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Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling Paperback – October 16, 2004
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More than the realizable concepts, the energy and persistence the author is pursuing his ideas with is striking.
The possibilities of this medium are exciting to just about anyone, but there have continued to be a set of Hard problems that cause theorists to continue to stumble. Crawford proposes that many of these problems are too hard to think about solving anytime soon, or are indeed impossible to solve. Instead, he provides creative abstractions that obviate the problems so that we can get someplace tantalizingly close to a workable model.
The biggest problem with this being that there are no examples. Crawford's assertions are indeed well thought-out and documented, but there is no concrete back-up. I find this forgivable however, considering that even though the ideas are not entirely complete, they do tackle many problems head-on that previously went unanswered.
Another minor point is that while much time is spent on the inner mechanics of a theoretical storytelling engine, little time is spent on how these stories might actually be presented to the user. I believe this to have a pretty significant impact on how the engine might work. One can imagine many possibilities for how interactive stories might be protrayed, and this certainly has an impact on how they would be perceived.
A dense, exciting book that particuarly those in the games industry should read and think about. I look forward to his future work.
Time and again I see in game reviews how a particular game has "awesome graphics and great gameplay but the story and dialogue" were severely lacking. With Mr. Crawford's extensive experience in the gaming industry, he very capable gives aspiring writers every tool he or she will need to get a very good start in the industry. Throughtout the book, he stresses how important it is for the "artsie" thinkers (the writers & artists) to work together with the "techie" thinkers (the programmers) and I think this is a valuable lesson that many current game producers have yet to learn. Mr. Crawford reminds the entire programming industry that one sector of development cannot succeed without the other. He more than adequately investigates and chronicles how the different development teams can work together and bridge the "communication" gap between the "artsies" and the "techies."
This book, while not exactly a tutorial piece, offers many examples and exercises to move the writer along in thinking like an interactive storyteller. The only real drawback may be the detail Mr. Crawford goes into. While I personally don't have a problem with this, I work with several young people who, while they are very keen on gaming development, probably wouldn't spend an adequate amount of time studying the information contained in the book unless it were required reading in a course.
Personally I feel that any writer who wants to pursue and develop stories for interactive programming should study this book. It's not enough to read it through once, twice or even three times. This is a book which needs to be worked through section by section, until writing for this relatively new genre becomes second nature. This book will have a permanent home in my library; it is very rich in information-hats off to Mr. Crawford for producing a very timely manual.