What do you guys feel are the major differences between writing a divergent narrative and a linear one? Or even from the opposite end of the spectrum, from running a tabletop RPG?
If we want to start carving out some new rules for game writers, this is where we need to start. Here''s one I like, somebody in the Design Forum said it (i foget who! Sorry...)
"(Creating) an interactive story (will be) about what you DON''T write, not what you do..."
Now in all of your various personal experiences, what other little nuances have you noticed about game writing that we all might find interesting?
One of the major differences I notice is that you have to tolerate a lot more of what I think of as "sim-ness" with CRPGs and table top RPGs. Natural player experimentation and exploration can throw off pacing and narrative flow, and as a GM I had to learn ways to accomodate this.
Another obvious difference is the high degree of variability, which is the essence of freedom that''s so essential to many games. When I read a good story, it''s so good because it could only happen the way that it happened. MacBeth misreads the witches; Othello gets drawn into Iago''s trap; Luke must inevitably face Vader (heh )
So a big challenge is to make this happen without the player chaffing at being forced down a particular path (the key word being ''forced'' ... willingness is A-OKAY)
BTW, another area where these two fields are very similar is backstory. Anywhere part of the story that the player can''t touch (setup, history, universe background) is fair game for standard creative writing that can enrich the game. I for one enjoy reading well written future histories, and logs and notes that surround a mystery (like in System Shock) are great for atmosphere. (Just don''t make them critical to read if you''re doing a standard game, because you''ll piss of players who don''t want to go searching through the prose for a few hints.)
Well, I''ll talk about my own few experience in P&P RPG. Linear scenarios are quite boring, you simply write it like a theatre piece. The great advantage is that you can do real nice descriptions (pre written), and real deep characters (because they are central). But in case where a player wants to step out of the line, you have to have either some balls and go improvise, slowly bringing him back on *your* tracks, or you have to slap them and show them the sign saying ''scenario ahead, that way'' ... lame, but works on beginners.
For more experienced (and I haven''t done a lot of those), open ended scenarios are not really that different. you have got a ''normally this is what happen'', a bunch of locations that might or might not be visited, a bunch of cool NPC you might use, and there you go, most of it is about improvising.
So to come back to yor question, the first type, the linear, is a bit more easy in the sense that you concentrate on some areas, and more often than not, you don''t really have to make somethiing believable, nor deep, jsut something that look the way you want for the effects you want. A bit like a Hollywood scene, where only the front of the buildings is built, the back is empty... For an open ended, it''s more challenging, but more easy, because you have to create a consistency in your scenario. you have to think about details that ''make real'' and thus, it becomes easier to improvise as you have a logic to refer to (well, it''s a snowy region, so if they really want to on in those woods I didn''t prepare, they might encounter some timber wolves ...)
The great thing, and difference, with P&P RPG, is that the players are not only free to move wherever they want, but they are free of their *ACTIONS*, and that''s the major advantage over computers. As long as we keep having a so limited set of possible actions to do on the environment, the problems will stay. In a P&P RPG, the players don''t mind being in a linear story, because even there, they can do pretty much what they want with everything around them.
I guess I would be the more experienced gamers. A few points...
I found out in my 11 years of tabletop gaming that less is more when it comes to scene descriptions. I try and write them like a Scene in a Screenplay (plenty available for free on the net if you want to hone your GMing skills.) Only describe the prominant or relevant elements of the scene and get all your flavor THROUGH them somehow. Never waste an entire sentence on setting mood.
This makes for great tabletop games. Needless to say, it''s kindof a waste of time to write designs like this, since most level designers don''t know how to interpret scripts like a prop or scenery director. They might benefit from it, though...
It''s interesting, I tend to write those "possible" scenes you talk about. I suppose that''s pretty close to CRPG writing.
I''m personally a big fan of free-form roleplaying, and I''ve run a few of those games with GREAT success ( Quake, the RPG anyone? Try mimicking the sound of a grenade falling, giving your players five seconds while they ask you "what the hell was that?" and then say "BOOM!", they''ll know what it was then )
Writing the "possible" scenes in your head or on paper would equate on the pc with it predicting what action you are LIKELY to take - based on your previous actions and such. That way, it could spend a lot of processor time fleshing out a possible future scene, so when you get there, it is highly detailed and rich...
People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. ~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~