Sequitur says, “Maybe that’s an interesting experience”
Sequitur says, “Being able to stumble on a half-solved puzzle”
Belford says, “Sure”
Belford says, “You just have to be aware of the possibility”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe the puzzle needs to incrementally unsolve itself as time elapses.”
Emily Short says, “it’s a lot more work to make a puzzle that will be fun no matter in what state you find it, though”
Emily Short says, “(this is not a reason not to do it)”
Molly asks, “Guest 1: Like a drawbridge that slowly closes after you turn the crank fully?”
Guest 1 says, “I was thinking more like a series of drawbridges, and if it takes you too long to figure out how to open the fifth one, the fourth starts closing and pushes you backwards….”
Belford says, “I don’t want to neglect the larger IF scene which is not about all puzzles all the time. :)”
Pavitra says, “Now I’m imagining a Puzzle Imp that wanders around, locking doors and spinning dials at random.”
Sequitur says, “”Another thought is a puzzle design where every solution to the puzzle creates a new problem variant for the next person to go through.”
Belford says, “You can make a fully Twine-style narrative CYOA world, although it usually makes sense to make those solo-only”
Emily Short says, “the typical Twine piece is so very much narrative- rather than location-driven that it’s kind of hard to imagine how that could ever be multiplayer”
Belford says, “Yeah”
Molly says, “Belford: I had an idea related to that, actually”
Guest 2 asks, “Well, combining the comment earlier about ‘abilities’ for characters — there could be the control ability – only one player can make choices, but everyone can comment/make suggestions?”
Pavitra says, “I have to go, but it’s been great seeing all of you here. Have fun with the rest of the tour, all.”
Belford says, “Thanks for coming”
Pavitra disappears.
Molly exclaims, “Bye!”
Molly says, “Ah, shoot”
Belford says, “I like the control thing”
Belford says, “Someone has the conch”
Guest 2 asks, “Right – the result being something like ClubFloyd for Twine?”
Molly asks, “How’d you decide who has control, though?”
Belford says, “Whoever picks it up first, and if they leave someone else can pick it up”
Molly says, “That’s good, but maybe something randomized would be more fun.”
Guest 1 says, “Or you could gang up and pile on top of the conch holder and steal it from them.”
Sequitur says, “It could apply only to the branching choices, so that everyone can play around with the other hypertext features within a given passage”
Molly says, “(For a given definition of fun.)”
Belford says, “It would be a rather different feel, since it would notionally be one protagonist in a space with commentators rather than many players in a space”
Belford says, “But it could work.”
Emily Short says, “I was thinking about something where there would be a lot of layers of description depth, so different players in a spot would be likely to have focused on different aspects of the story”
Guest 1 says, “After one minute the conch gets very hot and you’re forced to drop it.”
Sequitur says, “Players in a group could vote on which branching choice to move through.”
Roger asks, “Is there an NPC-like thing anywhere to tour to?”
Sequitur asks, “Twitch plays Twine?”
Molly says, “Sequitur: That’s very similar to an idea for a Seltani world I had.”
Belford says, “There are some worlds with NPCs and I’m blanking on which ones they are.”
Guest 2 asks, “You could do something like Suspended — different players see the world in different ways?”
Belford says, “Hang on.”
Roger hangs on.
Guest 1 grabs onto one of the walls.
Emily Short says, “Maybe a mystery where you could run around interrogating different NPCs, then meet back up and exchange notes”
Emily Short says, “I suppose there’d have to be a time limit in order to make it worthwhile to do that way rather than just everyone touring around together, though”
Guest 2 says, “And then ring the bell to bring everyone into the main hall to announce who the murder is…”
Guest 1 says, “And the butler is like, sheesh, I’ve already answered this question like seven times, leave me alone already.”
Molly exclaims, “So, An Act of Murder as a Seltani world. I like it!”
Sequitur says, “Ages where outcomes from player interactions result from combining/averaging choices from multiple players”
Belford says, “Sorry, I’m a crappy tour guide. Browse the wiki at http://seltani.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Category:Ages”
Sequitur says, “Eg, Prisoner’s Dilemma age”
Guest 1 defects!
