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The City of IF Story Part II

 
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 5:54 pm    Post subject: The City of IF Story Part II Reply with quote

I've just posted the next installment of the five-part history of the City of IF here. This part is about different approaches to interactive storytelling.

Feedback, thoughts, reactions are all welcome.
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful second installment. The history of IF continues. I haven't gotten the opportunity to check all the links as yet, but intend to do so. I too have considered branching storylines and simulations, and have had positive and negative experiences with both. My knowledge of online simulations is admittedly limited, and I was actually seeking such a game when I came upon IF. This is much better, I think, and more satisfying in the long run.

Technicalities:
Quote:
I don't have the space for a complete record of (missing word) everything I learned.

The constraint is that the author has to (missing word) write each piece of the story without knowing what came before.

The evening begin peacefully, but things quickly turn ugly between your friends, and you're caught in the crossfire.

What about stories where you play the protangonist and you can do wherever you want?

Maybe someday stories like these will be able to be (missing word) told by a computer program...

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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another fascinating read. Very Happy

I knew there was some history behind your work here, but I didn't realise how indepth it was. Shocked

I played a few 'choose-your-own-adventure' books as a kid, and soon got bored with them (and too many papercuts from having fingers in so many places). I didn't know until I read this part II, but I think it was this emotional link to the character that was missing.

I have extensive offline experience of The Sims, a concept I still find fascinating - loving the fact that the series has become the biggest selling computer game of all time. Finances have prevented me from trying out their latest release - Sims 2 but it will happen sometime in the future.

I too was looking for a MMORPG when IF was found - in fact I was busy checking something else out whilst at work, whilst a collegue was randomly (must have been bored) searching for Role Playing games online for me. He called me over and showed me what he'd found. I read more, and discovered InterFable. Very Happy

I will be trying my first MMORPG when it has finished being made. Interestingly they have their own dragons that they have discovered in the current MMORPG market that they are trying to get rid of. Adding PermaDeath (After X deaths your character dies permanently and you have to start again) to the game instantly gives a player a larger emotional attachment to their character. Suddenly death isn't just the loss of a few experience points, or whatever you're carrying - it's days, months, years of experience.

This move, along with others including a player only economy, and settlements, are designed to get more roleplaying potential into the game, and move away from the 'level grind' that is common in the industry. For the first time none of the 18 races are balanced. The mighty dragon (ironically one of the 'dragons' in other games) has finally made it's move into a playable race despite the potential for power this gives an ordinary player.

The A.I approach sounds really interesting. I did an A.I. Module last year which introduced some of the fundamentals and it does sounds like a feasible plan in the long term. I think its going to be a solution along the lines of an E-book, written by A.I, presented in the format of a branching style book, but because of the medium the number of pages doesn't matter. The A.I would be able to remember the choices the player has made so could build in the all important emotional thread.

The A.I acquiring the sort of knowledge base required to come up with stories like this might be closer than we think. Check out Cyc and the article that lead me to Cyc.

Cyc has a huge knowledge base filled with information about huge amount of trivia. This is attached to a sophisticated interface that seems to hint at the best yet for human-computer free-text interaction. The idea - to release Cyc on the world. Allow anyone and everyone to talk, question and therefore teach Cyc. Expand the knowledge base until it has details on everything. What would happen if you asked Cyc to "tell me a story"?. Very Happy

It has a scary side as well - from what I remember, I also think Cyc is going to be let loose on the internet, free for it's massive processing power to 'browse' at it's leisure. How long before cyc learns of some of humans less pleasant traits and gives them a try - maybe lying, or getting angry. I don't know about you, but the otherside of the world or not, I don't want a $muliti-billon A.I getting pissed with me.

As Key has shown us, their is still lots of work to be done in these alternatives to story telling. I look forward to finding out how the idea of IF became the reality it has today.

Is the final installment going to be an insight into your plans for the future?

Happy Writing Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your comments. Some thoughts in reply:

fauna wrote:
My knowledge of online simulations is admittedly limited, and I was actually seeking such a game when I came upon IF. This is much better, I think, and more satisfying in the long run.


I'm glad you think so. And I'm glad to have in the City, Fauna. Very Happy

fauna wrote:
Technicalities


Thanks. Fixed now.

Smee wrote:
I too was looking for a MMORPG when IF was found - in fact I was busy checking something else out whilst at work, whilst a collegue was randomly (must have been bored) searching for Role Playing games online for me. He called me over and showed me what he'd found. I read more, and discovered InterFable.


...and the rest is history. Glad to have you in the City, too. Very Happy

Smee wrote:
I played a few 'choose-your-own-adventure' books as a kid, and soon got bored with them (and too many papercuts from having fingers in so many places). I didn't know until I read this part II, but I think it was this emotional link to the character that was missing.


Yes, I read a few of these as well. My experience was that they always seemed interesting at first, but disappointing in the end. I think I liked making the choices, but I was always disappointed at where I ended up Smile

Smee wrote:
The A.I acquiring the sort of knowledge base required to come up with stories like this might be closer than we think. Check out Cyc and the article that lead me to Cyc.


I've heard of Cyc, though I didn't know it was still around. I knew someone who worked for Cyc in the 80s and 90s (he was an old roleplaying friend). I also met Doug Lenat, Cyc's founder, at a live roleplaying game of all places Smile

All the AI work strikes me pretty much the same way. They always have great theories and great ambitions, but when it comes time to produce anything, it's much harder to deliver than it seems. So now until I see results, I just discount the theory. And this stuff about Cyc learning from the Internet strikes me as pretty weak - just because you can stuff massive amounts of information into an AI system doesn't mean that it can actually do anything with it.

I'll give computers their due, and say that I can imagine that someday computers will think, and have common sense, and tell stories, and do anything else that humans can do. I like von Neumann's quote in that article: "You insist that there is something a machine cannot do. If you will tell me precisely what it is that a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that." But he said that more than fifty years ago, and we still don't have a computer that can understand a simple spoken sentence, much less one that can create great art. So I'm not holding my breath for intelligent computers in my lifetime.

Smee wrote:
Is the final installment going to be an insight into your plans for the future?

Yes, that will be part V. I'll be pointing out areas of fertile ground, places some enterprising young souls like yourselves might cultivate. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's an article in the New York Times this morning (registration required, I think), about the evolution of AI in video games, that features a bit about Facade.

By the way, Key, you may consider donating this series to the IFTI archives. It would seem to fit well there.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting article. I feel bad for Mateas and Stern, though; the article leads off talking about Facade and how great it is, and then they quote some executive at Electronic Arts, as though he had something to do with it. They never even mention the actual creators. Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting research to get us to this point.

I must say, I've had very little experience with either of the second two alternatives. Like many others, I played the Steve Jackson books. Everything you say about them is true. I have to admit, though, that I still have a certain nostalgic fondness for them, having discovered those books a long time before I discovered fantasy and sci-fi as genres. They were the closest that I got to roleplaying before I knew what roleplaying was.

I, too, was looking for an online rpg when I stumbled across IF. It seems that everyone arrives here by accident. Having seen how much time this city steals from me, I now don't dare go looking for a more traditional online-rpg. I'd fuse to my computer-desk! So my experience with them is zero.

They don't sound as much fun as interactive storytelling though. The city of IF seems to bridge between the need for interaction and the problem of lack of stories rather well, I think.

As for A.I., techno-programs have been promising that ever since computer ping-pong and squash came out. It seems no closer to getting coherent than it ever was. The most we can expect from computers, in the short term, I think, will be little better than the Eliza program. A talented parrot, but not an intelligent design.

In short, I'll stick with IF Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shady Stoat wrote:
As for A.I., techno-programs have been promising that ever since computer ping-pong and squash came out. It seems no closer to getting coherent than it ever was. The most we can expect from computers, in the short term, I think, will be little better than the Eliza program. A talented parrot, but not an intelligent design.

I agree. After I wrote that article, Facade came out, and I downloaded and played with it. It doesn't hold up that well to more extended play; I didn't have the sense that I was interacting in a meaningful way - it seemed obvious that the computer didn't really understand me and was just going off keywords, like Eliza.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree. When I first tried Facade it was quite interesting and clever, but I soon realised that it didn't recognise that many commands, so wasn't as clever as I first thought. Still, it's a step in the direction and I'm still hoping that more independant A.I.'s to turn up, and I'm sure they will. Then I can fulill all my crazy sci-fi fantasies! :biggrin:

Quote:
Adding PermaDeath (After X deaths your character dies permanently and you have to start again) to the game instantly gives a player a larger emotional attachment to their character. Suddenly death isn't just the loss of a few experience points, or whatever you're carrying - it's days, months, years of experience.


Just one thing about this Smee. I remember PermaDeath from the Diablo games, and I thought that, though frustrating, it was still a good idea. In a single-player game. But in MMO's I just found that feature aggravating. While I agree that much of MMOing just consists of grinding, there is so much more to keep you occupied (well, there is nowadays anyway). Though some may disagree, I think World of Warcraft is the finest example of how to do a fan-pleasing MMORPG properly. When your playing an online RPG, I invest time in grinding because I want to reach the higher levels. Fair enough, but people do it for different reasons. I personally do it so that I can experience the different things that become available as you reach the higher levels. Blizzard's system for dying is top-notch in my opinion. If you die then you become a ghost. You can then choose to either trek back to your body and resurect there. You don't lose anything, except maybe a little time spent going back to your corpse. Alternatively you can choose to resurect at the graveyard, which saves you from having to make the sometimes long journey to your body, but you lose money (having to pay for damaged armor that is a penalty for choosing the lazy option) and you get a nasty thing called 'resurrection sickness' which makes you utter-shite for a certain amount of time, depending on your level.

Giving players choice over this was a stroke of genius, and it saves players from having to cover old ground. While in the future MMO's may avoid the grinding approach completely, at the moment it seems to be here to stay, and I for one do not mind it that much. In an MMO you want to get together with mates and go off together, and having a system that potentially restricts your available time to do that (dying and having to do it all again) is not a good idea, and I think it should remain confined to single-player games. That's what we have them for anyway; you invest much more 'emotional' responsibility in your character in a single-player because that's what the focus is on. You, rather than your mates, or what armor you can get from smashing everything in that dungeon. If it's done well that is... Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, my name is OmegaTerra. I have been WarCrack free for almost 6 months. Very Happy
If I spend to much time talking about it I'll be jumping (not falling) off the wagon. Laughing

I must say it is a great game though, one of the few RPGs I've liked.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read by many posting here that City of IF is just as addictive. Cool

I am enjoying the many new storygames that feature screen names from the city as characters in the story. This seems to generate a lot of enthusiasm. I know I like it when ethereal_fauna appears in a story (even if I wind up a large brown slug).

The human author can accomplish so much more than an artificial program. Even if I had very little control over what my name-inspired character ultimately did or was subjected to in a story, it was still engrossing to read.

The city as a whole has a very defined shape for very active members, as evidenced by the IFki, where much of the content is pulled directly from storygames, storygame discussions, storychat, or just general chat here at IF.

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