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Your Solution to Narrative Based Gameplay

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EDIT:It's good to see more people posting in here. I started this post to get help for my own idea. But I'm beginning to see that listening to others ideas has proven to be much more beneficial. This thread is not supposed to be based on one linearly developing design for a game, but the shifting and morphing idea that is our definition of what a narrative game is. Please feel free to summit any ideas or thoughts that you feel may contribute to this discussion of narrative based gaming. ---- I'm mostly posting this here to see what everyone thinks of it. I came up with it after reading some Gamasutra articles by Jonathan Blow on why games tend to fail on a narrative standpoint (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21202). It's often been said that video games will never be a successful as an art form is because no one will ever cry for a video game character. (while I'm sure there are many who will disagree) I hope to use this idea to prove others wrong. Find flaws in it. Prove me wrong. Help me improve this idea to a point where it might actually be usable. Happily Ever After? The game is based on a branching storyline similar to that of KOTOR or many other "Good or Evil" based games. Choices are frequent throughout the game be they "Yes or No" or "Good or Evil" these choices cause the games path to go in different directions very often. The game will be based on nearly 200 choices made by the player and each choice results in a different story line. Now I know you've all heard this before. Here's the two major points that make this thought an individual. -To play through the games story mode will take under 3 hours. -While "Yes or No" and "Good or Evil" choices still exist most of the choices in this game will based entirely on winning and losing. What I mean by this is that there are no more game overs. No more re-do's, and no more lives. Anything that happens to the character is based on whether they succeed-or fail. The player has control of what the direction the story goes: goals, characters, locations. All are based on whatever preferences the player chooses (this is done as the story progresses) but what determines what will happen in the story, what will happen to the characters, what events will impact the world, whether or not the player will see their goals accomplished determines on how well they play the game.The game will be a series of task, whether or not the player accomplishes these tasks determines what the next task will entail. Victory will equal happiness. Dreams realized, enemies defeated, love found, etc. Defeat will create tragedy. Horrors come alive, friends stolen away, sadness unresolved, etc. If the player performs well, they are witness to a happy tale, but if they cannot adapt to a sudden skill curve, the story takes a much darker turn. If the player finds themselves within the pit of despair, if they find themselves getting better at the game, they might soon see a light at the end of the tunnel. The story will remain composed of a single setting and start with a single event and be composed of an unchanging cast of characters, what portion of this cast and what perspective they witness events from depends entirely on how they play. The game will be extremely re-playable. Literally having to play through the game a dozen times in order to discover all of the stories secrets and possible outcomes. Each time the player plays the game (depending on how good they are at it) they will be witnessing another view of the same world, hearing another side of the same story. The key is to connect the player to the game through emotional rewards and punishments. We are already doing this but on a much more materialistic stage. What if instead of just giving the player a new ability we also have the players favorite character decide to help you out more often? What if instead of the player losing a life they have to watch their favorite character get killed by their most hated enemy? What if instead of having a looming final boss far off in the distance, being your eventual antagonist, they were constantly inhibiting you and slowing your progress. Try to generate real life emotions relevant to the games virtual situations. Look, it's 2 AM here. This is my first post on this website and I'm sure it's ripe with spelling/grammatical/logistical errors. Please post any comment, complaint,question, idea, thought, or reaction you have to this. This idea has been excitedly swimming around my for some time now and I think it's about time that I exposed it to the surface. Berate it, love it, I don't care. Give it to me straight, and give it to me here. Maybe some day I might actually see this in my, or your, game. [Edited by - DASHAZAM on February 7, 2009 2:56:09 AM]

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I don't really see the point of tying the story to victory and defeat - it restricts the kinds of stories you can tell, since you can pretty much only tell stories about fighting or sports, and it sounds like you would want the moral to be something like "winners deserve and get happy ending, losers don't" which I don't personally find a particularly pleasing or interesting premise. It would be fine for a first game of it's type, but pretty awful if it became a stereotype for a genre.

The rest of the concept is interesting - I'm not sure how much story you could tell in 3 hours, I'm thinking it would turn out more like reading a short story than like watching a movie, but it depends on how the story and gameplay would be woven together.

Replayability-wise, I think that rather than having branches occur at regular intervals such that there were few in the beginning and zillions at the end, you would get more player-satisfying results if the game separated into somewhere between 6 and 20 main branches by about 1/8 of the way into the story, then the middle play was more modular and the number of branches did not increase much until the ending. Although possibly playing inconsistently with the current branch could shift the player to a different main branch. (Personally though, I'm not sure replayability is necessarily a virtue.)

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sounds like a great idea.
It's a bit like watching your favorite movie thinking "what would have happened if...", only that you could actually try out all possibilities.

What you said about characters like the "boss" sounds good as well. Thus one could make something different to all those "the world is threatened by an evil force and you are the only one to save it" stories.

I have to agree with sunandshadow on the skill thing. Don't couple tragedy or joy within the story to close to the players skill. At least not to skills like hand-eye coordination, tactical descision making and such, which have to do with the gameplay directly. Thus you would take the possibility to see the "pleasing" plot from less skilled players.
I would rather evaluate how well he does in fields like moral descisions or rational thinking.

Here's the danger of making things to transparent. Maybe it's just me, but as often as I played these "decide between beeing good or evil" kind of games, I always had the feeling that I could to easily manipulate my character in a certain direction since it was absolutely obvious which actions or answers in dialogues would leave to which kind of character. This feels artificial and makes a character rahter flat, than adding any believability to it.

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I don't usually count gameplay out of a fight, but I don't believe strong narrative attachments develop much via interactive gameplay. Not unless we're referring to very intertwined plot+interaction type gameplay, where the interaction part is very limited.

Gameplay can backup what develops in the plot and story, such as a morally backward character getting no penalty for killing innocent characters, or an empathic healer becoming very distraught when someone on your team takes a nasty hit.

Gameplay can also easily break down what develops in the story, such as by making likable characters do insanely stupid things during an interactive situation. In my experience, this really does happen a lot. The game sells a character to me very well through dialog or background details, then flings it out the window by making the AI contradict it.

No game has ever made me sad like the Lufia game for the Super Nintendo. The player character travels with a normal party member throughout the game, where a trivial friendly relationship very slowly grows into something significant that no one mentions out loud, then she just bites it at the end before anything can happen from it. They both finally admit their feelings as she fades away. Very sad stuff, and great motivation to annihilate the bad guy. Keep in mind I'm talking about 13 pixel tall sprite characters, here.

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In address to Kest's post:

I'm only 19 so I haven't played it but I have heard a game developer once speak about Lufia. It was one of the games I took into consideration when coming up with this idea.
Modern gamers would more often reference FFVII and the death of Aeris in this situation, but I feel Lufia may have handled the character-to-gamer relationship more deftly.
Watchers (the movie-going, book-reading, picture-viewing equivalent of Gamers) tend to form a relationship with whichever character/environment they can most relate to or are most entertained by, Gamers on the other hand have a much more real relationship with games. While there may be SOME relationship with the character/environment we find ourselves much more closely attached to the game's mechanics. It's our relationship to the parts of the game that impact how we play that touches us more than any character. Think about it- You could ask just about any gamer who likes GTA and Tetris and they would tell you that they have more of a relationship with the "I" Tetris piece more than tany of the random pedestrians in GTA.
Gamers were sad when Aeris died, some because they really like her as a character, but I can guarantee that there were even more gamers pissed off because they lost they're healer, a major lynch point in their strategy. When we watch movies or read books, we are touched by characters because we can relate with them and see our own lives in the book. In video games the game is relating to OUR lives, impacting us on a much more real, material level. In Lufia this element is used to the narratives advantage, addressing an unspoken relationship between the gamer and the character. Whether you knew it or not you were becoming attached to the character, because that character was a part of the game and your relationship with the game was more real than whatever was going on with the characters. The relationship wasn't forced from the beginning it was developed as if you were getting to know each other. Our relationship with the game often outweighs our relationship to the characters on screen. This is fine and all but it's that major division between the game and the story that I feel keeps games from being fully recognized as an art form.
And I totally agree with you on the interactive storyline view. Half Life 2 is often viewed as one of our best video games but I think this game really failed on your relationship with Alex. ValVe stole away Gordon Freeman's voice so that you didn't feel like you had yours taken away. Yet when they forced the character of Alex upon you she was of little assistance to you when it came to actual game play and more often than not she was a hindrance. So when the game started dropping hints that the two of us were in love it felt more like the developers had decided that I was supposed to love this girl when it was quite the contrary. Because no matter what I did (let her fight enemies by herself, purposely drop crates on her, shoot her in the face) I was still just the heroic, intelligent Gordon Freeman to her, and it suddenly felt like I was living a lie. It felt like the world I was in was no longer a world, it had become a play, and no matter what I did the lines would be read, the actors would play their parts, and the show would go on, only with me, but it felt like I had no part in it.
The goal with my game is to make the game play be the story. Make the rewards be the story, and make the punishments have result in the story. Or at least make them synonymous with the game play. The idea would be to bridge the gap between the story and the game, making them one and the same. Not having time in the game stop when the player stops. When the game tells the player that there's a guy killing people across town, actually have a guy killing people across town. If the player takes to long to get there, maybe he kills one of the stories characters. When your allies with a character for most of the game and then suddenly kill one of your best friends, you'll find your self being questioned by your ally, or maybe even turned against.
The reason for the three hour length would be to make sure that with any given variable you create than the characters can react realistically and reasonably (according to their own personalities). Think of it like a game on the same scale of Oblivion or Fallout but compressed into a much smaller area with fewer (but deeper) characters.

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Quote:
It's often been said that video games will never be a successful as an art form is because no one will ever cry for a video game character.


I am one of those people that disagree with that statement.
There is nothing wrong with what you suggest.

An example:

Game: The Little Match Girl

In this game, you play the little match girl in a cold winter night. The objective of the game is to sell all of your matches so that you would go home. You have 7 matches and you need to sell them in 3 hours in game time (3 minutes in real time).

You, as the little match girl, runs around and look for an NPC that might buy your match. The little match girl has a small voice. Only the person you approach could hear you. At any moment, there could a few person the little match girl could go to, and by choosing one of them, the other would continue to walk away, and the little match girl would forgo the chance to talk to them. She cannot switch and talk to another person once the talking had began. Usually the the conversation is short because the person would just ignore her.

In the second hour, the movement of the little match girl becomes slower and fewer pedestrians are walking across the center. The little match girl has to walk across the icy and slippery center to catch a pedestrian across. Slipping could make the girl fall and lose a chance. Slipping is a random occurance whenever the girl walks through the center.

In the third hour, the lights of the houses nearby are lit, it was dark otherwise, and the girl is hungry and starts to see hallucinations. Pedestrian across the icy plaza would be revealled as an hallucination as the little match
girl get closer. A hallucination that passes through lit windows appear translucent. They also don't have shadows, but it would be hard to tell.

The gameplay in tunned to be difficult. A first-time player is expected to be able to sell 2 to 3 matches. After playing a few times, being able to sell 4 or 5 matches is normal.

By the end of the third hour, the player loses control. The little match girl would walk toward one last pedestrian on her own. If the played had more than 1 match left, the last pedstrian would either ignore her, push her away, or turn out to be a hallucination. The ending scene would enter where the little match girl would start lighting the matches and die in the snow with her wishes.