Guest 2 says, “Sequitur: Something like Demon’s Souls’ world tendency.”
Gerynar disappears.
Guest 1 disappears.
Sequitur says, “Afraid I’m not familiar with that”
Guest 1 disappears again.
Guest 2 says, “It’s a single-player function, but the more you die in the game, the ‘darker’ and harder the world gets.”
Guest 2 says, “Interesting if players made certain choices to make the world ‘darker’/’lighter’ — or whatever axis you’d like to place.”
Guest 2 says, “In DS, certain events only occur when the world is in a certain state.”
Roger says, “A game that makes itself easier when it notices how much you suck could be useful”
Sequitur says, “You could have ages designed explicitly for two-player (Or three-player, or four-player, but two seems most feasible) play”
Belford says, “Certainly”
Tsawac says, “OK, things to do. Thanks, all.”
Sequitur says, “And ever so often the two players are “branched” away from each other and get to make some decisions separately and hidden from one another, the outcomes of which impact the story and so forth”
Sequitur says, “That’s be a way of fitting multiplayer play into the passages-as-story-beats framework of typical Twine stories”
Guest 1 exclaims, “Bye!”
Roger says, “You can’t really stop side-channel ‘cheating’ but you could make it more difficult”
Molly says, “Bye, Guest 1.”
Belford says, “I will eventually need to make a “reset” option for all worlds — it’s needed to work around buggy worlds, at minimum”
Sequitur says, “That’s be a way of fitting multiplayer play into the passages-as-story-beats framework of typical Twine stories”
Guest 1 exclaims, “Bye!”
Roger says, “You can’t really stop side-channel ‘cheating’ but you could make it more difficult”
Molly says, “Bye, Guest 1.”
Belford says, “I will eventually need to make a “reset” option for all worlds — it’s needed to work around buggy worlds, at minimum”
Roger says, “Bless node”
Belford says, “(This only complicates multiplayer design)”
Roger says, “I guess in short I’m sort of impressed here, but I can’t personally think of any good reason to use this and not, say, guncho”
Roger says, “Not that it’s your job to sell it to me, but that’s my impression”
Belford says, “Well, if you’re committed to using or not using a parser, that’s a reason”
Emily Short says, “A clickable interface might be easier for certain audiences”
Guest 1 asks, “Guncho is parser-only?”
Molly says, “It’s built on Inform 7, so I think so, maybe.”
Roger says, “Well, yeah, okay; those are good points”
Emily Short says, “It might be possible to make menu-driven aspects, but it would work the same way it does in I7 already, namely, hackily”
Molly says, “You might be able to hack some kind of CYOA interface in, I dunno”
Belford says, “Inform is way specialized for certain kinds of games. This thing is specialized for completely different kinds of games.”
Guest 1 says, “Okay so maybe not parser-only but it lends itself to parser, just as Seltani lends itself to clicking on links.”
Emily Short says, “I get the sense that deep world modeling here would be pretty exasperating to do”
Belford says, “I think this interface is more accessible to more players, although navigation is a sore point.”
Belford says, “(Moving around even in my own worlds is more of a headache than in parser IF.)”
Guest 1 says, “Okay so maybe not parser-only but it lends itself to parser, just as Seltani lends itself to clicking on links.”
Emily Short says, “I get the sense that deep world modeling here would be pretty exasperating to do”
Belford says, “I think this interface is more accessible to more players, although navigation is a sore point.”
Belford says, “(Moving around even in my own worlds is more of a headache than in parser IF.)”
Belford says, “Maybe I should embrace the idea of map UI.”
Sequitur says, “Imagine a map the size of Bronze in this”
Guest 1 asks, “Or a little input box that pops up and lets you type GO TO PLAZA?”
Belford says, “That wouldn’t help.”
Belford says, “What’s good about navigation in Inform games is being able to type N.E.E.N.W very fast according to the map in your head.”
