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Thread: The NeS through 99 Lenses

  1. #121
    Lens #98: The Lens of Responsibility

    To live up to your obligations as a game designer, ask yourself these questions:
    • Does my game help people? How?
    Does the NeS inherently help people? Yes. It helps by building cooperation and improvisation, and it helps by telling stories and experiences that, deep in their souls, better people. And while the author of The Art of Game Design speaks of keeping your agenda of responsibility secret for some more practical reasons (your publishers are interested in money and will think you have your priorities in the wrong place if you disagree), I believe in the same -- to "hide the message" under a layer of entertainment -- for many other reasons. Subtlety, depth, sugar-coating (for lack of better words) -- these are the sort of reasons that come to mind for me. My responsibility is not something I will forget, and should anyone feel I have, I would hope they speak up passionately and clearly.

    As always, please comment, question, criticize, and dare I say, be co-responsible in making the NeS something that betters people.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 07-23-2010 at 03:44 PM.

  2. #122
    Lens #99: The Lens of the Raven

    To remember to only work on what is important, ask yourself this question:
    • Is making this game worth my time?
    The author of The Art of Game Design calls this lens "The Lens of the Raven" in reference to Poe's poem "The Raven" to elicit the idea that time is short, fleeting, and needs every moment of it to be capitalized. The author stirs up a bit of melodrama by the end of his book at this point, but it's a book for game designers (artists), so go figure. It is important to make sure that the project is worth your time though, so this lens is still important to apply.

    Is crafting the NeS with its community worth my time?


    But why?
    • It's worth my time to craft and be a part of the essential experiences of a living story-world paradoxically both with an epically mundane will of its own and a mundanely epic blank slate which to engage.
    • It's worth my time because of the absurdly comic surprises it offers.
    • It's worth my time because of the fun in crafting and consuming the story as it unfolds.
    • It's worth my time because I'm curious where the NeS will go next.
    • It's worth my time because of the inherent value I place with a number of the characters.
    • It's worth my time because of the problems I solve with it as stated in the problem statements regarding its themes and goals of collaboration and improvisation.
    • It's worth my time because the NeS has the potential to use aesthetics, technology, 'mechanics' and story in a meaningfully unique way in relation to its experience.
    • It's worth my time for the themes of fight, flight and love it offers.
    • It's worth my time for how the immediacy and co-ownership in the NeS resonates with me and my quest for the impossible dreams.
    • It's worth my time because while I may not yet have drawn from too much other things for inspiration, there is an infinite space of inspiration to draw from with the NeS (and in turn, inspires me in other parts of my life).
    • It's worth my time because it passes many filters for a good project.
    • It's worth my time because the risks are worth it and can be mitigated.
    • It's worth my time because the NeS is fun even without goals, like a toy, even if a number of people are hesitant to play with it at first.
    • It's worth my time because the NeS is designed in mind for the "player", if perhaps moreso for the writers than the readers.
    • It is worth my time because the NeS is (at least potentially) pleasurable on a number of levels.
    • It is worth my time to embrace the challenge of designing the seemingly untamable flow for the NeS community to experience fully.
    • It is worth my time because it fulfills many central and higher needs of mine.
    • It is worth my time because it is an opportunity to be judged in a context that matters to me.
    • It is worth my time because it has a functional space that engages me.
    • It is worth my time because the elements of the NeS create a strong dynamic state with fascinating states of private and public knowledge of those elements.
    • It is worth my time because of how the NeS emerges from such relative simplistic premises to complex character and illusion of life, even if its ratio of simplcity and complexity could stand to be more simple.
    • It is worth my time because of the actions present in the NeS and its ratio of operational to resultant actions.
    • It is worth my time because there are few rules with the NeS, moreso guidelines of good behavior.
    • It is worth my time because its tests my skills as a writer, collaborator and improviser mixed with its perceived highly valued amount of chance -- the two together mix engagingly with the NeS.
    • It is worth my time because the NeS is inherently fair in its collaborative spirit.
    • It is worth my time because of the many challenges it offers, particularly to balance "story" (for the readers) and "gameplay" (for the writers).
    • It is worth my time because the choices I make with the NeS are meaningful, particularly with collaboration.
    • It is worth my time because of the potential for triangularity to show in the story.
    • It is worth my time because of the option it presents between the mindless and the thoughtful.
    • It is worth my time for the thin streak of competition present in the NeS, the thick threads of cooperation the NeS ties its community with, and how the two together co-exist.
    • It is worth my time because, as time consuming as the NeS can be, there is no hard time to abide by.
    • It is worth my time because while the rewards are few, they can be quite valued, and there are few punishments as well, though those certainly carry weight as well.
    • It is worth my time because a number of its elements are often elegant and yet are defined strongly by their character as well.
    • It is worth my time because it inspires my imagination.
    • It is worth my time, in part, because there is no complex economy to consider, and potential economies would be unique.
    • It is worth my time because of the mere attempt at balance, even if it may still falter.
    • It is worth my time because I feel its accessibility, once unlocked to its full potential, will build a cooperative community unlike few others.
    • It is worth my time because, ultimately, I really can see my progress, even if only in hindsight.
    • It is worth my time because it offers parallel stories to work with that yet build like a pyramid to a singular story.
    • It is worth my time to puzzle over some of its challenges.
    • It is worth my time because there is potentially quite meaningful control that I can take, its physical and virtual interface offering transparency and feedback that is at least relatively "juicy", provided in fairly simple channels & dimensions as well as modes.
    • This is worth my time because its interest curve, while needing improvement, is certainly promising, providing good inherent interest.
    • This is worth my time because, in many ways, the NeS is beautiful.
    • This is worth my time because I project easily within and outside the story, especially in relation to "my character" Gebohq.
    • This is worth my time because the NeS is perhaps a story machine I find unrivaled.
    • This is worth my time for the obstacles it presents.
    • This is worth my time for the simplicity and transcendence it offers in its story-world.
    • This is worth my time because I can craft and follow the journies of a hero easily in the NeS.
    • This is worth my time because the NeS is chock-full of the weird.
    • This is worth my time because I care about the stories it tells.
    • This is worth my time because of the freedom it offers me while providing me means of indirect control, such as collusion with characters, over other writers without impending their own freedoms.
    • This is worth my time because of the characters I help craft: in their function, their traits, how they relate to each other through an intricate web of thoughts, their statuses, and how they transform.
    • This is worth my time because I do not believe the perceived inner contradictions actually exist in the NeS.
    • This is worth my time because I do believe the NeS can possess the nameless quality, if it doesn't already.
    • This is worth my time because of the friendships forged with those I met before the NeS, such as Antestarr and Semievil, as well as through the NeS, such as Al Ciao (Highemperor) and The Last True Evil. These are but the tip of the friendships found through the NeS, however, and I hope to find more, perhaps to further forge the team of writers, for a community compounded by collaboration.
    • This is worth my time because I can express myself.
    • This is worth my time because there has been little grieving, and I believe there is little room for it to foster.
    • This is worth my time because I love the NeS.
    • This is worth my time because there is some attempt at documentation in the workshop thread, and hopefully much more through its wiki-like resource to come.
    • This is worth my time because we are continually in a state of playtesting even as we play it.
    • This is worth my time because I don't really have to concern myself with the technologies of the NeS, or concern myself concretely of the future so long as I am mindful of the present, nor the whims of a outside client, or the need to pitch to those only concerned with profit.
    • This is worth my time because the NeS offers opportunities to transform myself.
    • This is worth my time because it is something I can truly feel responsible for and be proud of it.

