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<  Design concepts  ~  Interactive storytelling

Michael
Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:36 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Haha. Yes.
And dancing the same way in front of another person might become interactive again! Wink
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picklebro
Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:03 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 Posts: 110
Oooooh...LOL...'interactive' dancing is the best *grin*.
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MoriartyL
Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:26 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Nov 2005 Posts: 69 Location: Israel
Well then, thank you very much for making that important distinction. Very Happy
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hazylium
Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:01 am Reply with quote
Joined: 04 Sep 2006 Posts: 2
Hello! I'm new on this forum, though I've been following the development of your 'games' (umm... or non-games, perhaps?) for quite some time. I'd just like to say that I find your perspective on interactive storytelling very refreshing- I became interested in the field this year and so far what I've been exposed to is the Crawford-ian style of "drama management" interactive narrative, which perhaps will create some interesting stories but I feel ignores the true capabilities of computers as a medium. Plus, from reading Crawford's books on games and interactive storytelling gives me the impression that he is first and foremost a programmer and does not seem to understand that stories don't have to be linear, plot-driven affairs.

Your idea of non-linear interactive storytelling sounds promising as an alternate approach. However, I'm a bit confused by your comparison to architecture and sculpture- I must confess to having little knowledge about architecture as an artform, or indeed sculpture, so what I'd like to know is what kind of stories do you see them as telling and how do you see them translating to 'games' or 'interactive stories'?
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Michael
Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:45 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Here's a sculpture for you:

And here's some architecture:


I don't know about you, but I can stare at each of these (the pulpit in Saint Baafs Cathedral in Gent and Saint Peters basilica in Rome) for hours. Mostly because there's a lot of storytelling going on. And the stories are being told in a way that puts you, the visitor, the viewer, the user, at the center of the experience. Nobody is telling the stories explicitly. You're more or less extracting them, probably making stuff up as you go. Depending on how much you know about biblical iconography and, say, Christian history, your stories will be different from anybody else's. That doesn't mean that there is no authorship happening. Both examples have been heavily authored. But as stories they are far less demanding or imposing than linear forms of storytelling are. And, most of all, they put the user in the center of everything, just like interactive media can (and should, in our opinion). For me, it's mostly about a form of communication that happens underneath the words, underneath knowledge, transmitting a message that is deeply human, that you can feel but have difficulty expressing (but you know others feel it too). A lot of this communication is powered by an almost subconscious knowledge and familiarity with a certain culture. So this form of story-telling may not be universal (but then again: what is? language-based storytelling is far less universal).
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hazylium
Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 9:45 am Reply with quote
Joined: 04 Sep 2006 Posts: 2
Thanks for those beautiful images. Indeed, I see your point more clearly now! Smile

I had previously been stuck thinking about architecture and sculpture as I see them being created today in modern cities. I live in Singapore, which is a really young city, and much of the architecture and sculpture I see here is dominated by a functional, minimalist style (and in the case of sculpture- highly abstract pieces). They are perhaps interesting in their own way, but it's hard to see the human stories behind them. I'd forgotten the rich cultural heritage that is apparent in European (and old Asian, for that matter) architecture and art.

This reminds me of the game Myst. To me, it was a supremely successful attempt at delivering a story in a gamespace- mostly because it didn't tell it's story in a linear fashion but allowed the player to uncover the story for him/herself through exploration of a virtual 3D space. I never understood why the game is scorned by adventure game purists as a poor example of storytelling, but perhaps their problem lies with the expectation that a story be delivered in a direct, linear fashion. The same expectation that belies most work in interactive storytelling in games today.

So I take it what you're trying to make is something more like a story "space", where users are given more freedom to interpret and create their own narrative based on their interactions with what you offer in the game? I hope to see some of that in your upcoming game '144'- though that sounds to me like a more linear story offering, given it's relation to the old Red Riding Hood story.
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MoriartyL
Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:46 am Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Nov 2005 Posts: 69 Location: Israel
Yes, absolutely this is like Myst. Take out the puzzles, and I think what you've got is an excellent model for the sort of experience Michael is talking about.
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Michael
Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:41 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Myst is indeed a very interesting project. And indeed, MoriartyL (welcome back Wink ), the only "problem" with it are the puzzles. We think that this is a general problem with games: that they are games. But there seems to be an evolution, though: games are getting easier to do. This is good because it allows for people to concentrate on the story. There's two problems with this approach however. The first is that stories in games are generally pretty lame (cliché and predictable, and still told in a traditional way that is not suitable for the medium). The second is that gameplay should not simply be dropped: it should be replaced by other forms of interaction. Even simple things like walking through a virtual landscape can be made very meaningful, if the author pays attention and carefully designs the experience.

Modern architecture is indeed often very poor in storytelling, though it doesn't have to be. Like a lot of modern art, it is very demanding of the spectator: it doesn't give much and insists that you sort of "convert to its religion" in order to appreciate it. But in essence, it deals with a lot of the same subjects as traditional architecture, centered around the confrontation of the human individual and the group with its surroundings.

Your description of a "story space" is indeed very near to what we are trying to do. We often think of our work as a painting that you can step into: as more or less a frozen moment in time, but with a lot of potential for exploration.
"144" will indeed have a very simple linear structure. But this structure is almost a parody of traditional games. To some extent, we hope that "144" will function as a Trojan Horse: at first sight it looks and feels very much like an ordinary game but when you start playing, you quickly discover that it is very different. The bulk of "144" will, in fact, be very similar to The Endless Forest. Only with a very different atmosphere (story) and with NPCs driven by AI (Drama Princess) instead of other players.
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