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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:46 pm 
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The real key to all of this will be player-created content.

To use Belford's example, if I say the Hall of Kings has collapsed, nobody will believe me. Why? Because they'll go there and see that it's open and quite functional.

But what if I made it collapse? What if I ripped down the front door to the Guild Hall and ran inside? Suddenly, you've got an entrance into the story from a hundred different angles. You will have directly influenced the game's story, for good or for bad. You will have instant credibility as well, because the event is not only actually happening, but observable. which means less time building credibility and more time developing the plot. Sure, this is a crude example, because we'll never be able to simply edit events in the game via a public area, but the principle is what makes this so powerful.

The way this can be implemented is in a fan-created realm; a fan-Age, a fan-neighborhood, or the ability to edit a Relto...this list is endless. All of this will not only enrich the experience, it will provide hundreds of opprotunitites for individual players to nudge into the story a little.

Not only that, but it will most certainly further the suspension of disbelief. If I say I'm setting up a water-wheel and a steam power station in Eder Gira, and then take people to my Eder Gira, and they see boxes, and pipes, and a water-wheel; that makes it so much easier to believe, and so much easier to join in. It doesn't feel like make-believe then, it feels real, because it looks real and acts real.

I think when the tools become available, and the options are there, is when we'll really see this get flying. Right now, we are almost 100% dependant on Cyan to see story happen. Sure, we have sit-ins and gatherings- but those aren't any good if they don't have a direct result, instigated by Cyan. Imagine the Yeesha Calling's impact if Yeesha wouldn't have come. Answer: Zero. There is absolutely nothing we can do to truly impact the story without Cyan's direct influence. We cannot 'make' Yeesha appear- Cyan does, because they want us to be in the story.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:51 pm 
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Zardoz wrote, answering my original questions: "For me, there is but one way to achieve these: Fan-generated content, specifically, Ages."

That is *a* way to achieve it. I'm not sure it's the only way. And since there's nothing I can do to hasten Cyan's release of Age-creation tools, I remain interested in alternatives.

Really, what are the properties of fan-created Ages that make them acceptable?

(1) An Age is independent from all other Ages. (I know, there are small exceptions currently. Ignore that for now.)
(2) If I build something, you can experience it, and it will feel as real as anything else in the game.

But if I simply start *posting* about exploring a private Age, that has property (1). I don't need to *model* an Age to achieve that. And it will feel at least as real as the in-game journals -- we know players are at least willing to accept plain prose text as "Uru story".

Furthermore, Age creation *doesn't* solve the problem you referred to earlier. Once Age creation is possible, I can create an Age with information that "explains" Yeesha or the Journey or whatever -- just as I can in prose. That issue will come up.

I am optimistic enough to think that a "cacophany" is not the only possible outcome. I've seen collaborative story efforts succeed, even with large groups of people.

Marcello: "D'ni and Myst/UrU are all about the ages. Somewhere in some thread or at some meeting I remember Cyan stating that user created ages will be that: ages created by us explorers."

I hadn't heard that.

It does point to the model of "independent Ages" as the key to making it all fit together smoothly. (Or at least, not clash gears everywhere.)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:59 pm 
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Heh -- Calam, I didn't mean to step on you. I was in the middle of writing my post as you posted yours.

I'm starting to think that I should just start posting, IC, to the DRC forums. Talk about a new Age (never touched by any D'ni we know about).

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:03 pm 
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"In the end, the entire discussion is moot in that the plot committee will do what it wants regardless of our words."

That doesn't make the discussion moot. We have the same choice we've always had: wait for the Cyan people to create something for us, or start creating *regardless of what Cyan does*.

(Plenty of players will choose the former, and that's fine. Any community has more passive members (lurkers) than active ones.)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:56 pm 
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Allowing PCs to effect there own little corner of the world is fine as long as it only affects their world. Once you allow PCs autonomy to control events that affect the entire storyline you end up with trouble.

Example:

Belford is pissed that his plotline didn't get used so he goes out and blows up the Hall of Kings. He has just destroyed an important part of the cavern. He then decides to do everything in his power to bring the entire game to its knees.

If players are allowed to affect the world this will be entirely possible. If the plot committe tries to stop this from happening, the player(s) trying to bring down the world will cry foul because they should be allowed to destroy the world, since they are allowed to change it as they see fit. There needs to be control that resides firmly in the hands of the staff, not the players.

Fans affecting their own worlds= good.
Fans affecting the entire world= REALLY BAD.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:16 pm 
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Ahh, Andrew, I knew I smelled the Forge in your posts. ;) I do think some RPG theory would be very useful in all of this. Anyway...

The real conflict/concern here seems to be over 'canon'. I can tell a story that might be really interesting about D'ni, Myst or whatever. I can even act it out in the game. But that doesn't make it a part of the primary continuity.

Alternate continuities exist. People post fan fiction on these forums, other forums. Even fan games like Ages of Ilathid exist. The issue is that people want to be a part of 'this' continuity - the one everyone is in by default.

Calam wrote:
There is absolutely nothing we can do to truly impact the story without Cyan's direct influence.


If by 'story' you mean Uru canon, you are correct. To a certain extent.