If the player had sold 6 matches (1 left), A longer than usual conversation would begin. The last pedestrian would start the pedestrian by saying something like, "What are you doing here, honey, isn't it cold?" The little match girl would tell him that she was selling the matches. Then the pedestrian would ask about her lack of shoes, and the little match girl would said that she had lost her shoes before the first hour (The player never saw the little match girl with shoes, they were lost before the player took control. The player may or may not have noticed that she had no shoes. The player may not have noticed). The pedestrian would then ask about the bruised leg (if the little match girl did fell). She would say that she had slipped and fell. Then he would ask about her weak voice, and she would say she had a cold (The player was not informed beforehand that she had a cold). Then the pedestrian would invite the little match girl home so that she could get warmer and to have a meal. But the little match girl would say that she must go home to take care mom. Then the pedestrian would quickly buy the last match so that she could go home.

Then the little match girl dies because that last pedestrian was a hallucination.

[Edited by - Wai on January 23, 2009 8:54:16 PM]

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In my opinion developers don't seem to understand the less is more principle. You don't need to have all these branching stories and what not because the player knows what they are doing in most cases and because of that all you need to do is give them the option of how to proceed.

An example from one of my ideas...

You're on a quest to get several artifacts that are scattered around the world. Another group is also after them and as far as you know they are going to use them for evil deed. So, one artifact is in the middle of a city and it is being used to create a barrier around the city. So, what questions does this imply...

Should you take the artifact?
if yes how?
do you try to get it from the people?
do you steal it if they refuse?

Are you acting as a hero or as a villain? What might happen if you take it? if you don't? is it worth the risk to do so?

All this is fairly easy to code into the game and it's so simple yet it attaches that action to you as a player and a character.

If the city is destroyed it may result in you losing miniquests, items, whatever else, however if you don't take the item it may lead to the same thing and you then don't have the item, but there is no guarentee that will happen if coded right.

The whole multiple pathway thing is such a bad way of thinking about a story that imo it hurts games as art more than it helps because art is not logical and you are trying to make it so. Also it's inefficient for what you are trying to do...All you need to do for the thing that i just said...is set a few timers and set a switch or two and program a small miniquest... it doesn't take any thinking beyond that, where as the multi-pathing makes you think hundreds of steps in advancement and accomplishes far less.

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I have one problem with branching stories based on success or failure:

Everyone wants to win (regardless of their characters morality, goodness/badness, etc.), and no one wants to feel cheated.

Using Aeris' death in FFVII as an example:
-If the death occured as a result of a battle (i.e. if you could fight off Sephiroth, or he'd beat you and kill Aeris), players would simply reload their save until they beat Sephiroth since they'd feel cheated that Aeris (their best healer) was taken away from them. The reason that moment in the game had an impact was that there was nothing you could do. She was there one minute, and gone the next.

I know there are some games out there that remove a lot of the success and fail restrictions (like Wario Land 3 (I think it was 3) on GBA), but I can't think of any story based games that do so.

---------------------------------------

I like the idea of consequences for your actions a lot better than branching stories based on success or failure. Your example of Alex in HL2 for instance. The way you treat and interact with Alex (or with others when you're in her presence) would have an impact on how your characters feel about each other. If you allow her to die, then the circumstances of it all could affect how you proceed with the game (if you abandon here, or murder her you won't receive help from her father, but if she died while you were both battling, or you were trying to save her, you would still receive help in the way of vehicles, equipment, etc.)

In a way that is based around success or failure (of Alex surviving), but even if you take her mortality out of it, you can still build something interesting around character interactions (either through dialog, or through real-time interaction).

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Liking the use of the word "build" in that last sentence. Sort of like Lego story blocks that the player uses to construct a story of their choosing. Fantasy building blocks, to spin stories with, to feed the imagination.

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To Wai:
I really like this idea. What I was going for in my own was similar but with a broader scope. Was this an idea or is this an actual game?
The part where the man asks her what happens to her knee: that is what I hope to have in my game. Other characters will be able to recall simple events that happened to the gamer. An example would be similar to-
The player is walking down the street and see's an electronic store with TV's in the window. On the TV is a picture taken of a body of a character the player recently killed. The TV announcer is speaking with an expert as is making assessment as to how the victim was murdered. The idea would be to make every action the player makes to have weight in the world, not just the significant path branching ones.
Or maybe if a romantic interest in the game gets angry at you they might bring up the time that you accidentally shot an innocent bystander. Your love interest would reminisce the details of the person ("He was just walking down the street, and then you shot him! No I know it wasn't on purpose but do you think that matters!? That was a human being not just a piece of scenery! How can I think you care about me when you have such little respect for human life!?").
To Durakken:
I think your idea sounds a lot like The Elder Scroll series. While I feel these games are amazing and I've based a lot of my ideas on research originating from this game's development process I feel Bethesda's major flaw with games like Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 3 was that the scope of the game was to large. The possibilities too endless.
An endless possibility of choice may sound like a good thing but it completely contradicts the idea of art in games.
Art (this is the overall wikipedian definition, not my own) is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the sense or emotions. So yes video games can be made as art, but how do video games stand out as its own medium? Games stand above other mediums due to its relationship with its participant. Games react to the action of the Player and the player is given the ability to react to the games actions. For example, in pong twisting a dial causes your your bar to move so that you can react to the the ball coming toward your side (an action of the game) when you hit the ball (your own action) the game reacts by moving it's own bar. The idea of using games as art is properly utilizing the player-game action-reaction relationship to create an emotional reaction in the gamer (enjoyment, fear, accomplishment, frustration).
In your idea of a good game, you decided to give the player many choices of actions, paths they can choose to take in accomplishing a task. While it is important that the player is able to express themselves, the reaction to the players actions is equally important.

