Once more unto the breach

I’ve joined the team that’s going to help Chris Crawford make Siboot 2.0 a reality. The main question I asked myself before signing up is “Why?”

Previously I spent almost two years using Chris’ Storytron technology to do exactly what Chris attempting now – recreate Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot. It was an experiment that was abruptly ending when Chris decided to mothball the project (you can read more about it here).

If a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, why am I signing up for what very well might turn out to be another failed side-project? I don’t have a great deal of confidence that Chris can manage a project of this size with a remote team. I sometimes think he’s a bit too iconoclastic to take other’s advice, and, if I’m totally honest, his hubris, however rightly earned, grates on me – humility doesn’t seem to be his strong point.

Over the years I’ve played all of Chris’ games and read all his books. His credentials and credibility are still valid, if strained, and I believe that his theories about interactive storytelling need to be field tested. Until there’s a storyworld out there created using his methodology and technology, all his talk and writing is just a hypothesis. I want to help dispel some of the smoke and mirrors.

Chris is also the game designer I think I’d like to emulate I were a game developer – an auteur struggling alone in a garret cubical trying to mold his personal vision to deliver to the public while advancing the state of the art and making a buck – a D.W. Griffith or a Charlie Chaplin. (I felt the same way about filmmaking in film school.)

Interactive storytelling is also new territory, probably much like the game industry of the TRS-80, Apple II+, and Commodore 64 microcomputer era – wide open to experimentation and willing to try anything for 99 cents (but not a $1.99). I want to be a part of that.

Finally, my exposure is limited. I’ve only signed up to play-test the Siboot 2.0 storyworld Chris is creating for ten hours a week (and that won’t happen until later in the year). I administer the forums we’re using for discussion and the Trello board we’re using for development. I have access to the Storytron code and I can tinker with SWAT and learn more about the nuts and bolts implementation behind Chris’ theories, time permitting.

I quote Henry V, Act 4 Scene 3, in my introduction to the team.

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Maybe I am insane.

Update: I withdrew from the Siboot 2.0 project on 2/8/15. I realized that I’ve “done” Siboot back in my Storytron days and even my interest in Chris’ approach to interactive storytelling couldn’t sustain my interest in the project. Also, if I’m going to work in this area I’ll have to get out from under his shadow and do my own thinking. I certainly can build on his ideas but I don’t need him as a mentor or guide.

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