Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Game narrative as improvisational theater / negotiation.

The current narrative systems prototype Shakespeare has been somewhat disappointing so far: the director switches, seemingly erratically, between 5-6 different plot threads, and nothing seems coherent. I need a way of (a) allowing the player to influence story pacing / scope, and (b) a way for the system to push back, to try to force some story pacing / scope.

For this, I'm looking at how improvisational comedy generates and upholds structure. You might've heard that improv is about "always saying yes," but there's a lot more to it, apparently.

Specifically, longform improv comedy involves actors cooperating to "find the game" -- to find the core of a joke. Each actor makes "offers" to expand upon a premise and move action forward, hopefully toward a funny destination, and usually, actors err on always accepting offers ("saying yes") and building upon it since "blocking" offers frustrates your scene partners. However, it's very possible to "say yes" to a premise while still "blocking" the "game."

Here's an explanation from an NYC improv comedy personality, Will Hines:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Narrative systems workflow; using Fourier analysis and level design metaphors to systemize stories.

This assumes familiarity with Shakespeare, a procedurally-branching narrative system that I'm designing. For an overview / introduction, read "More talk, more rock."

I started by arguing that interactive fiction's narrative systems expose too much complexity and detail to its authors and players, or at least more than most people need or want. With Shakespeare, I hope to achieve just a fraction of that functionality, and I think that fraction is enough to be very compelling while facilitating a writer's work.

In engineering Shakespeare, I think of the system in four parts:
a) The real-time system that runs algorithms, interfaces with the game as the player plays.
b) The data / format of narrative itself, how it's structured.
c) The Unity editor interface for generating, editing, or creating the narrative data.
d) The suggested workflow / instructions for using that interface.

Now that I have enough of a base implemented, I'm starting to think more about that last part, the operations design. Roughly, I think the tool could work like this:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What games can learn from Sleep No More (part 2): specific and spoilery design observations

SPOILER WARNING: this will definitely ruin the novelty of the show for you. Read further only if you have no intention of ever going to see this. Ever. Yes, it's worth it. If you live in New York City or nearby and can afford it, you should go, otherwise you're an idiot. Non-spoilery Part 1 offers a general overview.

Sleep No More starts like this: You wait in line for a while. It's probably a bit cold.

You walk down a long, dark hallway. You wait in line to check your coat.

Then you walk up to a contemporary-looking reception desk and give your name / reservation.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What games can learn from Sleep No More (part 1): the death of environmental storytelling.

Part 1 contains VAGUE SPOILERS, as if your friend had gone to Sleep No More and told you about it, or as if you had read a news article about it.

Although there have been many past theater productions that have done generally what it does, Sleep No More is what's going to be most prominent in history. It's basically a 5 floor tall, 100 room haunted house with dancers wordlessly performing a loose adaptation of Macbeth throughout the maze -- and you and everyone else are wearing masks, staring and shuffling silently through the halls. It transforms contemporary theater and dance into something relevant for people who'd otherwise see little value in it.

I value it mostly for its interaction model and the ways it uses architecture in specific ways; it is what happens when outsiders use level design concepts better than video games ever have. First I'd like to debunk what I consider to be the "conventional reading" of it and its relevance to video games, as argued by game critics.