Interactive Storytelling

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For FSG:TG you could set up the scenario as not wanting to be "identified" by said big bad ship. If they shot at you (and they likely would, seeing as they are characterized as technological fanatics) you could evade, and likely even counterattack with varying degrees of effectiveness. But you're on a salvage mission and your goal is likely profit. If this ship managed to make it back to the intergalactic trade commission (or whatever) with your ship information, then most of the goods you recovered could be tagged as contraband and ruin any prospective trade opportunities if not mark you outright as a criminal. Normally these fanatics would just blast you out of space for touching their tech, but since your ship is likely capable of outrunning theirs I'm sure they would find other ways to screw you out of your payday, and what better way than to complain to some government bureaucrats?

You could make it so that being out of cover in the ship's line of sight would fill an "identification gauge". The longer you were the in open, the more info the big bad could glean from your ship. The enemy would change is trajectory too, moving closer to you to get a better look, so you would have to maneuver in a manner that would keep distance between you while keeping yourself hidden. Do this long enough and the ship will likely get frustrated and leave and you can make your escape.

Not suggeesting you should make a game as complex as those in the silent hunter series, but maybe you should look to submarine warfare for some ideas and why you can and cant do certain things. I allways thought a submarine style game in space would be class, poppin out from an astroid belt to photon torpedo a fleet.

I always enjoy the updates to the space game.

I think there was also something about the interactive story telling that makes a great deal of sense. Not Sure why it is so hard for things to be both interactive and fun. I suspect the problem is with me and not the game, for even in good games, I rarely AM the character, but rather play the game as I would play the game were I in the game. (That likely doesn't make much sense sorry!)

Replay value (and also altering the context) is not the only reason a player might want his choices to affect the story. Life doesn't have any replay value (and you can't alter the context of your life like you describe for Fork), but lots of people still really hope that free will is a real thing.

Also, I don't get your argument (or rather assertion) that there's no such thing as non-linear storytelling. Especially since on the next page you call (part of) Bioshock's story "completely linear". So there *are* variations in how linear or not linear a story is, then? Obviously, it all depends on how you define "linear" in this context, but I'm not sure what definition you're working with.

For keeping the player in Space Game close to the big ship - why not give them a reason to stay close and play hide-and-seek? maybe reconnaissance, or the chance to pick up some interesting things, like small fish that sometimes follow a shark. But more sneaky.

Dammit, I would have liked to have seen Fork.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
something about advanced hitscan weaponry

That isn't too far from the truth of what space warfare would feasible be like.

I still disagree with your "the killer never changes complaint". A murder mystery where the killer is always different can never have the wonderful things such as "foreshadowing" and "subtle nods". Yes, you might not see a point to replaying it (I did see one, though) because it's practically always the same but changing the killer would mean screwing up the story.'

Actually, they could have, and it wouldn't have been particularly hard to do either, just more work.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
I hate when people bring up the whole concept of "non-linear storytelling," because there's no such thing. Stories are linear by nature, it's like asking for a cat with opposable thumbs. Fork would have just been a choose-your-own-adventure book you had to read 64 times to see all the content.

I have to disagree with this. Branching stories are linear, of course. Multilinear, if you like. But truly non-linear storytelling is the one thing games are uniquely capable of. Look at anything in Oblivion that wasn't part of the main storyline, or really, most of WoW's questing - yes, it is suggested that you do things in a certain order, but gamers can freely take it upon themselves to explore and inhabit the world, creating their own stories as they go. Yes, the end product is inevitably a linear story, but it was one told with control almost exclusively in the player's hands: the definition of non-linear play.

Whether that's a good thing or not is up to debate - I personally get unbearably bored when not directed by a decent linear plot - but don't discount it as if it's not there

A way to keep players within the playing field is to say that you need to stay within a certain proximity to a solar energy source or all your systems will go dead. Then just have jumpgates from star system to star system. Seems simple enough. Also an excuse one could use to not try to run away is that the enemies have long range laser cannons that are ineffective against shielded targets but you start without a shield or have an extremely faulty one.


I still disagree with your "the killer never changes complaint". A murder mystery where the killer is always different can never have the wonderful things such as "foreshadowing" and "subtle nods". Yes, you might not see a point to replaying it (I did see one, though) because it's practically always the same but changing the killer would mean screwing up the story.'

