March 27, 2006

Credibility Currency

by Andrew Stern · , 8:18 pm

More GDC writeups: 21st Century Game Design co-author Chris Bateman, at his blog Only a Game, has posted a nice summary of fellow ihobo developer Ernest Adams’ GDC talk, “A New Vision for Interactive Stories“.

Ernest surveys some of the techniques and issues in developing interactive stories, including observing and reacting to Façade (as we know, he’s a fan). Based on the summary of the talk, it’s more of a broad talk than deep one, touching on the idea of limits in interactive stories (reminding me of Nick’s first GTxA post), suggesting an implicit “credibility budget”. The talk concluded by pointing towards procedurality as a road to progress.

Also on the blog, some mixed reaction to Cloud, the IGF Student Showcase winner — interesting to me because Jenova was giving us hard time at Slamdance about interface issues with Façade. ;-)

8 Responses to “Credibility Currency”


  1. Ian Bogost Says:

    Cloud is a visually gorgeous game and the sound design is amazing. The concept is great too, but I too find the controls oppressive. I’ve told Jenova the team about this, but I find the game immensely stressful. I find myself gripping the mouse within an inch of its life to get the little character to move where I want. What’s interesting about this is that they bill Cloud as a zen game about relaxation, but I had the opposite response to it. Kudos to the team in spades, but I couldn’t imagine I’m the only one to have this reaction, and Chris’s blog seems to confirm this.

  2. andrew Says:

    Ah yes, my foggy memory now recalls you having a stormy reaction to Cloud, which precipitates this discussion here.

    Another GDC link, previewing what I’m sure will become a discussion at WCG and/or GTxA: some early controversy over Ian’s announcement at GDC of his studio’s game about abortion, currently under development. (Not to take away from another exciting announcment about Ian’s newly published book on game criticism.)

  3. Ian Bogost Says:

    Just to be clear, the game about abortion is something Michael Mateas and I are working on at the Georgia Tech Experimental Game Lab. Persuasive Games (my studio) isn’t involved. Not that the studio would shy away from the topic, but just to clarify what’s what.

    Ok, now off to leave my comments on gamepolitics…

  4. andrew Says:

    I won’t even try to make a meta-joke about arguing over the idea of the right to make a game that’s currently only in its gestation phase.

  5. Ian Bogost Says:

    Oops, I think you just made the joke ;)

    Holy crap, look at that thread at gamepolitics. Yow, great stuff.

  6. michael Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Ian. I’m noticing that much of the commentary about our (still nascent) game doesn’t seem to notice that, well, it’s *our* game (probably unavoidable given that I wasn’t at GDC). I’ll just make sure that I’m present when we unveil the actual game, (rather than just the vapor around the game). After years of peddling vapor with Andrew before we finally released Facade, I thought I would continue the tradition with our abortion game :).

  7. Ian Bogost Says:

    Yes, I made a clarification in the comments at gamepolitics too. Of course I gave your name to all the press and you were prominently featured in the GDC talk, but most people weren’t at the GDC talk, they’re just responding to the online buzz. I guess you can take cover behind me for now… some of the responses are less than congratulatory ;) I think that the AI cred you bring from Façade should actually quell some of the objections, but maybe that’s naive.

    Anyway.

  8. Patrick Dugan Says:

    I’m definetly looking foward to Ian’s book and the upcoming game. Abortion is a complex issue, so I imagine your final dynamics will make SimCity look like Rock-Paper-Scissors.

    Getting back to the original topic, Ernest’s idea of “Crediblity Currency” I have a question I’d like to pose to the group, but first a bit of staging. It seems like the concept of an economy of crediblity applies to creating modular content for a storyworld, so that as you create each script, verb, or weighted discourse act you have to think “is this going to create any feedback loops that open my other content up for ugly recombinations?” In Storytron for instance, I write a reaction script to a verb, and offer verbs an actor can react to per boolean role, and weigh each possible option with an inclination formula, a linear equation that takes personality parameters. I might leave the option “Kiss” open as a reaction to “slap”, for that rare, climactic, cliched, romantic moment. But I’d definetly want to balanace the formula so that the slap/kiss combo only occurs in appropriately limited circumstances, otherwise you’d have people making out at every other altercation and the illusion dissolves.

    When you create non-adaptive modular content for an interactive drama, the “willing suspension of disbeleif” rule still applies, and thats the economy of crediblity.

    BUT

    What if you’re opening the drama to player-created content, in a more profound way than merely letting the player induce their own goals? What if you’ve got a powerful AI that adapts hueristically to the user and the content takes a radically organic construction? What if, at some future point, we begin using drama engines with such powerful generativity that the user gains a better ability to predict the unfolding of the drama than the author?

    If this level of content creation becomes a reality (and it might), wouldn’t the economy of crediblity, that willing suspension of disbelief, be superceded by what Janet Murray calls “the active creation of belief?” If the user gains a greater level of co-authorship than the original designer, what new framing theory must we use?

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