## Interstitial Story Simplification

We had the first video meeting of the Knights today and it went very well — there were plenty of good ideas and I was hard put to keep up with them, scribbling furiously. The most important idea to emerge, for me, is the importance of simplifying the system as a whole if it is to be successful as a bandwagon for interactive storytelling. The sad truth is that my insistence that people use numeric algorithms runs afoul of human limitations. It’s difficult enough for me to compose good numeric algorithms; the average storyworld builder won’t be able to handle all the possibilities of Sappho.

One good step in figuring out how to simplify all this will be to construct a simplified system for the behaviors in the interstitial story code. This will be the entry path for many storyworld builders, but it must not intimidate people; it must be easily approachable.

I have already come up with a number of simplifications. There are now three simple ways of restricting the appearance of an interstitial story:

Prerequisites: These are the names of stories that MUST have appeared before the story in question can appear.

Disqualifiers: These are the names of stories that MUST NOT have appeared before the story in question can appear.

Turn Window: This is a list of turns during which the story must appear. It cannot appear before or after these turns.

These three specifications can be skipped by the author; if nothing is entered, no such restrictions apply.

This much is easy. Trouble comes with the selection of the interlocutor’s reaction to the player’s choice. If there are to be several possible reactions, we need a way to select the ideal reaction. In traditional Storytronics, this would be accomplished with Acceptable and Desirable scripts. That is too complicated to use here. I think we need to restrict all calculations to just six variables: Bad_Good, Deceitful_Honest, Submissive_Dominant, and their associated pValues.

We could constrain the author by permitting the use of only a single variable. You have just six variables to choose from; pick the best for this option. That’s certainly simple.

But I know that people will immediately demand more expressive power. A step upwards would be to permit a combination of any two variables, with some sort of balancing factor. This could be done with a Blend operator. The expression might look like this: