Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interactive Fiction

Dealing with interactive fiction was a very intriguing experience for me. Interacting with IF was almost like playing a video game and I found it to be quite captivating. To be able to interact efficiently with an IF piece gives you a good sense of exhilaration and accomplishment. To give you a basic definition of interactive fiction I will refer to Dennis G. Jerz’s reading on What Is Interactive Fiction. Jerz explains that  Interactive fiction (IF) is computer-mediated narrative, resembling a fine-grained "Choose Your Own Adventure" story, in which the reader helps to determine the outcome of the story.”  “The usual IF interface is a command based textual feedback loop” or the computer puts a few lines or paragraphs of text on display and the interactor (you) types a command; and the computer tells you what happened in the story, and then leaves you with a spot on the screen to continue your input to what you have just seen.
In my first experience with IF I interacted with an IF piece called Galatea.  During the beginning of this experience I struggled greatly with it and really wanted to just give up on the piece all together. If you do not put in the correct input the software will not recognize what you are trying to say and you will not be able to advance in the plot of your story in your IF. This could get very frustrating and can happen quite often if you do not read up on the proper text you should input in the IF. So the best thing you can do is type the text “help” into the computer and the game will give you a basic description of the verbs you should be typing in to help you progress in the plot of the game. Galatea was a very interesting piece of IF in the way that you had to be very careful about what you say to her to further the conversation. gg
As you can see the software does not always recognize what you are trying to say and you need to be very specific in IF to get the response you want in order to further your conversation or continue with the plot of the story. I personally did not get very far with this piece of IF. The basic Idea of this piece was to converse with Galatea long enough for her to give some sort of emotional response or for something interesting to happen. If you continue to not ask the right questions, or you ask too many questions she will stop talking to you and the IF will end. Apparently I was not saying the correct things to her because the game would end pretty abruptly when I played and the conclusion of the story did not end with her opening up to me in any way.
I have a new respect for people that write IF after I attempted to make one myself. You do not realize how challenging it is to make IF until you sit down and try to create your own. Personally, I found writing IF to be quite horrible. The process of mapping your piece out and coming up with your plot is not the problem. I actually found that coming up with ideas for your IF is actually entertaining and gives you the opportunity to be extremely creative.
For my IF I had the idea to map out a night club where you go through the process of conning the bouncer to let you in (since you’re not on the list) interact with different girls in the club, and finally bring one back to your house. Planning the IF out was actually quite fun until reality set in and you actually had to write it out with the program inform 7. It turns out that using this program to create your IF is very complex and really does want to make you throw your computer out the window. The program requires you to be very specific and you really can’t make any mistakes or your entire IF will cease to work.
I think that the software was so hard to use that if I continued to work on the piece many aspects of my original idea of my IF would change. I would have to adapt to the software and I believe that would take a lot of the creativity out of the IF. But this is coming from someone who is not use to using the software and not educated enough on it to be able to use it without any problems. I’m sure if you are familiar with it the amount of creativity you can put in an IF is extraordinary. An IF gives you the chance to get your reader; or in this case your player to interact with the story in a way you can’t when it’s just written on paper. IF almost makes you feel as if you are actually in the story because of the amount of interaction that has to be put into it. But what I did not realize about IF was all the work that has to be put into making it. An incredible amount of thought has to be put into it and I believe it takes a truly intelligent person to be able to create a full IF.
When it comes to creating an IF or just writing fiction on paper, I would be more inspired to just write it out. Personally I think I would be a better overall writer or creator of a work of fiction if it was not in the form of an IF. After working on my own IF for a couple of weeks I realized how difficult and in depth the process is and I don’t think I have it in me to write one. I would get too frustrated to be able to accomplish anything. I think that people that have the patience to work on IF are doing a great thing for literature but it’s just not for me.  IF does a great job with capturing the reader or player and makes it easy to get interested in it, but nothing can compare to reading a truly good fictional book. Nothing is more captivating than reading a book that was written by a truly good author. And I’m sure it is the same way with IF but I don’t think that it could ever compare.

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