In Fallout 3, at the beginning of the game I accidentally got a towns sheriff killed when I asked him to help me deal with a bad guy in the town. The sheriff was shot in the back by the villain when we were in the town's bar. I in turn killed the villain and everyone in the bar simultaneously said something along the lines of "I didn't see nothing" and went about there business. I took some of the sheriff's items for my own (I had nothing but the clothes on my back when I came into the town) and went on my way. A couple days later a boy approached me while I was wearing the ex-sheriff's duster coat looking at me angrily and said to me "you may wear my dad's badge but you'll never replace him."
I was shocked. Hopeful that I would be able to apologize to this boy for his dads death, maybe do something for him I followed after him and spoke to him. He turned back to me with a huge smile on his face and said "Hey there mister!"
The boy only mentioned that his father had died recently when I talked with him. Nothing else about how I was wearing his dead father's clothing nor even about how he died. I then proceeded to ask the people around the town and none of them said anything about the sheriffs death. Most of them hardly even acknowledged the existence of the sheriff.
Actions are important in Video Games but if there's no reaction to them it gives you the feeling that you're just performing a puppet show without an audience.
My game would be similar to Fallout 3, the only difference would be that instead of it taking 30 hours to play mine would take 3 hours but still have the same amount of content. Every action would have a proper reaction. The player would still have just as much freedom, but they would also be able to see the impact that they are leaving on the world and how the world is reacting to that impact.

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Also, I plan on referencing the issue with the "win-lose=happy-sad" idea. I've been trying to find the article that originally cause me to come up with this whole thing. I found it and recommend that you guys read it.

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2008/09/opinion_tell_me_what_art_is_an.php#more


It's a pretty good article. He uses the idea of Moby Dick as a video game.

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The little match girl example was not an actual game. It wouldn't be hard to code as you could see.

There is a fine line between having an effect and having strategic value. The affected mood and meaning of the game were separate from the victory condition. The little match girl cannot intentionally make herself suffer to help herself sell the matches. If that happens, the emotional state becomes artificial and the emotional effect is lost.

Therefore, while you could couple a victory state with a positive emotion, you can not couple an induced positive emotion to an advantage in achieving the victory state. This gives the following, which I believe is a fundamental principle:


For every piece of happiness you bring to a character, the game must at least not get easier to achieve the original goal due to this added happiness keep the level of tension and to separate the emotional choice from a strategic choice. A harder or equal effort must be exerted to keep the happiness against submitting to the solution resulting in sub-optimal solution. The player exerts increasing effort until the climax of the game, after which the effort finally pays off (happy ending). The choice to keep everyone happy is an obsession, a dedication, that the game allows the player to express--it is not a requirement to win the game.

The game did not assign any baggage to the player. The player picked up the load willingly, like Forest Gump piggybacking the wounded.


I don't mean that this concept cannot be broken. I think you also had this meaning in your original post. In this concept, you could freely couple any happiness with positive gameplay effects, but the game always get harder to counter the added advantage.

Example:

The Little Match Girl could give a match to a boy who needed a match but had no money to buy it, but this would mean now that she has to sell the remaining matches for more to cover her lost. In this case, if the Little Match Girl did lose, part of her memory would be seeing the boy being happy.

[Edited by - Wai on January 24, 2009 10:09:14 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Wai
For every piece of happiness you bring to a character, the game must at least not get easier to achieve the original goal due to this added happiness keep the level of tension and to separate the emotional choice from a strategic choice. A harder or equal effort must be exerted to keep the happiness against submitting to the solution resulting in sub-optimal solution. The player exerts increasing effort until the climax of the game, after which the effort finally pays off (happy ending). The choice to keep everyone happy is an obsession, a dedication, that the game allows the player to express--it is not a requirement to win the game.
The game did not assign any baggage to the player. The player picked up the load willingly, like Forest Gump piggybacking the wounded.



I literally could not have said it better.
That's basically what I was trying to express. That victory did not necessarily HAVE to mean happiness. I was simply attempting to connect the players performance with their emotional output.
In the article I posted above, the author speaks about how games cannot always be transformed into proper narrative. How Moby Dick would not make a good game because if it did become a game, winning would mean that Ahab captured the whale and thus, completely destroy the theme of the book. However I think your telling of the Little Match Girl has given me an idea to solve this issue. What if we gave the player two options: a strategic victory or a emotional victory?

What if the Little Match Girl game was told like this?

The player's goal was to sell as many of the 10 matches as possible and return home before a given amount of time. The player will have to approach passerby on the street while avoiding stage coaches and try to avoid slipping on the ice. The atmosphere and the environment of the game are abysmal and utterly depressing. As time goes on the Little Girl becomes colder and she moves slower making it more difficult for the player to avoid obstacles and to reach potential buyers. The game is incredibly difficult but possible to beat. At that point the player is informed that they can increase their time and help the little girl move faster by lighting one of the 10 matches. When the player lights a match for the first time the surroundings vanish and a welcome warming stove appears in front of you, happy music hits the players ears and for the first time the player see's the little match girl smile. The player can look up in the corner and see a flickering match and how much time this match (and this hallucination) has left. After the match flickers out the player returns to the dirty, cold, and miserable streets with a time increase and a pickup in speed. But that power up soon vanishes and leaves the player wondering whether or not they should use another match. If they do strike another match they will this time be greeted by an even happier scene, a warm turkey sitting on a table. Then that vanishes will vanish as well, leaving the player back on the dank streets with another slight speed increase. Whenever a match is struck time begins to disappear at a quicker rate, leaving the player to decide if they want to win or be happy. If the player keeps playing the game and manages to get back home the screen will fade to black and the players final score will be displayed in white letters, the howling winds on the streets still audible. And then the game is over.
But if the player keeps lighting the matches, the scenes become progressively more and more happy, each time showing a different scene (a warm bed, a Christmas tree, a laughing family).
But if the player came down to their second to last match, the little girl's grandma (who was the only person that ever cared for the little girl) walks up before her with none of the rest of the scene vanishing. Could this be real? The player witnesses the little girl start to cry tears of happiness and runs over to hug her grandma. The two embrace and the music in the background swells into a jubilant chorus.
Then the flickering match appears in the corner of the screen. Reminding the player that if this is a hallucination, it may soon be over. The button that normally reads "strike a match" has become "go with grandma" instead. If the player clicks this, the little girl strikes her final match and looks up at Grandma and smiles. Grandma smiles back and picks up the little girl and carries her off the streets. The happy music fades away as the two leave the game.
The scene then cuts to the next morning showing the little girl lying dead in the streets, passerby on the street looking down at her and frowning, shaking their heads. Then the text from the original story scrolls across the screen:

