Emily Short on Versu

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2 Responses to Emily Short on Versu

  1. sinchiroca says:

    This was undoubtedly the best online Phrontisterion we’ve had yet! Emily Short presented a designer’s view of her project, Versu. This was no conventional presentation of features and bullet points: it was instead a designer’s description of the central design issues that have occupied her energies in this project. Numerous times during her presentation I felt something inside me chiming in harmony with her ideas. Of course, I wouldn’t be Old Fart Crawford if I didn’t have SOME criticisms of her ideas, but there’s no question that this was a highly informative presentation. I spent much of the time frantically scribbling notes and questions to ask afterwards.

    My most serious criticism of the technology is that it is tilted more towards the storytelling side of interactive storytelling. That is, the interactivity they provide is weak, and increasing the amount of interactivity seems to take a lot of effort. They have added a high-level tool that makes the product even more plot-linear.

    But the parallels with my own work are striking; they have independently converged on some of the same ideas that I have developed. They have a rehearsal facility that, like mine, runs lots of runs with random “virtual player” input, producing a statistical representation of the behavior of the storyworld, right down to listing what I call “thread-killers” — verbs that often lead nowhere.

    Suggestion: I have a feature called “loopy-boobies” that compiles statistics on verb sequences that often get caught in loops up to nine steps in length. I doubt that it would be useful for Versu, given your Timeout capability. I like that Timeout idea so well I think I’ll steal it.

    Versu also has a form of what I call “Tinkertoy Text”, although I’ll sniff proudly that the version I cooked up back in 1984 was slightly better. And the current version, in which the author can create entire scripts for assembling expressions, is so much more powerful that it’s well-nigh impossible to figure out.

    I have several suggestions for that Tinkertoy Text feature: first, add a “degree-specifying” capability that uses the value of a variable to select the best wording. For example, my old Tinkertoy Text had something like this:

    Joe is { irritated | peeved | angry | furious \ value of anger}

    Another form is:

    Joe is {value of anger intensifier} angry.
    Where the “intensifier” is a set of adverbs in sequence, such as “not at all”, “a little”, “somewhat”, “moderately”, “positively”, and “very”.

    Second suggestion: add a pronoun-insertion capability that can insert pronouns appropriate to gender and case.

    Anyway, it was a great presentation, and I learned a great deal.

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