Via our neighborhood ludology blogs, here are links to two articles with ideas on how to improve interactive narrative experiences. First, a new essay by Timothy Burke in which he strongly advocates agency in MMOG virtual worlds.
MMOGs can never be virtual worlds until they abandon the character as the primary unit of persistence. To be virtual worlds, they have to make the gameworld itself the major unit of persistence. … This is the dream of many MMOG players: they beg for gameworlds in which their actions matter, in which there are events of consequence. Developers promise to pursue this chimera, but rarely implement anything even approaching the most modest dreams of players.
Second, an older essay (1989) espousing the concept of game-stories, by Ron Gilbert, veteran developer of adventure games (Monkey Island) and its technology (SCUMM), posted on his new blog. In the essay, which holds up quite well 15 years later (perhaps suggesting how little progress has been made in interactive narrative since then), Gilbert discusses his “rules of thumb that will minimize the loss of suspension of disbelief” in game-stories. Particularly interesting to me, in light of our current experiment in real-time interactive drama, is Gilbert’s rule that “Real time is bad drama”: