Siboot SympolTalk

Dan Fabulich started us off with a brief description of the game that his company will be releasing on Friday. The player is a lawyer in a strange world of “demonic law”. Dan expressed some pride in the quality of the writing. It can be found at:

http://www.choiceofgames.com/2013/12/coming-december-20th-choice-of-the-deathless-by-max-gladstone/

We were hoping that Judy Tyrer would show up to tell us about her successful Kickstarter project to get funding for “Ever, Jane”. Unfortunately, her ISP was particularly intransigent, and Judy was not able to get on until rather late in the hour. She’ll have something for us next month, complete with pretty pictures.

Chris therefore followed through on his threat to talk about Siboot. He explained the basics of SympolTalk, the iconic language used for Siboot.  Here is a short conversation held in SympolTalk:

A short conversation in SympolTalk

A short conversation in SympolTalk

Here’s the sentence-by-sentence translation, starting in the upper left, going down, then to the upper right, going down:

Camiggdo greets Nynub nicely.

Camiggdo asks Nynub if there’s any news.

Nynub decides to tell the truth to Camiggdo.

Nynub tells Camiggdo that Skordokott said nasty things about Camiggdo to Soome.

Camiggdo expresses slight skepticism about that.

Nynub assures Camiggdo that she got it from Soome.

Camiggdo responds noncommittally.

Camiggdo says goodbye to Nynub.

Chris showed other examples and explained some of the details of the operation of the language. Participants seemed unsure about the ease of learning the language, but expressed some confidence that, with practice, people could figure it out.

There was also some question as to the merits of the abstract system in SympolTalk as compared to the use of specific natural language. Chris defended the abstraction as an important benefit, on the grounds that the glyphs in SympolTalk have more semantic volume than words in natural language — they are interpreted more broadly by the user.

Bill Maya pointed out that the underlying concepts about abstraction versus specificity are very well expressed in Scott McCloud’s book “Understanding Comics”.

Stephanie Spong raised the Simlish language used in “The Sims”.

The group discussed some of the problems of referencing past events using a “history book” display, especially the difficulty of creating an effective user interface for such a reference.

Dan Fabulich suggested that it might be more productive to design a board game using the basic dream combat system in Siboot as a way of polishing that sub game, then adding the software to play it over the computer. Chris Crawford was intrigued and promised to explore the possibility.

There was also some discussion of the value of keeping the system as simple as possible. Storytron had suffered badly from a too-complex system. Chris Crawford mentioned that he had completed “Gossip”, a very simplified system and made it available. The iOS version is available on the Apple App store under the name “Teen Talk”. The Android version is available on the Android App store under the name “Gossip”. A Macintosh version is available for free at Chris Crawford’s website at:

http://www.erasmatazz.com/library/software/index.html

There was also some discussion of the value or recording the meeting for future reference. Chris Crawford, being an old fogey, expressed reservations, but promised to open up the subject for discussion on this blog. Let’s hear some opinions!

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