Yesterday, Chris Crawford put up a post with the following plea:
I’m asking everybody to consider an important post I have made at erasmatazz.com/library/intera…. There’s 25 years of work hanging on this.
He also emailed me the same message directly. So I had a look.
The basic premise is as follows: Chris’ long-running Storytron system, designed to make interactive storyworlds, needs a lot more content in order to show off its hypothesized strengths. In particular, it needs content that feels handcrafted to some degree, to go with the procedural descriptions of characters gossiping, falling in love, and fighting. Or, as Chris puts it,
After many years of trying, I have learned the hard way that the procedurally intense interactions provided by the Storytron technology lack the color that most people expect from traditional storytelling. There’s a repetitive, mechanical feel to those interactions, and while they are dramatically more intense, more significant, they are like the skeleton of the story, the core elements, in need to fleshing out with muscle and skin. That’s the purpose of Encounters. They provide a more data-intense form of interaction that is shallower in dramatic significance, but more colorful.
To build this, he created an encounter editor. The Encounter Editor lets people design encounters that:
- are locked or unlocked by certain prerequisites consisting of other encounters
- start with a description of a meeting with another character
- let the player make a choice in response
- provide several possible reactions for NPCs, including some variable-based probability around which of those reactions they’re most likely to choose
In other words, the encounter bears a strong resemblance to storylets in StoryNexus. The editor looks like this:
It’s a little more constrained than StoryNexus about how prerequisites work — they can only depend on what other encounters the player has run into, not on the whole range of variables in the world state.