[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

Lee Sheldon linearno at gte.net
Wed Oct 10 12:37:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From:Ola Fosheim Grostad

First, my apologies for not replying to this sooner.

>> One of Chris' more lucid and comprehensible essays, and I'm going
>> to

> The meaning of words get redefined every day. An essay that manage
> to mock science, philosophy and theology just to state that
> grandfathers are able to adapt stories... Lucid???

Heh, well the qualifier "more" is important.  But I still found the
train of reasoning easy to follow.


>> The fact is that story and interactivity/game play have
>> co-existed in the same experience quite happily for centuries.
>> Yet now people have decided there must be some new magical
>> paradigm.  It's a new medium.  All the rules have changed.  No.
>> Sorry.

> Do you have any evidence of this?

I've just returned from a small conference where we discussed
storytelling in games, both solo and multiplayer, and one of many
good discussions touched on the storytelling that surrounds sports.
The fans interact with the players by shouting at them, and getting
waves or various other hand gestures in return.  And everyone, even
the players, create a drama-like storyline as the game progresses in
the best tradition of emergent storytelling.

Beyond that we have participatory theatre from Shakespeare through
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Every time a standup comedian pauses for a laugh she is interacting
with her audience, as well as ad-libbing in response to audience
input, invited or not.  That interaction is a game played by
performer and audience with rules that can even be written down ala
Don Rickles and his Las Vegas shows.

The point is that despite the fact that story and game are obviously
different animals, and despite the fact that they may touch wholly
different parts of our physical brains, nobody (except some game
developers) seems particularly eager to reject one in favor of the
other.  We accept both.  The problem arises when one is far superior
to other in an entertainment that attempts to present both.

> Clearly a good storyteller (or speaker) will adapt his story to
> the audience, but that is > a far cry from interactivity.

Many storytellers or speakers tell riveting stories to rapt
audiences without adapting anything.  It's the exact opposite of the
comedians described above.

> Likewise, kids don't need a compelling story to experience one,
> they can create one themselves with just a few hints.  They do it
> everyday in their play. And kids love lousy stories told by their
> heroes (grandfathers included).

To defend grandfathers everywhere... they are practicing an art
forged in the campfires of primitive man.  It is absolutely
interactivity to adjust to audience prompts.  This is at the heart
of computer-based entertainment that relies on a fixed story to
allow players to feel they're affecting the story.  That isn't to
say it doesn't have some significant drawbacks, particularly in
multiplayer, but games continue to do it.

Kids love lousy stories told by their heroes?  I'm not sure I buy
that.  They may love their heroes, and forgive their heroes their
stories, and enjoy the bonding experience -despite- the quality.

>> Adults are different, less flexible imagination, but a
>> charismatic actor can turn a disconnected series of events into a
>> compelling art experience.


>> So, what is the story and what is the surrounding context...? And
>> where is the interactivity?

I've addressed this up above I think.

>> them, no wonder they are so readily swept under the rug.  It
>> reminds me of my days at the California Institute of the Arts
>> where some of the more misguided painters decided that you could
>> tackle abstraction or surrealism without first learning to paint
>> a pear that looks like a pear.  No.  Picasso could tell you that
>> is wrong.  Salvador Dali would sadly pluck at his moustaches.
>> But the question

> There are good graphic designers and visual artists that do not
> know how to draw a pear.

Meaning primitives?  Naifs?  I've certainly never worked with a
graphic designer who couldn't.  It would certain limit one's range.
(I'm not talking about photographers where physical dexterity isn't
an issue.) I can't see asking Grandma Moses to crank out some
designs Richard Hescox didn't have time for.  Although Richard would
be able to flatten perspective and mangle proportions, if a project
required it.

Can you give me some examples of artists I may have heard of?  For
example, I have no idea if Jackson Pollack studied art or just
stepped in a bucket of paint one day by accident, and hit a canvas
while he was shaking his boot off.  But then he didn't work as a
graphic designer, did he?  His work was just incorporated into
graphic design.  Anybody know?

> They probably miss the satisfaction of mastering the skill, but it
> doesn't prevent them from making art.

No, but it may be an additional obstacle to getting a job as a
graphic designer.  Again, can you give me examples?

> Great art is in the eye and mind, not in the hand.

Yes, and I have on my wall a Peruvian rug that proves the point.


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