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Second Person

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

184

Aeonite writes "As we all learned in English class, there are three points of view one can employ when writing: first person ("I learned"), second person ("You learned"), and third person ("He learned"). You are about to read a review of Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, a book that addresses the use of second-person narration in games and related media. You are also likely to be eaten by a Grue." Read below for the rest of Michael's review.As Wikipedia helpfully points out, the second-person POV is not common in literary fiction, but it is fairly common in other forms of media, including the subject of this book; namely, interactive fiction (IF), role-playing games (RPGs) and other game-related fictions where the "reader" is generally an active participant in the story, either literally or virtually.

To that end, co-editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin have collected 47 essays on various topics related to the second-person, dividing the lot up into three sections covering "Tabletop Systems," "Computational Fictions," and "Real Worlds" (the latter somewhat of a misnomer, as you will soon see). The essays range in tone from highly informal to quite technical, from practical to theoretical, and (in the tradition of old Infocom games) from terse to verbose, the sole uniting theme being the focus on You.

Section One, "Tabletop Systems," contains 15 essays devoted to a discussion of traditional, old-school RPGs, including standout bits penned by the likes of Greg Costikyan, George R. R. Martin, Erik Mona and Ken Hite. It's the most accessible part of the book, and without a doubt my favorite.

Costikyan's "Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String," starts out with a discussion of the early days of the pen-and-paper industry and their influence on interactive fiction, and moves all the way to MMOs and the current indie RPG movement, spending some time on Paul Czege's My Life with Master. It provides a good overview of the IF industry in its entirety, and might have fit better as a sort of "meta-essay", but still works here as a good introduction and exploration of many of the issues surrounding game narrative, player freedom and IF in general.

Erik Mona and Ken Hite's pieces are more on target. Mona's "From the Basement to the Basic Set: The Early Years of Dungeons & Dragons takes D&D up to the late 70s just before it split into D&D and AD&D, providing an interesting historical perspective on the Gygax-Arneson years. Hite's "Narrative Structure and Creative Tension in Call of Cthulhu talks about the evolution of language within various editions of the CoC RPG, as well as the standardized form of their adventures, and how these things serve to create a narrative tension that has helped the game survive and prosper.

One essay worth mentioning for its terseness is Jonathan Tweet's essay on character creation in Everway, barely managing two pages, and then only by the addition of four pieces of artwork. Another oddity is Rebecca Borgstrom's "Structure and Meaning in Role-Playing Game Design", which addresses Exalted's story structure; the piece is filled with numerous subheadings and language that occasionally makes it read like an outline or a proposal, rather than a finished piece (e.g., repeated references to "this chapter" such as "This chapter views gaming as a computational process."). Both pieces are written well and cover interesting material, but feel unfinished in their own ways.

Other essays in this first section discuss the World of Darkness and the Storyteller system, storytelling and collectible card games (in particular, A Game of Thrones and Call of Cthulhu), Arkham Horror, Mystery of the Abbey, George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards books, and the gamebook On Life's Lottery. Not discussed, and notable by their absence: Steve Jackson Games, and any edition of Dungeons & Dragons after 1980.

Section Two, "Computational Fictions," is comprised of 17 essays by authors including Jordan Mechner, Chris Crawford, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. The material here is somewhat denser and more technical, but aside from some linguistic stumbling blocks it's also filled with excellent insights.

Mechner's essay on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opens things up with an excellent look at the making of a video game: rules, some broken; discussion of how dialogue works within the context of a game; even a sample from a dialogue spreadsheet that shows why screenplay format is inappropriate.

Somewhat crunchier are essays by Chris Crawford ("Deikto: A Language for Interactive Storytelling") and D. Fox Harrell ("GRIOT's Tales of Haints and Seraphs: A Computational Narrative Generation System"). The former discusses Crawford's early attempt to draft something akin to a programming language for IF, complete with flowchart diagrams and pidgin-sounding syntax, such as "Mom command Billy that Billy not go to lake." Harrell's essay likewise talks about "developing computational techniques for representing an author's intended subjective meaning and expression." Yikes.

The longest piece, "Writing Facade: A Case in Procedural Authorship" by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, discusses Facade, a game wherein the player can either break up or save the marriage of a digital couple. Ample screenshots and samples from the game accompany an explanation of the situation as it unfolds, with later discussion of the procedural architecture and subsystems behind the game. It's an excellent piece that nicely ties together what a player sees with what a developer has to deal with.

Aside from the generally less accessible language, the section's only major flaws are that the essays from Steve Meretzky (on Floyd from Planetfall) and Lee Sheldon (on the computer adaptation of And Then There Were None) are rather terse considering the rich subject matter. Surely Floyd and Agatha Christie deserve more than a couple of pages a piece.

Other games discussed in this section include the Flash storytelling game Solitaire, Book and Volume, Shade, Savior-Faire, the somewhat surreal art piece Pax, the hypermedia Magritte-esque work The Brotherhood of Bent Billiard, the cinematic Mission to Earth, the audiovisual hypertext Juvenate, Twelve Easy Lessons to Better Time Travel, The Breakup Conversation and the multiplayer IF The Archer's Flight.

The third and penultimate section, "Real Worlds", focuses on shared, IF experiences, the unifying factor being a persistence that runs counter to the transience experienced in both weekly RPG sessions and most computer games. Despite the section title, virtual worlds and MMOs are also discussed here by the likes of essayists including John Tynes, Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca. For the most part the material is engaging and interesting, if a bit esoteric at times.

John Tynes' "Prismatic Play: Games as Windows on the Real World" explores escapism and engagism in games as diverse as D&D, Millennium's End and his own Unknown Armies, concluding that engagist works are those that expand our knowledge through immersion in real world ideas and cultures as opposed to escapist frolicking in EDO (Elf-Dwarf-Orc) fantasy games. As an interesting not-quite-counterpoint, Sean Thorne covers John Tynes' Puppetland in the next essay, and discusses how he incorporated the rather escapist game into a writing curriculum for his eleven-year-old students.

Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca include an essay titled "Video Games Go to Washington: The Story Behind the Howard Dean for Iowa Game," which is about as self-explanatory as a title gets. The duo discuss the launch of the game in December of 2003, development challenges and time constraints, demographics and politics, and provide an excellent post-mortem on the game and its effects (or lack thereof) on Dean's campaign.

