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Monday, September 18, 2006

Randolph Carter: Final Draft

I think I've squashed the remaining major bugs from The Case Of Randolph Carter. I will continue doing some final passes for the next couple days and then submit it to Slamdance before Friday. I'm actually a little happier with it now than when I completed the first draft. In retrospect it accomplished the goal I was aiming for - it proves a viable framework for interactive storytelling that doesn't require a parser or prompt for the reader-player to chew through. Instead the reader is allowed to generally just read the story and nudge things in a general direction.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't serious misgivings here. For one thing, I stated that I disliked stories which could threaten to kill you off. Then I go and pick a horror genre where over half the endings are some kind of grim fate. Also, I disliked interactive fiction which dissolved into trial and error puzzle solving - and yet there's certainly a great deal of trial and error within Randolph Carter. In fact, it's basically a series of blind alleys.

So I'm not sure I would return to this exact same format, but it's given me notes for trying new formats with similar goals. I do think that a format which centralizes around the text and not the parser is vital if you're trying to construct a narrative. It's not that I don't think storyworlds can't generate some kind of narrative - it's just that it likely won't a strong a plot driven one. I'm working within a lot of grey zones here, though, so I might try some further expirements which push the boundaries out in either direction. One might be an episodic story similar in scope to Carter and another might be a more randomly created storyworld.

We'll see. After this I'm going to focus mostly on the iTunes game. Mostly it just feels good to have actually finished something again.

Thanks again to Clamatius for his champion editing skills and Jason for the redesign suggestions (even if I just ended up stealing his colors).

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Jonathan said...

Hi Josh--I just spent the weekend writing an online engine for hypertext fiction, with a twist: the reader can add pages, branching the story in unexpected ways. And then you can add pages to what they've written--it's becoming a neat dance.

It "centralizes around the text and not the parser" as you mention in your post, so I thought you'd be interested. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it:

Josh said...

Excellent! Very neat idea. I could have sworn there was a wiki framed IF piece somewhere that also combined collaboration with text ... but now I can't find it.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Josh--I'll need to browse around and try out some of the wiki-based hypertext fiction pieces.