Transcript of March 1, 2014 ifMUD Discussion on Interiority

The following is a transcript from this event. I’ve cleaned up a few typos, added some links to specific games, and reordered some text, especially in places where two simultaneous conversations were happening. (I hope this will make some bits a little easier to follow.)

Emily says, “today we’re looking at interiority in games, especially IF — so things like how characters’ thoughts are conveyed, feelings and memories, motives, etc”
Emily says, “to the extent that I’ve got a plan, the plan is a) first get people to talk about examples they can think of; then b) drop in some additional questions if that’s useful to keep things rolling”
DuoDave asks, “so, thoughts as opposed to their actions?”
Emily says, “so essentially to start with, the question — which David has already started exploring with his quotes document at http://www.plover.net/~davidw/topics/interiority.html — is what examples we can think of from existing work”
Emily says (to DuoDave), “right”
Emily says, “what’s inside the head”

Physical Urges and Hunger Puzzles as an Early Form of Interiority

Roger says, “I would suggest that among the earliest examples is our very old and dear friend, the hunger timer puzzle.”
DavidW asks, “Is Perry recording this, btw?”
Emily says, “interesting — that wouldn’t really have occurred to me, but it is a representation of something that you’re experiencing as a character urge”
Emily says (to DavidW), “yes”
zarf says, “yup”
zarf says, “in the broadest sense everything the protagonist experiences is ‘interior’, but hunger is an interruption to the player’s exploring focus”
zarf says, “the PC demanding some attention”
DuoDave says, “zarf writes this interiority idea very well”
Emily says, “I’m not remembering names off the top, but I feel like there have also been a few games that did this with addiction, either to cigarettes or something else”
Roger says, “Indeed, I think it’s a nice introduction to that division between what the player wants and what the PC wants. (I’m feeling biased towards discussing particularly the PC, but that may be an error on my part.)”
Taleslinger asks, “No tea in HHGTTG?”
jmac says, “It’s been a while since I played (or, indeed, slavishly retyped) it, but I think of Aaron Reed’s Sand-Dancer, and how it hands you inventory items that you can BROOD on. (iirc.)”
Emily searches IFDB, totally fails to find a game she played about ten years ago that is entirely about trying to get hold of some marijuana
DavidW says, “Cigarettes in A World’s Fair Mystery. Drug addiction in Nevermore.”
Roger says, “Sleepiness in Anchorhead plays a similar role.”
DuoDave asks, “oh yeah… isnt there a book or two that uses sand dancer extensively for examples?”
Emily says, “Sand Dancer was written for Aaron’s textbook on Inform 7)”
DavidW says, “I forget which drug was in The Trip.”
Emily says, “so physical urges seem like they’re typically being set up as a way to force the player to solve a particular puzzle”
Roger says, “It’s perhaps less problematic than higher emotions insofar as when the game says ‘You’re feeling peckish’, it’s easy to see it means the PC, and doesn’t expect the player to literally feel the same way — in contrast to things like ‘OMG you are so scared right now’ which seems very problematic to me.”
salty-horse says, “The protagonist at the begining of Everybody Dies wants to finish his smoke if you try to move on the first turn”
zarf says, “there could be physical stuff that just nags at you, rather than being a puzzle”
DavidW says, “hm, The Primrose Path does the I-really-don’t-want-to-do-that refusal from the PC.”
Emily says, “Savoir-Faire‘s hunger demon never actually kills you off, but you do have to solve the puzzle anyawy, so I guess that’s sort of in the middle”
Dave asks, “just started?”
DavidW says (to Dave), “yes”
Emily asks, “I haven’t played enough AIF to have a sense of what’s typical — do they usually set it up so that you have a, uh, sex demon?”
AdamM says, “These seem to me like an IF analogue of the screen going red in a first person shooter.”
DavidW says, “We should also mention The Blind House while talking about refusing to do things.”
Marvin says (to Emily), “I think the PC’s desires and the players are fairly aligned in AIF.”
Roger says, “Hence the subversion of that with Stiffy, perhaps.”
DavidW says (to Emily), “AIF seems like a bingo card to me. You get a B, an I, etc. finally BINGO!”
Dave exclaims, “BINGO!”
Emily asks, “I seem to recall that in Vespers there’s a bit where the quote box flashes up a subversive instruction — to kill yourself or someone else, I think?”
salty-horse asks (of Marvin), “can’t the player be put in situation foreign to their sexuality?”
Roger says, “At some point we may need to address the, hmm, instrumentality mode of dealing with ‘characters’ on this level, I suppose.”
DavidW says, “Some AIF in Twine works differently, of course.”
Roger says, “I sort of feel like hunger is somehow more objective than, say, fear, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate or useful to consider.”
jmac says, “Yeah, Vespers is classy in this regard. (Uh, I mean that literally.) It uses both the Inform quote box and also the format of biblical verses to have the PC’s subconscious speak frankly. It’s very subtle at first, but becomes more overt as the game goes on.”
jmac says, “Per DavidW’s example doc.”
DavidW says, “I suppose re fear, I should mention Fear and De Baron.”
Emily says (to Roger), “I certainly agree that “you feel afraid!” is often ineffective, but I think there are variants on that that really have worked for me”
Dave says, “so far we’re talking about sexual drive, hunger, fear, inner thoughts, dreams, musings, self-scolding”
Roger says, “I’d like to delve into that, if we’re feeling ready.”
DavidW says, “My father’s long long legs was good with fear.”
Doug asks (of DavidW), “what were you trying to demonstrate with the quote from Heist?”
Emily says, “like for instance in Their Angelical Understanding, there are effects where the text changes size or illumination, or there’s a sound effect, that conveys to me very strongly what the protagonist is feeling about the situation, and evokes some of that response in me also”
Dave says, “Ian Finley was always great with fear as a motivation”
jmac says, “Ah, yeah”
Doug asks (of DavidW), “just the way it related the things you’re doing to memories?”
DavidW says (to Doug), “The small asides, re the starting to enjoy thievery, the hope the arm will prove useful.”
AdamM says, “One shortcoming of hunger mechanics as an expression of inner life is that they’re not nuanced, at all — they express a need very abstractly, leaving out all the subjective concomitants of hunger.”
zarf says (to adamm), “classically, yes”
AdamM says, “Which are complicated and interesting and can occupy a book, like Hamsun’s Hunger.”
zarf says, “There was Dinner Bell, which had a lot more fun with hunger”
AdamM asks, “What does Dinner Bell do with hunger that’s interesting — if it’s possible to explain it at all briefly?”
AdamM says, “(The Walking Dead makes great use of hunger, sure, although it isn’t a mechanic as such.)”
Emily says (to AdamM), “in Dinner Bell you’re not actually allowed to eat the food — possibly that’s what zarf was getting at”
Emily says, “it’s all part of an experiment being run on the protagonist, so you feel hunger, but you’ve also been conditioned to react in particular ways”

