Arman's stuff
Out of My Head, Into Yours

(Wed Oct 5 11:46:46 2011)

Ever tried to get an idea across, as fully as you can?

I don't know how it works with other authors, but from reading books like Tolkien's "Lost Tales", I'm assuming I'm not all that different - when you write something, you write a little, but you know oh-so-much-more. The reader will know that person has brown hair and blue eyes and a quirky smile, and probably a lot of other details - but they won't know that she was raised in a single-parent home, or that her pet and best friend in all the world was a cat named after her grandma. Your readers may know that there's a creepy serial killer on the loose, but not know his motivation; they won't know that the bored receptionist survived breast cancer, or that Fred always loses things, or that the barber they met for a brief glimpse of time has a back story richer than the main character.

Take, for instance, Blind. It's my second text adventure, and I think it's quite passable. There's a lot of back story that the player will never know, though. But it's there; it's all in my head. The antagonist, for example, is a sicko that has kidnapped you (a blind woman). You find a corpse in his stove and some mementos of past victims in a tool chest; the general consensus is that he's a cannibalistic serial killer. Which isn't all that far off, I guess, as far as the player can know. I don't know if he's a cannibal, though I really think he isn't; rather, he's got a belief that he's actually helping the world... and here's the part that know one will know about. See, he believes that the world has two kinds of people, the beautiful, and the ugly. When people die naturally, regardless of age, they take their beauty (or ugliness) with them. However, when they die violently, their looks are released into the universe, and become permanent. If enough beautiful people are not allowed to take their beauty to the grave (through a natural death), and enough ugly people die naturally, then the world will eventually be completely beautiful. The people that he killed, he believed were beautiful, and that he was releasing their beautiful spirits (thus why he didn't want to bruise the girl). Other victims were equally as 'beautiful'. 

 But the player, not knowing this, is left with the impression that the sicko is only that, someone that likes killing people. Again, not wrong, just not what's in my head. I want to get what's in my head onto paper (or in this case, the display of the TADS interpreter), but sometimes, it's not easy - and sometimes, it's not worth it. This guy may be a freak, but he's more of a generic freak. He doesn't have a manifesto, and he doesn't taunt the player - he's just there. If the player doesn't know what I know, it doesn't really detract from their experience. In some cases it may; it seems few people can figure out the fuse puzzle (and I must admit, it's not easy) - but the game is still winnable. That's how I designed it; every hard way should have an easy way, too. I like puzzles that can be solved in any of a dozen different ways. 

 Then again, sometimes it's not the medium. Not writing something down means that people won't know about it, but sometimes... people are just thick. The name of the game is Blind; the blurb is about blindness, and several descriptions mention the character's blindness. Come on, people. This isn't hard. She's blind. Stop looking for light switches. Seriously.

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This blag is tagged: Textgames, Writing, All