Saturday, April 11, 2015

4. Delete Useless Crap.

10 Things You Should Know About:
Writing Interactive Fiction

4. Delete Useless Crap.
If it doesn't affect the Player's Decisions
-- Delete IT!

Memorize this:
 Anything that Can be cut out of your game
Should be cut out. 

This includes:
Unnecessary Back-Story

If the events that happened to the main character before the actual Game begins do not directly affect the decisions the Player will have to make then those facts are Not Needed. 

Anything that's Not Needed
Doesn't Belong in your Game!

On the other hand, if these same facts add Character and offer insight to the main character's thoughts and actions then they DO Matter. Those should be included.

However, there's no need to waste time, text, and game assets; music, backgrounds, character images... on whole scenes that take place in the past to show said facts. A quick spot of dialog mentioning them is good enough.

  • "Oh, I grew up in an orphanage, so I'm used to being around lots of noisy kids."
  • "Why should I trust you? All the men I've known so far were only after one thing."
  • "I accidentally did a rain spell that almost caused a flood, so my home village sent me here to learn how to do control my magic properly." 
  • "I have older brothers, and they're all bigger than me, so I learned how to fight dirty out of sheer self defense."
  • "I grew up on the streets. I learned the hard way not to take anyone at face value."
After that, add a simple action sequence showing those traits In Action. That's all you'll need to get your point across without bogging down the Story, and the Game. 

That said, the most common Useless Crap that's added are--

Character Development?
Superfluous Love Scenes 
and Pointless Fan-Service

These most commonly appear in Adult Visual Novels, and are most frequently seen in the illustrations. However, long, drawn-out Love Scenes --with or without accompanying imagery-- have also been known to show up in more than a few Interactive Fiction games that aren't even Romances. Love Scenes that don't actually serve a purpose in the Story.

A meaningful over-night relationship.
These Love Scenes are nothing more than bait to attract Players.

Don't Bait the Hook if you Don't have
the xXx Content to back it up!

The problem is, this sort of bait only attracts only one type of Player, and that type isn't going to be happy with anything less than Hard-Core xXx content -- and lots of it. As in; the entire game. In addition, these Players can get pretty cranky when they're Not Satisfied.

Will your work satisfy these Players?
If you are creating Hard-Core xXx Interactive Fiction, by all means continue with your PWP, (Porn Without Purpose) and make those Players happy.

However, for those making Interactive Fiction that isn't crammed full of Hard-Core xXx content --  

Cut That Shit Out!!!

Please allow me to repeat myself. If the Love Scenes do not directly affect the decisions the Player will have to make in the Interactive Fiction, then those Love Scenes are Not Needed. 

Anything that's Not Needed
Doesn't Belong in your Game! 

However...! Love Scenes do indeed serve an actual purpose in Stories. For example, when you ask Romance Novelists about Love Scenes, this is what they say:
"I don’t write about sex, I write about desire and heartbreak."
-- Steven Almond

"...the key to a romance novel is, and always will be, the relationship between the two main characters and the emotions that develop between them."
-- Sara Fitzgerald

"Romance has an equal balance between sexuality and emotional bonding. Pornography has sex with little or no bonding."
-- Karen Wiesner
In other words, Love Scenes are particularly useful when used to show the Development of a Relationship.
In fact, increasingly suggestive Loves Scenes are an excellent way to show the Progression of Intimacy in a Relationship, even if the Interactive Fiction isn't a Romance. 

Okay fine, so how does this affect the Player's decisions?

If the Player wishes to develop a relationship within the story --or wishes to avoid one-- I'd say this could affect the Player's decisions quite a bit.

How do you know
when you have a Love Scene
that isn't needed?

Here's a handy-dandy test:

Can you Replace your Love scene
with a Kissing scene -- or any other Action scene
without ruining the Story?

Yes!    No.
 Go to A        Go to B

A: You did it Wrong. You've added a Love Scene that serves no purpose other than Decoration. Time to trim some Fat.

B: You did it Right! That Love Scene definitely belongs in your story. 

What about Fan-Service?

Whether it's a juicy scene in an Interactive Fiction, or a juicy image in a Visual Novel, Fan-Service has only one purpose: to encourage people to play --or buy- that game just to see it.  

Fan-Service is the Prize at the bottom of a cereal box. Also known as; a Marketing Gimmick.

Do you really need to include a Marketing Gimmick in your Interactive Fiction? Is an offer of Fan-Service the only way anyone will play it? Seriously?

I let you figure that one out yourself.

Ookami Kasumi

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