Choice Lists as a Means of Describing What the Protagonist is Thinking of Doing

jmac says (to Emily), “That reminds me of the general philosophy I’ve been hearing a lot, and which I approve of, that in choice-based games, the choices should all reflect things that the PC *is actually considering saying/doing*”
jmac says, “Versus e.g. (a) save kitten (b) push granny into street”
Emily says (to jmac), “that’s definitely an approach I’ve taken to writing options in conversation games”
Roger says, “I suppose to some extent this is just the old saw about Show, Don’t Tell”
Roger says, “Several zombiePC games handle hunger cleverly and centrally, to little surprise”
Doug says, “Warbler’s Nest has a bunch of memory-flashback snippets triggered by actions you take (or just on a timer)”
Roger says (to Doug), “Hmmm yeah that falls under the big tent of ‘interiority’ but it seems to be of a different category; they’re not… imperative, maybe I mean.”
jmac says, “I dunno if flashbacks are internality, or just flashbacks. :)”
Emily says, “to me the thing that was novel and compelling about Warbler’s Nest was the way it monitored the player’s vocabulary”
DavidW says (to Emily), “I didn’t notice that.”
Emily says (to DavidW), “you get different reactions depending on the words you use to refer to certain entities in the game, as I understand it”
Emily says, “because that represents what your character thinks is going on, in a situation that is ambiguous”
Roger says, “Hunh that is clever; perhaps a topic for a future #TC”
jmac says, “This is my understanding as well.”
Emily says (to jmac), “heehee”
DavidW says, “huh. There are some games where I seem to miss the point entirely.”
Emily says, “sorry, I should let you explain more if you want”
jmac says, “No, that’s a fair summary.”
Doug says, “I imagine if nm were here he’d have something to say about narrative style variation as a way to convey interiority”
DavidW says, “hm, like Slouching Towards Bedlam. I got almost nowhere in that game, probably because I have all these preconcieved notions of what IF is like.”
Roger says, “That approach really falls flat for me, but that’s just me.”
DavidW says, “ChoiceScript games often ask ‘why did you choose that’.”
Emily says, “I also feel like I need to bring up The Baron, where you’re actually asked why the protagonist is doing certain things (and I guess this happens in Blue Lacuna as well)”
Emily says, “so it’s not so much mechanically imposing a set of reasons on the player character, but asking the player to supply some — but either way it’s contributing to constructing a fiction in which the protagonist does have a reason”
jmac says, “A key philosophy in the design of Warbler was, literally: ‘Oh, so *that’s* the game we’re playing? OK then.’ I suppose this ties into what I like about that style of choice-based design I mentioned earlier… if you’re willing to ever consider typing KILL BABY, then I’m willing to have the game be willing to have the PC consider that too, and now that’s the game you’re playing.”
Emily says (to jmac), “ah, interesting. and that seems like something very much harder to do in explicit-choice games”
Roger says, “I’d also like to mention Make It Good, which intentionally shuts out the player from a lot of the inside of the PC’s mind, for good effect.”
DavidW says, “I found Warbler very frustrating, again, I suppose, because I wasn’t interacting in a way it expected.”
DuoDave asks (of jmac), “so, maybe have the game, or other characters even, treat the player differently based on the players behavior?”
Busta says, “I really like the ChoiceScript options where the outward actions are the same, but the motivations may differ.”
Doug says (to DavidW), “did you play the post-comp release? there were some bugs in the comp version that made it a bit more frustrating than intended”
DavidW says (to Doug), “I don’t remember, but probably not.”
Doug says, “(which I take the blame for not finding as a playtester, sadhorns)”
Roger says, “We’ve sort of turned the topic on its head — the issue of how the game models the inside of the player. Which is interesting in itself, certainly.”
zarf says (to emily), “this is why explicit-choice games do well when they spend a long time in the same scene, so that the player can push down a path step-by-step”
jmac says (to Emily), “Yeah, I think you’d need an ungainly wide tree to get there in a choice game, unless you want to have the trite bioshock-style SAVE / KILL choices in front of you at once.”
zarf says, “bring some choice into range by persistence, which is expressing something”
Emily says (to zarf), “see also Blood and Laurels :)”
jmac says (to says), “‘bioshock’. sorry everyone”
zarf says, “sure”
jmac coughs
zarf says, “you mean a Legacy-of-Kain-style ‘save world / damn world’ choice, of course”
AdamM says, “Make It Good also, unusually, requires players to think quite carefully about the motivations and beliefs of the other characters in order to make progress.”
Emily says (to AdamM), “yeah, that’s a useful point — Make It Good forces the player to have a mental model of what the other characters know and what they’re likely to do about what they believe”
DuoDave says, “you know in a game like say, mass effect, the conversation items available to the player DO differ based on the player’s overall behavior”
Gunther says, “if you want an example of a game world reacting *completely* differently depending on player behavior, The Witcher 2
Emily asks (of Gunther), “how does that work?”
Gunther says, “it has two completely divergents paths through the game”
Gunther says, “divergent, even”
Gunther says, “you can side with side A or side B, and you end up at their respective camp, doing entirely different quests and missions, until it reconverges at the end”
Gunther says, “other decisions can mean people you’d think are exempt from death die, or change permanently.”
DavidW asks, “oh, didn’t one of Sargent’s games (I forget its title) have two completely different chapter twos and drive rgif crazy?”
Emily says (to DavidW), “Losing Your Grip
zarf says, “I had forgotten that.”
DavidW says (to Emily), “yes, thanks”
Doug says, “In Ryan Veeder’s The Horrible Pyramid, I liked how as you picked up more items and started to transform into (or be possessed by) the queen, all the names & descriptions changed to be more from her point of view”
Gunther says, “kind of like that, yes — but on a somewhat larger scale”
Gunther says, “but you *can* have people be done with you permanently”
Gunther says, “and you won’t know in advance”
Gunther says, “and, what’s the most impressive part: no choice is ever obviously the wrong one.”
Gunther says, “so no “save baby / kick baby” decisions.”
Roger asks, “Is interiority really only relevant to the extent that it affects the external?”
Emily says (to Roger), “I wouldn’t say so”
AdamM says (to roger), “Not at all, I think. But games tend to be outcome-focused.”
AdamM says, “Howling dogs is a nice inversion of that.”
AdamM says, “It looks a little like a room escape game.”
DuoDave says, “i know i havent contributed many games to the community, but in my ifcomp entry “A Party to Murder” the party guests get increasingly suspicious as you ask more questions”
DavidW says (to DuoDave), “I remember that.”
DuoDave says, “none of the judges liked my joke that you could carry an 8-foot ladder through the party with no problem, but ask some questions and they get suspicious”
K-Y says, “LYG is an interesting example”
K-Y says, “the entire game is essentially about interiority”
DavidW asks, “LYG is a metaphoric tour, isn’t it?”
K-Y asks, “but the interiority is not made… textual?”
Busta asks, “What is LYG?”
Alex says (to Busta), “Awwwk! Word on the street is that LYG is Losing Your Grip.”
DavidW says, “There’s a few games I’ve played where the PC is near death but don’t realize it and is in a surreal landscape about his/her life.”
zarf says (to dw), “(Sometimes I like to think that every game is like that.)”
Gunther says (to DavidW), “it’s become pretty trope-y by now”
DavidW says (to zarf), “heh”
K-Y says, “I think the distinction is, you are wandering around your own mind without having your own thoughts or reactions made explicit to you”

