the inherent problem of Interactive Fiction


Mark has a nice post about IF and hypertext-fiction: Interactive Fiction and Hypertext Fiction where he discusses (and ponts to discussions about) the inherent limitation of interactive fiction (IF), This sentence sums it up well: "[I]f you make Hamlet a game, it has to be rigged."

I am facing a similar problem with my RPG group right now, as we are trying to transition a classical pen-and-paper RPG campaing into a play-by-email-with-WiKI style game. In the classic casr I'd be the GM (game master), controlling all NPC's (non plyer characters) and the world at large. In that cae, the players can be as 'blind' of the larger picture as their characters are. That helps keep thigs nice and simple, and furthers suspence and drama...

In our new approach we decided to (party) get rif of the direct GM/player interaction, and go more towards a communal storytelling kind of thing. TO keep communications simple and suitable to email, each player will tell a small part of the ongoing story, and the other players (and GM) only correct if there are things grossly gone wrong in the scene ("my character would NEVER say things like that..."). My role as GM is now more similar to that of yet-another player and to give rough starting points to the action.

The intersting part here is that in this setup each player needs to know far more than her character ever will. She needs to know her fellow players characters intimatly and also have some knowledge of NPC motivation and background. How else could she spinn a compelling scene?

This also means that players have a far larger part in forming the world and the story. Creating and introducing NPCs, locations, plots.

We use a set of Tarot-like cards to help develope plot and action. Drawing a card can be used to decide the outcome of an action, but also to give ideas or 'ints' about the envolding story. My role as GM (as I see it) is then to take the scenes that eveolved and stich them together into a conscice whole.

This puts 'plotting' into a whole new dimension. My current campain does actually have a pre-planned plot. But this plot is more a set of concepts and possible twists than any pre-planned campain. I know what could happen, but absolutly not what should or will happen...


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