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Re: Defined Plot Device OR Random Small Enc.
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: Defined Plot Device OR Random Small Enc.
- From: Morbus Iff
- Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 09:36:15 -0500
- Reply-To: idrama (at sign removed to prevent spamming) flutterby (dot) com
- Sender: email@example.com
>> b) Defined plot device, or random small encounters?
>I don't think random small encounters are interesting enough. They have to
>build to a climax of some sort otherwise it's like watching a soap opera
>that never goes anywhere.
But soaps are so fun, eh? The one thing that I think works with soaps is
longevity. If you've been playing the game long enough, you know more about
the sordid affairs of the characters more than the new players. I think
this is crucial for any interactive world to work.
As much as we may all be against random small encounters (I am, to
clarify), I think that they should be put in mainly as a backdrop. Oh,
we'll have our defined plot device, but we should also have stupid little
backdrop items - if you're bored trying to find out who stole the diamond
from the museum, just go down to the local bar, and find time to listen to
all the gossip which is going on. Or read a paper. Innocent things like
that should be programmed into the game.
What we face with small things like this is that all of our hard earned
work will be ignored by the majority of players. Some won't get bored with
finding who stole the diamond, so our huge newspaper company which
generates a new article every 72 game hours is in total vain.
>If that's all that happens, at best you've got slapstick. But if every
>time that gap between expectation and reaction opens up, you can look back
>in the story and say "aha, that's why that happened", the story becomes
One of the better movies which illustrates this point is THE GATE. I'm a
big fan of horror movies, and this was one of those which had a lot of
little innocent events which later turned into a whole:
a) kids dig up backyard, cuts palm on splinter, blood
b) kids break open geode on top of paper
c) paper has writing on it from the rolling around of the geode
d) kids read words quizzically
e) kids dog dies unexplained
All that leads up to is that there first must be a blood offering, and the
words spoken, and then an animal sacrifice to call the evil demon of plot
device. We don't know that until it happens.
>If the coupling between the foreshadowing and the future reactions is too
>tight the story seems obvious (and if it isn't foreshadowed but
>flashbacked, ala "What Dreams May Come", it feels melodramatic and
>manipulative), but if the coupling is too loose there isn't anything to
>distinguish it from real life.
Perhaps, in any sort of game creation, there must be two trains of people:
the people who make the movement of the game, and the people who make the
backdrop of the game. The movement is the more important, but the backdrop
people flesh out the world in the minutest detail - making sure store
windows change with new prices, the paper shows the new date each day, and
there are enough tv channels and shows to flip through before you come full
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