Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interactive Fiction Blog

                        Interactive fiction was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I remember how hard I thought it was to get through the first time I played it and wondered how it were even possible for the author to create such a thing. Interactive fiction is very complex, but once I understood it, I was very interested in it. According to the secondary text, “A Beginner’s guide to playing Interactive Fiction”, it is a combination of both a story and a computer game (Ramsberg, p2). The reader takes on the role of the main character and must make decisions to make it through the story. There are many different paths a player can take and that is one of the most interesting things about IF; it all depends on the reader.       
                My favorite piece of interactive fiction we played was definitely Galatea. Galatea was a statue that had come to life that I, the player, was able to interact with. There were many different outcomes to Galatea. My main goal was to keep Galatea interested in the conversation, for many of my classmates irritated her and she ended the game. She explains the artist who created her and how she was in love with him. She is very moody, so it is important to keep her happy and not ask too much about her, but also not to tell too much about yourself. Some elements of interactive fiction that are present in this piece are the interaction between the player and the non-player; it could take multiple paths, and may result in a rewarding experience (Ramsberg, p2).

                A much more difficult piece of interaction fiction we played was All Roads. All Roads had a variety of different rooms that you must travel through in order to reach the goal, as well as facing several conflicts each time. It was much harder to get from one phase to another with All Roads than it was with Galatea. The player starts off and is about to be hung, but must escape from the crowd. After that, the player is stuck in a room that is being guarded by an armed man and the player must get out in order to continue on. This specific piece of IF was a good guide for creating my own IF. Because there were so many different rooms and items, it gave me an idea of how to give the player hints on what to do next. Rather than just telling them what to do, the author gives subtle hints in his explanations.  
         I believe the most difficult thing about completing the interactive fiction stories is understanding what to say. Sometimes, it is very difficult to come up with ideas to say in order to continue with the game. It is not easy to just think of what the player should be doing if you are having difficulty understanding what is going on. I had to ask for help several times in order to know how to keep the game going. 
         I was first introduced to the program Inform 7 in this class. At first, it was confusing to get used to. There are so many different words and symbols you must include in order to make your IF run smoothly. For example, if you forget to enter in quotation marks in a place where it is necessary, your whole game can get messed up. That was probably the most difficult thing for me to get used to, entering in the correct words and symbols. I would go to play my IF and an error would occur every time. I would have to click on the error and view where it was that I messed up and it was usually me using incorrect words or symbols. We also had to learn how to word what to say correctly in our IF. It was required that we explain certain rooms are indeed rooms, and that some “things” in these rooms are scenery that the player cannot take. For example, I had to write, “the receptionist’s desk is scenery,” so that the player knew it was there but it made sure that they could not move it. Also, in order for the player to know that the magazines were in the waiting room, I had to write, “The magazines are in the waiting room.” The paper labeled “Getting Started with your Interactive Fiction” helped guide me through the process.

         After beginning to create my own piece of Interactive Fiction, I realize just how difficult it is. It is very frustrating, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes very fun. It was difficult to decide what my IF should be about, but I decided it would be both simple and fun to make it about a silly elderly man who is going to see his doctor about test results. Choosing the dialogue for the old man is my favorite part, as well has having him interacting with different non-players. It was also difficult for me to make it apparent to the player what to do next. I would forget that they do not know what I want them to do, so I would have to remind myself to put in clues. There are still many contributions I would like to make to my IF, in order to reach my full potential. Though it is not complete, I have a good idea of where it is going and what the goal of the story is!

         The goal of my piece of interactive fiction is to have to player be able to figure out their diagnosis at their doctor’s appointment and to determine exactly what is going to be done about it. My story also contains three different rooms and three different non-players. My three rooms are the parking lot, the waiting room in the doctor’s office, and the examination room in the doctor’s office. In the parking lot, the player has to figure out that they must get inside the office in order to check in. Once in the waiting room, the player meets the first two non-players, the receptionist and another patient. The player must realize that he has to check in with the receptionist and that he is able to have a conversation with the patient that is waiting in the waiting room. We were also assigned to put something in one of our rooms that the player can take. So, in the waiting room, I explained to my player that the magazines are in the waiting room, allowing the player to read a magazine while he waits. Dr Reilly is the third non-player in my IF that my player interacts with. She is found when the player makes his way into the examination room. Once in the examination room, the player must interact with the doctor and figure out what he is being diagnosed with.

         My interactive fiction piece is definitely more interesting as is than if it were just pages in a book. IF gives the reader a chance to put in their own input and is challenging because they have to decide what happens. Though, it has been hard for me to understand how exactly to develop different outcomes for the story.
         After learning about interactive fiction, reading different pieces, and actually creating one, I believe that it is a very unique piece of literature. It is in some ways more interesting than just reading a story on paper because it allows you to have an input in the story and allows you to interact with the other characters. I think it is interesting that different players can end up with different endings, like in Galatea. Rather than just than simply being told what the ending is, you have to work for it. The player must go through the process of interacting with players and examining certain rooms to understand what is going on in the IF. I believe IF’s give the reader more of a chance to visualize what the plot of the story is because they are actually a part of it. Though, after going through the different pieces of IF in class and thinking about how complex they were, I was definitely less inspired when it came down to creating my own than I would have been if I was going to be writing a story down on paper.  IF’s are much more complex than just a story because they must be written with certain words so that you don’t tell the player too much, but you must be sure that you tell them enough so that they can continue on.
         Before experiencing IF in Reading and Writing Electronic Literature, I had never ever heard of such a thing. My first reaction to it was that it was an interesting idea, then that it was more fun than just reading a story, then that it was very frustrating and complex. My feelings towards it changed dramatically after having to complete my own. Though, I believe that interactive fiction is a complicated way of reading a story, I think it is a great way to allow readers to become involved in the stories they read and a new and exciting game that one can learn from!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tricia!

    I have developed a basic system of Multi-User Interactive Stories and I will be running a Kickstarter campaign for it ( starting on October 1st, one week from today, and ending on October 31st.

    MyMUIS plays similar to a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, but the story can be played from one of three characters' perspective. The other two roles will be taken by other users or by a computer player. At one specific point in each character's story, they have the chance to change the other characters' stories, so even if you replay the story making the exact same choices, one of the other characters will change the outcome of your story.

    I think it's a really fun idea and I'd absolutely LOVE your input!!

    Thank you for your time and if you are interested at all, or know anyone who would be, I'd love to discuss the project further!

    We also have a facebook page:
    and I have a twitter account:
    if you would like to follow along!

    Have a wonderful day!