Games that Assess the Player on the Basis of their Gameplay Approach

AdamM asks (of Emily), “Following on from the Warbler’s Nest stuff — didn’t some of the text in Metamorphoses adapt itself according the way the player interacted with the environment?”
Emily says (to AdamM), “it did, but I’m not really sure I’d count that as a success because I don’t think many players picked up on it”
Emily says, “but many of the puzzles had multiple solutions, and it would notice if you chose solutions that were gratuitously destructive or if they were things that caused the protagonist to suffer”
Emily says, “and it would then change the end-game text a bit based on having decided you were destructive/self-sacrificing/whatever”
Ghogg says (to emily), “given this is the first I’ve heard of this, I suppose I mised picking up onit”
Gunther asks, “next time on #theoryclub: are *all* in-the-author’s-apartment games really near-death experiences?”
DuoDave says, “i suspect most “in the author’s apartment” games start out as a self-tutorial”
Gunther says, “(I was joking)”
AdamM asks, “Are there other games which try to project an outlook expressed through player behaviour onto the environment?”
AdamM says, “I guess that would be an interactive equivalent of literary expressionism.”
DavidW says, “hm. The multiple-solutions game makes me think of .. what was it. The one in the Keep with the testing for Seer, Warrior, Artisian, or … there was another one.”
Emily says (to AdamM), “there was a game called Erudition Chamber that explicitly uses the player’s method of solving puzzles as a personality test”
DavidW says, “YES that one”
AdamM says, “Ah, I played that one.”
Roger says, “Is there any appetite to discuss games that have fumbled this really badly? I don’t mind either way.”
Emily says (to Roger), “I don’t mind if you’ve got examples of things you thought didn’t work — I don’t think it’s off-limits to discuss less-successful attempts”
Roger says, “It’s just the failures tend to be spectacular — I’m thinking of “don’t you want to ask about her breasts?” as a failure of this sort.”
Doug asks, “so what is something you *haven’t* seen games do yet?”
DavidW asks (of Roger), “Was that 1..2..3…?”
Roger says, “I can’t even recall now, much to my credit.”
Emily says (to Roger), “I guess I would categorize that as “general hinting misfire that just happens to be particularly funny due to its content””
Emily says, “also, something tells me that the transcript for this is going to need to be annotated with a whole load of links”
Dave says, “I was thinking the same”
Dave asks, “but can I make a suggestion?”
Dave says, “not everyone will have played all of the games people are referring to”
Dave says, “so at least for me, it’s important to get into the details”
Roger says, “I haven’t really seen a game that treats people as nondeterministic, possibly because it’s not a good idea. Even then, I’m reminded I think of that drunk in Anchorhead who I think cracks under the weight of ongoing hectoring at some randomish time.”

Interiority and Narrative Voice

zarf says, “okay, here’s my possibly unusable thought: when I think about ‘interiority’ I wind up at the same concerns I do when I think about ‘narrative voice'”
zarf asks, “are these the same thing?”
zarf asks, “or is narrative voice explicitly a tool to deal with interiority?”
zarf asks, “or what?”
Roger says, “Hmmm a narrative voice covers lots of non-interior things, I believe. ‘The sun is gone. It must be brought.‘”
DuoDave asks, “so – when talking about interiority, there’s definitely a difference between, say, something that’s setting the player up – sort of a narrative background that plays at the beginning no matter what the player does – and say, things that occur based on the players choices, right?”
zarf says (to roger), “to me that’s conveying something about the protagonist, even if it’s just stylistic”
AdamM says (to zarf), “I think it’s just one tool. Interiority can also be expressed through gameplay, for example, or by exploiting complicity.”
Emily says, “I think the term would cover anything that is meant to sketch in the aspects of a character (whether that’s the player character or not) which are inside their head”
Dave asks, “isn’t 1st person addressing this head-on?”
Doug asks (of Roger), “like a roguelike but with randomly generated personalities rather than dungeon levels?”
K-Y says, “‘On the whole, it was worth the trip'”
Roger says (to zarf), “Perhaps we’ll need to discuss at some point where the ‘narrator‘ fits into the whole scheme of entities, but probably beyond the scope of right now.”
Emily says, “so yes, narrative voice can convey a lot about the viewpoint character’s attitude, but I would agree it’s one of several tools in the arsenal”
AdamM says, “And some Twine games manage to express a lot about the protagonist’s inner state through creative use of links, which doesn’t seem like something which falls under ‘narrative voice’ to me.”
Busta says (to zarf), “I think they are separate. Interiority is inside the pc’s head. The narrative voice may or may not be.”
K-Y says, “now that I think about it, S&W conveyed quite a bit about the protagonist’s appreciation for tourist spots”
zarf says, “as I said before this started, the first game I thought of was Violet, which is often cited under narrative voice. There the PC’s interiority is yanked out and made very tangible”
zarf says, “although not, in fact, part of the game world”
Gunther says, “Rameses seems like a good example too”
Gunther says, “with the player character’s interiority not immediately obvious to the player”
Roger says, “Rameses was what I was thinking of on the topic of interiorty that changes nothing concrete, but still relevant.”
AdamM says (to zarf), “I think the narrative voice in Violet frequently *obscures* the PC’s inner life, because it’s an in-fiction fiction mediating between us and the character.”
AdamM says, “To me Violet is more notable for what it manages to express with the nature of the obstacles.”
Emily says, “refusal messages in parser games being another example”
DavidW says (to Emily), “I want to study refusal messages in more detail later.”
Emily says (to DavidW), “IIRC Gareth Rees wrote something up about this a long time ago, using Christminster as an example of how there were lots of things that were out of character for a well-bred young lady to do, so how the parser refused to do them was part of building out her character”
DavidW says, “Like, refusal messages like Varicella‘s ‘How unseemly!’ convey more than just ‘You can’t do that.'”
Emily says, “and obviously Rameses is one example after another of the protagonist refusing to do what the player wants, but in a way that illustrates his own issues”
Roger says, “We’ve talked a lot about the PC, which I was expecting — but other characters might also have interiors which might also be exposed in various ways. Coloratura, in a recent and explicit example.”
DavidW says (to Roger), “ooh, forgot about that one. Excellent example.”
Emily says, “Coloratura partly works by giving the player a bunch of totally unusual actions to do”
Emily says, “and also by narrative voice and how they describe the things around them”
Ghogg says, “noteworthy: Nelson’s Craft of Adventure mentions specifically aboutspock can be disallowed from shooting kirk in the back, although in the star trek IF games kirk is allowed to shoot spock in the back”
Ghogg says, “(it ends the game after, but still!)”
AdamM says, “Okay, so the PC can be characterised by what they can’t or won’t do, and the way in which that’s conveyed.”
Roger says, “At the other extreme, those classic “you attempt to walk through the northern wall but fail, you clod” sorts of error messages.”
Emily says, “a couple of Sargent‘s games are good for this, actually — since Arrival and Child’s Play are from the point of view of children, and Common Ground actually shows the same scene from the view of multiple protagonists”
Emily says, “or Lost Pig, for that matter”
Gunther says, “A Bear’s Night Out
Emily says, “as demonstrations of how the narration can help build up a sense of the protagonist’s limits and perceptions”
DavidW says, “The Mage Wars: The Statue also has one scene from two different viewpoints, where the PC changes from one to another.”
Roger says, “I guess the standard interiority puzzle is various forms of convincing other characters, which seem to be at best sort of awkward.”
Emily says, “but I feel like the narrative voice side of things is relatively well-explored in that there are lots of games that work with it somehow, but that there are perhaps fewer examples that invite the player to be involved at a mechanical level”
AdamM asks, “So… what is the difference between expressing a character’s interiority and their, well, character?”
AdamM says, “Presumably that character traits are more permanent, whereas interiority also covers more fleeting aspects.”
Roger says, “Everything has character, including inanimate teapots.”
DavidW says (to Roger), “The vase in Contraints by Bays.
Emily says, “though Fallen London, say, has a bunch of reflective choices where they just ask you how you felt about something or why you did it”
two-star asks (of Emily), “Wasn’t there a Gijsbers game that did that?”
Emily says (to two-star), “The Baron
Busta says (to Emily), “same with ChoiceScript.”
AdamM says, “Re narrative voice being well explored: that may partly be because this is something well understood from static fiction.”
Emily says (to AdamM), “I think you can see an action movie, say, and come away with a sense of a character from what he did, even if there is very little attempt to hint at his subjectivity or inner thoughts”
AdamM says, “Any methods which harness interactions have less to build on.”
Busta says, “There is a big difference between “‘I agree,’ you say, truthfully.” and “‘I agree,’ you say, lying.” A lot of games don’t make that distinction.”
Emily says, “though The Baron was often “what is the principle underlying your action?” and Fallen London is more often “how do you feel about this?” and/or “what were you trying to accomplish””
Emily says, “(I think. FL is huge, I haven’t seen every choice)”
AdamM says, “The Baron also asks the player about the outcome of their choices, which interacts oddly with the questions about motivation.”
AdamM says, “(The Fallen London protagonist is also, generally, not terribly reflective.)”
Roger says, “There’s also some interesting artistic effects from leaving a void in interiority; I’m thinking of that cyberpunk plastic surgery game, which kinda creeped me out by how silent it was on everyone’s motivations for these radical procedures.”
AdamM says, “(Or not self-reflective, at any rate.)”
Emily asks (of Roger), “Body Bargain?”
Roger says, “Maybe; probably.”
DuoDave asks (of emily), “so, on the action movie idea, is this why these films often have a “buddy” that the hero has to explain things to, so they can avoid a dumb “narrator”?”
Emily says (to DuoDave), “I think that’s more of a how-to-do-exposition-on-screen solution generally”
DavidW says, “My favourite ‘buddy’ character in TV land has to be Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl’s bird Charlie.”
Gunther says, ““As you know, (infodump)” is still bad writing”
DuoDave says, “my favorite pet peeve is television pilots… they all seem identical – lets introduce everyones relationships in a half hour”

Multiple Protagonists, Multiple Viewpoints

Emily says, “I kind of want to come back to Doug’s question from earlier of what we *haven’t* seen done yet”
Emily says, “or haven’t seen done as much as we’d like”
Busta says, “I’ve yet to play a game that feels like a novel with agency.”
Emily asks (of Busta), “when you say that, what do you feel is missing?”
Busta says, “I think it’s because IF has a history of being puzzle-based.”
Emily says (to Busta), “so is this an issue of there being too many obstacles to progress and too much game-ishness? or that something else that should be there isn’t?”
Busta says (to Emily), “Yes, gameishness is a good word for it.”
DavidW says (to Emily), “I find in some games I want to ask better questions. Why, Where, Who, How.”
Taleslinger says, “i feel multiple protagonists has been underused”
zarf says, “I always love stuff where one world can be described in multiple ways, whether that means multiple protagonists or one protagonist whose viewpoint is changing”
zarf says, “I think there isn’t enough of that. (Because, obviously, it’s a ton of work)”
zarf says, “goes back to Suspended, but not much since then”
AdamM says (to zarf), “I think that’s really interesting; where the underlying world is unchanged, differences in presentation are due to changes in viewer state.”
AdamM says, “Which can be an effective way of making a player notice, when games mostly condition people to focus on objective elements.”
jmac asks, “Is “Heroes” the game where a three RPG people, I think a fighter and a wizard and a thief, all look at the same simple setting with different eyes? And all see different things about the setting leaping out at them?”
Gunther says (to jmac), “yes”
jmac says, “e.g. the wizard notices the potential ley-line alignments of the arrangements in the garden, right in the room description; the fighter barely notices the flowers.”
jmac says, “I thought that was great.”
DavidW says, “If I recall correctly, Floatpoint did a subtle perception thing where stuff wasn’t mentioned unless your focus changed.”
Roger says, “Spider and Web did this cleverly, among many other clever things, of course.”
two-star says, “Well, novels are capable of conveying widely different scales of passing time. Parser IF considers time at the pace of individual actions. Choice IF can do time at different scales pretty well though.”

