Where Next?


Well, I have essentially one more core component to do. Water is working great, did a few tweaks today to the texturing, nothing too major though. So, what is that? Well, flying monsters of course!

I have by now a really good idea how to go about doing this, but I'm a bit bored/tired today so probably won't do that much work on it. Instead maybe I'll go for a bike ride hmm? Anyhow, once that is done, I have to really start to look some more at story.

I have a lot of ideas for story. I think a compelling story is still (yes (really (I mean it))) kind of underrated in game design. Most games have pretty bland stories, like most movies. Games or movies that have truly original stories -- and when I talk about story I do *NOT* mean just plot, I mean setting, mood, style, whatnot -- tend to do very well. Unless they are just a bit too wierd, I suppose.

More to the point, I think that it is a mistake to look at game story in the same way you look at narratives. Games are capable of telling a narrative, but, the bottom line is that they are actually kind of ill suited for this sort of linearity (as a rule). That may sound kind of bizarre, but if you sit to program a game's story, you realize how true it. You have to take what is, at it's core, a nonlinear thing, and turn it into a linear one. So you break it up into many nonlinear sections which link together in a certain order. Or, you try and work out certain events which must be completed in order, and then "herd" the player in that general direction, possibly giving them other alternatives as they go along.

I really want to create something new with vex, so, I think I should start to think in terms of a nonlinear narrative, what that REALLY looks like -- not a linear narrative made to work in a nonlinear framework, or a several nonlinear sections strung together into a linear framework. A true, nonlinear narrative. The truth is, when I solve this problem I think it will actually be easier to implement given the particular constraints of vex, autogen in particular. If I do it wrong, it could really derail the project both in terms of timeline, as I am hunting down very costly, hard to pinpoint autogenerated story bugs, and also in terms of quality, since I really can't probably generate a very good linear narrative.

Maybe it isn't right even to call it a narrative. I don't know! Remember vex is an experiment in existentialism, that is, the players themselves are supposed to find meaning, without it being (too much) thrust upon them. This is sort of key; story elements should not be focused on getting the player to do a certain thing, but instead in responding in some way to what they do.

So starting now I'll sit down (or hike around) and think about possible frameworks for building this nonlinear nonnarrative.

2004-03-26


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