[MUD-Dev] A footnote to Procedural Storytelling

Brandon J. Rickman dr.k at pc4.zennet.com
Sun May 21 15:57:36 CEST 2000

On Fri, 19 May 2000, Lee Sheldon wrote:
> People don't do it very much while TV writing is understood by many.  There
> will be an ongoing educational effort to ramp up writers.
> But impossible?  Nonsense.

It sounds like Dreampark.  All of the technological wizardry aside, you've
got a team of writers turned into stage managers.  You support them in
every way you can, with random number generators and prop masters and
actors, but your relying on the talent of one or a few brilliant writers
to make the whole thing work, to turn "a collection of concepts" into a

1 - This really is a structure grounded in film, and even though it may
produce a complete and viable new genre I don't see it as actually solving
any of the current problems of interactivity.

2 - I really don't know if writers can become stage managers.  The writing
process, with all those tricky nouns and verbs and vernacular dialog, is
only remotely related to the seat-of-your pants logistical problems of
being a stage manager.

3 - If I'm one of your "talented writers" I'm not sure I want to be a part
of your interactive commercial fantasy world.

4 - If I'm a player in your interactive commercial fantasy world, I'm
still a puppet on a string.  You provide me with an endless murder
mystery, where if I miss a clue I'm sunk.  It is win or lose.  It may be
interactive but it probably isn't interesting or fun.

> There was an EA game a decade or more ago that generated quests for you.  I
> think it had "Adventure" in the title, but was more RPG style.  Several
> years ago the "Indiana Jones Table-Top Adventures" did a very similar thing.

Adventure Construction Set.  Yes, the automatically generated games were
dull because they weren't well authored.  
> You don't need that many, and you know it.  And a TV show is far more
> elaborately constructed that an A/B UPS quest.  Just relate the quest to a
> larger story, like a B story in "Rumpole of the Bailey."  How many to
> generate several dozen a month?  3. (At least that's what we had.) Cost?
> Less than 3 programmers.  And since most stories/quests/interesting things
> to do ARE repeatable, and only an important few alter the world either
> locally or globally, you fast build up a backlog of adventures ANYONE can
> experience.

Yay, so none of the stories are significant.  Because the game world must
go on.  Like a prime-time drama.  Fun for third graders.

- B!

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