Lessons – Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, 1st Ed.

Here are the list of lessons from the 1st edition of Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling

  1. Stories are complex structures that must met many hard-to-specify requirements.
  2. Stories are about the most fascinating things in the universe: people.
  3. Puzzles are not a necessary component of stories.
  4. Spectacle does not make stories.
  5. Visual thinking should not dominate storytelling.
  6. Stories take place on stages, not maps.
  7. The overall quality of interactivity (human-with-human or human-with-computer) depends on the product, not the sum of the individual quantities of the three steps. You must have good listening and good thinking and good speaking to have good interaction.
  8. Your designs should aspire to the ideal of metaphorically having sex with your users.
  9. Fast turnaround is always better than slow turnaround.
  10. The overall quality of an interaction depends on its depth as well as its speed.
  11. Interactive storytelling systems are not “games with stories.”
  12. A storyworld is composed of closely balanced decisions that can reasonably go either way.
  13. The storybuilder’s most important task is creating and harmonizing a large set of dramatically significant, closely balanced choices for the player.
  14. When you can’t bash through a problem, go over its head.
  15. Interactivity requires verb thinking.
  16. Crawford’s First Rule of Software Design: Ask “What does the user DO?”
  17. Branching tree designs are always too much work for the designer and not enough meat for the player.
  18. Emergence is not the same thing as magic.
  19. Tackle the toughest problem first.
  20. Interactive storytelling requires a sublanguage that both computers and humans can use.
  21. The personality model must cover the behavioral range of your storyworld.
  22. Keep the personality model as small as possible.
  23. Achieve conciseness through orthogonality.
  24. The personality model mirrors the behavioral universe of the storyworld.
  25. Don’t create special-case personality variables for individual verbs.
  26. Use environmental manipulation to heighten drama, not foil the player.
  27. Use goal injection to divert the player toward a better course.
  28. Use a companion with an alterable personality to guide the player.
  29. The Ticking Clock of Doom is effective but must be camouflaged.
  30. Dropping the fourth wall is heavy-handed; use it only for comedic effect.
  31. Do not impose your preferences on players; permit them all reasonable options and then impose the consequences of their choices.
  32. Use scoring systems to guide players instead of mandates and prohibitions that constrain them.
  33. In tragedy, the reward is applause, not victory.
  34. Interactive storytelling requires thousands of verbs.
  35. It’s difficult to recognize how astoundingly stupid an apparently reasonable algorithm can be.
  36. Calculating anticipation behavior requires complex algorithms.
  37. Someday inference engines will be useful in interactive storytelling–but not yet.
  38. The development environment is just as important as the engine.
  39. Use menu-driven systems for script editors.
  40. Clearly indicate and define required but undefined arguments.
  41. Provide all required lines of script on script initialization.
  42. Lose the acronyms. Spell it out.
  43. Use strongly typed, color-coded variables and functions.
  44. Interactive fiction will not lead to interactive storytelling.
  45. So far, hypertext fiction offers little more than interesting academic possibilities.
  46. “Digital” does not mean “interactive.”

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