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Game story with no conflict

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What is Conflict to a story?

In terms of stories, what is your definition of "conflict" ?

In your definition,
o Does a story always have a conflict? (i.e. can you think of a story that has no conflict?)
o does a good story always have a conflict? (i.e. can you think of a good story that has no conflict?)


2010-12-26:

o How do you make a playable story without a conflict?
o What do stories without conflict use to attract and hook an audience?

[Edited by - Wai on December 26, 2010 10:58:45 AM]

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Not every story has a conflict, ... lots of those little shorts usually don't have a conflict. By little stories, I mean those japanese 4 Koma type of stories where it's a 4 panel comic. I'm sure there are others as well.

As for a good story, I don't think there are any, at least it usually doesn't become good until there is a conflict present.

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Some related questions:

o Can a story have a goal, but not a conflict?
o Can a story have surprise but not conflict?
o Can the audience of a story learn something without encountering a conflict?
o Can a story present an argument without presenting a conflict?
o Must jokes have conflicts?
o Can a story has an antagonist without a conflict?
o Is there a difference between obstacle and conflict?
o Can a story has a prolonged attraction force without a conflict?

o What does conflict give the audience other than the conflict itself?

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Detection of Conflict:

Which of the following scenarios has a conflict to you?

a) Alice wants to go to the movies but Bob wants Alice to stay home
b) Alice wants to go to the movies but also wants to stay home with Bob
c) Alice goes to the movies but forgets to bring money for the ticket
d) Alice goes to the movies only to find that the tickets are sold out
e) Alice goes to the movies and meets old friends along the way
f) Alice goes to the movies and invites strangers along the way
g) Alice goes to the movies and has a day she didn't expect

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Not sure what the questionnaire is all about, but a story in a game probably needs some conflict, as games tend to be adversarial, unless you count toy type games such as The Sims, and it depends how you define a story at all. A story is just a succession of events to some people. To others, it's a journey that has some sort of resolution to an external or internal conflict, generally requiring the main character to grow in some way. I go for the latter. It's not a story if some friends went to movie, watched it, and went home. It's a story if some friends went to a movie and learned something about life, and generally, we learn about life by overcoming some sort of problem.

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If there's no conflict then technically it's a 'character study' and not a story. A game with no central conflict would be a game with no story. It has been done before, like the Sims. Most MMOs also have little to no central story.

Instead of a story you'll have to find other ways to keep your player's interest.

Any of those scenario's you listed could have conflict, for instance c) could be quite exciting since you don't tell us what happens next; she could sneak in or something but e) sounds most likely to not have conflict at all.

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Re: pothb

I saw some of the 4 panel comics and learned that for them, instead of "conflict"
it has "contrast" and "parody". Some 4 Koma are arguably not stories but visual sentences, dialog, or scene. So let's just include non-stories in the discussion for this thread, because it is more important to talk about methods than form. This allows us to skill the discussion on what qualifies as a story. The point is that if you know the methods, you could still use them in creation of stories, even if you learned the method from a written form that isn't a story.

Variations of the "Method"
o Conflict
o Contrast
o Parady
o ...

Re: fireside7, BinaryStorm

My motivation is to explore ways to create a game story without using conflict. The reason is that it seems people, especially gamers, are so used to conflicts, that they cannot stand the "bordom" when there is no conflict, which causes them to seek conflicts, either a conflict that is made up (e.g. a fictional story), or by creating one themselves (e.g. drama queen).

In short, I got bored about story with conflicts, so I am looking into something else. I got to the point where I have seen central conflict so many times that now "central conflict" fails to stimulate me. So this thread is about the creation of game story that breaks that form.

So keep in mind that this thread is still about game story creation, and you could have the vision that such story still has the depth and length comparable to an RPG story that features a conflict. However, the audience is different:

o This audience is sick of stories with a central conflict,
o This audience is sick of the perspective where a story is based on unsatisfaction, where the characters must do something in order to be satisfied.
o This audience still wants a meaningful, playable, depth game story
o This audience wants to explore stories where the characters and the world is rooted in satisfaction, and how they continual to be satisfied without the need of entertainment created by conflicts.
o This audience does not want sandboxes such as The SIMs, nor the typical pointless MMO. (The audience got sick of those before getting sick of central conflict. The audience is not interested in self-expression nor "achievement".)