Actually, they could have, and it wouldn't have been particularly hard to do either, just more work.

With the concept and the idea they've had, it would've been haaard.
The whole point of a detective story is that you're trying to figure out the killer.
If the killer is random, that won't work.
If the killer changes depending on your actions, that would totally fuck up the whole HR universe. IRL, the person responsible for JFK's assassination won't change no matter what I do.

The ship's got a tractor beam that can be broken by a bit of gear the player doesn't have yet. Somehting like the interdictor's in Star Wars. Maybe the afterburner or whatever is in the debris somewhere.

They're not going to find shit, but at least they're free to discover that for themselves. But if there's a big enemy around, what, exactly, is keeping the player from just fleeing to a safe distance?

A tractor beam maybe? Not a very creative solution, but I think it's better than an insta-kill limitation. I hope the game works out, looking foward to seeing some screenshots and, maybe, eventually playing the completed version.

A freeware game somewhat like the Fork concept was released last year:

For the ship thing, how about saying they have a kind of magnetic field which pulls you back if you get too far away?

I'm hard pressed to say anything meaningful about Heavy Rain, since I'm not rich enough to own a TV, and those posh assholes at Whatever Studios are too posh to release it for mah beautiful computard.

As for the fun space game, why limit ship speed? It's not like there's any atmosphere in FOOKIN SPEIS, kicking Newton in the nuts in case he becomes too awesome. That might make space flight a lot more intelligent too, if deceleration actually took the same amount of time as acceleration. Would teach people to mind their speed in an asteroid belt, at least.

Okay, he just said it was "not non-linear," like, a million times. Happy now, A1? ;) If not, I wish I could afford to fund a trip so you could visit the Mana Bar and ask him to write "linear" on a piece of paper. Then draw a line under it to clarify he understands the concept of linearity.

Anyway, the build currently consists of a small asteroid cluster littered with the debris of a crashed ship, with five salvage crates scattered around that make a little thing pop up on the GUI when you collect them. The first problem I've run into is that it's as boring as shit. This tends to be the way things go with game design; you can have all the theory in the world but the moment you put anything into practice it sprouts issues like a Chia pet.

A-freaking-men. I must have created over a dozen little projects over the last couple years that I abandoned for this reason. Right now, I'm thinking maybe it's best to go completely freeform, which refutes something I believed earlier: that it's best to have the entire game designed in advance.

I can only assume that you're talking to me with that first part of your post (thank you for lacking clarity on that). Unfortunately Yahtzee doesn't really provide any new answers. He really only repeated something he already said in his video review. But worst of all he only addressed one particular aspect of the game and not the game itself. He has still done nothing to reconcile his contrasting statements and formulate one overarching and all-encompassing conclusion. So I guess we're going to be stuck in mixed and ambiguous territory for the foreseeable future.

About the space game hitch, how about the big ship deploying a mine field into the surrounding area, to inhibit any ships from disrupting their mission. Maybe they deactivate them when they leave so they can move out and reactivate them when they are clear, leaving the player to have to maneuver through them. It could be a good tutorial about maneuvering and avoiding harmful items.

Wait, wait, wait.

Why does Yahtzee assume that the point of having interactivity in a story is to make you play it again?

That is actually the reason why I don't like interactive stories. The whole notion that you have just missed part of the content and have to replay it to experience it.

That is not what Heavy Rain was for me. I went in pretty sure that I wasn't going to play it again (I never did replay Indigo Prophecy, either, except for the very last sequence, which I reloaded a couple of times). The reason is that... there is no need. Whatever happened, happened. I haven't replayed Mass Effect 1 and 2, either. I'm still playing the same Shepard. People died who I would have preferred to stay alive, but I deal with it.

That is what interactive stories never nail. The reason characters are in pain, or suffer in stories is that they can't change the past. Actions have consequences. In videogames, you can reload or restart, so it is very difficult to convey that weight.

And that is why Blade Runner is the best interactive story ever made. That game actually made several of the branching choices randomly before the game even started. Again, randomly. Before the game started.

So you could be a replicant or not, and somebody else in the story could be a replicant or not. But that call was already made when you started playing. It was definitive. Nothing you could do about it. In fact, you didn't even know if this was the case until you had played for quite a while.

