[MUD-Dev] Player Manipulation of Environment/New Laws

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Mon Dec 3 14:05:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Bruce Mitchener wrote:
> Paul Schwanz wrote:

>> I think this is a result of the fact that MUDs offer player
>> interactivity while narratives impose authorial will.

> I'd like to know how strongly you feel that narratives impose
> authorial will.  A narrative need not be a written work or one
> that is published from some original work.  Narrative also
> includes the art of storytelling, tracing its roots back to
> primitive man and someone telling a story to an audience.  Telling
> a sotry to an audience can be a highly interactive experience,
> with the audience assisting in moving the story along, helping
> make choices in the path of the story.  Try telling a story to a
> child one day. (Or look at the opening to Pinocchio for a play on
> this.[1])

First, I apologize for the delay in responding to this.  It seems a
number of interesting topics on this list and others have been
demanding my attention of late.  This is a good thing, but I tend to
want to respond more than I am practically able.

Also (while I am treading close to the signal/noise line), I wanted
to say that I have really appreciated the way you often reference
specific research in your posts.  I think this tends to lend
intellectual legitimacy not only to your particular points, but also
to this list and to game design in general.  Sometimes I need the
reminder that game (and particularly MUD) design involves real
science and can even offer significant research back to other
scientific endeavors.

Now, to address you question, I don't believe that narratives must
impose authorial will.  My original statement was not worded well,
since it would tend to indicate otherwise.  It is, however, that
narrative which does impose authorial will that I see as
antithetical to interaction.

As for improvisation, it seems to me that its utility as a valid
storytelling method tends to diminish as the audience is expanded.
As a storyteller, responding interactively to one child is surely
much different than trying to respond simultaneously to the
interaction of thousands of listeners.  But maybe in the case of
thousands, improvisation can still be utilized at a much higher
level.  Even here, though, I think its utility is lessened, mainly
because I believe it is much easier to know and understand and thus
interactively satisfy the interests of one child than it is to try
to ensure that you won't alienate hoards of listeners who don't
particularly care for the way you've interfered with their

> Depending on how you look at this, you can relate it back to what
> I was speaking about in an earlier post last week about open texts
> and open environments.

I thought that post was very interesting.  I think that developers
should look more deeply into methods for evoking or provoking a
story without directly telling one.  To me, its evocative or
provocative nature is one of the things that makes art interesting.
(On the other hand, sensationalism for its own sake is a real
turn-off to me.  But I'm moving toward noise again.)


> [1]: http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/C_Collodi/The_Adventures_of_Pinocchio/CHAPTER_1_p1.html

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