Character growth vs player growth

When you think of an article (non-fiction), the writing presents interestion information and perspective to the reader, who learns something from the article. The knowledge of the article author could be static, meaning, within the flow of the article, the author communicates a concept, but is not being developed himself.

Now take this concept to a story, and you get the concept where the characters in a story need not be developing. However, the player's understanding/perspective of those characters could be developing. From the perspective of the character in the story, the course of events could be mundane, but if the perspective of the character and the player do not match, surprises would still occur and the player's assumption of the character's surrounding would need to update. The fun of reading such story comes from the player's discovery of the true identities and circumstances of the character.

Source of stimulation:

The feeling you get when your contradicting assumptions about the story is replaced by one that makes the story coherent.

In general, you get this sort of fun when you learn something.


Other sources of stimulation that are obsolete/inapplicable for this audience:

o The feeling you get when you accomplish something by hardwork
o The feeling you get when you defeat something
o The feeling you get when you "win"


I was just explaining my motivation, but the thread isn't just about this type of audience, but the general definition of Conflict, its role and its possible substitutes in the context of a playble story, which could have a benefit even if you want to make a story with a conflict.

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"When you think of an article (non-fiction), the writing presents interestion information and perspective to the reader, who learns something from the article. The knowledge of the article author could be static, meaning, within the flow of the article, the author communicates a concept, but is not being developed himself."

That's going to be tricky. As with reading non-fiction, we are usually very selective. We want to find things that interest us, and that's a limitation, and it really has nothing to do with story. We already have the web and Google, so it would be tough to compete with that. All your other statements are really a succession of "not" qualities of a story, but you can't define something by saying what it isn't. I'm not sure what percentage of the audience is bored with all these story qualities. I still watch movies, read books and play games and they all have these qualities. The only thing that qualifies for your definition is a documentary, and I notice even they use story elements to keep from being hugely boring. They show a particular individual or group of individuals in crisis a lot.

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Re:

I just want to point out a few things that may be confusing:

o "Without character development" doesn't mean "without character design"

Two meanings of "Character Development"

Think of a character as an artifact, and the player as a person standing 100m away. Imagine that the character is static and doesn't move, but the story leads the player closer and closer to the character. As the player gets closer, the player sees the perspective the character that explains the situation of the character. In this particular type of story telling, the character itself doesn't develop (i.e. the character isn't learning anything that changes its life), but the player's understanding of the character develops.

The second meaning of "Character Development" is like how the negative of a photograph is developed in a dark room. The image on the negative was taken by a photographer with a certain perspective and artistic skill that is interesting to the player. The player's role is to develop that negative to see the picture.

This type of story-telling is probably most common in mystery/detective stories, where the truth had already occured (and thus serves as the negative). However, in a usual detective story, the author moves the reader toward the truth by moving an avatar (e.g. Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes). However when the medium is a game, the reader (now a player) can walk himself from 100m to 1m.

In the framework of understanding, conflict can be understood as a type of composition of the image on the negative, but it does not necessarily relate how the author leads the reader in seeing the image, nor how the game provides paths for the player to approach the image.

Just as an article and a story need to be interesting to the reader, the playable image is also needs to be interesting. So on that regard there is no shortcut. It still needs to be created or designed.




I haven't tried to define what conflict is because I want to first hear what you think about what conflict is. If you want me to start writing what I think it is it is also okay.

Some more thoughts about conflict (toward the definition of conflict):

How are the following related to one another?
o Conflict
o Obstacle
o Problem
o Threat
o Crisis
o Antagonist
o Goal


Quote:
I'm not sure what percentage of the audience is bored with all these story qualities.
I'm not sure either. This question is interesting because earlier I wrote a post that expalained "audience" can mean two things. In one meaing, a person is not an audience unless he is setting in the theater watching the movie. So by this definition, if someone is an audience that is bored, we know that somehow this person chose to keep playing the game although it is boring.

