Worksheet for GDV talk by Heather Albano
1. In your own words, explain the difference between a parser interactive fiction game and a choose your path interactive fiction game.
A parser game is more like playing out a story and following a path, with prompts to encourage a player to stay interactive with simple directions such as turn left, open the door, and talk to this person. A Choose your path interactive offers more options for the player, but therefore has a shorter playtime because there are more stories that need to be created. There are more options to go eft or right, which will then change the gameplay and the results of the story to a certain degree. A personality plays more of a role in this type of gameplay.
2. Name an example of a parser game.
3. Name an example of a choose your own path game.
4. Why does she say interactive fiction virtually died out in the mid-1990s?
One of the major companies, Infocom, closed down, therefore leaving the world to fend for itself on the technology needed to create other Interactive fiction games, until other companies opened up, but with different goals in mind. With new technologies came new narratives and the interactive fiction became less about telling a story and more about wowing the audience/players. With the redevelopment of MMORPG and more advanced technologies created less parser and Choose your path games and more complex, action based games.
5. Why does she say poetry is an important element of interactive fiction writing? What example does she use?
Albano talks about poetry in terms of what the words imply to the audience and what weight they hold. Without making the setting dull, the story must provide details and descriptions of settings in a limited number of words. The poetry leaves the audience room to fill in the blanks with their own imagination, but provides the key elements of the setting for the audience to know where and what they are. Albano uses an excerpt from With Those We Love Alive to prove how only 32 words can create a setting and pull the reader into the game.
6. Why does she say that ambiguity is not only unavoidable but also necessary?
Albano says that ambiguity is the tool used to encourage the player to use their imagination. It is easy to tell a story, but to leave a story open to interpretation while at the same time filling in the necessary details takes finesse. Things can be left to be interpreted in their own way by the choices that the player decides to make. The challenge may always be the same, like a boss fight at the end of a chapter, but the person being fought may have a different role: a female vs a male, a jilted lover vs a long-time enemy vs an evil sibling.
7. What’s important about complicity?
Complicity is the tool used to keep a player interactive and immersed in the game. IN a parser game, it is important that the actions feel like choices regardless of the lack of options available. The quote she uses says to make the change of gameplay from ‘it happened to me’ to ‘I did it’. When the freedom of action is available, it makes the player truly feel immersed in the gameplay and care more about the results of the game purely with words alone.