Several chapters in a row delve into fantasy MMOs, including World of Warcraft. Torill Elvira Mortensen's "Me, the Other" talks about role-playing in MMOs, the difference between IC and OOC and the controversy of role-playing (which seems somewhat anachronistic; aren't people more worried about GTA than D&D nowadays?). Jill Walker's essay covers Quests in World of Warcraft, and how they introduce and support the overall storyline. Celia Pierce and her alter-ego Artmesia discuss(es) social identity and persistence in exploring the case of Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, an MMO that, when it shut down, caused its player base to propagate to other MMOs such as Second Life and There to keep the community alive.

The one odd bit here is a chapter on Santaman's Harvest by Adrine Jenik, an exploration of a digital performance piece from Desktop Theater that includes more sidebar than text as it reprints dialogue from the play ("sman:: Think Big; farmer #1: Big?").

Other essays discuss the use of role-play in prepping political canvassers, Nick Fortgno's A Measure for Marriage LARP, the evidently crass unexceptional.net ("Guy playing with himself," reads a part of one caption), the Boston-based Itinerant, the I Love Bees ARG, the basic rules of Improv Theater, the interactive play Adventures in Mating, and the collaborative work Eliza Redux, "an interactive telerobotic work couched in a virtual graphical representation of a psychoanalyst's workplace" as well as a revisitation of the Eliza program.

The book's rather sizable Appendix includes three playable tabletop RPGs: Puppetland by John Tynes, wherein players take the roles of puppets; Bestial Acts by Greg Costikyan, which is based on the dramatic theories and aesthetic of Bertolt Brecht; and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen by James Wallis, a tale-telling game written from the first person perspective of the Baron himself. This is followed by biographies of the contributing authors and a helpful index, always a good thing to see in a book of this size and density.

As is often the case, the book's back cover copy is at best misleading; though terse, it manages inaccuracy in saying that the book features "three complete tabletop role-playing games." However, Costikyan's "Designer's Note" for Bestial Acts on page 357 explicitly says "I've never bothered to finish writing up acts II and III." Not quite complete, then. The same error is reprinted on the front flap; a minor gaffe, but noticeable in a book with few other notable flaws save a few silly typos in obvious charts and tables: "Challange" instead of "Challenge", "real-rime" instead of "real-time." But this is nitpicking. As a whole the book is well-edited, well-laid out and amply illustrated to boot, with over 200 images; would that they were in color.

My only real complaint is not with anything in the book, but with the underlying assumption — prevalent in many places, touched upon here in the jacket copy, and assumed to some degree in many of the essays — that the gaming industry is still an "emerging field" that needs to prove its own maturity. While it might be true that not much in the way of academic discussion exists when it comes to games, it still seems all too comfortable to continue hiding in the soft golden field of "emerging." How much longer can the industry (of which I consider myself a part) continue to use that word?

Consider television in the '50s after it got through its own period of emergence and acceptance: shows like Candid Camera, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and Break the Bank were on the air. And 60 years later, what do we have? Shows like America's Funniest Home Videos, American Idol and Deal or No Deal. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Pick any medium and you'll find much the same — for every Citizen Kane there will be a dozen Scary Movies; for every Empire Falls there will be fifty Da Vinci Codes.

Pong was emerging; Zork was emerging. We are no longer emerging — we have emerged. Sure, we have quests in World of Warcraft where you have to collect poop, but we also have Portal; we have the Hot Coffee mod in GTA: San Andreas, but we also have a Dystopian Objectivist narrative in Bioshock.

The 47 essays and 3 games in this excellent book show us where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed when it comes to role-playing games and interactive fiction. That's 50 pieces of evidence to prove the case that gaming is as deserving of attention, acclaim and criticism as any other medium. As an industry, we've been emerging for 35 years now; by my reckoning, that puts us squarely into adulthood. Let's start acting like it.

You can purchase Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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184 comments

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You didn't read the article (5, Funny)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303182)

Which is why you don't have anything insightful to say about it.

Re:You didn't read the article (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303286)

You don't need to RTFA, because after all, you are the 2006 Time Person of the Year.

Re:You didn't read the article (1)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303388)

Your joke was funny, not offtopic at all.

Re:You didn't read the article (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303548)

You must be new here. (Hey, that's ontopic on this thread!)

Re:You didn't read the article (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303620)

You, for one, welcome your second personal overlords.

Re:You didn't read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303834)

In Soviet Russia, I say You!

Re:You didn't read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304078)

In South Korea, only old people Youse email.

Re:You didn't read the article (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303894)

You, for one, welcome your second personal overlords.
Oh, is that what you call remarrying these days?

Re:You didn't read the article (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304654)

No, no, that's what they call having a kid.

(or for some people, getting a very important pet)

Re:You didn't read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303846)

I was tempted to put that on a resume.

Re:You didn't read the article (5, Funny)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303588)

You use JOKE on SLASHDOT.

SLASHDOT doesn't understand JOKE.

A HUMORLESS MODERATOR attacks! A HUMORLESS MODERATOR does 1 (Offtopic) damage.

You are in a room. You are alone. You are so very alone. Obvious exits: COMPUTER, DOOR, SLEEPING PILLS AND JOSE CUERVO.

Re:You didn't read the article (1)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303640)

EAT ANALGESIC

Choose your own adventure (4, Funny)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303980)

To leave the room, turn to page 63.
To take some pills, turn to page 72.

I do miss those books.

Re:You didn't read the article (3, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304912)

In Soviet Russia, a grue is likely to be eaten by YOU!!

Posting AC to prevent perceived karma-whoring (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304552)

Just in case the server gets /.ed, I'm posting full text of the review. Cuz, ya know, this looks like such a hot topic.

summary
An exploration of the "You" in RPGs and Interactive Fiction

As Wikipedia helpfully points out, the second-person POV is not common in literary fiction, but it is fairly common in other forms of media, including the subject of this book; namely, interactive fiction (IF), role-playing games (RPGs) and other game-related fictions where the "reader" is generally an active participant in the story, either literally or virtually.

To that end, co-editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin have collected 47 essays on various topics related to the second-person, dividing the lot up into three sections covering "Tabletop Systems," "Computational Fictions," and "Real Worlds" (the latter somewhat of a misnomer, as you will soon see). The essays range in tone from highly informal to quite technical, from practical to theoretical, and (in the tradition of old Infocom games) from terse to verbose, the sole uniting theme being the focus on You.

Section One, "Tabletop Systems," contains 15 essays devoted to a discussion of traditional, old-school RPGs, including standout bits penned by the likes of Greg Costikyan, George R. R. Martin, Erik Mona and Ken Hite. It's the most accessible part of the book, and without a doubt my favorite.