"In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year's sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year's day."

The last shot before the screen fades away shows the little girls smiling face.

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I think for general stories, the happiness and the victory condition should not be exclusive. In the way I phrased the concept, I let it be a case where at every level of increased happiness (or any other player-committed goals), the player does not get a net advantage in reaching victory nor further increasing happiness. In fact I think that most of the time the gameplay should have a pressure in breaking the happiness.

If Spiderman decides to tell Jane the true so that she would be happier, then it would increase the chance that the villain would target her. The villain could kill Jane, which is a state that would not happen normally.

In the actual Little Match Girl story, happiness is easy to get by striking a match any time. It was like taking drug in the story, everytime she hits it she gets happier and she nor the author minded the fact that she died, which was depicted as a happy ending. The interaction content you have is more true to the original story (your implementation actually was telling the story, whereas I just took the context).

Otherwise, your implementation of Little Match Girl would lose tension because there is no effort required for striking all the matches and winning and happiness are separate. A player would strike all the matches to see the happy ending, then restart the game and play to win. However, since the happy ending was already seen, there was no story-driven reason to win the game. In your case, the player either: Do minimal and get the good ending, or do maximal work and get nothing.

The player-committed good ending should take work. The ending does not need to be nice and happy. It could be sadistic. But even if it is sadistic the player needs to work for it, so that the ending is a form of reward instead of a result of a choice.



Game Mechanics: Free Hug

In this game, your character could hug other characters. Everytime you hug them they becomes happy (or happier). Hug is effective in reseting some character status, while happy characters stop fighting and arguing, so its effect is not merely cosmetic.

Hugging is not the only way to reset character status or to resolve conflicts. To reset coldness you could bring a heater to a character; to resolve a fight you could hammer the characters with reasons, or by using authority. Hugging is a gameplay style choice.

The action takes a few seconds but does not deduct any resource otherwise (except when your target has a flu, in which case you could catch the flu). The goal of the game is about something other than the number of hugs you give. Frequently hugged characters would hug you, when they do so you are immobilized. You could wear the "serious" batch would deter unsolicited hugs. However, if you ever hug something with your serious batch on, the batch would become invalid thereafter, and you would need to upgrade the batch to a "really serious" batch.

This design does not follow the concept mentioned before. The increase in difficulty is minimal against the benefits of happiness, but on the other hand, it is straightforward, and ridiculous enough to prevent it from being a merely strategical choice (assuming that the game does not allow you to intention start a fight, then hug the enraged if you can't beat them). If in any loop of the game, the character could start a fight, or to intentionally induce a character status (intentionally spreading flu), then this mechannic could be abused and might lose its emotional meaning. So it is still safer to follow the concept, such that there are some negative effects to prevent some action from being abused.


Comment:

I want to comment on the following because it often comes when people discuss fundamental properties of games.

Quote:
But, would a player have any FUN playing the little match girl game? o.O


"Fun" is not a fundamental design goal. Unless you consider it "fun" whenever a player wants to know how the author expresses a topic, a message, or a theme through the medium of interacion.

Whether the theme or the interaction itself is fun are irrelevant. Although this is not to say that anything mentioned so far would be in opposition to fun in any way.

When you first play a game like the Little Match Girl as described, you, as the player, does not know how the well-known story would unfold. The player is presumably working toward the good ending. Some players would give up, some don't. But none of them would know how the game would end if the Girl sold all the matches until they succeed. So by definition, a game like this would suffice to capture the subset of audience, where completion is a sufficient goal to engage in an interaction where completion depends on the player's performance. This type of interaction is a game, so unless you generalize the term "fun" to mean "fulfillment of any conscious or subconscious desires, motivation, or incidential circumstances", a games does not need to be "fun" to be an effective game. This makes "fun" not a fundamental requirement of a game design.

[Edited by - Wai on January 25, 2009 9:48:20 PM]

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You know the whole easy to get "happy" ending vs the hard to get "sad" ending is solvable... The happy ending shouldn't be the happy ending. The reason she is out selling matches is, if i remember right, to help her sick mother/grandmother. The little girl also dies of frostbite and lighting a match would push this off... So that ending should end with her going home and her mother dying while the sad ending should be her dying from frostbite, but her mother living because she got the money the matchgirl was trying to get.

in other words, victory is achieved by working hard, and rewarded, though you migh have to sacrifice. While failure and sadness results from taking the easy road without sacrifice.

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I actually agree with Durakken, Dashazma and sunandshadow. I was reminded how sometimes when you try to say something, there are always special cases where one or two words become too restrictive, although the intention was more illustrative than literal.

I think Durakken's interpretation would have fixed the reward of the game.


Now I remember more about the actual moral of the story:

The world was cold and indifferent. The Little Match Girl was a victim of such a world because she did not conform to their ways. She blamed no one, hurt no one, and sought pity from no one. Although no one wanted what she had, she did not hate them and cherished what they were that she got. The Little Match Girl was actually a story about sainthood--holding onto one's value despite all oppositions while wronging no one.