Games About Self-Justification, Aesthetic Gameplay, and Interfaces Involving Multiple Choices at Once

Emily says, “something I haven’t seen much of, and would like to explore, is processes of self-justification — those entirely interior passages where the character is struggling with a decision and perhaps pulling in different pieces of their history or different beliefs. or identity formation, where you’re picking which events from your history are important and which aren’t”
Roger says (to Emily), “hrm.”
jmac says (to Emily), “That reminds me of Whom the Telling Changed
jmac says, “Though not quite what you’re describing”
Emily says, “but I feel like the mechanic I want for that is something closer to the UI for First Draft of the Revolution — the player is making a bunch of choices all at once, and trying to align them with one another to find something coherent as a whole, before submitting that set of choices”
Emily says, “so rather different from both parser and most choice-based IF”
zarf says, “heh”
zarf says, “my current iPad WIP tried to do something like that”
zarf says, “it *really* isn’t working”
Emily says, “bah!”
zarf says, “now, quite possibly I am terrible at this format and should let someone else try”
Busta asks (of zarf), “why isn’t it working?”
zarf says, “people poke at the choices randomly and have no idea how to approach alignment.”
DuoDave says, “i dont know zarf i liked the one with the ice cream”
DavidW says, “I’m not sure how one would get a First Draft of the Revolution effect in standard parser IF.”
Emily asks (of zarf), “oh, is this the one I saw the sample of?”
DavidW asks, “Triad something?”
zarf says, “yes”
AdamM asks, “So is the difficulty is communicating the consequences of interactions to the players?”
zarf says, “I can’t figure out how to make that choice-space be a shape that the player can trek through approaching a local maximum.”
Emily says (to zarf), “I don’t think the mechanic of multiple choices and revision was the issue; I think it was more that people were having a hard time (okay, *I* was having a hard time) imagining the systems in question”
zarf says, “yah”
Emily says, “also, admittedly, what I’m imagining is something where this wouldn’t be a puzzle, but an aesthetic choice, so there’s no wrong answer to why you stopped speaking to your dad”
Emily says, “or whatever”
AdamM asks (of zarf), “A maximum on what axis?”
zarf says, “well, there may be systems out there better suited to it”
Busta asks, “oh, it’s the subject matter then?”
zarf says (to adamm), “the axis of ‘proceed to next chapter'”
zarf says, “and if it’s not a puzzle at all, I worry that players would have no motivation to try different combinations”
Gunther asks, “hmm, has anyone played that new multiplayer CYOA out on Steam right now?”
Gunther says, “The Yawhghttp://store.steampowered.com/app/269030/”
Gunther says, “it would be interesting to know how that approaches this”
Emily says (to Gunther), “I’ve heard interesting things but haven’t had a chance to play due to its windowish nature”
Roger says, “This might be a good use-case for guncho; I think it might be one of those rare cases in which it’s more interesting to watch someone else work through it than to do it yourself. Maybe.”
Doug asks (of Emily), “this may be a bit of a tangent, but what do you want that sort of thing (identity formation) to accomplish? is it a matter of solving a puzzle by forming the “right” identity, or is it role-playing where you’re choosing what sort of story you want to be involved in, or something else?”
Doug says, “(late, oops)”
Emily says (to Doug), “I’m certainly not envisioning it as a puzzle — more that it’s meant to be about the *experience* of thinking through one’s own motivations, and what the player chooses might not even be as important as going through the process”
Emily says, “(though then again it might matter — I don’t know what the frame game for this would be)”
AdamM asks (of Emily), “Do you know of any games which feel compelling where the player interaction consists of making aesthetic choices?”
DavidW says, “hm. Some of this is bizarrely making me think of the maze in Reliques of Tolti-Aph. The maze didn’t really test the PC the way I hoped it would.”
zarf says, “this kind of ‘going through the process, no wrong answers’ model is what ChoiceOf is good at”
AdamM says, “My worry is that the choices will end up feeling arbitrary.”
AdamM says, “And that the play experience will be learning the affordances of the system, at the expense of the content.”
Busta says, “I think Cinders is a good example. There are many ways to become queen, but the choices determine what kind of Queen you become.”
Emily says, “well — hm. I don’t know that it worked for everyone, but First Draft was very much about process rather than challenge, and I liked the way it worked out”
AdamM says, “I have yet to play that; I’ll try to get to it soon.”
jmac asks (of Emily), “You’re talking less about puzzle-solving and more about a still goal-oriented exploration for motivation to take some action? E.g. The character starts in a state of “I feel I need to do this, but I just don’t know,” and the player’s job then becomes to explore her possible reasons and help her build a satisfying conclusion or realization?”
Emily says (to jmac), “I’m talking about, say, “how do I give the player the experience of revising their own view of a past event?” — and there might be a particular goal in context or not; or there might be some requirement of coherence, but any coherent solution will do”
Doug says, “I tend to feel uncomfortable about, or just uninspired by, games with character-building choices that don’t have any particular consequences. Personally I’m not much motivated by self-expression, at least not when playing IF”
Roger says, “non-IF, but Eternal Happiness Spotless Mind explored this ground in a neat way”

Validity of Reflective Choices

Emily says (to Doug), “I actually don’t usually think of those reflective choices as *self*-expression at all, though”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “I think of it as that if there is literally no effect on the story”
Emily says, “like, if I’m answering a question about why my character did something or how she felt about something, I’m answering it to help build up the story coherently”
Emily says, “it might not be how I-as-Emily would feel about that same topic”
Ghogg says (to Emily), “yeah, but if, again, no effect on the story, it’s what I-as-Ghogg-think-about-what-the-character-thinks”
Emily says (to Ghogg), “but that’s still valuable!”
Emily says, “or rather, I think it is”
jmac asks, “It sounds a liiiittle like you’re talking about uh 96(?) Cadence? The house has a history, but the experience is in remixing it and discovering things… but then again the game doesn’t judge or score your remix in any way?”
Emily says (to jmac), “18 Cadence
Doug says (to Emily), “sure, it’s role-playing”
Doug says, “like choosing to play a 7-foot tall barbarian because you’re not one IRL”
Gunther says, “Telltale‘s recent games are the master of making you make aesthetic choices”
Ghogg says, “dunno, I find it frustrating”
Emily says, “because the story is being formed inside the head of Ghogg”
Ghogg says, “because usually those choices are restrictive than more in a way I-as-Ghogg would think”
Ghogg says, “so, I pick, ignore, and draw my own conclusions independent of the multiple choice list”
jmac says, “Oh I’m thinking of the sequel i guess”
Emily says (to Ghogg), “that seems like it’s a different problem, maybe, from “choices without consequence suck”; it might be “you’re asking me these questions but not letting me be nuanced enough to express an interesting answer””
Ghogg says, “maybe”
Ghogg says, “but I haven’t seen anything that’s made me happy as of yet”
Emily says, “which was an issue I had with some of the bits in Blue Lacuna, except then if you say “no, that’s not it!” to enough of the dialogue options at the end, it lets you free-type in what your answer would be”
Emily says, “which obviously has no effect on the game, but I thought it was interesting”
Busta says (to Emily), “It’s hard to incorporate the player’s reflectivity in the game itself.”
Doug says (to Emily), “I guess I feel like that sort of thing is more like a sandbox/SimCity type of game rather than story-based. though it’s a spectrum, of course”

Idea of a Game about Reconciling Past Events

Doug says, “but if the choices let you explore different parts of the story, or different ways of telling the story that reveal something about the story, that’s more interesting”
AdamM says, “Yeah, making sense of one’s past is something more fundamental than that, I think.”
AdamM says, “And often has consequences for how people choose to act in future.”
Busta says, “Different from Doug, I very much enjoy IF where the choices are aesthetic. It goes to show you need to know your audience as you write.”
Doug says, “yeah, I’m sure I’m not the typical audience”
Busta says (to doug), “Actually I think you’re a very typical audience for IF.”
Doug says (to Busta), “if you include choice-based games, I’m not so sure”
AdamM asks (of Doug), “What if you couldn’t control the character’s actions directly, but the interpretation they arrived at affected them in a way which made sense?”
AdamM asks, “And you got to see those actions and their outcomes, even in just an epilogue?”
Doug says (to AdamM), “hm, not sure I follow”
AdamM says (to Doug), “Here’s an example of what I have in mind: the PC is trying to make sense of a string of unsuccessful past relationships; the game is about that process; based on the understanding she arrives at in your play session, their is an epilogue where she takes appropriate action and you see the results of that.”
Doug asks (of AdamM), “so what are the actions that the player takes?”
Doug asks, “like, what commands would you type?”
Doug says, “or what choices would you click on”
AdamM says (to Doug), “There aren’t many games like this yet, and I’m not sure how the process could be effectively expressed.”
Doug says, “and I apologize again if this is derailing this into a conversation about UI instead of interiority.”
AdamM says, “And I need to play First Draft of the Revolution…
AdamM says, “No, this is about the mechanics, I think.”
AdamM says, “(Actually, does anyone know of any other examples of this kind of game?)”

During dialogue in Socrates Jones, the player can interrupt with questions or do other rhetorical moves

During dialogue in Socrates Jones, the player can interrupt with questions or do other rhetorical moves

Emily says, “actually one mechanic that comes to mind is a kind of Phoenix-Wright-y thing (or Socrates Jones, Pro Philosopher, if anyone’s tried that)”
Busta says (to Emily), “Socrates Jones was so good.”
Emily says, “where the character has a set of things they need to explain/justify/come to terms with, and then a series of rhetorical moves they can make, like “oh, that was out of character for me, I’ll just forget that one” or “that was justified because Matilda kicked me first” or so on”
Doug asks (of AdamM), “maybe the part I’m fuzzy on is “make sense of”. What would that entail? learning facts that the PC didn’t know? or making connections/conclusions or something maybe?”
AdamM says (to Doug), “I think that’s actually a much easier question than how you represent this in a game.”
Doug says (to AdamM), “maybe it would be a conversation game, with your therapist.”
AdamM says (to Doug), “I’d say it’s something like coming up with an explanation of a set of disparate facts.”
Doug says, “I wonder how much you can come up with without interrogating the external world, or interrogating your memories to reveal things that the player didn’t know”
AdamM says, “Sure, the player has to have access to relevant information.”
Doug says, “and I have no idea why I’m using second person for the character and third person for the player.”
Doug says, “like maybe the game would be about the way thoughts and ideas just sort of come to you out of the blue while daydreaming”
AdamM says, “There has to be something to explain.”
Doug says, “and I guess your choices would be deciding what topic to try to focus on, so it would direct which thoughts would occur to you next”
AdamM says, “Umm, sure, that could work. My gut feeling is that a game built around an issue of fairly vital concern to the protagonist would be more compelling, though.”
Doug says (to AdamM), “well yeah, you could be daydreaming about something crucial.”
Doug says, “meditating/mulling/sulking/obsessing.”
Doug asks (of AdamM), “so back to your “make sense of failed relationships” game. In your conception of it, would there be a particular conclusion that you as the author would have in mind, which the player would end up discovering, or would it be more about letting the player explore their own conclusions somehow?”
AdamM says (to Doug), “I’m interested in interactive representation of the process itself. I was suggesting adding practical outcomes as a way of giving a sense of consequence to players for whom that’s important.”
AdamM says (to Doug), “And I think you could make a game where one outcome looked like a victory, although I think that would probably be less interesting than something more nuanced.”

Games About Other Characters’ Interiority

Roger says, “Something that Gunther mentioned earlier was that it might be interesting, maybe more interesting, to make these decisions about other characters.”
Gunther asks (of Roger), “The thing where character generation extends beyond the PC to the NPCs?”
Roger says (to Gunther), “Yeah; so instead of worrying about how you, the PC, are demure or slutty, just ask them about their wife. For example.”
dddddd asks, “Time was mentioned… Any thought about it?”
dddddd says, “I mean, in relation to today’s topic.”
Roger says, “Time and Scale might be a good future topic.”
Roger says, “(Or two topics, maybe.)”
Emily asks (of dddddd), “are you asking about how games treat the protagonist’s experience of time? or the fact that parser IF doesn’t do long stretches of time very well, or?”
Gunther says, “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories had both psychiatric questions and monitored how you played, and changed the look of its enemies accordingly.”
Roger says, “Maybe we can return to actual implemented games for the moment; I feel we’re a bit adrift.”

Games in which the Protagonist Refuses Control

Roger asks, “We’ve mentioned in-character reasons for PCs refusing actions. Are there any games where PCs just actively do the things they want, ignoring the advice of the player?”
Emily says (to Roger), “to some extent Rameses, arguably”
HanonO asks, “Rameses?”
AdamM says (to Roger), “Moquette, potentially.”
Roger says, “mmm, yeah. Also any time you collapsed out of exhaustion, I guess.”
AdamM says, “If you try to thwart the PC’s increasingly urgently expressed desire, he eventually ignores you.”
Gunther asks, “what about games *without* a PC?”
Emily says, “I wrote a game about marbles in which your marble rolls downhill no matter what you do, but, uh, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count”
Gunther says, “like Adam’s build-a-dungeon game whose name I forget”
Roger asks (of gunther), “Of what are you thinking?”
HanonO asks, “Lock and Key?”
AdamM says, “Lock and Key.”
Emily says (to HanonO), “Rameses is a Stephen Bond game about an Irish schoolboy who is sufficiently neurotic that he refuses to do most of the things the player tries to nudge him to do”
Emily says, “so there are dialogue options and you’ll pick one and then he’ll give you some rationale for why he can’t actually say that”
Busta says, “I’ve never played Rameses, but that sounds frightfully annoying.”
Emily says, “but the game also moves forward on its own, too; I believe someone established you can finish it by typing Z over and over”
Roger says (to Gunther), “Hmmm.”
jmac says (to Busta), “I *hated* Rameses at the time, mostly because I completely missed the point.”
HanonO says, “Did the Suspended robots ever act on their own programming – I know they could refuse orders depending on the situation.”

The first move in the two-move joke game Nemean Lion.

The first move in the two-move joke game Nemean Lion.


