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Riddles, Games, and Stories

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Harry Brown

on 24 November 2015

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Transcript of Riddles, Games, and Stories

Riddles, Games, and Stories
Aristotelian narrative
Ergodic narrative
Riddles & riddle contests

Imitation (mimesis)
Plot
Character
Emotion

Aristotle's elements of narrative
Plot
Magnitude
Probability and astonishment
Recognition
Reversal
Character
Hamartia (tragic flaw)
Change in fortune
Emotion
Fear and pity
Catharsis
Ergodic narrative
Ergodic versus nonlinear
"Non-trivial effort"
Hypertexts and adventure games
Text and cybertext
Labyrinth model

Reconciling games and narratives
Goals
Conflict
Uncertainty
Balance of embedded and emergent elements

Anglo-Saxon riddles
Exeter Book composed ca. 1000
Part of an earlier oral tradition
Communal amusement
Primary device is metaphor
Lots of sexual innuendo
Riddle contests
The sphinx myth
Contests between rival poets
Poetic Edda: Odin and Vafthrudnir
Tolkien: dirty little hobbitses
Rap battles
Role-playing games

Huzinga: poetry and riddles
Poetry as language at play
Poet as "player"
Metaphors, hints, clues
Montfort: riddles as basis of interactive fiction
Basic formal rules
Literary riddles
The situational puzzle
Riddle as a "world"
D&D!?
Gary Gygax
Chainmail (1971)
Dungeons & Dragons (1974)
As a narrative system
Rules
Chance
Choice
The "DM"
The DM
Deep-immersion storytelling
Applying rules silently
Discourage metagame thinking
Balancing surprise and believability
Balancing challenge and soluability
World building
Interactive Fiction (IF)
Emerged from artificial intelligence experiments
Ergodic literature or "narrative machine
IF = parser + database
Initial situation, traversal, final reply
diagetic and extradiagetic commands
Moving, mapping, and labyrinths
Tools, puzzles, and riddles
"Adventure" by Will Crowther
Inspired by divorce, love of caving & love of D&D.
At BBN, Crowther worked on ARPAnet
ADVENT Created on PDP-10 mainframe at MIT in 1975
Based on Flint Mammoth Cave system, Bedquilt entrance
Expanded by Don Woods at Stanford
"Twisty little passages" riddle
Little maze of twisting passages
Little maze of twisty passages
Little twisty maze of passages
Maze of little twisting passages
Maze of little twisty passages
Maze of twisting little passages
Maze of twisty little passages
Twisting little maze of passages
Twisting maze of little passages
Twisty little maze of passages
Twisty maze of little passages

Infocom's Innovations
Universal compatibility of programming (Z-machine)
Genre fidelity: marketed as popular fiction
Replayability: multicursal traversals, variability and randomization of game world
More developed NPCs: Floyd the Robot
Reactive environments: more interactibility, tools, and influence on NPCs
Customization of PC: increase characterization and range of action
Variable identities of PC: fractured consciousness, gendering, morphing
Hypodiegetic narratives: games within games, minigames
Smarter AI: larger parsers, more "natural," more "literary."
Full transcript