So in the full intention of the story, the death of the Little Match Gril was indeed a good ending that would worth rejoicing.


So Durakken and Dashazma were both correct: The gameplay needs to have sacrifice and the good ending IS the death of the Little Match Girl.


Game: The Little Match Girl

The objective of this game is to build a Sulphur Stick Empire, starting as a lowly sales girl at the street, using any mean possible.


The intention of this design is to detect and reward "sainthood". The player could always refuse to do anything bad and just die in a corner of the street as prescribed by the original story. However, as mentioned, this option has no potential energy because it is too easy to get.

When the player simply stand in the corner and wait for the sainthood, the game would end with a simple line like, "**The little match girl dies in the cold! Better try harder next time!**"

The moral of the game version is not just "sainthood" is good. The full intention of the game is for the Little Match Girl to build a benevolent Sulphur Stick Empire with her awesome sainthood illuminates all. The game rewards saints that actually survives or survives through other people.

If the Little Match Girl built an empire but had no "sainthoodness", then the game would end with the unsatisfaction line, "** The little match girl succeeded in building the Sulphur Stick Empire! **" The game ends with no recap and ignores anything that she did.

If the Little Match Girl fail while having substantial sainthoodness, the game would recap on the effects of decisions that the Girl made. For example, when the Little Match Girl dies on stage 1 but she gave one of her matches to the Little Matchless Boy, then the ending would show the happy boy. But that is not the "best" ending of the game. Having helped the boy and surviving would lead to better endings.

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Wai you were right- I was going more in the direction of trying to properly adapt Hans Christian Andersen's original story by implementing (what I thought to be) the theme of The Little Match Girl.
_____________
I realize I'm drifting away from the original issue of 'tying positive emotional reward with a positive performance' but I'd like to take this idea and see if we can use it in a game with a narrative involving the main character failing at their objective. Look at Sunandshadow's first post and you'll see that they've made a good point in stating that a game that ties Winning with Happiness would certainly be a restriction on the possible narratives within that game. I think the original "The Little Match Girl" story would be a good example of this kind of narrative that involves the main character losing, the theme of the story is lessened without her death. I propose we continue using the "Little Match Girl" game idea to look more into how we could use the idea in the first post to tell a story of loss.
_____________

Wai you said that the stories purpose was to show just how cold the world is but if you look at the last paragraph again:


But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

I felt the theme of the story was showing how sweet death can seem in comparison to the harshness of life. So I took the Little Match Girls original objective of selling her matches and asked the player to do the same. Durakken-there is no mention of a mother or a father and the grandmother is said to have been the only one who cared for her but she is now dead. There is no specific reason said as to why she is selling matches but from observing the girl she has no living family, is poor, and perhaps homeless. The only reason I can surmise that she is selling matches out in the cold is so that she can get money for food. She's struggling to continue living her sad, cold, empty life.
I hoped that by giving the players a difficult task and a meager victory in my "LMG" game they would perhaps understand the Little Match Girl's helplessness.

But this also raises another question: Are we still dealing with a video game if the objective isn't to necessarily win? In my game you have the potential to be a winner, but the most satisfactory ending would only happen if the player loses.

Ultimately my "LMG" game idea had three potential "game over" scenarios: to sell some of the matches and get home before dying the player sees the little match girl's meager winnings and gets to see her continue living her life, miserable though it may be. Another would be that the player died while still trying to sell the matches, the saddest ending, where the player would only witness the little girl freeze to death, lost in failure and sadness. The third ending would be the player using their last matches to experience the only joy to be found in the game. I took the practiced idea that death="game over" and flipped it on it's head. While death does indeed equal "game over", the only way to get a happy "game over" was to accept death instead fight it.

That sums up what I was going for in my game. Let's look at the other ideas posted.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think we've discovered here that by using the typical method of story telling in games (as the player progresses through the game, the story advances as well) a player doesn't feel quite as connected to the story as they do to the rest of the game. For example: games are first popular for being entertaining, second for having a good story. The interactive part of the game has the most effect on a player.


I think what we can all agree on the idea that a game in which the player plays an active and realistic role in the narrative- a much greater emotional connection is established than when compared with the typical method of telling story in games today. [IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THIS PLEASE SAY SO]




Durakken and Wai I think both your ideas would work well as a touching game, but as I said before, I was attempting to see if this narrative could be literally adapted to game form.

Durakken,
Your game could work but it defies Andersen's original story by creating a ending where the LMG would be at fault for seeking her own happiness, which might have been a good theme had the grandmother been alive and the little girl were in fact acting selfishly by seeking her own happiness. But in the story she seems to be all alone. Her only to options being to survive and struggle to maintain her miserable life or she could sit in the corner and imagine happier times as she froze to death.

Wai,
While I'm uncomfortable with the original stories ending being a typical "try again?" screen I like your idea as well. The idea that the player could help a boy in the beginning and having that result in positive emotional feedback towards the end by showing the player a happy ending would be a wonderful idea. Imagine if the LMG player had helped the boy in the beginning but then pursued a much more selfish way to complete the game. Let's say that your game ends with LMG dying; be it of old age as leader of a corporate empire or of cold on the streets of london. Either way the player is shown their accomplishments throughout their life, and lets say that the selfish player is only remembering everything they've done but it's all sad, showing only the lives ruined and the people they've stepped on in building the Sulfur Stick Empire. But then at the last moment they see the face of the little boy they helped smiling. The one good deed they did among many atrocities but it still stands out as an act that helped someone.

I REALLY like the recap idea in general. The game Marvel Ultimate Alliance did something similar: at several points in the game the player had the option to complete optional missions to help supporting characters in the story. At the end of the game the player was shown the ramifications of their actions- a particular person who's life you saved ends up curing a disease or a person you refused to help eventually lost their mind and killed two people. I found it to be a unique feature but it failed to stand out much. Most of the things that occurred in the recap happened many years after the games story ends, sometimes involving characters that I didn't even recognize.

However, coupling the idea in the first post with your own idea results in something much more interesting. By making them witness to all that they've done, the recap forces the player to reflect on their own actions. By making a game containing many branching stories the player would have trouble keeping track of all that they've done. Capture actions they did without even realizing it; by accidentally pushing over an old lady on the street you caused her to break a hip and have to go into surgery. Or by helping a boy find his dog the player unintentionally prevented the boy from being murdered- Two days the dog protects the boy from thieves breaking into his house. While these are more extreme examples a speedy montage showing all the people the player helped would be enough to make the game feel worth while.

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I'll go ahead and post the original "The Little Match Girl" so we all know what we're talking about.

Thank you all for contributing to this. I feel that the original idea has already evolved into something much greater than it once was. Please continue to post your thoughts and feelings on this topic. I await your responses with much anticipation.

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This is the original story of "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen as found on online-literature.com.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.

She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!

The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!" how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when--the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant's house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when--the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

"Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

"Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

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I think the concept is pretty well-grounded. I want to talk about this:

Quote:
Are we still dealing with a video game if the objective isn't to necessarily win? In my game you have the potential to be a winner, but the most satisfactory ending would only happen if the player loses.


Yes, we are still dealing with video game. I notice that the statement you made had a trap. The trap is that you were assuming that the player has a priori knowledge of the story and the victory condition of the game.

This trap developed because the context we picked was a well-known story. Here I distinguish two types of player to such a story:


Type A: These are Little Match Girl fanatics. They like the story so much that you could stick needles in their fingers and they would still play the game.

Type B: These player had never read the story of the Little Match Girl. All they know is that they are playing a little girl who is trying to sell matches in a cold night.


The audience we need to talk about are the Type B auidence. They don't know what is going to happen, or supposed to happen in the game. If the game does not explicitely state the victory condition of the game, they wouldn't know what they are supposed to do in the game.

At this point, some might say, "you must tell the player what the victory condition is so that the player would know they are supposed to do: and when you tell them that they are supposed to die like a good little match girl should, it is not going to make any sense to the player."

My understanding is that you don't actually need to tell the player what the victory condition is--just as you often don't know what the ending is when you read a book. Why do you keep reading? Because although you don't know what the ending is, as the reading you can feel the movement of the story towards something.

The player does not need to know where the game is heading or how to win in the game to play a game. It is sufficient if the player can feel changes and movement in the game world towards an ending.

The gist of this design focus is to let the player feel the propagation of his action, the momentum of the accumulated actions, such that the player can feel that the story is moving. Toward what end? The player does not know--but that is why he is playing.

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Quote:
Original post by Wai
The gist of this design focus is to let the player feel the propagation of his action, the momentum of the accumulated actions, such that the player can feel that the story is moving. Toward what end? The player does not know--but that is why he is playing.


I feel that this is why gaming is going to become a powerful force of narrative method one day. Shall we attempt to move that day closer now?

My LMG game would be able to be beaten within, as with your first game idea, would be able to beaten within the first 3 minutes. The typical gamer would simply try to beat the game without using the matches (unless prompted to do so through a tip). They would try and see how many points they could get, getting better with each play through. Hopefully at some point they would become curious enough and see what the other hallucinations the matches create, leading them to ending three.
The more casual gamer would try the game, slowly adapting to the controls and learning they're way as they try to sell the matches in order to help LMG survive. At some point they will see that they can light a match and perhaps try it out-maybe not to extend LMG time to sell matches, but to experiment as most gamers do-and then they would be presented with the happy scene. Having experienced a positive reaction from a their action the casual gamer will do it again and receive an even happier scene. They will continue doing this until they finally reach the inevitable conclusion of ending three.

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Also, I think the reaction between group a and group b would differ little. Even if A knew the story well and if B had not, each group would try and beat the game, and may attempt to light a match by doing so.

Though I do think the reactions to the game would be different. Watching how people play the game would probably be just as interesting as playing it.

Group A would probably love to see LMG live and would struggle to beat the game to fight against what they already know is coming. They probably would avoid striking the first match for some time, but give in eventually-just as the original Little Match Girl did.

Group B would be looking at everything from a strategical standpoint, perhaps more interested in accomplishing their original goal instead of bothering with whatever hallucination the matches bring forth. But after beating the game and seeing their score they may become bored with the game and, just for the sake of curiosity, see what the other matches create. At that point they see that the best possible ending was to just give up. They may be frustrated with this idea, but would it be because the game rewarded those who didn't work as hard as they did or would it be because the little match girl was more happy with giving up?

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For Group B, you don't want them to be bored before they start striking matches. The reason is that when that happens, they are not emotionally attached to LMG. In the story, LMG lighted the match not because she was bored, but that she was cold.

The following is not exactly the story of LMG, but it is a situation that makes sense. I intent to disect it to identify the concept, so that it can be applied to the actual story of LMG, or any other story.


It would make sense if LMG is selling fireworks while the world around her was all depressed. She runs around cold and hungry in the plaza, trying to sell her fireworks but no one would buy them.

