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Re: Film Noir Simulation

Dan wrote:

>So having a two-layered system, one the classic lemonade stand
>simulation/game which the player interacts with as they try to build
>their crime empire, and another as the story of the detective as the
>detective interacts with the world that the player is involved in
>(although not necessarily with the player) seems to have some
>conceptual merit. You can extract elements of the simulation play to
>look for cues on how to better pace the storytelling without actually
>having to make the story interactive.

This sounds like a variation, possibly a very interesting one, on the usual 
detective-story technique, which is to juxtapose simulator interaction 
between the detective/player and the setting (an interactive non-story) with 
the narrative of the events the detective is uncovering (a non-interactive 
story). When well crafted this can be very effective (Myst did it, and so did 
Half-Life), but of course it's a cheat as far as real interactive 
storytelling is concerned.

Your variation, if I understand it right, would be to let the player play in 
a simulated world in typical fashion (with the usual get-to-be-top-dog 
objectives and game play), but include in that world a detective non-player 
character who follows the player's career. By uncovering, that is, retelling, 
the player's story a few moves behind, the detective character would perhaps 
give the player a better sense of his evolving history as a story. (The 
detective, of course, could also be a useful game mechanism, presenting the 
danger of "getting too close" and ending the player's career.) Also the 
developer could experiment with the process of how the detective's story is 
generated, perhaps learning how to make the detective's story "a better 
story" in its own right.

So far I've just restated what (I believe) Dan said. Let me try to boil down 
the concept further. Design an Erasmatron world with (of course) multiple 
characters. In doing so, single out one non-player character, and try to add 
rules to the storyworld that makes that character's story a better narrative. 
(If necessary, include constraints that prevent the player-character from 
interacting directly with the special character. Or run the engine with no 
player character at all.) This could in principle be easier than trying to 
design rules to make a player-character's story a better narrative.

There are a few pitfalls to avoid. For example, if the technique for 
improving the special NPC's story involved significantly curtailing that 
character's choices, then you could end up with a technique that would not be 
applicable to player characters. I can't really decide whether working from 
the "special NPC" angle would really represent a significantly easier task or 
not. It might be just as instructive, and no more difficult, to work directly 
on the quesiton of "How should player characters be different in 
implementation from NPCs to improve the player's experience?" On the other 
hand, it seems pretty likely you'd learn a lot in the process, either way.

Get well soon, Dan!

- Walt