Le Morte D’Arthur Battle Scene Sucks

Well, here it is: the battle scene from Le Morte D’Arthur. I put a lot of effort into this software, and it sucks. It falls way, way short of my expectations.

What I intended
The design goal for this scene was a battle fought without maps, units, or maneuvers. Instead, this scene presents a battle as a social event in which the player as Arthur must lead his men to victory by motivating them with appropriate exhortations. Each of the dukes has his own personality and responds differently to the various kinds of exhortations Arthur might use. Some are greedy and respond best to promises of rewards. Some are are vain and will respond to praise. Others are cowardly and must be motivated by threats. If Arthur responds to the vicissitudes of battle in ways appropriate to the personalities of the dukes, then victory will ensue.

What I got
It didn’t work out that way. I spent most of the five months working on the text system, trying to solve the problem of mechanical-sounding text. I only turned to the problem of the psychological mechanics in December, and it turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. For some reason I still do not understand, I could not get a decent balance between the two sides. No matter how finely I tweaked the various parameters, Arthur would either win or lose on the first beat. I eventually came up with a heavy-handed solution that served only to make it all but impossible for Arthur to either win or lose. The battle just keeps going on and on without resolution.

The emotional reactions of the dukes are implemented but not at all tuned. They’re a stupid mess. 

How to see it
If you enjoy horror shows, here’s how to have a look. Download SWAT_LMD.zip. Unzip it. You’ll get a folder containing a number of files and subfolders. Double-click on SWAT LMD.jar. It’s a Java file, so you’ll have to have Java installed on your computer. You’ll see a window looking like this:

Select “LMD.stw”; now you’ll see this:

This is the main window for SWAT: the Storyworld Authoring Tool. You can use this to edit the storyworld, should you wish. This is a very complicated tool; you can find instructions for using it at www.storytron.com. I do not recommend you attempt this, but feel free to play.

Go to the menu “Lizards” and select the menu item “Storyteller Lizard”:

This will launch the Le Morte D’Arthur storyworld; now you’ll see this:

Read the events described on the left panel; on the right panel is your response to those events. You don’t get a choice here; I force your hand. The same thing goes for a number of additional events; you’ll just have to acknowledge them and move on. After a while, you’ll get to make a decision:

This allows you to respond to Lancelot’s action. This is, supposedly, where you shape the outcome of the battle. After making your selection, click on the end of sentence period button, and you’re off. Continue until you lose patience and quit. Some fun, huh?