At this point it is necessary to state the choices of actions available to the player:

o The player could talk to strangers. The player cannot directly affect the content of the conversation, but from the content, the player knows that LMG is trying to sell the fireworks, and that the people are all depressed and are caught up worrying about other things.

o The LMG initially only holds the basket of fireworks. When she starts selling, she automatically takes out a rocket. After a conversation, she may put it back. This is used to signal the player that the rockets could be taken out from the basket.

o Alternatively, when the LMG slips and falls, some rockets might fall out. The player could learn this way that the rockets are actual items inside the basket, that could be picked up and put into the basket. If the player has not been talking to anyone, the player would now notice that LMG is carrying a basket full of rockets (and other fireworks).

o When the player do look into the inventory, the player would notice matches.

o Through the player's conversation, the player may conclude that no one would be interested in buying the fireworks. The LMG is cold and hungry, and there is no food anywhere and nowhere to go. The only option left, that had yet to be tried, was to light the fireworks with the matches.

o Note that from the perspective of the player, the player initially imagined that he is suppose to sell the fireworks, not to open them and use them. However, through interaction the player learns that that goal is impossible to achieve. Here, the player is driven to the same interactive situation as the prescribed LMG, which is the moment of realization of hopelessness, with no option left other than lighting up the sky.

o The player would manually light up the first few fireworks. He player would notice, that, since no one was left at the plaza, no one was in the vincinity to see the fireworks. As the LMG shoots the rocket to the sky and watches the firely flakes, the player wonders whether it would attract a crowd, or perhaps attract a buyer from the crowd to save her day.

o However, after lighting a few, the player would see that no one is coming. On the fifth rocket, the ending takes over, where the LMG continues to light all the rockets and just enjoys the firework with her personal happy memories interlacing. The player would hear her monologue as she sees grandma comes to see the fireworks with her. As the same time, the player can see that the LMG is at her limit, because the surrounding started to feel surreal, and the fireworks were being launched as if they were launching themselves. The fact that LMG was dying was also obvious from her dialogue, where she mentioned seeing shooting stars means someone is dying, and that she is leaving with grandma toward the sky.

o The last rocket bursted in the sky. The camera was fixed at the firework. There was no more dialogue. The LMG is not talking anymore. The sparkling flakes are disappearing in the night sky in silence.

o Then the camera zooms out and shows that the depressing couple that LMG talked to, were watching the firework, from a place that LMG could not see. The camera shows their stunned expression. Perhaps because of the random glamour that had lighted to heavy sky; or the resemblance of long forgotted happy moments in the sight of the fiery sparks.

o Also watching was the boy would stole her shoes;

o The bakery owner that chased her away;

o And the landlord and carriage driver who splashed icy water to LMG and made her fall when they were riding across the plaza.

o The camera is back to the plaza sky, where the heavy clouds began to snow, ever so quietly onto the city. The ending music begins and the game scenes are replayed as a summary of events while LMG was at the plaza, with the last scenes showing an altered future for the other characters in a time they have regained happiness in a plaza well-lit by the sunshine of spring.


~ fin ~


Moral:

Everytime someone gets depressed, a Little Match Girl dies lighting up the sky.


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I like this! I've come up with another version of your story but I've had so much homework lately I haven't had the time to post it.
Could your game's theme also be stated as: "Sometimes, in order to assure happiness in others, one must sacrifice their own happiness." ?

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I wasn't thinking about the theme. I think you are correct. I would say it this way, "If you think that something is good, you should do it even if you will not be rewarded."

In the case of the LMG with Rockets, she was probably thinking that the rockets are meant to be launched, and it would be a waste. Although no one was watching, at least the fireworks did not get wasted in the snow. She wasn't primarily hoping that someone would see it and feel happy, although the structure allows this to be the case and that it could be the overall meaning of the story eventhough LMG did not realize this meaning in the story.



Little Match Girl's Memorable Night of ...:







I was looking at the pictures and I want to highlight one thing about the meaning of story-telling through interaction. In the sequence above, you see a situation where the Little Match Girl simply slipped and missed a chance. The player is controlling the Little Match Girl, and slipping is random. Therefore, this mechanics is letting the player experience "Misfortune" through interaction. Not tell. Not show. Experience.

Now imagine that as the Little Match Girl approach the couple, the couple in fact speeds up to avoid her. Then the interaction is enabling the experience of "Prejudice".

Suppose you started the design with a theme. For each theme, there exists a list of interactions that are required to define the theme. The objective of narration through gameplay, is to enable the player's experience to every part of that definition. The minimal set of dynamics that implements the definition is the minimal, but complete interactive narration of the theme.

I believe that there is a direct translation between the themes and their minimal dynamics, and I think that this list is actually rather small. Therefore it is possible to have a dictionary that lists all minimal sets. For instance, the word "Misfortune" might have this entry in the narrative dynamics directionary:

Misfortune
Requires random events that hinders the progress of an agent.

My hunch is that there is no other way to implement "misfortune" through gameplay. This is the only way, and it can be derived directly from the definition of the word with understanding of gaming relation between the player and the game. For the word "Prejudice":

Prejudice
Requires non-player agents exert hindering forces based on an assumption on the role of the player agent.

This dictionary turns narrative design systematic. "Systematic" as in a situation where a computer program could look up all required dynamics of a given theme, and define the agents and forces for the place holders of the definition. Note that once all the place holder are filled, the list of dynamics represents a complete game. This synthesis process if highly out-of-the-box in that the computer program does not need to select agents that would make sense in daily life. It could select a watermelon with the force to breathe fire. It makes no difference whatsoever to the core meaning of the game. The appearance of the game could complete absurd, but once the player start playing the game, the coherence toward the theme would stand out, because that is the only remaining meaning of the game, and this meaning, what you called the theme, exists by the construction method. The player will experience it through gameplay.


Once this translation task becomes fluent, one can see that interaction is a legitimate origin of narratives, not merely a medium or method to implement a narrative that originated from other media.

It would be as wrong to assume that people who compose an empathetical melody must first draft a literary verse and translate it into music.


From a dissection of theme,
to a dictionary or dynamics,
to an automated creation of interactive narratives.

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