Doug says, “it would be amusing to combine Rameses with Nemean Lion
Emily says, “ha ha ha”
DavidW says (to Doug), “awesome”
Roger says, “That makes me think of combining Rameses with Cattus Attrox.”
Doug says, “so it would be the parser who decides to ignore your intention”
Doug says, “or to over-read your intention”
Gunther says (to Doug), “there’s (again) a Cadre game which does exactly that”
Busta says (to jmac), “Haha. Though it does sound like a ‘look at the point I’m trying to make’ game, which always ends up more interesting than fun to me.”
Doug says, “”>north” “You get in your car and drive to Canada.””
Roger says, “Actually, ‘what makes IF ‘fun” would be a good topic too.”
Gunther says, “I don’t recall exactly, since it’s a one-command “joke” game”
Roger says (to Gunther), “possibly you’re thinking of Nemean Lion.”
Emily asks (of Gunther), “aren’t we in fact talking about Nemean Lion?”
Gunther says, “I probably am.”
Gunther says (to Emilia/Robert), “I’m bad with names, ok”
Doug says, “huh, for some reason I thought Nemean Lion was Cadre but ifdb says Anonymous.”
Emily says, “heehee”
Emily says, “it’s Adam but he released it “anonymously””
Emily says, “in the way he sometimes does”
Emily says, “I think he linked it from his blog at one point as his method of releasing it”
(See also Victor Gijsbers’ thoughts on Nemean Lion.)
Doug says, “ok”
HanonO says, “I’ve played lots of games where the PC will reject your action, but few where they took a whim of their own.”
Roger says, “>X AUTHOR (first investigating r.a.i-f)”
AdamM says (to Hanon), “There are a lot of games like that, actually.”
Emily says, “this makes me think of The Blind House again, because the protagonist isn’t really acting on her own but her motives and intentions about what’s going on are pretty opaque”
Emily says, “which makes it feel like you’re not especially in control”
Gunther says, “well, one game that does *all* of this is The Stanley Parable.”
AdamM says (to Hanon), “It’s often a rather in-your-face means of keeping the plot on the rails.”
Gunther says, “it ignores you; it forces you; it pleads; it threatens; and so on”
HanonO says, “The other game that sprung to mind is Limbo where there are worms that latch onto your skull and force you to go west. You can fight it or they’ll drive you into water to drown.”
(See also this poll about games in which the player’s perceptions are warped by illness.)

Games About Psychoanalysis

Roger says, “Are there in fact any games in which you are literally a psychoanalyst or criminal profiler or whatnot? I might be fun.”
Gunther says (to Roger), “yes, e.g. all the Ace Attorney games”
(See also Think Like A Shrink, where you psychoanalyze Achilles.)
HanonO says, “That’s not parser fiction, but I could see a game where perhaps the PC is possessed and the game makes them pick up things.”
Roger asks, “Isn’t he, like, an attorney?”
Gunther says (to Roger), “”””yes””””
Gunther says, “it does not mean what you think it means”
Roger says, “When I say literally I literally mean literally, damnit”
Gunther says, “well, you are doing your own investigation, profiling, &c”
HanonO says (to Roger), “L.A. Noire? You have to decide if people are lying.”
Gunther says, “equally in Dangan Ronpa
Roger says, “Yeah I guess detectivey games kinda fall into this.”
Busta says, “Papers, please has similar traits as well”
Gunther says, “oh! Deadly Premonition.”
Gunther says, “it even *calls* it profiling.”
Roger says, “hmm ok thanks.”
Doug says (to Roger), “huh, might be interesting to play a game where the goal is to uncover the root cause of someone’s neurosis”
Emily says, “so an interactive profiling game would be partly about trying to work out the likely motives of someone’s actions, or… timing”
HanonO exclaims, “Or perhaps the game could rearrange the circumstances based on your profiling!”
Doug says (to Roger), “like how House is a detective show about medicine, it would be a detective game about psychology”
Gunther says, “it would be incredibly on rails and unreplayable, though”
Gunther says, “I guess that is true for almost all detective games”
Ghogg asks, “hum, what was that game with the psychology tests?”
Gunther says, “Blade Runner chose a random perp each game”
Doug says, “it could have multiple endings”
Ghogg asks, “by the 7th guest folks?”
AdamM says, “I guess a profiling game would resemble Make It Good a little, in so far as it would require the player to model mental states to progress.”
Busta asks, “What about the Asylum? Where you analyze stuffed animals?”
AdamM says, “I think that kind of game is a little limited.”
Gunther says (to Ghogg), “I only recall Shattered Memories
Ghogg says, “tender loving care”
AdamM says, “In so far as many elements of subjective experience are artistically interesting but don’t have reliable consequences for action.”
Gunther says, “oh. oh dear.”
Doug says, “like maga pointed out about CYOA books, there doesn’t have to be one consistent state of the world (or of characters’ motives), but it could change based on what choices you make”
AdamM says, “And none of that is relevant to, say, profiling or character manipulation.”
Roger says, “A more appealing alternative might be a PC inmate trying to convince psychologists and/or prison parole board that they’re sane. Whoops, now I’m the one going off into theoretical games.”
Gunther says (to Roger), “actually, such a thing exists”
Gunther says, “however it is incredibly, incredibly bad”
Doug says, “Catch-22, The Game”
Roger says, “”Do you hear voices?” >SAY NO “The voices in your head tell you to say no, so you say no.””
Ghogg says, “there’s an ios version, if anyone is morbidly curious”
Gunther says, “”Negotiator”, a flash series that derails utterly and completely into nonsense”

Player/PC Dichotomy

Gunther says (to Roger), “this player vs PC dichotomy is solved by the aforementioned Deadly Premonition in an amazing manner.”
Doug says, “”the person typing on the keyboard in your head tell you to say no””
Doug says, “(tells)”
HanonO asks, “IDENITY the text adventure?”
HanonO says, “(sp)IDENTITY”
Busta says, “Without proper research, I suspect it would be pretty bad. And then you have to worry about trivializing people who actually suffer from mental conditions.”
Gunther says, “you, the player, are the one who controls the dude on screen; but the player character chooses what to say.”
Gunther says, “and this is acknowledged”
Emily asks (of Gunther), “so you puppet his body but not his words?”
Gunther says (to Emily), “yes, and in mutual consent”
Roger says, “hmm neat”
Emily asks, “are there ever points at which you can do things comically at odds with what he’s saying?”
Gunther says, “like, the player character is Agent Francis York Morgan”
HanonO says, “The PC is a ghost or demon who possesses people with various amounts of free will to accomplish a goal.”
Emily says, “”let’s be friends!” >WIELD KNIFE”
Gunther says, “and he has a headmate named Zach, who is you the player.”
Doug says, “it could be alien psychology, with no obvious relation to real-world human mental conditions”
Gunther says (to Emily), “yes, for example, you can be on your way to a crime scene”
Gunther says, “with other cops, and mid-drive you jump out of the car”
Gunther says, “”What are you DOING??” they’ll ask, and he’ll say “Zach wants to investigate something””
Busta says, “Oh oh! That’s like that Who’s Line skit, where one person is the arms and the other person is the voice, and the voice has to react to what the arms do.”
Gunther says, “(think of Twin Peaks‘ Agent Cooper and his little recorder)”
HanonO says, “Deadly Premonition was a weeeird game with lots of ideas.”
Gunther says, “that’s not *all* there’s to this thing but the rest would be massive spoilers”
Roger says, “Neat”
HanonO says, “”the pickles””
jmac says, “The very beginning of Deadly Premonition establishes this relationship (though it’s not clear at first) in a way that, in retrospect, reminds me of Counterfeit Monkey. Er, which now that I think of it has some strong parallels in the way player / character dualism is approached.”
Gunther says, “it is definitely mindblowing.”
Gunther says, “but jmac and Matt have done a long, excellent postmortem on it here: http://playofthelight.com/post/24110373867/play-of-the-light-4-until-the-main-character
Gunther says, “(it spoils everything)”
Emily says (to jmac), “Monkey was actually quite difficult from this perspective, specifically because, since Alex is the narrator, I cannot use his voice to describe things from Andra’s past”
Emily says, “so anything I wanted to put in from her perspective either had to be implied or be in dialogue or be a flashback that she was sharing with him”
HanonO asks (of Emily,), “if you don’t mind me asking, how long did it take to write Counterfeit Monkey?”
Emily says (to HanonO), “I worked on it *very* on and off for fourish(?) years”
Emily says, “I don’t have a good estimate of total number of hours”
HanonO says (to cool,), “thank you :)”
jmac says, “Right. And their bizarre predicament is explained overtly by Alex in the prologue, as part of getting your bearings, where DP lets the player stew in the weirdness for a while (since York and Zach have been sharing a skull for a long, long time)”
jmac says, “But in both cases the games take an interesting, uh, homunculus-based approach to internality? :)”
jmac says, “What is inside the PC’s head? A little dude, that’s what”
Emily says (to jmac), “ha”
Doug asks, “but what is in side the little dude’s head??”
Gunther says (to Doug), “it turns out it’s man”

