Yet Another Graphomaniacs Compendium
Monday, June 03, 2002

Integrating Narrative and Simulation


The single most interesting aspect of game design is the tension between the tendency to narrate and the tendency to simulate. Even in the most narration oriented area of game design, Interactive fiction , simulationism exists. Most designers deal with this in one of two ways: firstly they concentrate on narrative and make the simulationist aspects subordinate to the narrative. Depending on the story they want to tell, they chose which aspects of the game world they want to simulate. For a driving game such as Stuntman, obviously vehicle physics is modelled in detail: for Shadowman, most important was the animation of the characters and their ability to engage in combat with the player. Other examples are the rougelike genere where combat and magic are lovingly modelled, but the goals of the player remain basically the same. The second approach is to eschew the idea of narrative and produce a game as toy rather than as a dynamic story. Examples of this genere are the Sim series of games, most flight simulators, and possibly sports simulations.


However, there is a third option, which seems to be the option of having narrative embedded within the simulation. When specific conditions occur within the game world, this triggers off events within the game world. A classic example would be within Civilization, when the player builds a city too close to the city of an existing opponent, or the missions within Elite. There's no reason that the event triggered has to be a single event : it could be a chain of events, each with several sub - events. Furthermore that kind of situation could be easily embedded in the game using an old knowldege representation scheme, which is ideal for dealing with modetately complex stereotyped events called scripts. These are an very convienent way of representing knolwdedge about the plans and goals of the actors in and outcomes of narratives, I'm surprised they haven't been discovered by the games community earlier. Although IF langauges like Inform are loosly based on similar structures.


posted by John Connors at
Monday, June 03, 2002

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A miscellany of topics that intersest me: deaf culture, game design, politics as soap opera, the cyborg condition and the experience of learning to hear again. Other topics presented are speculative fiction and imaginary cities. There are appearences of snippets of work in progress, public rants, pointless posts and Mish the Mouse.




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