This has always been my proposition for interactive storytelling, and it's not that far from "Fork". You should never be aware of the immediate ramifications of your actions. Those should surface later on, when you have moved past the point when a reload is convenient or, if possible, they should surface in such a way that the player would never realize where the interaction took place. Sure, that takes more planning, but I'm pretty sure it's worth it. It is still interactive. What you do still affects the outcome, but you get rid of all that "gamey" thought process where people get together and compare notes to figure out how you prevent such and such from being arrested by not walking into some place in the previous scene, so the sense of loss from not experiencing all the content is diminished.

I also hate, and Yahtzee is very much guilty of this, that defending videogames as an independent art form usually means that anything threatening to blur the lines between narrative and gameplay is frowned upon.

I'm more than willing to admit that Heavy Rain is a crappy videogame. What is annoying is that there is an assumption that in the event of not being a good videogame it can't be a good anything just because it's a piece of software meant to be ran in a PS3. There are other things we can do with these computers to entertain people. We can do visual creation, like Linger in Shadows. We can do mildly interactive storytelling, like Heavy Rain. We can do abstract gameplay, like Lumines. We can do something in between, like Flower or Braid. The notion that videogames are a thing, a single, monolithic reality with good and bad expressed in terms of execution exclusively, with no room for conceptual innovation, is extremely disturbing to me.

How are you supposed to "hide amongst the garbage" if you can't ever stop moving?

I agree. The whole "gameplay has impact on the story" in never what it claims to be. I have the exact same problem with Mass Effect 2 - there was (and still is, I suppose) a lot of buzz around the whole "choises you made in ME1 will have impact on ME2" thing.
But they don't. All you get are subtle (ok, sometimes not so subtle) changes in specific point of the game, with no actual impact on the whole plot. And it sucks ass. I agonized about one decision in ME1, had to replay like an hour of gameplay to change it, and all I get in ME2 is 2 unique lines of dialog? Fuck that.

How are you supposed to "hide amongst the garbage" if you can't ever stop moving?

He could make it so that the ship can attatch to debris when close enough.
And maybe the ship could activate a cloaking device of some sorts that would explain why the enemy can't see you.

Then when they are gone, you can just disengage the camoflauge and launch the ship back off the debris.

Either that, or you give the enemy a vision range, (like a cone), that cannot look past the debris you're behind.

Fork's multiple story approach sounds like something I'd enjoy; though the exponential growth of the storytelling probably dooms it to development outside of bedroom programmers.

Best of luck with The Mana Bar and good to hear the latest about Exciting Space Game: The Game.

The idea for a game like Fork is very interesting, shame he never finished it. I always loved the story books that had things like that. It is interesting to see the development of FSG:TG through these articles though.

God I hate typing on my itouch. So annoying.

I just think Heavy Rain took a wrong turn with it and ended up in Glasgow.

Whats wrong with Glasgow? (angryscotsface)

On the subject of "fun space game" im looking forward to it assuming it makes it into the real world.

As for fleeing the big/nasty techno loving bad guy ship. I thought the whole point was the cross diamiter wheel thing whith them? How about the only way for the player to jump from sector to sector (faster than light) is to hitch a ride on one of the big/nasty ships?

Makes sence to me, living like a parisite from a larger ship, in fear of not getting enough food/supplys from salvage and at the same time frightend that the host will find out about you some day.

Throw in a couple of blind spots so you can approach/leave a big/nasty without it wrecking you and you could be set?

You're infinite bounds in FSG:TG aren't really a problem just take a page from the old X-Wing games which let you fly off into space for forever and a day if you wanted but only had win conditions for the missions back where the danger was.

It seems as though your victory conditions are a little too vague at this point. Instead letting the player run away or avoid the big ship for a certain amount of time you should make them do something more specific like exit the area through a subspace gate at the far end of the asteroid belt or gather enough dilithium from the asteroids for them to warp out or have them lay a mine in the path of the big bad ship in order to destroy/disable it giving the player enough time to calibrate their hyperdrives and jump away.

It really doesn't matter what you do as long as winning is dependent on being near to the action.

I guess I just don't see the point in this kind of interactive narrative if the choices we can make are merely altering specific events rather than the actual context.

My complaint against Mass Effect exactly. Thank you for putting it into words so succinctly.

