Hi everybody. I wasn't sure whether the following question should have gone under THEORY or here under WRITING, but it seems to be more aking to the application of theory rather than theory itself.
I come from Interactive Fiction (IF) background—ie: those computer text-games/adventures where the player imparts commands to his game-character (like "go north", "open the box", ecc.) and thus explores the world and solves puzzles to reach the story end.
IF was very popular back in the 80's, when home computers didn't offer graphics (and the best graphic-card was one's immagination). But today the world of IF is still much alive, although a niche, and free softwares like Inform7 have evolved spectacularly — you actually write an adventure in English as the programming language — and the possibilities of story telling are rather powerful.
Some works of IF are linear stories where the player has only to solve puzzles in order to proceed toward the end. Other IF works actually offer different story path according to player choices, and might thus lead to different endings. It's these last type of IF that made me wonder if Dramatica could find applications in Interactive Fiction.
I've been wondering about how one would approach such a task. The main difficulty consists in the fact that slight storypoint changes can have great ripercussions. So, ideally an author would have to work out two or three storyforms that have in common at least the 1st Act's signposts, journeys and thematic points—ie: the beginning of the story should be rooted in the same conditions, from there on, according to player's choices, the story might follow different courses.
For example, one might envision the same story but with different Outcomes (Succes or Failure).
Overall, I think that the factors that can be taken in consideration for forking the story should be on the player's side, and giving for granted that player will be in the MC role: things like MC Dymanics (his PS Style, Resolve, Mental sex, and Growth) could be "measured" during the first stages of the game by presenting him choices that would determine how he relates to one or more of these points.
It doesn't seems likely that you can leave all 4 MC Dynamics without having to face completely different storyforms. So my question is whether anyone could advice which way is best to go about it, so that the different possible storyforms would have at least the 1st Act in common.
This is a subject which I am sure needs a lot of investigation. Fortunately, in the IF community there are a number of academic people who devoted quite a long time to Interactive Fiction theory, its study, and attempting to opening new paths—like Nick Montfort, who authored the book Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction, a very interesting work in the field.
But so far, Dramatica has never been proposed as a tool to associate with IF—at least not to my knowldege.
Unlike CYOA books (Chose Your Own Adventure), which only offer simple choices which make the reader jump to different paragraphs, computer IF works allow for the creation of complex rule-based worlds, were is possible to change the state of the world, handle highly interactive NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and thus it should be possible to create a highly dynamic Impact Character which interactively pushes his argument, or even remains Steadfast when player is heading to Change, or viceversa.
But again, if the different storyforms are to wide-apart (especially in Progressive Points explorations), this might be a daunting task. It would be ok to have the story take different courses which end up handling different thematic issues, problems, ecc.—actually, it would make the story game even more attractive, since replaying it would provide a whole different experience (and there are such games). The only difficoulty I foresee is in the story beginning.
Is there a better approach to Storyforming to achieve this? Or would the best approach be to try out a huge number of Storyforms and, ultimately, just make a selection of those combinations that are more manageable? ie: creating a fixed stock of empty storyforms on which IF works can be build.
At present, I have no idea if there is a way to go about the Story Engine so that one might ensure that 1st Act Plot Progression points remain unafeccted by other choices (ie: there is no way to "lock" them so that no choices would be presented that would upset 1st Act).
Or maybe there is some story-weaving/-telling escamotage to get around the whole problem, and provide some kind of neutral beginning which does not impose to much of the 1st Act. But the whole point is that the different possible story experiences available should have some overlapping, and not be some completely different stories.
It would be very interesting to see a complete work of IF build on Dramatica Theory, after all there is no reason why an IF work should not accomade a Grand Argument Story—and it defenitely can be done easily if the story unfolds linearly.