To give the situation a better perspective, the ratio of interest is not the percentage of audience that is bored, but the percentage of people that do not go see the movie because they know that they will be bored by those story qualities.

So in our discussion, these people may not even consider themselves players of games because when they think about games, they already have an expectation that games are boring. They could be people who don't even know that they are interested in games.

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I would say conflict is two or more opposing forces. These may be ideas, desires, or exterior objects like monsters that get in the way. Most stories use conflict to involve or engage the player by taking one side or the other of a conflict and trying to bring some sort of resolution or by overcoming the other force. There are very few games that I know about that don't use conflict in some way. Even a game such as building a tower would be the the tower against forces of gravity or exterior obstacles. Removing conflict removes challenge, and that really is boring for most people.

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My favourite author, John Le Carre, said about this that "The cat sat on the mat" is not a story but "The cat sat on the dog's mat" is.

He seems of the view that all stories are about the conflict between characters.

It would be interesting to see more games that are based on non-violent conflicts but I think removing all conflict removes the story.

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On the Definition
Re: fireside7

Def 1: A Conflict is opposition between forces

Do I understand you correctly that a force need not be based on intention (thus gravity is also a force), but it is based on something in the story? So for a conflict to exist in a story, the story must have at least two forces in the story that opposes each other in some way.

According to your definition, do the other terms relate to Conflict like this:

Obstacle: A object in the story that provides the force Obstruction that opposes another force, such as the intention of a character to get from A to B. If we are talking in terms of physics, an obstacle on a path isn't a force until you run into it.

Problem: A problem in the story provides the force X (such as doubt) that opposes another force, such as the intention of a character to get from A to B.

Threat: A threat itself is a force that can oppose the intention of the player from doing something directly.

Crisis: A crisis is a type of conflict that is urgent.

Antagonist: An antagonist is something in the story that can exert an opposing force against the player's effort to progress.

Goal: A goal is something that affects the direction of a force.

Is this how you would define Conflict?

Under your definition, do you agree that if a story has no opposing forces among the objects in the story, then the story has no conflict?

In your reply, you said, "Removing conflict removes challenge", this statement is odd because challenge is an interaction not necessarily between objects in a story but it could also be between an object in the story and the player, or completely inside the player. Do you want to drop this statement, redefine conflict, or prove that it is correct?



Re: Aardvajk

If I tell you that "The cat sat on the mat to wait for its owner every day and contiued to do it for 8 years even after its owner had died," would that make the statement an evidence of a story? If so, what is the conflict of this story?

If not, does Hachi has a story? If Hachi has a story but Cat doesn't, what is the difference?

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"Whether" vs "How"

When I started the thread, I was skeptical whether a story could have no conflict. I had some concept that it could happen, but was trying to seek confirmation from others. At this point, I think the evidence is pretty solid that a story does not need a conflict. With that I suppose I should switch the mode of the thread from "Whether" to "How".

I think at this point the switch is necessary because otherwise it would sound like I am trying to trap people by argument. By now the thread had led to evidence, the differences now may lie only on the semantics, therefore the gear must shift.

Semantics are still valuable to discuss but it seems that more important questions are:

o How do you make a playable story without a conflict?
o What do stories without conflict use to attract and hook an audience?



Questions that signal different responses

"What if ...?", "Is it possible that ...?", "What do you think about ...?"

These questions are usually asked when the evaluation of a concept is sought. The poster wants to know the other's opinion on whether a concept is valid, and expects people to express comment for or against the concept. This questions signal evaluation.

"How would you ...?"

This question is usually asked when a concept is well-defined and the poster is seeking ideas to implement the concept. This question signals brainstorm items and focuses on the development of the concept. This question signals construction.

Comment:

Often time in this part of the forum, people post story idea in the evaluation form, but they are in fact seeking constructive ideas. So if seeking constructive ideas is the true purpose of the thread, the question should be asked differently. Sometimes the poster originally was seeking evaluation, but as the concept develops, they grow out of evaluation mode, but fail to shift the discussion from evaluation to construction. When that happens, the thread usually degrade because it would sound like the poster is being stubborn about the idea.

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"Under your definition, do you agree that if a story has no opposing forces among the objects in the story, then the story has no conflict? "

Yes. I'm not interested in finding a case where a story has no conflict,however, because conflict is an important part of a story. It isn't just story, but games in general that need conflict, even games without story. The tower example wasn't an example of a story, but of a game. It's like saying, can a food have no flavor? Technically, yes, but why would I want it? I don't want to make stories less interesting or games less challenging. I think there are some games, such as construction games, that might be completely without conflict, however, further examination leads to an internal conflict. The player tries to make something which looks like something else or does something else, so it's still an order against chaos type challenge. As humans, we're hardwired for conflict, so even in our moments of relaxation we seek it out. Games become boring for me because the challenge becomes repetitive, and games reuse these same challenges. One game I've never gotten tired of is Free Cell. It's basically just reordering cards using a set of rules, but there are a vast number of different possibilities and it always remains challenging for me without becoming repetitive. Stories are only a smaller part of a game and can add interest but don't have a major influence on the game other than keeping a player at the game longer to see how the story turns out and also by adding empathy to the characters in the game, making the player feel more involved. However, stories also add a limitation to games. The challenges have to fit with what the story characters are trying to do.

[Edited by - fireside7 on December 26, 2010 12:01:02 PM]

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The difference between challenge and conflict (outside a story)
Re: fireside7

I think it is an argument of semantics. For example, Sudoku is a game where the player fill in number on a grid to satisfy some constraints. It is easy to say that the game requires a cognitive task, the game presents a challenge, but a "conflict"? In what sense does the exercise poses a conflict? Be careful that if you over generalize a definition, it becomes meaningless and becomes equivalent to "cause", which results in a semantic suicide (i.e. if you get to the point where two words mean the same thing, then one of them is redundant).

Quote:
I think there are some games, such as construction games, that might be completely without conflict, however, further examination leads to an internal conflict.
In this route, you agree that there are cases where an interest arises not because of a conflict on the negative, but in the player. It is in this sense that a story itself does not need a conflict, yet still capable to draw interest from the player.

I use the word "interest" here because if you call that "internal conflict", it would imply that all forms of interest are different forms of conflict, which will cause a semantic tsunami:

Old Way: I read this book because I am interested in the subject.

Your Way: I read this book because I have an unresolved internal conflict: The opposing forces are: 1) My intention to read about the subject, and 2) the knowledge that the book has what I want to read about. Therefore, once I knew that the book exists, I am compelled to read it in order to resolve this internal conflict.

Is it better that the situation if framed as a conflict? How many more words would die because of it? And once they have died, how many would need to be re-constructed to label the different types of "internal conflicts"?

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"The difference between challenge and conflict (outside a story)"

Well, I was probably stretching a little there, but a challenge may or may not be involved in a conflict and in the end, I don't think it matters. A game needs to present a challenge. A story doesn't necessarily need to present a challenge, but does generally need conflict in order to maintain interest. Perhaps you need to just drop the idea of a story? A game doesn't need it. Perhaps it's story that you find is becoming boring in a game. Games can be a very limiting factor for a story. You won't find a Moby Dick story in a game. It will be much more simple and built around the challenges in the game. Save the princess, quest for the missing shoe, whatever. Myself, I feel that a mystery story best works with a game. For me, finding clues and moving further and further into a story in that way keeps me interested, but it presents the problem that certain clues have to be found, so that makes restrictions on game play. Do you lock someone in a room until they discover a certain clue or possibly go crazy and quit, or do you make it so obvious they can't miss it?

[Edited by - fireside7 on December 26, 2010 7:21:53 PM]

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Re:

It is a little off topic, but I can show you that a game doesn't even need challenge. Such a proof is done by first having you define what challenge is, then give you an example of a game that does not have a challenge. But since it is off topic, if you take my words that it can be proven that a game does not need challenge to be a good game, we could just leave it there.

However, it seems that there is one point that needs to be clarified. This thread isn't about creating something that is familiar, rather, something that is unusual. The purpose of the thread is to explore a different type of game story. So while it is true that game stories have conflicts in general, it adds nothing to the plate.