Emily Short says, “Autogenerated box maps might work for some things, though it’s very dependent on what you’re building”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe keyboard shortcuts, then. Shift+Up Arrow to climb the hill, sort of thing.”
Belford exclaims, “A monstrous idea, but I can’t dismiss it!”
Guest 1 says, “I mean nobody would use it, but you would use it, so there would be that.”
Sequitur says, “The best interface metaphor is probably a clickable map derived from an image, though.”
Sequitur says, “You could define hotspots on the map, or “pins” that map to locations in the age; and those could open up as the player explores. Not unlike 80 Days”
Belford says, “Going directly to rooms clashes with the way you build, though”
Belford says, “Going directly to rooms clashes with the way you build, though”
Guest 1 says, “Well, it could narrate your traversal of the shortest path, or something.”
Belford says, “Possibly”
Guest 1 says, “And then it could be like, oh, there was a cave-in, sorry, you’re in the mineshaft now.”
Belford says, “It might be sufficient just to show adjacent pins”
Belford says, “Well, that’s all long-term planning”
Sequitur says, “Well, it would be a function strictly for backtracking, though. The player would still use hyperlinks to move through the map to find new places.”
Guest 1 says, “Maybe show adjacent and already-visited.”
Guest 1 says, “And then you pick up a more powerful light source and you can see further on the map….”
Guest 1 exclaims, “And then your candle goes out and the map disappears!”
Guest 1 says, “Because clearly this needs to be as complicated as possible.”
Belford says, “The least burden on the author is if every hotspot on the map corresponds to a current hyperlink in the room description”
Belford says, “So you have to click a series of rooms to travel fast, but locked doors work sensibly.”
Belford says, “It would still be an opt-in kind of thing, because auto-generating it is just not going to work”
Guest 1 says, “You could… you could click the spot where you know your destination is, and it could send you to the currently active hotspot that is closest to being in that direction, and you can keep mashing and if the map isn’t too crazy it’ll move you that way.”
Guest 1 says, “I guess I am imagining that authors have to draw their own maps. But maybe that’s not a reasonable assumption.”
Guest 1 says, “Well but hmm, a map needn’t be more than some text labels that live in fixed positions on a big rectangle.”
Molly says, “Yeah, I was picturing a simple map with some pointers on it.”
Belford says, “The authors would have to position the labels, at minimum”
Sequitur asks, “I guess because hyperlinks in a passage can mean almost anything and be anywhere, it’s really difficult/impossible to programatically map out which passages connect to where?”
Guest 1 says, “Sure, drag them around.”
Roger says, “Possibly simpler would be something more like, I dunno, a world-instance-booklet”
Molly asks, “Does anybody want to check out the rest of Bluedorn?”
Belford says, “It approaches 5:00 here”
Belford says, “That is, the two-hour mark”
Belford says, “Why don’t we wrap up and let people explore on their own”
Emily Short says, “yup”
Molly says, “Mmm. :(”
Emily Short exclaims, “Thanks all for coming!”
Roger says, “Thanks for having us”
Molly exclaims, “You’re welcome!”
Belford says, “Thanks for organizing”
Guest 1 exclaims, “Yes, thanks!”
Belford says, “I want this wacky thing to be used more”
Molly says, “I’m glad I could catch the last hour and a half of this.”
Emily Short says, “the aim of my WIP is to make something that will be genuinely more interesting as a multi-player puzzle”
Dunvolo slips in from the lobby.
Belford says, “Emily will have a transcript up at some point”
Belford says, “(I hear)”
Emily Short says, “so when it’s done I’ll see about getting some folks together so we can see whether that actually works”
Emily Short says, “(yeah)”
Dunvolo says, “ah, hello. I have found you.”
Emily Short says, “on my website, as usual; I’ll post links”
Sequitur says, “Thank you for hosting this, Emily”
Sequitur says, “And Belford”
Belford waves
Guest 2 exclaims, “Yes, thank you!”
Belford disappears.

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