A few days ago, in Storytelling Again, I posted about Warren Spector’s storytelling article on The Escapist. Much to my surprise, there were few comments.

Yet the matter of story is important to us, at least going by various remarks made here in the past. And yes, Bruce came by with his big dipper of cold water, and pointed to a book that concluded “co-op” storytelling, between player and designer, wasn’t possible, insofar as single-player games are concerned.

So is that really true? Maybe. If the player and the designer are creating a story together, that means the plot can’t be finished when the game is released. Otherwise, the story is already done.

There is also the problem that the two are working in different time scales. The developer is actually done when the game is released, where the player is just starting out. They are not, in fact, working together.

The only situation where this is possible is live gaming, where the DM can change things on the fly or between sessions, building on players’ actions. A computer game is a finite product, and once written, can’t be changed.

Which means, as far as SP games are concerned, we are left with what Bruce called “agency”, or a choice of paths/actions through a game.

What would be interesting to me would be a (good) game where any one path through didn’t tell you everything. You’d have to play it more than once to get all the details.

Quite some years back, Infocom held a sort of press party at an armory in New York to show off their (ahem) upcoming “graphic” adventures. Included as entertainment was what we might call “live-action acting”.

The play was called “Tamara” and was set in 1920s Italy. Everyone was divided into groups, and each group followed a different actor around the facility.

And they did move around: upstairs, downstairs, into various rooms, all over the place. It was good exercise for all involved, too ;)

It was an interesting experience, and the main thing was, you couldn’t really put the whole story together just by following one person around, regardless of his or her interactions with the other performers.

Of course, the idea was you’d be intrigued enough to come back for another performance or two (or three…) so you’d finally know everything (no, I didn’t; I wasn’t intrigued quite that much, and it was expensive).

What if a game was built around that model? Where instead of actors you followed a particular path, but it didn’t reveal everything? Would it be worth re-playing (keeping in mind a good story, of course).