It would be like saying all of the swans I saw are white, therefore if you want to make a swan, you better make it white. So this thread is about imagining what other types of swan could be out there. One could say, "I made a red swan and it was not good. So just stick to white swans." But how do you know if they didn't do it right? How do you know whether the color is peripheral or principal to the design?

How do you know whether the conflict is peripheral or principal to a game story?
What about challenge? Knowing that they are prevalent proves nothing.

In this case, I was motivated to explore the alternatives because prevalence led to bordom. To step out of the zone of prevalence, the first question I asked was, "whether the prevalence quality is optional or required." If it is required, there would be nothing one could do to avoid it. If it is optional, then there is an avenue for exploration.



Q: What do stories without conflict use to hook a player?

Some terms to think about:
o Slice of life
o Contrast
o Parody
o Fantasy
o Imagination
o Ambition
o Mystery
o Reunion
o Surprise
o Amusement
o Unpredictability
o Unusual perspective
o Promise
o Paradox
o Metaphor
o Thought experiment
o Struggle
o ...

For each term, perhaps think about how a story could satisfy that term without featuring a conflict.

[Edited by - Wai on December 27, 2010 9:38:19 AM]

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Is this an exercise? :p

A definition:
Conflict = a struggle between a goal and an osbtacle

How are the following related to one another?
o Conflict
o Obstacle
o Problem
o Threat
o Crisis
o Antagonist
o Goal


Conflicts needs a obstacle.
Good obstacles create compelling problems.
Threat is the possibility to NOT resolve the problem (or avoid the osbatacle).
Crisis can be a problem, or the Zenith of a problem.
Antagonist is an obstacle, or, if you want to differentiate the words an antagonist could be a "sentient osbatcle".
The goal is what the sentient being want. To have a conflict we need at least one sentient being who have a desire, a goal. Otherwise there's no conflict, only events.

o Can a story have a goal, but not a conflict?

If we're talking about fictional story, yes. But a story without conflict is not compelling. Something has to go wrong to have a good story.
o Can a story have surprise but not conflict?

Yes. But surprise alone can't give enough motivation to experience the story.
o Can the audience of a story learn something without encountering a conflict?

Yes.
o Can a story present an argument without presenting a conflict?

Yes.
o Must jokes have conflicts?

That's difficult. Maybe.
o Can a story has an antagonist without a conflict?

No. At least not in the usual meaning of "antagonist".
o Is there a difference between obstacle and conflict?

Yes, conflict is a function while obstacle is a variable.
o Can a story has a prolonged attraction force without a conflict?

No. Without a conflict the story becomes boring really fast.

Which of the following scenarios has a conflict to you?

a) Alice wants to go to the movies but Bob wants Alice to stay home
b) Alice wants to go to the movies but also wants to stay home with Bob
c) Alice goes to the movies but forgets to bring money for the ticket
d) Alice goes to the movies only to find that the tickets are sold out
e) Alice goes to the movies and meets old friends along the way
f) Alice goes to the movies and invites strangers along the way
g) Alice goes to the movies and has a day she didn't expect

A and b. Because in a (external conflict) and b (internal conflicts) Alice wants something.
On the other are only events, because, we don't know what Alice wants.

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Re: dr Jack

Do you want to provide your view as opinion or do you want to offer
it as a target of semantic examination with the prospect of better
clarity, but also the chance that some of your ideas may be disproven
as a casualty of clarity?

(i.e. May I question your definition to expose the truth?)



If a story has an antagonist that tries to harm the main character, but
the antagonist's action only helps the main character, is the antagonist
an antagonist? Is there a conflict?

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My definition:

Conflict

Def 3: A conflict is a situation where two or more intentions lead to states that cannot coexist.

Analysis of an example of conflict:

You have $3 to buy ice-cream or sandwich, but you kind of want both.

Intention1: You want ice-cream
Intention2: You want sandwich
State1: You buy the ice-cream
State2: You buy the sandwich
Conflict: Intention1 makes you want State1 to occur, Intention2 makes you want State2 to occur, but State1 and State2 cannot coexist.

Comment:
In this definition, for a conflict to exist, there must be an entity that is capable of having an intention. Two entites that have a conflict are not necessarily in opposition: they aren't necessarily enemies, and they may not even know the existence of the other entity. If no intention is involved, the situation may be labeled by other words, such as "contradiction", "collision", as applicable.

Internal Conflict is a conflict where its component intentions belong to the same entity.

Conflict of a story is a conflict where its component intentions and states are in the story.

Antagonist is an entity with an intention to hinder the protagonist.

Obstacle is an object that blocks an otherwise viable path to a goal.


Motivational comment:

You could see that my definition for Conflict is pretty specific and restrictive, yet most of the game stories use it as its main situation. What else is there?

[Edited by - Wai on December 28, 2010 2:51:33 AM]

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(i.e. May I question your definition to expose the truth?)

No thanks :p.
There's no problem to explore new definition. And I joined because I like them.
Only some question seems to me better than others. Like the one talking about jokes.
o Must jokes have conflicts?

That's good.
I suggest only to analyze a little more the question we propose. Because otherwise it's difficult to find the good ones.

Internal Conflict is a conflict where its component intentions belong to the same entity.

Antagonist is an entity with an intention to hinder the protagonist.

Obstacle is an object that blocks an otherwise viable path to a goal.

I agree with these statements.

Def 3: A conflict is a situation where two or more intentions lead to states that cannot coexist.

I don't agree with this. At least with the word "intention".
Since to have an "intention" we need a sentient being. And to have a conflict we can have also only one sentient being against a plain ostacle.


Intention1: You want ice-cream
Intention2: You want sandwich
State1: You buy the ice-cream
State2: You buy the sandwich
Conflict: Intention1 makes you want State1 to occur, Intention2 makes you want State2 to occur, but State1 and State2 cannot coexist.


Looking at your example you can also try this:
Conflict is a restriction of choices (of a main character).

But this avoid the main element. The obstacle is needed to explain the conflict, for example the main charcter do not have time, or money to have the two of them at the same time.

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Discussing the structure of a langauge
Re: dr Jack

Semantics forms a type of language. A definition can only be evaluated by other definitions within its set. For example, say I make up the word 'JedKal' that means a bridge for a fantasy language, it is not a valid argument to say that 'JdeKal' is a redundant word because 'bridge' already exists, because they are from different languages.

Therefore, by the same token, it is not valid to use your definition of 'obstacle' to evaluate my definition of 'conflict'. To evaluate my definition of 'conflict', you need to use my definition of 'obstacle' (this is also what I would need to do about your definitions if I were to evaluate it).

However, your question is about completeness--whether a language can express all possible situations. This type of question is valid and it is the main way of evaluating a language. Your question would be phrased like this:

Instead of:
"I don't agree with this. At least with the word "intention". Since to have an "intention" we need a sentient being. And to have a conflict we can have also only one sentient being against a plain ostacle."

You would ask:
"What do you call the situation when an entity is going against a plain obstacle?"
(i.e. If JedKal means bridge, what do you call ridge?)

In the language of Def 3, that would probably be called a "collision", which does not require intention. A vase falls down a balcony collides with the ground. There is no intention required.

Threat is the perception of an approaching danger.
Concern is the perception of a projected predicament.

A difference between threat and concern is that in a threat, the source of danger could move to you even if you don't move. If you are walking in a park and there is a water puddle on the side that you could avoid by walking around, the water puddle can be considered an obstacle, but does not pose a threat. If your kid decides to walk right in the water puddle, then it generates a concern (that they would slip and fall, or that they will get you totally splashed). If you are walking in a park and you see a loose dog that looks angry, that is a threat, because even if you don't move, it could come and harm you.

Other situations that aren't necessarily a conflict:
o Maze
o Obstacle course
o Journey

Do you agree that in your defintion, a Journey is always a conflict? In your definition, am I allowed to map the destination of a Journey to the goal, and the distance between the starting point and the destination the 'obstacle'?

