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Journal Journal: Immersive Storylines

I've noticed some clamoring on online discussion boards for video games that have immersive story lines. I don't think it will happen; or if it does, it won't be what people expect. Here's why:

A story is something you tell after a series of events. It's an implied interpretation of the relationship of those events.
According to traiditional narrative theory, a story begins with a status quo, a world in order. Then, something happens which throws things out of whack. The hero finds themself in this new out-of-whack world, and they can't go back to the old world. The hero then must 'gather forces' (round up a posse, or grow, or learn something) to overcome some obstacle. Once the obstacle is overcome, the hero is in a new status quo.

So, if you're narrarating a series of events, and you want it to be a story instead of a list of somewhat related things that happened in chronological order, you will have to bind each event to an element of the narrative story. So, you have to know in advance which events are which elements of the story. Is the slaying of a dragon the final showdown of the 3nd act, or the world-shattering event that marks the transition from the 1st to the 2nd act? That decision can only be made once you've decided which parts are which.

In quasi-narrative games, such as Final Fantasy type RPGs or choose-your-own-adventure books, the authors have already thought out one of several narrative threads in advance.

The basic problem here is that computers don't have enough AI to be a narrarator, to tell a story. You either have to have 1. built-in storylines, which are already programmed into the game before you being playing, and you get to hear the next bit if that dragon doesn't kill you , or 2. A totally free form MMORPG with great AI NPCs, or a lot of other human players.

Remember, a story doesn't happen, it's told after the fact.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Help us, Gennady, you're our only hope.

I loved original Star Wars Trilogy growing up, and heck, I still do! But now that I can watch them with a critical eye, there are some things that are really starting to bug me.

Episode 6: Han is frozen in carbonite, trophy/prisoner/wallpiece of Jabba the Hut. The Gang must rescue him. Luke, the leader, hatches a plan. What exactly is it?!

Here's what we know:

  • C3PO presents himself and R2-D2 as gifts.
  • Leia, dsiguised as a bounty hunter, brings a captive Chewbacca in, purportedly for the bounty.
  • Luke shows up and tries to mind wrestle Jabba.
  • Lando retired from politics and got a second job as a guard in Jabba's palace.

Okay... So, at least the droids were in on Luke's plan. R2-D2 was smuggling Luke's light sabre. But Leia and Chewie? WTF? Were they unable to get a hold of Luke before hand? What exactly was Lando's part? Lend a hand when the original plan fell apart?

So, to summarize Luke's plan: get everyone in Jabba's palace, and take it from there. Moral: Lucas SUXXOR as a screen writer. George, if you're listening, cut your losses and turn episode 3 over to Gennady Tartakovsky, immediately.

Help us, Gennady, you're our only hope.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The worst aspect to contact with an alien civilization

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and probably the absolute worst change in our normal daily lives after ET lands and gets out of the spaceship is that All of our stars are no longer famous. Now we are some miserable little podunk planet in the middle of nowhere. Who in the universe cares about Elvis Presley? The Beatles? Hardly anyone. In fact we won't be able to call them stars anymore. Not until an earthling is famous on two or more planets, perhaps even two or more solar systems, can they be considered a star.

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We don't really understand it, so we'll give it to the programmers.