I kind of have a feeling this question might have been asked a lot, but I’ll ask anyway. Do you think being an IF writer is more like being a writer or being a game designer?
I like this medium, but I don’t see myself as extraordinary at building puzzles, and I think my strong point is my skill in ideas and written exposition. I think I can take advantage of this medium’s interactive element by designing non-linear investigation that could tell a very interesting story, but I’m beginning to wonder just how necessary very refined puzzles are to this medium.
Also, do you think a lot of IF writers incorporate role-playing game elements in some of their stories because it’s a good idea, or because these mechanics are something they really like? Do you think there are some situations where statistics may be necessary to convey a good idea or provide framework for a very interesting puzzle?
I would just like to know beforehand what the community thinks about this issue: mainly, whether IF should be seen more as a game or a story.
I’m feeling kind of insecure about what I’m choosing to do, and that’s why I’m asking this question. I have a novel-length project that I’m working on intermittently, between my more standard IF stories, and I must confess there are not a lot of puzzles. I incorporate a lot of elements of mystery in my story, and most of the interaction takes place as investigation undergone by the protagonists in these plots. I don’t design practical problems very easily, and many obstacles can be overcome by speaking with the right people and creative puzzle solving in terms of advancing the plot, rather than attaining any definite treasure or goals. I only have a lot of experience playing classical IF, and they don’t seem very story-oriented to me; but I know that more modern games in this genre are more heavy on the narrative element.
I guess that what I’m saying is game design probably isn’t my strong point, but I really find allure with the interactivity in this medium, and levity it brings with setting exploration and plot investigation. I think it’s very suitable for the stories I would like to tell, and much of my scoring system revolves around how much information the player has successfully divulged. You don’t have to directly tell me whether or not I’m making a bad decision using this medium primarily as a means to tell my story, rather than experimenting with interesting game mechanics, though this is to me a big concern; but I would very much appreciate any input in terms of whether you see this discipline as primarily story-telling or game design, which element is more important, and whether or not too much linearity and straight-forwardness in this medium is a bad idea.
I apologize for this long post, but please take the time to consider these ideas. I would really like to have a good discussion about this problem.
*)Japanese visual novels, which are sometimes compared to interactive fiction, are sometime entirely linear, and oftentimes require very little input other than pivotal moments that are branching in a plot. Yet these PC still remain very popular in the Eastern hemisphere. Does this convince you that story might be enough as a chief element in games to pull some games through successfully, and if so than why do more similarly structured gaming mediums in the west, like gamebooks, remain unpopular?
*)Did the Infocom games remain popular with people during the commercial era of IF more for story or for gameplay? Was complicity enough to pull these games through?
*)Do you believe it’s more important to be a good writer or a good game designer to create a well-crafted text-based adventure game. *This question is probably my biggest concern in this post.
I know this topic was long, but I’d appreciate any honest and reflective responses.