Re: [-empyre-] Writing and Pattern Flows

yes, this is exactly the case with games, they follow the "string of pearls" model, ignoring the idea of a pattern of fields, or a pattern of states -- possibly because many game designers are projecting the idea of an epic story pattern, a rigidly sequential construction, on to what could be a dynamic grouping of patterns in a constant state of construction and reconstruction. so their initial conception of story as a sequence of events rather than an exploration of patterns has led the game form to a really narrow set of AI tools. games move the player through terrains very well, but do not have good ways of dealing with the issues of character you're describing, which is one reason they can all feel more or less the same. essentially, we're experiencing the same fields and patterns over and over again, and only the wallpaper changes. games provided an initial toolset, but now it's up to artists to overwhelm that, move away from games, and create dynamic fields that allow people to experience patterns that are self-navigated in the hopes of taking the first step towards emergent narrative. it would be interesting, for instance, to put a beckett character into a simulator, rather than an rpg, one backed by a really smart database, give this creation some method rules, and see what happens to the field when players interact with this "person". can their interaction change the field? will that affect surrounding fields? will that affect the pattern overall? and so on ... of course, there are other ways to go about it as well ...

John Klima wrote:

good points all. my personal dissatisfaction with the current state of game narrative (other than it's general subject matter) is a result of it's implementation as a "string of pearls" where story is not significantly modified by the player's actions in-game. sure, if you kill or don't kill a certain character, the play changes, but basically the narrative vector remains the same, just some parameters have changed. the good guys become bad, the bad good.

a second major problem is a lack of "character" in the characters. characters tend to be generic with no significant variation in their behavior. again, you may have good guys or bad guys, but when was the last time anyone had a bad day? or had a bad burrito for lunch? complex behavior requires more than a few dozen character traits and some random number evaluation.

for complex narrative and characters, what is required is a constant modification of field effects from the moment you install the game, to the very end of the story. but also what can not be "coded out" from the game is the author's voice. the author needs to maintain control of the parameters of the narrative vector, so that a story with meaning can emerge, rather than a chain of basically insignificant events, no matter how dynamicaly they may have been produced.


angela ferraiolo wrote:

Wow is right ... what an amazing exchange. I'm sort of a lurker on this list, so hello, my background is some digital writing for games. While doing that, I soon realized that the idea of pattern flows and an awareness of them is critical. In a game, narrative can be a traditional pipeline of information or series of events, but feels more exciting as an exploration of modes and/or fields of persuasion. On some level, the nature of a given pattern flow, how it updates itself, the feel of its evolution, how it alters its methods, can become the meaning of the story, a model of experience, even a form of cognition. For me, the question is how can these modes be combined in ways that first, feel responsive thereby creating expectation and second, create dynamic meanings? Writing can't be separated out from pattern flow acquisition or a multi-modal pattern production because in a fundamental sense the writing that needs to be done in these narratives is the creation of those arrangements or the construction of environments that lead to the creation of those arrangements. That way we should be able to encourage meaning that is emergent due to the interplay of fields or modes and their response to audiences/readers/players/etc . . .

-- Angela

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