Good Writing (was: Re: [MUD-Dev] Role-Playing Games Are Not Dead)

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Fri Nov 23 12:20:20 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


This list doesn't have enough writing threads. :)

Brian Hook wrote:
> At 07:50 AM 11/22/2001 -0500, Michael Tresca wrote:

>> I read "You hit goblin hard.  Goblin misses you.  You barely hit
>> goblin."  This is not exercising my imagination.
 
> Um, actually it's exercising your imagination by leaving more of
> the descriptions up to you.

Unfortunately, this is an oversimplification.  To put it in visual
art terms, this is like saying that a blank canvas is the best
painting to show at a museum, because you can fill in the details
like color, etc, with your imagination.  Walking around a museum
full of such paintings would obviously be boring and pointless, even
if it "exercises your imagination".

There is a wide spectrum between "Goblin hits you." and "Goblin
dodges quickly to the left, perhaps going for a feint, but then
suddenly ducks under your weapon and twists around to thrust his
dagger (that has exactly 22 chips in the blade) at your undefended
midsection.  The dagger hits your armor and pierces it slightly,
sending sparks in many directions.  The tip of the dagger penetrates
fully and scratches across your belly, drawing a slight amount of
blood which is absorbed in the cloth padding near your skin.  Left
untreated, that scratch will get infected and fester, causing future
complications.  A new chip is added to the dagger's blade as the
goblin wrenches it from the hole he just created."  (Okay!  Next
round!)

The trick in most art is to give just enough detail to get the
audience interested, then to leave enough space for them to mentally
explore.  An excellent example of this is in computer games where
the player assumes the role of the protagonist.  You want enough
detail to have a fully living, breathing person in the game, but you
want to leave out enough details so that the player can fill them in
and identify with the character.  Too much detail alienatest he
player, while too little detail leaves them disconnected from the
game.

The moral of the story?  Get a good writer. ;)

--
"And I now wait / to shake the hand of fate...."  -"Defender", Manowar
     Brian Green, brian at psychochild.org  aka  Psychochild
       |\      _,,,---,,_      *=* Morpheus, my kitten, says "Hi!" *=*
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   "They're not bugs, they're 'place-
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'    holders for code that works.'"
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)         - Andrew Kirmse, Meridian 59 creator
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