I guess it is more appropriate for me to write about my two projects and what I learnt from them and the lectures/discussions in the class and not to forget the dreaded writings. Personally, I have never them those types of kids to have grown up with a staple of choose your own adventure books or video games. And yet to say that I am ignorant of the dynamism of games as a medium of story telling would also be telling a lie. Here goes with my own tryst with interactive storytelling so far.
What form do stories take when told through an interactive media?
As I found out, stories can be embedded in an interactive system at a variety of level. While the multiple branching nature of hypertext and hypertext fiction such as choose your own adventure books and IF are well known, my take on it is that it makes a whole complicated, long and at times boring than traditional linear narrative. May be its not the text and may be its the nature of the media. We notice that giving readers/players room to play on and build upon greatly enhances the immersion level and yet at a more organic level, linear narrative works because, someone has already done the imagination for you and you just have to follow his/her adventure. We also witnessed the classical dilemma of how much reign should the designer give to the readers and how much control he should retain inorder to maker sure his narrative is coherent and not arbitrary. Consequently, inorder make the story intact and yet branching makes it more complex to design and execute. Our first project clearly employed Hypertext linking to a massive scale and although we had a looping structure inorder to make sure that the reader/player gets to interact with more people and get more of the story before he can escape, we still found out that the story tended to be incomplete or different if they hadn’t gone through all the loops. To solve this to a certain extent we included cut scenes and a final movie montage to showcase the events leading to his escape from hell and after. Even then the nature of the text made it much more difficult for the user to get our story and not come up with their own.
In games, the gameplay itself can be an instrument of narration but as we have also discussed, even for seemingly mundane shooting game, we may be able construct a ‘post-gameplay’ narrative. Also there can be sub-plot/narratives which can be revealed in a totally linear and classically non-interactive fashion While the very nature of interactivity entails the narrative to be classically non-linear, but at a micro level we can still have narrative which are perfectly linear and coherent in itself. We are however faced with another constrain on how much complex a story can be interlaced with a game play. Since the user level of interaction is seemingly more and the consequence of his action on the story increases, so does the unpredictability of the narrative. Facade also displayed the need to seperate pre-game narrative and in-game narrative. While pre-game narrative can be told in a very coherent manner – such as why Grace and Trip are not getting along – with little consequence of the user’s action, in-game narratives are more interesting as it folds out depending upon the user’s action. This real time action-reaction relationship between the players and the npc’s is constantly defining the story as we go on. We also then can go about constructing a post-game narrative which are always linear by nature.
I guess I will leave it here for the time being, have to leave some thoughts for the essay as well.