A Small Disaster

February 5th

Things were going along swimmingly. I had sketched the entire storyworld with all its connections and set to work building them with Sappho. I got pretty far when I realized that there was a horrible problem. Sappho uses three plies per event, but the normal exchange uses alternating plies. Here’s a portion of the storyworld architecture:

The first three rows represent the three components of a single event. The fourth row represents the next event that will take place. The problem here is that the Next Story elements are actions taken by the player. That can’t work, because the player must be able to make a choice. This is a three-ply structure. It has to be a two-ply structure, with the Reactions ply converted into a new story-level event. In other words, it must alternate between red (others do something) and blue (the player does something). I must remove the entire reactions layer. Oy vey, what a huge change!

So now I have to redesign everything. Perhaps I should make the old Reactions layer into something like a Role. 

February 6th

I’ve been beating my head on this wall for 5 days now and I have decided that there are two solutions:

1. Strip out reactions, as stated above, and make this a direct two-ply system. It would then be identical in structure to a text adventure, with two exceptions: first, the choice of response to a player action is numerical, not boolean; second, that the variables undergoing change are numeric, not boolean. The flaw in this scheme is that there just isn’t enough activity to make the changes in relationships significant. Tree-based structures have only as many steps as there are plies. My current design has only five player steps. That’s not enough time to have any significant effect. 

However, this could be used as a teaching tool. Each student must add one new event to the tree. That would flesh it out nicely.

2. Revert the encounter system to its original function of augmenting a simplistic directed graph system. This would provide a much richer system, but I would have to build that completely new directed graph system. That’s a huge load of work. 

So let’s get to work on the new design. My first task is to redesign the window. I wonder if I can dispense with the NextEncounter window. Here’s a screen mockup (shrunken somewhat to fit onto most browser windows).