Similarly, in your definition, am I allowed to justisfy that "I go to the kitchen to fetch soda" qualifies as a conflict? Goal: to get the soda; Obstacle: the refrigerator door that I need to open.

But if that is the case there is a contradition, because no matter what you do, as long as there is a purpose and any form of hinderance, there is a conflict. So you would have said that

(c) Alice goes to the movies but forgets to bring money for the ticket
(d) Alice goes to the movies only to find that the tickets are sold out

are also conflicts.




Def 1: A Conflict is opposition between forces
Def 2: Conflict is a struggle between a goal and an obstacle
Def 3: A conflict is a situation where two or more intentions lead to states that cannot coexist.
Def 4: Conflict is a restriction of choices

[Edited by - Wai on December 28, 2010 9:30:30 AM]

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Quote:
Semantics forms a type of language. A definition can only be evaluated by other definitions within its set.

I completely agree, and I'm trying to do it. If I made any mistake, I'll try to handle them.

Quote:
You would ask:
Instead of:
"I don't agree with this. At least with the word "intention". Since to have an "intention" we need a sentient being. And to have a conflict we can have also only one sentient being against a plain ostacle."

You would ask:
"What do you call the situation when an entity is going against a plain obstacle?"

Yeah. That's a good question. Maybe purpose could be a better word, but the issue remains for the Def 3, since the things you call "intentions" are not the same thing.
One is wider group (the obstacles) and could be a sentient beings (at least a little sentient) or simple events, while the other element (the main character) is a smaller group, who needs to be a sentient being (at least a little).
I prefer to avoid to use the same word for two different groups.

Quote:
Do you agree that in your defintion, a Journey is always a conflict?

Depends. If the goal is to arrive in a place yes the journey is a conflict (and it could be too easy conflict).
I can map also the goal in "having fun" and the journey as a choice to gain the goal.

Quote:
Similarly, in your definition, am I allowed to justisfy that "I go to the kitchen to fetch soda" qualifies as a conflict? Goal: to get the soda; Obstacle: the refrigerator door that I need to open.

That's not a compelling conflict, but yes is a conflict.
And the same events could be conflict also applying the def 1 and 3.
Intention (or force) of the refrigerator: stay close.

Quote:
(c) Alice goes to the movies but forgets to bring money for the ticket
(d) Alice goes to the movies only to find that the tickets are sold out

are also conflicts.

Only if Alice wants to go to the movies.
If she want to avoid the movies these are solution, not conflicts.

You talk about "purpose", if you use the word "purpose" as what I mean for "goal" and you said the two cases (c and d) have a purpose as prerequisite. Ok.
They become conflicts.
And they become conflicts for all the 4 definitions.
Let's use the example c:
-Def 1 (A Conflict is opposition between forces) -> alice (force a) want to enter, the cinema, or ticket office (force B) don't let her in if she doesn't pay.
- Def 3 (A conflict is a situation where two or more intentions lead to states that cannot coexist.)
Intention B are the ticket office who didn't want people who enters for free.
- Def 4: (Conflict is a restriction of choices) No money = less choices.

But Def 1 and 3 can be used also for a collision of meteors. And that is an "event" (or at least I use that word) and Def 4 is really too wide.

I think the definition 2 is the best (between the four we have at the moment). Because it imply that we needs a sentient being (at least) and an obstacle.

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Re:

Given that you now know my definition and I know yours, do you agree with this translation:

Using Def 3: What do stories without conflict use to attract an audience?

is equivalent to:

Using Def 2: What do stories that do not have entities with intentions that lead to actions that hinder one another use to attract an audience?

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Yup. Those two question can be equivalent, given our definitions. At least until you agree with me that for a conflict we need a sentient being. (Also a humanized object could work, or any animal with emotion and decision power.)
Using the def 3 you can make the question more simple and divide it in two.

Using Def 3:
- What do stories without a sentient being with a goal use to attract an audience?
- What do stories without an obstacle use to attract an audience?

Only one explaination to fit your definition:
Obstacle for me is anything with an intention against the goal.
It could be anything from an object, an event, an antagonist or even an internal emotion. Anything that blocks the sentient being to achieve the goal.

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