Costikyan's "Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String," starts out with a discussion of the early days of the pen-and-paper industry and their influence on interactive fiction, and moves all the way to MMOs and the current indie RPG movement, spending some time on Paul Czege's My Life with Master. It provides a good overview of the IF industry in its entirety, and might have fit better as a sort of "meta-essay", but still works here as a good introduction and exploration of many of the issues surrounding game narrative, player freedom and IF in general.

Erik Mona and Ken Hite's pieces are more on target. Mona's "From the Basement to the Basic Set: The Early Years of Dungeons & Dragons takes D&D up to the late 70s just before it split into D&D and AD&D, providing an interesting historical perspective on the Gygax-Arneson years. Hite's "Narrative Structure and Creative Tension in Call of Cthulhu talks about the evolution of language within various editions of the CoC RPG, as well as the standardized form of their adventures, and how these things serve to create a narrative tension that has helped the game survive and prosper.

One essay worth mentioning for its terseness is Jonathan Tweet's essay on character creation in Everway, barely managing two pages, and then only by the addition of four pieces of artwork. Another oddity is Rebecca Borgstrom's "Structure and Meaning in Role-Playing Game Design", which addresses Exalted's story structure; the piece is filled with numerous subheadings and language that occasionally makes it read like an outline or a proposal, rather than a finished piece (e.g., repeated references to "this chapter" such as "This chapter views gaming as a computational process."). Both pieces are written well and cover interesting material, but feel unfinished in their own ways.

Other essays in this first section discuss the World of Darkness and the Storyteller system, storytelling and collectible card games (in particular, A Game of Thrones and Call of Cthulhu), Arkham Horror, Mystery of the Abbey, George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards books, and the gamebook On Life's Lottery. Not discussed, and notable by their absence: Steve Jackson Games, and any edition of Dungeons & Dragons after 1980.

Section Two, "Computational Fictions," is comprised of 17 essays by authors including Jordan Mechner, Chris Crawford, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. The material here is somewhat denser and more technical, but aside from some linguistic stumbling blocks it's also filled with excellent insights.

Mechner's essay on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opens things up with an excellent look at the making of a video game: rules, some broken; discussion of how dialogue works within the context of a game; even a sample from a dialogue spreadsheet that shows why screenplay format is inappropriate.

Somewhat crunchier are essays by Chris Crawford ("Deikto: A Language for Interactive Storytelling") and D. Fox Harrell ("GRIOT's Tales of Haints and Seraphs: A Computational Narrative Generation System"). The former discusses Crawford's early attempt to draft something akin to a programming language for IF, complete with flowchart diagrams and pidgin-sounding syntax, such as "Mom command Billy that Billy not go to lake." Harrell's essay likewise talks about "developing computational techniques for representing an author's intended subjective meaning and expression." Yikes.

The longest piece, "Writing Facade: A Case in Procedural Authorship" by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, discusses Facade, a game wherein the player can either break up or save the marriage of a digital couple. Ample screenshots and samples from the game accompany an explanation of the situation as it unfolds, with later discussion of the procedural architecture and subsystems behind the game. It's an excellent piece that nicely ties together what a player sees with what a developer has to deal with.

Aside from the generally less accessible language, the section's only major flaws are that the essays from Steve Meretzky (on Floyd from Planetfall) and Lee Sheldon (on the computer adaptation of And Then There Were None) are rather terse considering the rich subject matter. Surely Floyd and Agatha Christie deserve more than a couple of pages a piece.

Other games discussed in this section include the Flash storytelling game Solitaire, Book and Volume, Shade, Savior-Faire, the somewhat surreal art piece Pax, the hypermedia Magritte-esque work The Brotherhood of Bent Billiard, the cinematic Mission to Earth, the audiovisual hypertext Juvenate, Twelve Easy Lessons to Better Time Travel, The Breakup Conversation and the multiplayer IF The Archer's Flight.

The third and penultimate section, "Real Worlds", focuses on shared, IF experiences, the unifying factor being a persistence that runs counter to the transience experienced in both weekly RPG sessions and most computer games. Despite the section title, virtual worlds and MMOs are also discussed here by the likes of essayists including John Tynes, Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca. For the most part the material is engaging and interesting, if a bit esoteric at times.

John Tynes' "Prismatic Play: Games as Windows on the Real World" explores escapism and engagism in games as diverse as D&D, Millennium's End and his own Unknown Armies, concluding that engagist works are those that expand our knowledge through immersion in real world ideas and cultures as opposed to escapist frolicking in EDO (Elf-Dwarf-Orc) fantasy games. As an interesting not-quite-counterpoint, Sean Thorne covers John Tynes' Puppetland in the next essay, and discusses how he incorporated the rather escapist game into a writing curriculum for his eleven-year-old students.

Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca include an essay titled "Video Games Go to Washington: The Story Behind the Howard Dean for Iowa Game," which is about as self-explanatory as a title gets. The duo discuss the launch of the game in December of 2003, development challenges and time constraints, demographics and politics, and provide an excellent post-mortem on the game and its effects (or lack thereof) on Dean's campaign.

Several chapters in a row delve into fantasy MMOs, including World of Warcraft. Torill Elvira Mortensen's "Me, the Other" talks about role-playing in MMOs, the difference between IC and OOC and the controversy of role-playing (which seems somewhat anachronistic; aren't people more worried about GTA than D&D nowadays?). Jill Walker's essay covers Quests in World of Warcraft, and how they introduce and support the overall storyline. Celia Pierce and her alter-ego Artmesia discuss(es) social identity and persistence in exploring the case of Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, an MMO that, when it shut down, caused its player base to propagate to other MMOs such as Second Life and There to keep the community alive.

The one odd bit here is a chapter on Santaman's Harvest by Adrine Jenik, an exploration of a digital performance piece from Desktop Theater that includes more sidebar than text as it reprints dialogue from the play ("sman:: Think Big; farmer #1: Big?").

Other essays discuss the use of role-play in prepping political canvassers, Nick Fortgno's A Measure for Marriage LARP, the evidently crass unexceptional.net ("Guy playing with himself," reads a part of one caption), the Boston-based Itinerant, the I Love Bees ARG, the basic rules of Improv Theater, the interactive play Adventures in Mating, and the collaborative work Eliza Redux, "an interactive telerobotic work couched in a virtual graphical representation of a psychoanalyst's workplace" as well as a revisitation of the Eliza program.

The book's rather sizable Appendix includes three playable tabletop RPGs: Puppetland by John Tynes, wherein players take the roles of puppets; Bestial Acts by Greg Costikyan, which is based on the dramatic theories and aesthetic of Bertolt Brecht; and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen by James Wallis, a tale-telling game written from the first person perspective of the Baron himself. This is followed by biographies of the contributing authors and a helpful index, always a good thing to see in a book of this size and density.

As is often the case, the book's back cover copy is at best misleading; though terse, it manages inaccuracy in saying that the book features "three complete tabletop role-playing games." However, Costikyan's "Designer's Note" for Bestial Acts on page 357 explicitly says "I've never bothered to finish writing up acts II and III." Not quite complete, then. The same error is reprinted on the front flap; a minor gaffe, but noticeable in a book with few other notable flaws save a few silly typos in obvious charts and tables: "Challange" instead of "Challenge", "real-rime" instead of "real-time." But this is nitpicking. As a whole the book is well-edited, well-laid out and amply illustrated to boot, with over 200 images; would that they were in color.

My only real complaint is not with anything in the book, but with the underlying assumption â" prevalent in many places, touched upon here in the jacket copy, and assumed to some degree in many of the essays â" that the gaming industry is still an "emerging field" that needs to prove its own maturity. While it might be true that not much in the way of academic discussion exists when it comes to games, it still seems all too comfortable to continue hiding in the soft golden field of "emerging." How much longer can the industry (of which I consider myself a part) continue to use that word?

Consider television in the '50s after it got through its own period of emergence and acceptance: shows like Candid Camera, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and Break the Bank were on the air. And 60 years later, what do we have? Shows like America's Funniest Home Videos, American Idol and Deal or No Deal. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Pick any medium and you'll find much the same â" for every Citizen Kane there will be a dozen Scary Movies; for every Empire Falls there will be fifty Da Vinci Codes.

Pong was emerging; Zork was emerging. We are no longer emerging â" we have emerged. Sure, we have quests in World of Warcraft where you have to collect poop, but we also have Portal; we have the Hot Coffee mod in GTA: San Andreas, but we also have a Dystopian Objectivist narrative in Bioshock.

The 47 essays and 3 games in this excellent book show us where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed when it comes to role-playing games and interactive fiction. That's 50 pieces of evidence to prove the case that gaming is as deserving of attention, acclaim and criticism as any other medium. As an industry, we've been emerging for 35 years now; by my reckoning, that puts us squarely into adulthood. Let's start acting like it.

You can purchase Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

History of Gaming? (-1, Offtopic)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303216)

It sound interesting, but the review read like a high schooler book report.
Say it with me:

As Wikipedia helpfully points out, the second-person POV is not common in literary fiction, but it is fairly common in other forms of media, including the subject of this book
WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A SOURCE!

Re:History of Gaming? (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303334)

The second-person POV is not common in literary fiction

Besides the very fun first chapter Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler... [amazon.com] , I don't know any literary fiction that uses such a perspective. Maybe someone here can come up with other examples?

Paul Griffiths uses the second person in The Sea on Fire [amazon.com] , his biography of Jean Barraque, the 20th century modernist composer and Michel Foucault's lover. The book is written as if Griffiths were addressing Barraque, and it's obnoxious as all get out. One wonders why his editor at the university press that published it allowed it.

Re:History of Gaming? (2, Interesting)

EMeta (860558) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303646)

"Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas" By Tom Robbins (his much better "Only Cowgirls Get the Blues" was turned into a bad Uma Thurman movie) is an interesting 2nd person novel, if you're into pseudo-philosophical ramblings (i.e., read in high school).

Re:History of Gaming? (1)

Monsieur Canard (766354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303808)

Ugh. The second-person in that book really annnoyed me. Having said that, I'm a huge Robbins fan. "Jitterbug Perfume" is one of my absolute favorite books.

Re:History of Gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303798)

Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City is a 2nd-person narrative -- and a pretty good one at that.

Re:History of Gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303830)


Fiction: *Bright Lights, Big City*.


There are also a lot of "breaking the fourth wall" moments in many first person POV works of fiction, drama, and verse dialogue/monologue (Browning's "My Last Duchess" is a famous example), but that's a different thing from second person narrative.

Re:History of Gaming? (2, Informative)

Creepy (93888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303886)

Outside of poetry, songs and short stories it's almost unheard of - it's especially uncommon in literary fiction (books considered to have "literary merit," which itself is an ambiguous term - essentially a work of art, which means different things to different people). The only instance of second person I remember directly is the short story "The Haunted Mind" [ibiblio.org] in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales.

Interactive fiction is probably the most common way to see second person (e.g. Choose Your Own Adventure books), but those would lack literary merit in the opinion of most critics.

Re:History of Gaming? (2, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304134)

Charlie Stross recently wrote a novel in second person (Halting State, IIRC). He shouldn't have - it wasn't nearly as clever as he thought it was (which goes for just about everything Charlie Stross writes). This was particularly confusing as the story was told from multiple points of view, but was just a distraction in any case.

But then, Stross got his start writing "color text" for D&D sourcebooks, so maybe he was just confused about his medium. :)

Re:History of Gaming? (2, Interesting)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304372)

Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain used this in places -- the narrative voice shifts a good bit between chapters. Was a pretty good book really (won a Nobel and everything). I believe Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient, Anil's Ghost, others) uses it from time to time -- maybe in Coming Through Slaughter?

I am also told that Bright Lights, Big City uses the second-person exclusively. You might find that a bit tedious, but you never know.

Re:History of Gaming? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304818)

Was a pretty good book really (won a Nobel and everything)

Books don't win Nobels. The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded in recognition of a writer's entire oeuvre.

Re:History of Gaming? (1)

zegota (1105649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303612)

Wikipedia is very much a source for the vague, common-knowledge facts like that one.

Re:History of Gaming? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303650)

If the fact is common-knowledge, it doesn't really need a source[citation needed]

Re:History of Gaming? (-1, Troll)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303642)

Wikipedia is not a source? DAMN YOU!

It is a source of many things.

It is a source of corruption at the top.
It is a source of compliance if you offer $$$.
It is a source of racism if you are a muslim.
And several other essential vitamins and nutrients.

This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Snake (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303244)

When I play a videogame (particularly with 3d games in general and FPS's in particular) I always think of myself as the protagonist. I call the shots, I make the decisions, I decide the strategy. This is why I generally don't identify much with the purported "protagonist" of most games. Having a protagonist in an FPS is trying to enforce 3rd-person storytelling on a 2nd-person medium. Even though *I'm* doing all the action, I'm doing it as a character. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the jarring cutscenes where I'm suddenly NOT the protagonist and have no control over the action (i.e. a sudden shift into 3rd-person). It tends to take me right out of the game.