Wrap-up and Planning for Next Time

Emily asks, “in any case — I’m happy to keep recording longer if people want, but we’re coming up on two hours, so before people drift off too much: do people want to do this again? if so, is this a good time, and what should we talk about next time?”
Roger says, “Yes, yes, and put up a signable for future topics or something, perhaps.”
zarf says, “topic discussion on your blog or on intfiction.org, not here”
Roger says, “Or that”
jmac says, “I would love to do this again, maybe with some postmortem in between”
jmac says, “per zarf”
Roger says, “Postmortem speed-if”
Emily says, “okay, I agree we should plan where people can see off-mud, but if people have starter suggestions, feel free to mention them”
HanonO says, “This is great – I am sorry I missed most of it, but glad to know there’s a transcript.”
jmac asks, “Are we doing first-saturdays for now?”
DuoDave says, “yes this was a great idea”
Emily says (to jmac), “that seems like a tidy consistent rule”
Emily says (to DuoDave), “thank AdamM, who lobbied for it”
jmac says, “So mote it be”
DuoDave says, “i look forward to what you have in mind for next month”
Emily says, “okay. I will put up a thing on my blog, people can comment with topic ideas, one will be picked, and we’ll meet up again the 5th of April”
Roger says, “Thanks for herding all the cats on this, Emily.”
Emily says, “sure”
AdamM says, “Yes, thank you — and for thinking of a constructive response to the issues I raised, also.”
DuoDave says, “nod definitely thanks, emily”
Rob says, “awesome, I just caught up with recap in time to wave bye to everyone”
Emily says, “I wonder if it’s worth next time doing a slightly more coordinated preparation as DavidW had started to do”
Emily says, “putting together a list of quotes/readings or similar”
Rob says, “actually it was a discussion that was good to read that I had very little to contribute to”
Busta says (to Emily), “I like that idea.”
AdamM says, “I think that would be helpful — a short reading list might be particularly useful.”
Roger says, “It’s a hard line to walk; easy to fall over into too much discussion-before-discussion. But maybe.”
DuoDave says, “perhaps you could beforehand mention what games might be discussed, as many of them discussed today i havent played”
DavidW says, “I’ll try to get the time right next time.”
Rob says, “yeah”
Emily says, “yeah, I don’t really want this to be *just* a book club, because I’m interested to hear people suggest games that I hadn’t thought of before”
Emily says, “but it’s probably possible to preload with some ideas”
jmac says, “I am generally in favor of organizing discussions on principles other than ‘general melee'”
AdamM says, “Very much, that. I think a stronger common basis would be a useful starting point.”
Emily asks (of jmac), “would pre-set-up reading list suffice, do you think, or are you looking for other formalities?”
jmac says, “Sounds like a good start to me.”
DuoDave says, “of course that will give you more pressure to prep sooner, em, since we’ll need time to examine your examples”
Emily says, “if we do this a lot, I will contrive to make people take turns prepping, trust me :)”
DuoDave says, “of course”
Rob says, “heh”
Roger says, “Possibly it could be another comment thread on a blog post”
jmac says, “I don’t wanna get too roberts-rules on this too early, and I expect if we repeat it enough a vibe will assert itself”
Emily says, “sure”
Emily says, “it’s definitely tricky to keep the main conversation going while also making sure that there’s enough fill-in information for people to understand references”
Emily says, “I had initially considered making a second theoryclub channel to contain spoilers/detailed information, but that seemed like overkill for infrastructure for a first meeting”
Emily says, “and anyway I’m not sure it would really make things less confusing”
AdamM says, “Yes, since everyone would probably be on both channels.”
Rob says, “it’d also divide the conversation”
HanonO asks, “Would it be an idea for the first hour to be topic-based and the second could be more general round-table?”
jmac says, “There was a little bit of backchanneling in #craft, I noticed. (Which is fine.)”
Emily says (to HanonO), “I suppose, though it seems like there was enough to go on here for two hours on topic — unless I’m misunderstanding what you’re asking”
DuoDave says, “i think there was plenty for two hours. plus some people came late”
AdamM says, “Especially if future topics are similarly broad.”
Doug says, “nothing says we can’t use this channel for all the rest of the hours of the month…”
Doug says, “though I guess part of the point was to get people in the same place & time”
Emily says (to Doug), “yeah”
AdamM says, “This is all stuff that could probably be talked about on”
AdamM says, “… #craft, but that seems to have fairly low traffic, much of the time.”
Emily says, “part of the initiating impulse was the feeling that you couldn’t ever log onto the mud with an expectation that you would *definitely* find some IF discussion there”
Emily says, “thanks all for coming along”
jmac says, “Thanks y’all”
DuoDave says, “thanks again emily”
DavidW says, “Thanks for hosting this.”
zarf says, “yup”
HanonO exclaims (at Emily), “Thanks Emily!”
DuoDave says, “have a nice weekend”
Busta exclaims, “thank you!”

3 thoughts on “Transcript of March 1, 2014 ifMUD Discussion on Interiority

  1. Pingback: Transcript from Interiority Discussion Up | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  2. Pingback: On Time Units and Narrative Pacing in CYOA and Parser IF | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

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