    I wish I could make more time for it, and yet "real life" encroaches on me more and more it seems, and its only a matter of time before I fear it'll keep me away enough for it to fade away. I fight it to some degree, as the NeS is one of the things most worth my time, but dare I say, what if I have a love life, perhaps with one who isn't interested in the NeS, or start a family, or can't keep the NeS community together strong enough without the simplicity of school for new people, or hell, just feel I've run out of steam, can't hack it anymore, and don't wish to drag it through a half-dead state? I do believe time can be made for anything, but if I'm to be responsible and keep within the spirit of the NeS, it cannot consume my life either.

    As with life, at least for now, all I can aim to do is spend my time wisely so that, if the NeS does die tomorrow, there will be no regrets.

    Now that all the lenses have been covered, please take the time, if you will, to make any comment, ask any question, attack with any criticism, and to give whatever time you can to help me make the NeS and its community stronger, wiser, crazier, clearer, and funnier. Help me to see that its spirit never ends...
    Last edited by Gebohq; 07-27-2010 at 11:33 AM.

  3. #123
    Lens #100: The Lens of Your Secret Purpose

    To make sure you are working toward your one true purpose, ask yourself the only question that matters:
    • Why am I doing this?
    It wouldn't be much of a secret if I said it, now would it?

  4. #124
    Wouldn't much of what you said in Lens 99 be the answer to 100?

  5. #125
    And now to answer back everyone who commented (that I didn't already comment on)! If I missed anyone, please let me know!
    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoosnowflake View Post
    think part of the surprise fun factor is what kind of response you will receive from what you write. Surprise or unknown if what is written will metamorphosis in to something else and how that will happen. And just as things develop there is the unknown in what things fade away how things fade away.

    Think one the expectations (conventions) (anticipations) we might have in the experience of writing or reading(watching, listening...) a story is to see a situation get resolved. That there will be some sort of ending to it. Or have the expectation to have an explanation for everything in the story (no plot holes). Having an ending to something or tying up loose ends does not always happen in the NeS. Some explanations of unexplained can be summed up as a plot hole. Writers have allowed (embraced?) holes in the story to be there even if they become a let down.

    experiences of having control and not having control.

    Kind of reward in participation in the experience of NeS is keeping the story alive and not allowing something named to last forever to die. thinking about the dammed or forgotten characters, their stories lost. To keep a story alive you have to continue to tell it.
    Yeah, the surprise definitely manifests most in seeing how future story posts respond to your own. It's a bit of a balancing act between collaborating well with each other as writers in the workshop, where we risk toning down surprises too much, and keeping ideas to ourselves until we post them, which risks an anti-collaborative spirit.

    Resolution can also be a tricky balancing act. Good stories usually have some sort of [satisfying[ resolution, but the NeS, by its nature, can only resolve so much, if only because it's meant to never end. The same goes with what control we have and what control we don't have as well. The important thing though is the last thing you said, though: we do have to continue to tell the story to keep the NeS alive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cool Matty View Post
    I think, from the past, the best methods of implementing new problems and conflicts was the abandonment of the staple NeS plot of the standard heroes going about defeating the next issue of the Big Bad. In the end they do get boiled down into the standard NeS plot, but it always brings in new and interesting material.
    Yeah, some of the better conflicts in NeS have been the ones that veered away from the standard. "Love Conquers All" comes to mind for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoosnowflake View Post
    Think you can say the text is is an aesthetic thing.

    We tend to keep with the script format. or if writing a huge chunk to put some negative space in between little chunks.

    The layout is a way to manipulate how the viewers eyes will move when viewing the text. but rules in how we read (start at top left, go left to right, going down.) dictate for the most part how our eyes go across the page.