I really think designers could learn a lot from games like "Half-Life 2," "Portal," and "Bioshock" which go easy on the cutscenes and downplay the protagonist. I like a game that says "you the player are the hero," not games where the hero is Master Chief/Solid Snake/whoever-the-fuck. I never connect to those characters because *I'm* the hero, not them.

Frankly, I wouldn't have even known what Gordon Freeman looked like in HL2 if I hadn't seen him on the box. And that's the way I like it. Too many game developers treat this 2nd-person medium as if it were just a slight variation on a traditional 3rd-person movie.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303378)

I like a game that says "you the player are the hero," not games where the hero is Master Chief/Solid Snake/whoever-the-fuck. I never connect to those characters because *I'm* the hero, not them.

Are your powers of suspending disbelief so strong that you can believe that you personally are a crack soldier equipped with state of the art weaponry? Since the game is complete fantasy, and I at any rate am always aware that I remain sitting on my ass in my living room, I think a third-person perspective where you play as a character the gam emakers thought up makes sense.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (4, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304140)

Are your powers of suspending disbelief so strong that you can believe that you personally are a crack soldier equipped with state of the art weaponry?

Sure. Were you never a child? My powers of suspending disbelief were so strong to turn my fingers into a pistol, any stick into a rifle or sword, a small patch of woods into anything from a WWII battlefield to the surface of an alien planet, and myself into a soldier, an astronaut, a superhero, or swashbuckling adventurer.

I don't do a lot of gaming these days - too busy with swashbuckling adventures - but back in the late 90s when I'd play Quake or Duke Nukem 3D, I used the same powers to make my saving throw versus disbelief.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304276)

Yet you're incapable of putting yourself into the shoes of any protagonist that doesn't look like you or say exactly what you were thinking?

Wow. Even books must really suck.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304686)

I was a child. I'm sure of it. I don't remember if I ever used my finger as a gun or not(I have vague memories of playing war games, but not what that involved). Are you sure that you remember it, or are you remembering that you remember it even though you don't remember it?

Of course, I got flack for informing my 1 year older brother that there was no Santa Claus, so I may not have had the best imagination.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304294)

I like a game that says "you the player are the hero," not games where the hero is Master Chief/Solid Snake/whoever-the-fuck. I never connect to those characters because *I'm* the hero, not them.

Are your powers of suspending disbelief so strong that you can believe that you personally are a crack soldier equipped with state of the art weaponry? Since the game is complete fantasy, and I at any rate am always aware that I remain sitting on my ass in my living room, I think a third-person perspective where you play as a character the gam emakers thought up makes sense.

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think the GP is referring to the use of his imagination. Generally, games (and fantasy books, for that matter) exist as a tool for users to escape from reality and pretend to be someone/something else.

I do believe pretending to be someone else isn't as wildly abnormal as you make it out to be.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303440)

I would say FPS should indicate a first person narrative, not second.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (3, Interesting)

street struttin' (1249972) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303704)

I like a game that says "you the player are the hero," not games where the hero is Master Chief/Solid Snake/whoever-the-fuck. I never connect to those characters because *I'm* the hero, not them.
That's why I like the main questline in Oblivion. The main protagonist is Martin. So when a cutscene happens and it isn't "you" doing stuff, it isn't that jarring. What "You" do is still whatever you decide to do.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304822)

I disagree; I felt Oblivion was rather disappointing in terms of letting you do "whatever you decide to do". And part of the reason, which I find interesting, is precisely that too much of the narrative is told in the first person.

The problem for me was the journal. Like any quest journal, it records the quests the player has been given and the progress made in those quests; the problem is that it also sets out the next stage of the quest in the first person. It never leaves it as "Fred has offered to give me an enchanted sword if I bring him the Chalice of Chalicity": it always has to go on and end up with something like "Fred has offered me a sword in exchange for the chalice. I must go and get him the chalice immediately!" Excuse me? No I mustn't. I have several more urgent quests, thank you very much, and I will recover the chalice when I damn well feel like it. Kindly stop telling me what to do and let me play the game my own way.

That was bearable, if annoying; what destroyed it for me as a role-playing game was the discovery that I really didn't have any freedom at all, except to decide which quests to undertake. Want to join a corrupt guild and work to undermine it from within? Sorry, if you join the guild then the player-character "I" decides s/he's corrupt and evil too, and constantly bombards you with journal entries revelling in the evil acts that I, the player, had only been intending to carry out because the end would justify the means. When I reached the climax of that quest line, I met another traitor who had been doing exactly what I'd wanted to do -- and the game locked me in a room with him and literally refused to allow me to leave until I had killed him, then praised me for my loyalty to the power that I had wanted to destroy!

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the game immensely nonetheless. But I long for a game where I actually get to make meaningful decisions; a game that will let me affect the story, rather than merely deciding which parts of it to participate in.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (3, Insightful)

cecille (583022) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303842)

Strangely enough, I find that sometimes I think of myself as the character, but sometimes I don't. I play WoW, and my main toon is roughly human looking and the same gender as me. When I'm playing on that toon, I find I'll say things like "I need blah", or "I'm almost level blah". When I'm playing on my alt, who is male and looks nothing like a human (giant bull), I find I tend to think of him as just something I'm controlling. So, I'll say things like "Shiftly is almost level blah", or "Shiftly just got a new blah". Maybe it's the look thing, maybe it's because one's my main...who knows. Anyone else find that?

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304368)

[M]y main toon is ... the same gender as me. [M]y alt ... is male
I like how you subtly told us you were a girl, as if you were afraid that if we (men) found out we would do something untoward.

ZOMG! A GIRL ON SLASHDOT!

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303862)

That's one of the more insightful comments I've read in a while. I've always felt that way too, but could never put a finger on what bothered me about some cut scenes.

I also agree that the way Halflife downplays the identity of the main character is a good way to draw you in. It also helps for female gamers like me, so that I'm not _constantly_ reminded that my character is actually a guy, which also doesn't help the immersiveness.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (4, Insightful)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303902)

Well, I'm the complete opposite, so I don't think you should be telling developers what to do. Master Chief/Halo and Solid Snake/MGS sold enough copies to show that there's a market for a 3rd person game where you're playing as a great character and not some faceless Joe. I like my protagonists with a personality because otherwise, game dialog is pretty flat. A lot of it has to do with the technology not being sufficiently advanced enough so that the player could actually talk (or type) to NPCs with them understanding what you're saying, so games like Portal and Half Life bring you in by not having many very NPCs or the NPCs not really interacting with you and expecting a response. Otherwise, NPCs ask you questions and you're relegated to a multiple choice response that destroys any semblance of character that the protagonist may have, and it alienates the players because through multiple choice, they don't feel like they're the ones making the responses. So, there's room for both, but I prefer heroes to have personality.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304742)

Master Chief/Halo and Solid Snake/MGS sold enough copies to show that there's a market for a 3rd person game where you're playing as a great character and not some faceless Joe.
You misunderstood elrous0's post. He isn't saying that he doesn't like 3rd-person games, or that they don't sell well. He is saying he doesn't like games that switch from 1st-person to 3rd-person.