It's a problem all games face, the claim of change and great choices (first noted in your Fable review) and then it's inevitably smashed to pieces by the fact that games have to be structed and programming that much choice into a modern game would probably take 2-3 years of solid game making.

From what I can tell, that is.

I still disagree with your "the killer never changes complaint". A murder mystery where the killer is always different can never have the wonderful things such as "foreshadowing" and "subtle nods". Yes, you might not see a point to replaying it (I did see one, though) because it's practically always the same but changing the killer would mean screwing up the story.'

Any mystery worth a shit is constantly dropping hints implicating everyone. Even people who aren't in the story. The goal is to keep the viewer/player as confused as possible to maximize the impact of the reveal. A problem is this effect can only be achieved once. A problem interactive media should be able to solve, doesn't. Whether its a simple case of resources or (more likely) a case of not wanting to spend money producing content people may not see, its wasted potential.

I don't necessarily agree on the hole non-linear storytelling issue. I think there is non linear storytelling, but it's definition isn't what everyone thinks it is. My personal definition of non linear story telling is that the order in which you experience events is (1) not in chronological order, (2) has no particular reason for progressing in the way that it does, and (3) doesn't always yield new information (aka goes through the same event twice).

I'm probably asking to be argued with though.

Columbo always reveals the killer at the start so it's not impossible to have a murder story be engaging when the killer is known but then again we're asking Heavy Rain to stack up to Columbo.

(and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories apparently does it even more, but I would remind my bothersome correspondents that third party Wii titles always seem to have legendarily long localization times and isn't out in Australia 'til some time in April)

By the looks of it it may not even hit retail shelves in Australia, the good news is that a European version will run just fine in an Australian Wii and supposedly Game Traders has import copies.

I'm surprised you haven't opted for a wrap-around system for the space game. It gives the illusion of space and freedom, but still restricts the player to one overall area.

Of course, trying to implement something like that is likely much more trouble than it's worth.

Honestly, I've always found the Insta-Kill beginnings to be rather cheap, cause frustration, and dissuade the player from trying to repeat the same narrative path (so if you want them to get close to one of these ships later in the game, they'll likely need major prodding). A player should never be punished in the first portion of the game. This was the cop-out used by developers in the early years of game and should have been Insta-killed itself.

Now, it is far better to alter the narrative to force the player along a set path, without their 'knowledge.' Dead Space's beginning handled this very well. Isaac was seperated from the group and was able to see the danger from the safety of isolation. Then that isolation - apparently - becomes extremely UNSAFE... forcing him to run like hell (but never actually killing him off). This technique was also perfectly utilized in the beginning of System Shock 2 (where it appears that you're about to be sucked into the vacuum of space).

If this initial setting is an asteroid or debris field, it is likely the Don't-Point-That-At-My-Planet ship will begin forcing the debris out of its path (by shields or blowing the debris away with very big guns). If the player is thusly warned, 'Get out of here now or you die,' they will move... usually away from the Big Bad that's tearing up the place.

No 'you are dead' or 'game over' to frustrate the player... just a not-so gentle nudge in the direction you want.

May I please make a small suggestion to the terrain problem in FSG? You could say that the battleships use undodgeable lazer cannons, but due to the immense amount of power required to use it, they only arm them when they decide that a target is a serious threat (something to do with the technology you collect). Also, firing the lazer too close to the ship would not only be inaccurate and potentialy damaging, they only fire from a large distance; encouraging players to stay as close to the ship as possible.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
<I hate when people bring up the whole concept of "non-linear storytelling," because there's no such thing. Stories are linear by nature, it's like asking for a cat with opposable thumbs.

Yeah, maby the story isn't non-linear but there is no reason the telling can't be.

Yahtzee, my man, you are wrong. I've written a few non-linear stories before. Well, no, I guess there was a linearity to the story itself, but it was told non-linear manner. Scenes were intentionally broken up and moved around out of order, the beginning was told side by side with the ending and not all of the story was given to the readers. I did this with the intention of creating a reading experience where the audience got to have some control over the story, they got to fill in the gaps with their own ideas about what happened. You could do that with a game just as easily, and, yes, I think you could do it well, although it probably would never get past the producers, who fear strange and unique approaches to making games/movies/whatever.

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