Uru is set up with Cyan acting as a GM, in that the mechanisms of external reality are under their control. Players can 'do' (as a part of the existing continuity) three things: 1) Those things that Cyan has built into the environment, 2) those things that Cyan agrees to include in canon, 3) those things which are wholly dependent on interaction between players. Beyond that requires Cyan to intervene.

Without Cyan's approval (via in-game mechanism or verbal agreement), what players can do are limited by these things.

However, as Lobo points out:
Quote:
You can, however, make story by your actions in the cavern. Having a dance party, organizing a group to solve a puzzle, holding a vigil in a bevin, running around the library a thousand times, or just chatting with others are all part of the story. Do it and tell about it.


We do have capability, within our limits. We do have a story role that has been given to us - explorers from the surface. We can create story elements and experiences based off of that, and off of our interaction with each other.

Example: Some guy showed up in Cavern pretending to be Douglas Sharper. Because he played off of the ambiguity of the font in the game (he used the name DougIas Sharper - though this could easily just be seen as the game mechanism equivalent of an effective disguise), a number of people thought it was actually him. When he was discovered, this prompted the Great Tree to issue an announcement to decry the incident and to distance themselves from the movement the impostor was trying to associate himself with. The incident was effectively the death blow to the Anti-DRC Movement organization (it was dying anyway, but this took it out completely).

Zardoz posted a very excellent post on the DRC forums about the difference between sequences of events and a story. However, the above sequences of events, while not being part of a story, did create drama. Players did something that affected others. Other players responded. People talked about them. It changed what players did and became a part of the history of the game.

Not everything that happens is part of a narrative. Sometimes things just happen and people react. From my experience in LARPs and RPGs, that holds true. In one LARP a ran, I watched a single player stand up on a picnic table and make a 5 minute speech. That speech sparked events that lasted for almost 6 months, and it kept people happily busy.

Heck, look at the Corrupted Blood plague in WoW - it was a bug, not a story, and some people consider it to be one of the most interesting things to have happened in that world.

silmefea wrote:
He was, apparentlt, a brilliant orator and I, for one, was fascinated. He was something of an enigma, claiming that he was an explorer like the rest of us, yet obviously so much more.

Perhaps Yeesha has him, perhaps he is lost. He was interesting regardless of origin.


Here, silmefea points out an interesting person. It seems to me that this character wasn't interesting because of their position in a story. But rather, he seems to have been an interesting 'personality'. Just being around, or hearing about interesting people can create drama, can give you something to do and talk about later on.

A few of the ResEngs even fit this bill, if you've been to one of the late night orientations.

Maybe the overall 'IC experience' of Uru requires several different approaches: story, events and personalities. I think there is a place for each, as they all generate different experiences. And I think that Uru is big enough that it needs all of these forms of In Character experience.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:05 pm 
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A story editor I knew had a repro Remington bronze on his desk: an Old West scout mounted atop his horse, hand shading his eyes, squinting into the distance. Around the scout's neck, an index card hung on a string, on which was scribbled, "Where's the story?"

Deep beneath the desert of New Mexico, a small team of scientific investigators have unearthed the ancient ruins of an alien civilization. A civilization with a technology so advanced as to appear to us as magic. Epic in its scope, Shakespearean in its tragedy -- a civilization that destroyed itself. Some claim its descendents are alive today, mystically called back to their ancestral homeland. The ruins are being repopulated. Will the civilization be reborn?

The themes of trust and betrayal, power and madness, life and death, extinction and rebirth are engines that power the story of Uru. They give the narrative thrust and consequences. They make what happens, matter.

My sense is that the current story and sub-stories, whether NPC-or PC-acted, are essentially flatlined. There are no apparent inciting incidents, ticking clocks, compelling mysteries, threatening antagonists, self-sacrificing heroes, redeemed sinners, intriguing clues, identifiable goals, resonating themes or -- most importantly -- consequences. NPC or PC story stuff can happen or not happen, and whether it does or not, doesn't matter. In short, no narrative.

What I'm missing in Uru is evidence of the storyteller. I don't think that coherent, compelling narrative can come from the pens of ten thousand fans, a thousand fans or a hundred fans. It has to come from a relatively small group of writers, working under the supervision of a few head writers/story editors who are the key visionaries for the overarching saga. The keepers of the canon. The designers of the thematic engines. The folks whose job it is to live and breathe the story 24/7, and to invent ways to put it out there in a manner that captivates and challenges and incites the rest of us to participate in it. The storytellers.

Without evidence of the storytellers' work informing everything that happens in-game, large events and small -- right down to when Nick White shows up in BillyJoeBob's Hood acting like it's just another day in the office -- the Uru story will not compel, will not intrigue, and will meander toward the post-modern chaos that Zardoz described above.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:09 pm 
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tk, you might take some comfort from RAWA's latest post on the DRC site.

Setting expectations.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:21 pm 
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Maaaan... we need one place we can combine this thread and the RAWA thread, or we're all going to go loudly crazy trying to comment in both places at once.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:17 am 
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silmefea wrote:

...*cough*


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:36 pm 
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tkwiggins: "I don't think that coherent, compelling narrative can come from the pens of ten thousand fans, a thousand fans or a hundred fans. It has to come from a relatively small group of writers, working under the supervision of a few head writers/story editors who are the key visionaries for the overarching saga."

You know what the other example is that keeps coming to my mind? "Nocturne Alley", a Harry Potter collaborative fanfic project that ran on Livejournal for a couple of years. That was (obviously) fanfic in that there was no collaboration with JK Rowling. But it *was* a group of dozens of fans collaborating *with each other*, with no "head writer". Each fan played a character. They negotiated individual events with each other, but nobody was in charge.

No, I don't see a single coherent narrative coming out of a semi-official Uru fan-story space. I *do* see the possibility for *many* compelling and coherent narratives, on an individual level -- some of which will join or overlap, as negotiated by the people involved.

I have now read the RAWA thread. Cyan has a place as the authority of Uru, and I don't expect any player effort to usurp that place. But neither am I happy with the impression I get from this community: that Uru is disappointing on the story front and only Cyan can fix that.

(The people asserting the former are not always the people asserting the latter, but both are claims that air frequently around here.)

So, Ages seem to be vaguely acceptable as a way to have "your own world". What about instances? If I start writing about blowing up the Hall of Kings *in a private Aegura instance*, could you buy into that? (Stipulate that, like a private Age story, this is an instance that other players can't reach -- for whatever reason.)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 7:59 pm 
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belford wrote:

You know what the other example is that keeps coming to my mind? "Nocturne Alley", a Harry Potter collaborative fanfic project that ran on Livejournal for a couple of years. That was (obviously) fanfic in that there was no collaboration with JK Rowling. But it *was* a group of dozens of fans collaborating *with each other*, with no "head writer". Each fan played a character. They negotiated individual events with each other, but nobody was in charge.


I didn't do Nocturne Alley, but I did do Reparo, which was the same thing. It was very effective.

Another source of inspiration should be (as FaxPaladin pointed out elsewhere), recreation groups like the SCA and renfairs. There's a wide range of interactions available there, from creating a full persona, and getting really into it, to being yourself in funny clothes with a different name.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:21 pm 
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belford wrote:
So, Ages seem to be vaguely acceptable as a way to have "your own world". What about instances? If I start writing about blowing up the Hall of Kings *in a private Aegura instance*, could you buy into that? (Stipulate that, like a private Age story, this is an instance that other players can't reach -- for whatever reason.)

You've twice now mentioned the idea of writing as a way of producing fan-based stories. I had thought you were striving for something in-game rather than out. Nevertheless, there are people who are trying that approach (if that's in part what you've got in mind).

A good example of what could be viewed as the "instance" approach is Whilyam's Uru blog. I have always viewed that as fantasy, in that I know with certainty (from both an IC and OOC perspective) that he (Whilyam or Arthur Kalnins) has not visited the J'Taeri district (see the latest entry). Yet if I switch my perspective to the one you suggest, then it's entirely possible that they have in fact visited that district in their own instance (although it took a ResEng to do it, which again I know with certainty could not have happened). Of course, one wonders why they aren't inviting anyone along . . . ;)

So, is that what you have in mind? Those are certainly stories, but the thrills are all vicarious, like reading endless chat logs of encounters other people are having with the DRC.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:49 pm 
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belford wrote:
You know what the other example is that keeps coming to my mind? "Nocturne Alley", a Harry Potter collaborative fanfic project that ran on Livejournal for a couple of years. That was (obviously) fanfic in that there was no collaboration with JK Rowling. But it *was* a group of dozens of fans collaborating *with each other*, with no "head writer". Each fan played a character. They negotiated individual events with each other, but nobody was in charge.

Good point. "Nocturne" doubtless could work in Uru, if Uru had the clearly established basic premise, well defined characters and numerous plot examples that Rowling had already established for the Potter series. Currently it does not. For that reason (and not because fans can't also be talented writers who can create good fiction), the ship of Uru story has no (visible) rudder, no clear mission statement, and certainly no course charted -- yet. When Cyan has developed Uru's story to where Rowling had developed Potter when "Nocturne" started, I'll say definitely yes, let us fans have at it! ;)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:59 pm 
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The root of our disagreement is that I do not consider Uru to be static.

It does not have to progress in an interesting and well-thought out direction; it should progress in the direction in which we cause it to progress. Obviously Cyan will always have pretty much complete control over the static plot elements (ie: Yeesha and the DRC). I call these elements 'static' because they are not to be altered significantly on-the-fly (and no, I do not consider Yeesha's hologram flickering on and off to be a significant enough alteration to say that we have any bearing on her; I believe Cyan did that for different reasons).

We have control over what we do, however, and so few have bothered attempting to exercise it. We could form large organizations (Guilds) and use them to attempt to influence which areas of the city the DRC works on next. We could hold well-structured meetings with the DRC where we get to ask about Negilahn's animals outside of some random-encounter when most of the North American west coast is at work.

We could also actually think about what we're doing rather than devoting our time to bugging Yeesha for answers to her own questions.

Or we could sit around holding bizarre dance parties and lazy sit-ins.

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