Based on a presentation I saw at GDC 08, he is exactly right. Gordon Freeman was one of the characters players identified with the most, and he may have just stumbled on part of the reason why.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304850)

There's several times when Alyx in HL2 and Episode 1 makes reference to or mock the fact that Freeman never once speaks. The developers deliberately insert pregnant pauses and the like and then Alyx says something stupid or awkward. Its actually quite (meta)humorous.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303924)

I would agree. I'm even fine with something like CoD4, where who you are changes, because at any given time, you are who you are. You may control different people, but you are never the detached, omniscient observer of 3rd person narratives. Plus, I think there was something incredibly cool about the fact that you get to die in the first person in CoD4.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304516)

you insensitive clod!

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

SiriusStarr (1196697) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304680)

You anonymous coward!

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303982)

I like a game that says "you the player are the hero," not games where the hero is Master Chief/Solid Snake/whoever-the-fuck.
I take your point, but I would say that you have simply provided an example of "just a slight variation on a traditional 3rd-person movie" here.

I am consistently surprised by the people who talk about characters, storyline, being 'in' the game (e.g. 'I, the player, am the hero in this game'). I've only ever played games as puzzles, challenges, tests of dexterity/co-ordination, never as adventures, fantastic voyages, heroic questing etc.

That said, I totally agree that, for example, hl2 delivers its story in a far more immersive fashion than MGS (imho, apologies to those who feel differently). However, I think 1st/2nd/3rd person narrative is irrelevant here, and I think you hit the nail right on the head when you mention cutscenes. I think it's all about uninterrupted player input, not about where you see the action from. That's the way I see it anyway.

These reactions scare me (3, Funny)

ystar (898731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304208)

While these are valid opinions, folks who call for fewer cutscenes in games scare me. They're probably lots of work for game companies and I'm worried we'll see less and less of them. Personally, I love cutscenes. I want to have cutscenes so long, I can order (by pressing x) and eat a pizza during them. I want cutscenes so long, I can just put the disc in and watch 40 hours of rendered cinema in between Shadow of the Colossus style playable boss battles. I also want great voice acting. I'm calling for games designed to be enjoyed by fundamentally lazy people like me. Kojima understands me, and he probably didn't design MGS for you. Please play something else.

Re:These reactions scare me (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304454)

I think what you're looking for is called a "movie."

Re:These reactions scare me (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304484)

WHOOOSH

Somebody missed the joke. But a TV series on dvd produced by Pixar would be more fitting. With internet access to Pizza Hut and Shadow of the Colossus paused but ready in between episodes.

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (2, Interesting)

DarkMage0707077 (1284674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304392)

That's interesting: I usually look from a different perspective when it comes to playing games with main characters:
If the game views the main character predominantly from a 3rd person perspective (example: any Final Fantasy style RPG you name, World of Warcraft, etc), then I view myself as the director/overlord of the main character, directing their actions much like people direct the actions of characters in The Sims games.
If, however, it is viewed from a 1st person perspective (and for this sake, we assume the player's controlled character has an actual history, like Master Chief), then I take on the roll of the character's Unconsious/Subconsious mind, ensuring the character gets to where he/she wants/needs to go in the game without directing the characters surface thoughts.
In this way I can continue to control a character in the first person without being jarred out of the story when my PC starts saying stuff that *I* would never say.
This also has the unintended side benefit of giving me the "character identification" syndrom (I think that's what it's called) that good movies/plays invoke in their audience, where the audience members almost completely suspend their disbelief and react emotionally to events on stage, despite the events not being real. *I* told that character to go down those stairs, and so I'm partly responsible for what happens in the cut scene when he's captured and then watches his girlfriend get tortured (was there another way? Perhaps a window...?)

I wonder how others place their "roles" within games...?

Re:This is why I don't like Master Chief/Solid Sna (1)

TheSambassador (1134253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304914)

I think it's much more difficult to create a good story without making the character you play an actual character in the story. Don't get me wrong, Half-Life has done an incredible job, but when you have all these characters who seem to really like this guy who doesn't talk (and in my case hits them all with grenades and crowbars). To me, having the one attribute of "courage" isn't enough to warrant Alex falling in love with Gordon Freeman. Now if you had a way of having a character actually talk (ie participate in ways other than just shooting some people and listening to others) but still in some way carry out your (the player) actions as you would do them, then you might be able to craft a good story. However, this kind of game I think is out of the reach of our current game systems, as it would probably require a great bit of AI. But the experience would be amazing.

Second Person? (2, Interesting)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303276)

I rather enjoyed Conan Doyle's first person narrative in Sherlock Holmes.

I would like to see some of his style being introduced in a role playing game some day. Won't ever happen I bet, but there is always hope...

Re:Second Person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304044)

IIRC, Max Payne (the first, I never played the second) used a first person narrative. Rather effective it was, too.

Don't forget ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303282)

... to pay your $699 tea-bagging fee you licensing cock-smokers [twofo.co.uk] .

Generally, I disregard these (1, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303296)

Generally, I disregard these book reviews, as I am an American and do not read. However, I vow to read this book and take it to every English teacher I have ever had to rub it in their face. For years I have labored to start a second-person movement. Oh they would whine about and bemoan my efforts, "Macbeth makes no sense when every noun is 'you'! You're just full of it!" WELL THE JOKE IS ON THEM! By the way, this is why I love /., as every now and then something pops up that completely vindicates you with regard to a childish feud you had with a teacher in school.

For example, here is a styling of my second-person movement literature as if the previous portion of the post had been done in such a style:
Generally, You disregard these book reviews, as You are an American and do not read. However, You vow to read this book and take it to every English teacher You have ever had to rub it in their face. For years You have labored to start a second-person movement. Oh you would whine about and bemoan your efforts, "Macbeth makes no sense when every noun is 'you'! You're just full of it!" WELL THE JOKE IS ON YOU! By the way, this is why You love /., as every now and then something pops up that completely vindicates you with regard to a childish feud you had with a teacher in school.

Wouldn't the world make much more sense if everyone spoke this way?!