    Think the negative space serves as a way to have the eyes stop for a bit.

    With the script layout..putting a gap between lines. doing things like using bold for Char name. other things like italics.
    guess the layout gives the text texture or a rhythm.

    Play done using color for a certain character. -> Fred
    Haha, yup! It goes to show that even something as seemingly simple as text can still have a lot of aesthetic to it!
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Ciao View Post
    As a disclaimer, I know much less than Geb about games and game design, plus I'm not as clever as he is, so don't expect my answers to these lenses to be near as insightful or long as his. Furthermore, there is a great possibility that I will understand some of what a particular lens is getting at, so if an answer is way off the mark, that's why. In addition, a lot of my answers to different lenses may overlap. As well, I'm focusing more on NeS as an experience for writers, rather than just readers.
    Clever, shmever. I'm glad you've been taking a stab at your own takes with these lenses!
    To me, the essential experience for NeS is FUN, for the reader, yes, but especially for the writer. (I write assuming that any readers are also writers, but this is probably true anyway.) Note also the distinction, as Geb has pointed out before, between "fun" and "funny". (Not that NeS isn't often funny as well.) I guess the primary question here is what about the experience makes it fun.
    To me the fun elements is the impression of a large sandbox to play around in. Are you building a Wagnerian sand palace or a simple sand tower? Moats? What are all the other kids in the sandbox building? How can we fuse our castles together? Literally build them into one another? Have them be neighbors? Set them up as rival sand castles? It's an exercise in imagination and cooperation.

    Okay, so that's not very technical, but it's that same quality of experience that I get out of NeS and that I think would be wonderful for others to have.

    To get this experience, one needs writers who are writing relatively frequently - more than two would be ideal, but too many gets messy, but then what about NeS isn't messy? - as well as writers who are willing to reach out to other writers, even if it's only instory, by building off their ideas instead of simply railroading one's own idea of a subplotline (something I used to do a LOT). The first element is probably the easier of the two, but even that can be difficult, especially since Geb is our primary recruiters. Having other writers try to recruit their friends would be a good idea, and something I'm trying to do with a few people I know (I'm introducing one guy I know who likes to write by first introducing him to NeSi).

    The second element, that of interdependence on other's ideas and story building blocks, can be even harder, as it's something that depends a great deal on the personality of the writer. It seems extremely hard for most writers to let go of the idea that they are in control - because it's very hard to be in control of anything in NeS, other than the post you are writing right now. Yes, we can make plans and share them with other writers, but as Benjamin Mahir said once in the workshop, "Not only do you need a Plan B, but Plans C, D, and E, and be prepared to write up a Plan F on the seat of your pants when the next plot twist hits."
    To say that the goal is "fun" is, indeed, a bit broad -- it can be applied for the "players" of just about all entertainment -- so I'm glad you tried to delve further. :)

    While the comparison to a sandbox is a natural and not inaccurate comparison to make with the NeS, I would be wary of that analogy. Sandbox play often lack direction, goals, visible progression and structure in general, which for something as large and continuous as the NeS, can be a detriment for continued play, as it were.

    I've always wondered what the "ideal" number of writers for the NeS at any given time would be. I suppose it depends on how involved those writers were, but would 10 writers be too messy for even the NeS? 50? 100? It's hard to imagine having that problem anytime soon though for me, hah.

    And yes, first rules of improv club: do not plan in improv club. ;)
    Haha! Surprise is the very definition of NeS - one never knows what's happening next. When we try to plan something, it usually ends up being anticlimactic because the writers get bogged down by it. (Either that, or it takes months to write: witness NeS1999.) If anything, we need more surprise sometimes. It is the natural tendency of writers - even those as venerable as the Gebster himself - to make some kind of an outline for the next story arc. Of course, the flipside of that is that without some kind of plan or outline, writers sometimes don't know what to write.

    Perhaps our main problem with planning story arcs is that we tend to decide on how it's going to end instead of just pointing the characters in a direction. For example, with the Without Credit arc, we knew we were heading for a showdown with Vice in which Guy Book needs to be rescued so that lovable Geb can recover. On the other hand, the sub-arc on page 26 when some heroes go to Disneyworld merely had a direction: "Let's go to Disneyworld so Sem can reunite with his family!" This, perhaps, can be key to making more surprises and less bogged-down anticlimaxes: directions instead of destinations.

    To answer some of the more specific questions about this lens: The direction the story is going in will surprise the readers/writers. (Geb's commment about how embracing or subverting story conventions and how random tidbits of absurdity take on greater importance is a GREAT one.) About the rules, art, and technology offering surprises, Geb pretty much covers that.
    Writers can definitely surprise others with their posts, obviously - but often, the greatest surprise is surprising oneself. I often don't know exactly how my post will turn out - in some cases I have NO idea. I simply start with the end of the last post and go. If there's no particularly destination one must reach, you just roll with the punches, even the self-inflicted ones.
    Once again, balance between "planning to have an idea what to write" versus "stifling the improvisational spirit" is a tricky one, and I agree that setting a direction/goal is probably the best general solution to that. Surprising oneself can be one of the best surprises too. :)
    LENS 3 - FUN
    Much of the fun in NeS comes from the surprise (#2) that comes from the interplay of imagination and cooperation (see #1).
    On the other hand, matters of style can also make the NeS more or less fun to read. A simple script-like style - with double spacing - makes the reading easier on the eyes, whereas reading posts like Shade's old ones (sorry, Shade, if you're reading this) or JM's short novel post Dec 1st '09 or even mine lately (because my comp's not cooperating with me; kudos to Geb for editing double spaces into them) take away from the fun factor. Also, the style of the writing can help.

