I have done no work on this design for two months; the press of other obligations has stolen me away from this my most important task. But now I am back, and resolved not to compromise again. I shall work on this project regularly, and I shall complete it on December 31st of this year.
So, where do I start? I have re-read the earlier design essays and I don't feel good about them. The design still seems out of focus. There are some good ideas in there, but they don't hang together yet. I don't feel that I could set to work with these essays and start building verbs. I am bothered by the fact that I have managed to repeat all the basic subsystems in the original LMD: justice, romance, lies, and battle. Isn't there something else that eludes me?
The Grail subsystem could prove useful, but I fear that it is mostly puzzle-like. How can I get Arthur interacting with Mordred through the Grail subsystem? If only I could come up with an interaction here, there would be enormous potential. Perhaps it would be a matter of Mordred denying the reality of the Grail, and Arthur maintaining it. But how does this provide interaction? Arthur needs to prove the Grail's existence by finding it, but only Percival can do that. Arthur has to convince Percival to search for the Grail, and Mordred is actively discouraging Percival. I don't know, this could so easily devolve to puzzle-action: Arthur has to say the magic words to Percival to get him moving. Again, a crude test of interactivity can be applied here: how many paths are there to success, and do the merits of those paths change with the conditions of the story?
The element that I like about the Grail subsystem is the injection of a mystical element. But how does one interact with mystical elements? Perhaps if it is an echo of yourself. I define some deep global variable representing something about Arthur's behavior, and that variable then determines the intrusion of the mystical element. It could be rather like some of the sidestories in Siboot. But how can I insure that Arthur's responses can each be best in a different context? I suppose that I could hit Arthur with the same challenges, but the value of the option taken depends upon its comportment with Arthur's previous actions. This sounds very tricky.
Then there's Merlin. Does he act as advisor, as in LMD? Or can Arthur interact with him more meaningfully? I would prefer the latter, but I need the former. Perhaps I can have Merlin perform both functions. Perhaps Merlin can be the instrument of the mystical element.
Let's get back to basics here. Remember, the theme has already been established: Warrior versus King. Arthur must be confronted with a great many decisions that boil down to a choice between these two, and the Warrior-choice must always be seen as the more immediately beneficial one.
But I still must get a stronger interpersonal interaction.