Re:Generally, I disregard these (2, Funny)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303518)

Wouldn't the world make much more sense if everyone spoke this way?!
You think that it wouldn't really work. Since after all, you have many different pronouns for a reason. If only you would think things through, you would see that you are right and that you are wrong.

Re:Generally, I disregard these (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303590)

Sir, I present your new favorite book! [amazon.com]

Re:Generally, I disregard these (2, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303602)

Go ahead, try it. Try writing a game or a book in second person. It doesnt work, because the reader/player has to be willing to surrender in absolute domination to the storyteller. They have to be willing to accept the forced actions and feelings that the story teller shoves on them. Most people wiht any sense of freedom at all constantly rebel against it, and the element of submersion fails, suspension of disbelief never sets in, and noone is entertained. It's not used, cause it's not effective. Period.

Re:Generally, I disregard these (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303680)

The only class of book I've seen it commonly used in (besides the obvious choose-your-own-adventure) is pornography, but I couldn't tell you if that was because of the poor quality of the writers or if it was because it's more effective if you insert yourself in there (no pun intended.)

Re:Generally, I disregard these (1)

lekikui (1000144) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304072)

No, not true. For a start, there are many well written IF games that run in the second person.

Have a try at something like Galatea sometime, see what games can be like. No graphics, no shooting, but what is probably the best NPC ever written, and a wonderful style.

Re:Generally, I disregard these (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303624)

Well, it would have the advantage that you could say things like "you are absolutely dumb" and afterwards claim it wasn't actually directed at the person you said it to, but using a generic "you", meaning "people are absolutely dumb". :-)

Re:Generally, I disregard these (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303658)

When writing in the second person, one is generally only one character. One don't become everybody, one just becomes the protagonist. "They "remain "They"

Generally, you disregard these book reviews, as you're an American and do not read. However, you vow to read this book and take it to every English teacher you have ever had to rub it in their face. For years you have labored to start a second-person movement. Oh they would whine about and bemoan my efforts, "Macbeth makes no sense when every noun is 'you'! You're just full of it!" WELL THE JOKE IS ON THEM! By the way, this is why you love /., as every now and then something pops up that completely vindicates you with regard to a childish feud you had with a teacher in school.

Second person shooter (3, Interesting)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303370)

Come on. No discussion of the emerging second person shooter genre mod community? You still move yourself but see all the action from the eyes of your enemy. Sorta hard to maneuver, though: Look left. Left! Probably rough in the arena deathmatch format.


Actually, games like Portal and Prey do scratch the surface of that...

Re:Second person shooter (2, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303482)

Well, has to be better than first person shooters; They last only a second.

Re:Second person shooter (4, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303870)

A remember an ancient PC boxing game, from the VGA era, that had this feature. You could choose to see from the perspective of the guy you were punching. It was bizarre, but fun.

But what I'd like to see was an "herbivore person" game. The screen would be split vertically in the middle, one side showing your right, the other your left, both at exactly 90 degree. And the predators are near. Run!

Now that would be different. :-)

Re:Second person shooter (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304518)

But what I'd like to see was an "herbivore person" game. The screen would be split vertically in the middle, one side showing your right, the other your left, both at exactly 90 degree. And the predators are near. Run!
Deer Hunter: Brown Shift.
Is the goal of the game to eat, fight, and mate, or get shot by the best hunter?
The point system should be semi-obvious: antler points. And they drop off yearly, so this could be a good play-leveling feature for "Deer Hunter: Brown Shift: The MMORPG. Defend your herd from other Bucks. Defend yourself from Buckshot. Do it all again next year."

Re:Second person shooter (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304804)

"Deer Hunter: Buck's Revenge" would cause more people to buy it on accident, and it sounds less, well, shitty.

Re:Second person shooter (1)

monoi (811392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304882)

i\partial\psi = H\psi, surely? Everybody uses units where \hbar = 1, and nobody bothers with the hat on the H. Oh, and only engineers put dots on the top of things.

Pick up no tea (1)

fohat (168135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303392)

I don't see any no tea here!

Inform (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303398)

Inform 7 Homepage [inform-fiction.org]

I played all the mass-produced Interactive Fiction games in the 80s, back when Infocom bought ads in BYTE magazine. Hadn't really thought much about the tools to make such games since then, but obviously, the state of the art has progressed quite a lot. About a week ago, I decided to load up a modern tool called "Inform", which in version 7 takes "literate programming" to a whole new level. From an example in their manual:

Foyer of the Opera House is a room. "You are standing in a spacious hall, splendidly decorated in red and gold, with glittering chandeliers overhead. The entrance from the street is to the north, and there are doorways south and west."

Instead of going north in the Foyer, say "You've only just arrived, and besides, the weather outside seems to be getting worse."

The Cloakroom is west of the Foyer. "The walls of this small room were clearly once lined with hooks, though now only one remains. The exit is a door to the east."

In the Cloakroom is a supporter called the small brass hook. The hook is scenery. Understand "peg" as the hook.

Inform's output is playable in the same Z-machine standards that were derived from Infocom's original machine, that have been released on cellphones, pdas, palmtops, laptops and mainframes for years and years. I'm having fun developing my own short story, and there are a lot of folks remained in the IF world the whole time who have been churning out dozens if not hundreds of titles you can download (most for free) and try. Some are very short, some are quite elaborate.

Re:Inform (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303492)

Foyer of the Opera House is a room. "You are standing in a spacious hall, splendidly decorated in red and gold, with glittering chandeliers overhead. The entrance from the street is to the north, and there are doorways south and west."

Instead of going north in the Foyer, say "You've only just arrived, and besides, the weather outside seems to be getting worse."

The Cloakroom is west of the Foyer. "The walls of this small room were clearly once lined with hooks, though now only one remains. The exit is a door to the east."

In the Cloakroom is a supporter called the small brass hook. The hook is scenery. Understand "peg" as the hook.



You were eaten by a grue!

Fixed!

Re:Inform (2, Interesting)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303768)

Inform 7 looks very very impressive, and while I've downloaded the IDE and looked at a smattering of source, I'm just not ready to make the leap from Inform 6. As a developer, I prefer the "Code Style" of Inform 6, and find it much easier to parse when I'm looking for something or trying to sort out a bug.

Still, Inform 7 is damned impressive if only inasmuch as it is highly readable and writable to nonprogrammers.

Re:Inform (2, Insightful)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304874)

While I'll agree that I7 is highly readable, I find it far harder to write than the average artificial language like Inform 6. The reason? The syntax/grammar. The syntax/grammar being so close to English it is really tempting to try to just remember the differences from regular English. But in reality there are to many differences from English to keep track of. Therefore I tend to write valid English sentences that follow all the restrictions I have memorized, and it still fails. But trying to remember the entire syntax/grammar from scratch is also a real pain, because the syntax/grammar is actually significantly larger than the syntax/grammar of an artificial language.

Further the language is quite verbose, making it harder to track down the exact location of the code one is looking for. It is all to easy for ones eyes to glaze over when searching through a significant amount of I7 code.

I am however a fan of a few little features that were included where the I7 equivalent would be a bit of a pain, such as the shortest path finding code.

Re:Inform (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304890)

S/I7 equivalent/I6 equivalent/

Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303430)

The question I would ask before I published a book like this is how many people really care much about the game storyline. I myself revel in the glory of Agent 47 and my online character victories. I do not care too much about the story line involved, even though it generally is really a good story. On a related note I was very disappointed with the Hitman movie. While we play video games I believe in the idea of three basic elements, Problem identification and resolution(quests), Task repetition(Grinding), and Violence or aggression task completion(PVP or slaughter). on the whole however, i'd like to take a lo

Re:Gaming (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304924)

Hmm... I played Half Life (original and expansions) for the story rather than the game it self. I am not much of an FPS fan, but the story itself was interesting enough to me to get e the finish all 3 games. I never played online, as that held absolutely no Interest to me. (Especially since I am not much of an FPS fan).

Second person narration as a method of aggravation (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303432)

That's what I studied in my days of D&D. One of the most interesting parts of the 2nd person to me is its interaction with volition. See, a line like "you are likely to be eaten by a grue" simply describes the state of the world as it pertains to them, and "you place the teacup down on the table's edge, but it slips and falls to the ground and shatters" is simply describing the outcome of someone's chosen actions. These don't really bother anyone. But go so far as to narrate actions they did not explicitly choose, throwing in a ringer like "You begin to copulate aggressively with the cantaloupe", and you can throw your players into fits of existential angst, as if by stripping their volition from them you have stripped their very sense of self. This kind of philosophical dilemma can inspire a lot of exciting discussion between players and DM.

Now being D&D, you can explain everything away by introducing an evil wizard or cursed relic that is controlling them, and by giving them a fixed object to which to attribute their loss of free will, the issue can be resolved and the player's angst relieved.

The trick then is to pull the comforting rug of a deterministic universe in which they control their own destinies out from under them, such as with the line: "As soon as you strike the killing blow against the wizard, you notice behind him a large pile of gourds. Over come with lust, you tear off your clothes and leap upon the pile, rolling in ecstasy". What does it mean? Does free will exist? Can it exist only within the confines of those behaviors the universe has forced upon you?

Making players think the deep thoughts -- that's what being a great DM is all about.

Re:Second person narration as a method of aggravat (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303738)

Do you want your possessions identified? (yes/no/quit)

Re:Second person narration as a method of aggravat (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304216)

you can throw your players into fits of existential angst, as if by stripping their volition from them you have stripped their very sense of self.
I did not do that and I'm offended that you would say I did.

That takes me back..... (5, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303460)

This whole review reminded of Miss Blair's 5th grade class. The "Choose Your Own Adventure" books were all the rage among the boys, and I figured I would write a book report based on The Cave of Time. I mean it was a book right? So I report went something like 'I woke up in a cave and went back to the age of the dinosaurs. I investigated a t-Rex nest when the Mother t-rex came back and ate me. I died. The End.'

Miss Blair was not amused.

Reminds me of my review of "Moby Dick" (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303608)

Captain Ahab sets out looking for a whale. The whale proves to be too elusive for Ahab. The whale eats Ahab and he dies. The end.

Re:That takes me back..... (1)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303956)

You wouldn't happen to be Tony Blair, would you? The mother T-rex being the queen...

Re:That takes me back..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304086)

you're quite the bad boy i see

tldr (0)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303528)

sorry, can't be bothered with this. Next.

Re:tldr (1, Offtopic)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303576)

I wrote my ten word summary with you in mind.

You missed a fun opportunity (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303552)

It's too late for you now, but you probably should have considered writing the entire review in the second person (i.e., instead of starting the review with "As we all learned in English class ..." you could have written "As you've surely learned in English class ..."). This would have been an appropriate style for you to use, considering the title of the book you reviewed. It wouldn't have been too hard, and in fact it would have read much like the post you're reading now.

Thy Slashdot Dungeonman (3, Funny)

drquoz (1199407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303558)

Ye find yeself in yon dungeon. Ye see a SCROLLBAR. Behind ye scrollbar is a FLASK. Obvious exits are NORTH, SOUTH, and COWBOYNEAL.

Re:Thy Slashdot Dungeonman (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303692)

examine SCROLLBAR

You are also likely to be eaten by a Grue (1, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303594)

Only if you're female.

English class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303614)

As we all learned in English class


You must be new here.

You think Slashdotters took English class? "begs the question" and "virii" and all?

Secondary People (2, Funny)

FuzzyFox (772046) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303676)

It's always about YOU, isn't it?

Storytron (1)

Laser Lou (230648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23303718)

FYI, the "Deikto" language, mentioned in the article, is a part of Chris Crawford's Storytron [storytron.com] product, previously covered in Slashdot (see http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/15/1630249 [slashdot.org] ). It is now in beta, nearing commercial release.

you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303784)

are teh ghey. lulz!1

George doesn't like this! n/t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23303866)

Seinfeld allusion....

The aquator has eaten your armour! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304130)

Rogue [wikipedia.org] forever!

2nd Person Plural (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304194)

Not directly related, but in 8th grade, after I had moved to Florida from Delaware, I took Latin. At one point, the teacher had the class grade a quiz (by passing it to someone sitting next to you, and the teacher would call out the answers) and she told us to take a few notes on the paper we were grading. One of the things that got written onto the paper were pronouns, singular and plural, first person through third. When I got my paper back from the person behind me, it had something like this:

Singular
1st: I
2nd: you
3rd: he, she, it

Plural
1st: we
2nd: y'all
3rd: they

It's not just a contraction, it's 2nd person plural.

What English (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304288)

"As we all learned in English class, there are three points of view one can employ when writing: first person ("I learned"), second person ("You learned"), and third person ("He learned")."

Well... maybe in an American class, but in an English lesson it would be "I learnt" "You learnt" "He learnt"

I learned, you learned, he learned? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304434)

No, no, no, the poster does *not* understand how to conjugate verbs. "I learned, you memorized, he was indoctrinated."
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