    With many apologies to West Wind and Majiir - who are incredibly talented and brilliant writers who I wish would come back - sometimes people can write in a very heavy narrative style, with long paragraphs of dense text - appropriate for a novel, but difficult on a computer screen, particularly for a story which is generally much lighter in tone than a novel.

    As far as the balance between what Geb calls escapism and epic drama... To me, epic drama can also be an escape; by giving meaning to a story, we get some sort of catharsis when the real world often confuses us with its lack of sense or meaning at times. But I digress. I used to lean more towards epic drama; now I lean more to zaniness. Of course, I still like epic drama and use it in my posts, but even then I try to have a hefty dose of zaniness in it. I think both approaches are good, but they just need to be balanced. The biggest problem with epic drama is that it often involves a destination rather than merely a direction (see my notes on Lens #2 above) and as such can bog down the writers. If a writer or writers wants to use some kind of epic drama in his posts or (gasp) plans, (s)he needs to be prepared to see it through himself or else to see it fall by the wayside. On the other hand, other writers should be prepared to cooperate to some degree with the dramatic writers' inclinations. This may be easier for some writers than others. Tracer, for example, prefers unlimited codfish to ultimate power. (Of course, where would we be without Tracer? The story would be much duller and less interesting, for certain.)

    I suppose that boils down to Geb's juxtaposition between the epic and the mundane.

    On a side note, I anxiously await TLTE's return to NeS, so we can build off each other's epic ideas. :-)

    Something else I find very fun about NeS is that it's basically created a setting, a world, of its very own. With hallmarks like a second star or the Sahara having become a giant lake swimming with mutant scorpions, or events like Helebon's brief but hellish dominion, NeS has its own flavor and history apart from "generic Earth setting". One thing I love to play with is how the rest of the world perceives the NeSheroes and their actions, whether it's writing a newscast by Tod Ayitsgon Narain or a reaction from Hero Force One to their lesser-known counterparts.
    Style can definitely influence fun, as you've pointed out. I think the preference to light-heartedness, comic, and escapist narrative for the NeS is primarily tied to wanting it to be fun. With fun often being "pleasure with surprises" as defined in The Art of Game Design, it makes sense that the more "serious" side isn't often considered fun and therefore not as desired. Obviously, there are flaws with this line of thinking: there are many stories people enjoy that aren't considered "fun" and people even play games which can be very serious and thought-provoking, so long as it manages to engage on some level of artificiality (gambling, as I see it, ceases to be a game when it involves real money from this perspective). Still, the preference for fun is natural in this case.

    And yes, drama can certainly be escapist, just as comedy can actually be 'confrontist' (for lack of a better word). It's more the juxtaposition of the varying opposites (like with epic and mundane) that I was getting at in regards to the NeS.
    Often, writers for the NeS come in with their own goals for what they want to create. Back in the day, for example, I wanted to create an epic story about Highemp seeking to conquer the NeS before eventually being redeemed in a grandiose drama. More recently, JM wanted to write the story of JM the Character's split consciousness. I have to admit, ultimately I think these singular goals are often defeating to the spirit of NeS itself. Not that having personal writing goals is bad, but when that's your only driving force, it damages what the story could be. In my case, I was too focused on writing Highemp's story and having go where I wanted it to go, that I couldn't adequately respond to other scenarios set up within the story. I got steamed at Tracer when he zombified my character and put him on Jeopardy, instead of rolling with the punches. (That was back in the 20s of the original thread.)

    On a less obsessive level, nearly all writers are more interested in their own characters - Cool Matty, for example, had his subset of characters that he wrote for a lot. And he was by no means alone in that. Often, if a writer didn't know what to do with his/her own character, (s)he wound up writing nothing at all. Kudos to Tracer - not only does he write with any and all characters, he doesn't even have a character of his own (though there was briefly an Agent Tracer who got killed off page 50). Not even Geb has that singleminded devotion to zaniness wherever it can be found.

    If more of us could be more like Tracer - or at least more like Geb - and write for all sorts of different characters and scenarios, NeS could get along a lot better. (Of course, many writers have done just that, most recently, brilliant people like Benjamin Mahir and TheBritt.) The question here is, how can NeS put this type of curiosity into writers' minds and make them care about it more?
    I'm at a loss to answer that, as much of it depends on the personality of the writer him- or herself. Perhaps the best way is to set up interesting scenarios in one's own posts and seeing how other writers jump on it.
    Haha, yes, being like Tracer is a good thing to be for the NeS. :) Encouraging curiosity through how others will work with your material as well as traditional means to manipulate curiosity in readers through the narrative are definitely the name of the game for NeS.
    Geb pretty much hits all the points here. A formal reward system would be bad, I agree, and the best rewards for the writers are responses and feedback to their posts, both instory and out of story. If someone writes his posts but his story developments are ignored or rendered moot by a plothole, then he feels left out. And even better are out-of-story compliments (or even constructive criticism). I know when I read Britt's review of NeS1888, I was grinning from ear to ear. It was more than just a line saying, "Hey I loved it," it mentioned specific things he liked or found interesting, plus it was absolutely glowing. I bet all writers could use more of that!
    In-and-out-of-story feedback is looking to be the best method to go with for the NeS. :)
    For the writers, as Geb said, most of the problems boil down to that one question about writing a post that's interesting and builds off previous posts. However, there can also be problems of interaction between the writers themselves. Perhaps the biggest conflict (that I know of) was with my constant powerplaying in years past. More than a few writers were upset with me, but TLTE especially got upset (justifiably so, I might add), and thus a major conflict occurred between himself and me. Most disagreements between writers won't be nearly so dramatic, but I think it raises the excellent point that writers must solve interpersonal problems. TLTE and I solved much of ours in the story itself (NeShattered page 1), although poor Geb was a go-between for us, as I didn't have MSN and TLTE didn't have AIM, and only Geb had both. Thus we see that interpersonal problems can be solved in at least two ways: either by direct communication, and/or by settling it instory.
    Yeah, it's not something I addressed, but by default of collaboration and improvisation being at the heart of the "problem" to solve for NeS, problems that arise from interpersonal communication and the like must also be solved, which isn't always an easy task.
    I pretty much agree with Geb here (surprise surprise), but I do have a couple things to add. I think the white text on black background qualifies as an aesthetic. I think it makes NeS easier to read, as it's different from the usual boring black-on-white text, but is still easy to read because of the color contrast (as opposed to blue writing on a green background).
    Also, I think some of the mechanics (unless I'm misunderstanding the term) also include unwritten "rules" such as writing NeS in a script-like format or writing narration in italics. That's all I have to add, sorry.
    Geb: Here's a $20 for agreeing with me.

    Haha, don't tell them I bribed you! Now everyone will be hitting me up! ;)

    And yeah, every visual matters, even when it's text. I've always wondered, if the NeS had its own site, if the white on dark-green should still be the general default or not...
    Quote Originally Posted by Tracer View Post
    For me the only rules are to go with the flow of what's been written and try to keep my posts consistent with the spirit of the story. For example one time I killed off the character blujay which Geb promptly undid in the next post, but he did it in a way that was kind of funny so it wasn't a problem at all - it was great. edit - This is actually one of the things that I enjoy about NeS, because although good ideas can come from me better ideas can come from other people. The other posts often give me new ideas for the story which is why I love it when the other writers get directly involved with the same characters I'm writing for.

    I think the key to both of those rules is just keeping up with the research, making sure that I know what other writers have written so I don't directly contradict and invalidate what they wrote. Although sometimes these plotholes can actually help the story along - I remember Krig had a hilarious continuity post when the TACC side-story got pasted in to the main thread.

    One of my worst moments for following my own rules was during the dreamstate arc. I had been taking a break from posting then decided one day to drop back in and make a game-changing post. It was a dumb move.
    Eh, the "research" as you described in depressing accuracy can be problematic at times. It's necessary to best respect the collaborative spirit, but it can also very easily feel like "work" and not "fun" -- balance between fun for the reader and fun for the writer can be very tricky. And the example you gave is actually something of a big no-no I made as far as improvisation is concerned, since you're never really supposed to say "no, what you said is wrong." You're supposed to essentially say "yes, and..." in response, and continue. I myself don't follow this as well as I should, though, and often sneak in "retcons" like the one you mentioned. Still, as you also said, sometimes it can be generally agreed upon for the better, especially if done in a way that's still respectful to the other writer being retconned. I do think that "not doing the research" with the NeS isn't always a bad thing, in any case.
    Quote Originally Posted by Voodoosnowflake View Post
    Still working on catching up on your posts Geb.

    Influence: I know now that the posts that I did make had tons of influence from personal real life stuff. I did intend to base some things off of stuff in my life into what I wrote but more of me came out in the writing than I thought I was putting out there. An example of something from the real life me that I didn't realize I put in was how I just really really don't like to be abandoned.

    other influences of course from Movies and such. and from the interactivity, influence came from other writers
    Yeah, it's funny how stuff about yourself sneaks into what you craft. It's certainly common to see in any artist and their work. It actually reminds me of when Stephen King in his "On Writing" book mentioned how he didn't realize he was writing about his own alcoholism in his earlier works. And yes, working with other writers certainly influences your own writing too. :)
    Quote Originally Posted by The Last True Evil View Post
    Gebohq, you're doing a great job with these. Please continue; I'm watching with interest.

    I wanted to talk about this for a moment, because it's my main source of difficulty with the NeS. I know in my heart of hearts the foundation of the NeS is/was distraction. It was a web serial, something people could quickly add their funny pop culture spin/fantasy idea to and then return to the business of posting on the main Discussion forums. I believe it has also moved on quite a bit since then. Why? Because the inevitable literary progression has happened - our characters have evolved.

    I introduced little more than a riff on a stock Eastern European Big Bad to the NeS cast. Now, as has been mentioned before, he's more or less the most three-dimensional character in the mix. Others have undergone less profound transitions as well, always making them more interesting, more suitable for more sophisticated narratives and discussions.

    And then I remember it's the NeS, and quickly throw a joke in.

    See, that's my problem - the founding intent of the NeS is, to me, a sideline, window dressing to the more interesting stuff. I really want to see what happens to TLTE, Gebohq, Amal, Losien, Thand, Tracer, MacFarlane, Al Ciao, Krig et al. It is not a riff anymore; even by the broadest stretch of the term, it's not a riff.

    That's why I think I envy Tracer's writing style most of all - he comes back to the NeS, seemingly out of nowhere, and effortlessly transitions back into the comedy. With me, I always feel like I'm juggling - plot strands, character motivations, etc - and the zany comedy distraction motif is just another ball to catch.
    I'm certainly not one to believe that initial intent must be paramount, but maybe that's the American in me looking at living documents like the U.S. Constitution too. I also believe we have our strengths and weaknesses: Tracer is good with the comedy (sorry if I keep putting you in the spotlight, Tracer), and you're good with the drama. I do think it's important to be mindful of the roots of NeS, and to never forget to not take the NeS too seriously, but it has grown as well, and we must be mindful of that as well. I honestly think the heart of NeS is both distraction and...vocation? Examination of truth? Not sure how to best describe its opposite. In any case, the opposites together, which I'm sure you've noticed the trend. :)
    Quote Originally Posted by Cool Matty View Post
    Speaking on Lens #61: You can draw a lot of parallels to Left 4 Dead 1/2 and how the Director works in the game. Valve did a lot of research and learned a lot of things about how people want pacing in their games. The Director actually strives to achieve a player experience similar to the graph you drew, with highs and lows to allow players to breathe after a hard fight, but build anticipation for the next. All with the promise of a big ending. The large fights in the game are aptly named "Crescendo Events" for that reason.

    What's really interesting with what Valve did in the games, is they actually created an AI to make its own "story" so to speak, every playthrough. Every time it will be slightly different, and even better, it will be tweaked toward each team's individual play style and skill level.
    I already responded to this, but I just wanted to say also that I should really play the L4D games at some point more than just the five minutes for work back in the day. Alas, my computer is ancient, though, and I'm too poor now to be getting something better anytime soon. :(
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Ciao View Post

    Oooh... Holograms... >.>

    Actually, I don't really know what I can add to this lens. Although I will say that I personally LIKE the script format, not just for writing, but for ease of reading. I'm confused by Geb's remark that some people have said that they find the script format hard to read. Because of its simplicity and many double spaces, it makes it MUCH easier to read, and I should know, being on my second readthrough of the entire NeS.

    Also, while reading fiction on the computer can be problematic (again, I would know, being on my second readthrough), it makes the writing a lot simpler. And if you're a writer and just reading the most recent posts in order to make a post of your own, it's no problem at all, particularly since it's simplified by the script format.

    The first draft nature of NeS really enhances the sandbox experience that I described in Lens 1 for the writers, as one doesn't have to worry nearly as much about how "good" the writing is, or where it's "going". This makes it all about the surprise (Lens 2) and not the "planning".

    I disagree with Geb that the technology of the message board jars from the experience, but then, we're referring to different experiences. The message board interface is all about interacting with people (in a creative way, in the case of NeS and the workshop), which is essential to the sandbox experience.

    In his mechanics that detract from the experience, Geb mentions the fact that there's no penalty for not writing, and seems to lament that there is thus no way to keep writers writing. He's thinking in terms of a "stick", when he needs to be thinking of a "carrot". We have to get writers and potential writers EXCITED about the NeS. Dangle NeSi in front of potential recruits. Talk about some of your favorite parts. (A berserk midget Viking? Excellent!) Highlight that "plot" and "skill" are secondary considerations. Describe the joy of the creative sandbox experience. Keep them hooked with compliments and interaction and building on their story posts.
    Haha, you're absolutely right about the carrot instead of a stick -- positive reinforcement is always better than negative! I still pine that we don't have much of either though. And while a message board system is certainly adequate, coming from a bit of a different idea of the NeS experience, I do think it could be something better.
    LENS 9 - THEME

    What? A theme? NeS? Er... Is random zaniness a theme? Many themes crop up from time to time, but I'm not sure if NeS has an overall theme. Nor should it, I think, as it should be free to do whatever. Escapism is a major cropup, as Geb mentions, but there is also story vs. Plot. Perhaps an overall theme is that nothing can ruin the story - although I don't think that really counts as a theme.

    Besides, I don't know what Geb means by the "traditional ideas of a theme".
    Sadly, you didn't have access to the links I made, but it's not really important. It was mostly an attempt at clarification where I think now none was needed. While I do think the NeS should have a theme, I think is best left to rise naturally, which I think it has.

    OOOH, OOOH! I want to knock Geb down a peg! Please, let me, let ME! >.>

    Okay, let's answer some of these questions. NeS is one of the things in life that grabs me, but why? Well, one answer is that it's interactive, neverending, AND random. Sort of a technical answer, perhaps, but there it is. Because of those three qualities, I don't HAVE to plan anything. I can just write and know that it'll be picked up by someone else, and we can build off each other's ideas and go with the flow. But I CAN plan some things (even if I have to be prepared for them to be hijacked). Anything is possible in writing the NeS. I have a much harder time writing my own stories, because I feel that I have to plan them out ahead of time.

    But it's more than that. NeS is fun because of the whole sandbox experience (Lens 1). That really makes NeS feel special to me, the illusion of the sandbox. But I'm repeating myself now, aren't I? And I'll keep doing it, till you young whippersnappers get that through your thick skulls! [/old man rant]

    I haven't described NeS to nearly as many people as Geb has, but those I have described it to DO get excited. (What's wrong with the people Geb talks to?) I typically sum up NeS as a "comedic epic about these bumbling heroes who always manage to save the day, and half the humor comes from the fact that they KNOW they're in a story, and are always talking back to the writers, the Narrator, and the audience members". I describe that it's interactive and neverending and zany and random as well. The two guys I've tried to recruit with that spiel got pretty excited. (The first is still interested but doesn't want to write right; he has some ideas but isn't crazy about writing. The second is one I just described it to last week, so jury's still out on him.) I've described it to other people as well (NOT in attempts to recruit them), and they seem pretty impressed, if not interested enough themselves.

    If I had no constraints? Then I'd be able to say to hot girls, "Hey, baby - I'm an NeS writer," and she'd be all impressed! >.> Seriously, though, there would be more writers for NeS, as Geb says, but also all the great ones of the past would come back - Ben, Britt, Krig, TLTE (I know you're out there somewhere!), Tracer, Janitor Bob, CookedHaggis, Antestarr, West Wind, Majiir, and others I know I'm missing. (If I didn't list your name, don't feel insulted, I jsut forgot. Wait, that's pretty insulting, too...)

    There would also be an annual NeS convention, where all the writers meet somewhere (and it's paid for! By a government grant! Or Bill Gates! Or something!) And have a good time for a few days hanging out, barbecuing, playing video games, playing Laser Tag, etc. - oh, and talking about NeS, too.

    The guest spots idea Geb has sounds pretty cool, but I'd be more interested in getting all the important people in my life to write for NeS - like my brother, my cousins, my best friend from HS, etc. When I get in a romantic relationship, I'd like my girlfriend, and later fiancee/wife, to be a regular NeS writer, too! It'd be an activity we can all share, one that I already find vastly enjoyable.

    My instincts for how I think NeS should be are a desire for that ideal sandbox experience (Lens 1). What's driving those? Well, it's FUN that way! I don't have a real agenda for NeS like many people have. I'm not pushing a theme or idea - although I should point out I have many ideas, both for story ideas and for my way of looking at life that are expressed through my character Al Ciao: but I'm not PUSHING them. I mostly want to have fun, building off others' ideas and having them respond to my own. A symbiosis if you will.

    When I was little, my brothers and I would play with our action figures in the playroom, and have long "episodes" of adventure with them, telling stories - often epic, often funny - with the toys, and blending our stories together. In a way I miss that, and NeS is the adult version of that.
    I think I get the general vibe of what resonates for you. :) As for what's wrong with the people I talk to, I wouldn't jump on them too quick. I may just be reaching out to the wrong people, or maybe I just suck at "selling" the NeS to new people, or both. ;)

    Like Geb, I don't really try to weave my experiences into the story. I have plenty of inspiration just by being zany. (I have never had writer's block in my life - my problem has always been TOO MANY ideas, more than I know what to do with.) However, an exception is that some of my thinking and ways of looking at the world creep in. My character represents an evolution from obsession and munchkinism and some idealism that turns to despair as Highemperor, to balance and fairness and some cynicism that turns to hope as Al Ciao.

    Still, various ideas and modes of thought creep into NeS from time to time. In one of my recent posts (2/8/2010, page 29), I had the heroes fall asleep, and Al Ciao realized that he was dreaming. This is called LUCID dreaming, and it's something I actually do. (Some people think it's impossible, some people think it's some kind of mystical thing, but it's neither. You simply realize you're dreaming, and then you're free to do whatever you want. I, for instance, like to fly!)
    I'm not sure if I touched on this or not, but the author of The Art of Game Design intended for this lens to be used to look for inspiration from unexpected places, not just other games and entertainment. I think your example of lucid dreaming is a step in the right direction as far as drawing from what you know and not just pulling from other stories and such.

    Incidentally, though, Inception deals with lucid dreaming of sorts. You should see it if you get the chance, Al. Everyone should, really. It actually made me think of these lenses a lot.

    Oh, gosh, Geb is way over my head here. I mean, I understand what he's saying, but I'm not sure I agree with him, at least not completely (probably due to my own ignorance). Geb mentions that a problem for writers to solve is to use what's in previous posts in one's own post, in an engagin manner. This is true, but - and maybe I'm just splitting hairs here - that's a problem inherent in the "game" of NeS, in that it's an interactive story thread. The problem is created by the game, whereas I understand this lens to say that the GAME (NeS) is a solution to a problem, not that it CREATES a problem for the writers to solve.

    So, with that understanding of it - and I may be way off base, I know - the problem that I am trying to solve in writing for NeS, is the problem of how to have fun in a creative and social way. (Did I really say social? Yes, I did. I consider NeS a social experience, in its interactivity.)

    Have I been making assumptions about NeS that have nothing to do with its true purpose? Probably. The one that comes to mind is that I think everyone should just have a good time without pushing any big themes, but in truth, many people have themes and ideas important to them that they want to explore. While I have plenty of STORY ideas, I tend to be of the school of thought that NeS should be FUN without having to MEAN anything - but then, I think ANYTHING we enjoy should be enjoyed for its own sake and not for some greater meaning inherent in it. [/philosophical rant]

    Is NeS the best solution? If thr problem is, as I state it is to me, to have fun in a creative and social way, then yes. It's certainly creative and social, but it's also ongoing and can be accessed from anywhere in the world with Internet access, anytime. As opposed to working in a community theater (which is a good and fun thing all its own), where everyone has to find the same time to work together.

    The problem IS solved, at least for me. I'm having fun in a creative and social way. Of course, it'd help if more people would write. (I think it's telling that it's only when Geb takes a break - for a worthy cause, I might add :ninja: - that NeS experiences its worst slump ever.)
    Actually, I think you used that lens more correctly than I did, and I think I agree with your assessment. I'd probably word it differently, but essentially, I think you got the idea of what problem the NeS "solves."
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Ciao View Post

    Geb hits everything here.

    Poodle Geb Kicked in'86: *whimper*

    Not literally, little puppy.

    Poodle Geb Kicked in'86: *whew*

    As for the last filter, I certainly enjoy NeS more than enough. It's one of my favorite things to do, combining two of my favorite things - creativity and community.

    Geb: And the Internet.

    Well, yes, and the Internet, too.

    Geb: Not to mention the hot, naked, spelunking--

    Sarn: ACHOO!

    Bless you. Anywho, Geb says something needs to change, if we're going by these filters, but I'm not too sure these filters really apply to NeS. The main problem with NeS is recruiting new writers, keeping the writers we have, getting them to post frequently, and working together with each other.
    They may not, and in any case, you're right about what you said. Also, I sure do love kicking the dog.

    What could go horribly wrong with NeS? All the writers stop writing! Oh wait, that already happened. Well, at least I'M keeping it going, and Cool Matty's come back, and Geb will be back in August, and Britt SHOULD come back this summer, and we expect Ben to pop back up, and as for TLTE, we'll keep hoping...

    There's also the other problems, like writers not working with each other, or not writing frequently enough. We've covered that. Actually, I think the worst problem is that few people are as enthusiastic about NeS as Geb is. I believe I'm as enthusiastic (or nearly so) as he is, even though I don't take it as SERIOUSLY as he does. (See my above philosophical rant in Lens 12 about needing things to be meaningful to be fun.) If we had more people crazy about NeS, then it wouldn't shut down when Geb takes off. I hope to mitigate that with my own involvement once I get Internet access easily and regularly again.
    Man, poor TLTE getting poked, despite being one of the more prolific writers for the current story-arc. It just goes to show how much we want you to write, TLTE! And sadly, August was my optimistic deadline -- my current (and final) deadline is the end of October. I'm still hoping both Britt and Ben will be back far sooner though and that CM continues to write!
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Ciao View Post
    Lens 15 - the toy

    At the risk of sounding like Al Gore in the 2000 campaign, "I agree!" Can't really add anything here, and I'm afraid that might be the case with a lot of these lenses, but Geb said, "Post anyway, even if it's just agreement or disagreement." He's a regular ole tyrant, isn't he?
    Yes, yes I am. And you've done well. :downs:
    Lens 16 - The Player

    I think something the writers like about NeS, as touched on in the earlier discussion between Geb and Tracer, is the flexibility to write for either flat or round characters, or even more than that, to treat characters as flatly or roundly as they wish. My character, for instance, has a lot of backstory, but instory can fill in for any generic flat character in general zaniness.

    Other than that, I have nothing to add.
    Flexibility for characters, hooray! Once again, opposites brought together. :)
    Lens 17 - Pleasure

    Hmm, I didn't even know about that technical breakdown of different types of pleasure Geb highlighted. Makes sense though. I particularly like the humor, discovery, and fellowship.

    Of course, my favorite type of pleasure is, alas missing from NeS - sensation! You can't see it, or hear a musical soundtrack. Granted, some things in Nes you wouldn't want to see or hear (the rape of Catherine, for example), much less feel (such as feeling Gebiyl's hand get cut off), but I'm a sensate - I love fresh air and the wind and good food and music. Oh well, I guess that's what "real life" is for. [/ramble]
    Hey, I'm all for getting other 'sensations' for NeS too: music, comics, tactile games, whatever!
    Lens 18 - Flow

    I find NeS engaging, which is the essence of flow, as I see it. Not because it has a series of challenges (I am challenge-phobic), but because it keeps my attention. It keeps my attention because I can play with it any way I want to, but there specific parameters I can play with: others' plans (social) and past references and backstories (creative). It's all about that sandbox experience I talk about in Lens 1 (anyone remember that?).

    That's all for now. Give me a cookie, Geb - I earned it!
    While I'm glad the NeS can be engaging, it's certainly not quite the same as flow as this lens means. It's not to say that the NeS can't bring people in flow, but it can be tricky, to say the least.
    Quote Originally Posted by Al Ciao View Post
    Since Geb is moving today, I'll have to carry the torch and continue my comments on the lenses. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say, but Geb bribed me with a cookie...

    Lens 19 - Needs

    Nothing to add here. As I've said before, NeS fills my creative and social needs; Maslow's hierarchy just formalizes those needs in a context.
    Oh Maslow, making things cooler with pyramids. :ninja:
    Lens 20 - Judgment

    Not much here either. Although I will add the useless note that NeS judges a writer's interest in it, based on how avidly he/she posts for it.

    Also, often there is not enough judgment at all, out-of-story, apart from Geb's criticisms. Actually, having been on the receiving end of Geb's criticisms before, I tend to think his judgments are generally pretty fair. Also, Geb only lays into you if he respects you, so don't get defensive if he does criticise you; it means he feels you are contributing in a worthwhile manner.

    I myself have received a couple of judgments on NeS1888 which were pretty psoitive, so of course I thought they were fair! Even though they weren't all from Geb, I still cared about it.
    I'm glad you felt they were fair. :) And to clarify, while Al is correct about my tendency to get more critical the more I feel you're contributing in a worthwhile manner, it doesn't mean that if I don't criticize you that I don't think you're contributing in a worthwhile manner either! Don't want people to get the wrong idea there.
    Lens 21 - Functional Space

    Again, nothing here. I agree with Geb.
    Yay. :)
    Lens 22 - Dynamic Space

    I feel that as a general rule, plans a writer has should be shared. Having a few unformed ideas is one thing, but massive plans for the story should be shared. Of course, I may be biased, since I'm DYING to know TLTE's epic schemes...

    Anywho, to use Al Ciao as an example for this lens, he is an object. One of his attributes is his receding tendency to powerplay, as manifested in his sometime transformations into Highemperor. Usually ambition or desire or stress can trigger this state change.

    That's all for now.
    You're not the only one dying to know, Al... :ninja:
    Quote Originally Posted by Cool Matty View Post
    Wouldn't much of what you said in Lens 99 be the answer to 100?
    How observant. ;) But there is at least one other reason I have that is secret, and a driving factor for me... perhaps even 2 or none, which I will leave unexplained. The idea though is that you have your own private reasons, and those reasons are powerful because they are private.
    The Plothole: a home for amateur, inclusive, collaborative stories

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