A New Le Morte D’Arthur?

The purpose of this document is to establish whether attempting a version of Le Morte D’Arthur would have much chance of success, which I define as attracting enough interest in the Storytron technology to insure that it will continue to be developed after I depart.

This storyworld would be built using the original Storytron technology as expressed in SWAT. Yes, I’ll be reverting to technology that’s ten years old. It will have strictly text output. This brings us to one of the killer problems that bedeviled the original Storytron technology: even with the Tinkertoy Text system, the text output seemed mechanical and repetitive. This time, I will require a cadre of people to write Tinkertoy Text expansions of the material so that it does not sound so mechanical. If I am unable to get enough people to write such expansions, I shall kill the project.

The design will also incorporate the Encounter System. I am not certain that I will require the services of others to write these Encounters, largely because it will take more time to write up all the backstory requirements than to just write the Encounters myself. Besides, I don’t want to have to deal with all the headaches of people having problems using the Encounter Editor.

The central issue in the design is whether I can design enough verbs to make the storyworld interesting. An interactive storyworld is like a nuclear bomb: without a critical mass of verbs, it will just fizzle out. These are the verb clusters for the design:

This will cover the various romantic encounters among the cast of characters. Arthur will be a participant; the story begins with him unmarried. He must find a suitable lady to marry. Political considerations will dominate his thinking, but he must also woo the lady. Other characters will also engage in romantic adventures, which could lead to happy relationships as well as bitter breakups. I imagine that it will be difficult to design a suitably large set of verbs for this cluster.

Internal Conflicts
These will be the various squabbles among the members of the cast. They will always be getting themselves into stupid conflicts, forcing Arthur to adjudicate their disputes, with difficult political consequences. I do not have a clear idea of how this will work.

Foreign Conflicts
The story begins with southern England divided between Saxons and Romano-British under Arthur. Arthur will have some diplomatic opportunities in his interactions with the various Saxon kings. Much of the interaction would involve acquisition of small chunks of land. Unfortunately, this will require a map, which will have to be part of the supporting materials. There will, of course, also be military operations, of three types: cattle raids, devastation attacks, and outright invasions.

Military Operations
These are situations in which Arthur must collect his forces from his subordinates and set out to intercept enemy forces.

Arthur must direct his forces on the battlefield. This will be carried out exclusively in text, which will make regular gamers howl with frustration.

Mordred’s Machinations
Behind the scenes, Mordred will be fomenting internal discord and attempting to recruit allies for a rebellion against Arthur. Arthur must somehow counter Mordred’s initiatives.

The Final Revolt
Mordred will raise the flag of revolt and march on Camelot. Arthur will meet him in battle and will either win or die.