Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Is Sharazad II?

Sharazad II is a game, built on the Storynexus platform, about stories and culture.

In Sharazad II, you do not play as one person. You play as a storytelling tradition, or maybe a memeplex. By telling the stories, you can change how people think. By changing how people think, you can change how they act.

In Sharazad II, you play as a mythmaker. You do not play as a hero, or as a villain. Heroes and villains are inspired by the stories they have heard, and by inspiring heroes and villains you can control both. You are the mythmaker, who controls the hero and the villain.

Yes, But How Does It Work?

Before I can explain this, let me tell you about Homestuck Storynexus.

Okay, What Is Storynexus?

Before I can tell you about Storynexus, let me tell you about interactive storytelling.

Okay, What Is Interactive Storytelling?

Before I can tell you about interactive storytelling, let me tell you about (thud)

Sorry. Interactive storytelling is somewhere between a conventional game and a static story. Interactive storytelling involves a conventional story, that is in some way capable of reacting to the audience's choices. A choose-your-own-adventure is in some ways an interactive story, but it is a crude example. A CYOA can only branch and re-converge, but interactive stories can loop, or track multiple plots and subplots in ways that a CYOA could only do if it were several volumes thick, or include elements of chance or character customization.

On the other hand, an interactive story is different from a game.You do not make split-second choices to duck left instead of right, or measured choices to move your rook instead of your knight. Instead, you only make choices within the context of the story. Spatial relationships, reflexes, and even objects carried are abstracted significantly. Instead of carefully moving a sniper into position on a map, you engage in a part of the story where you make the character "On Higher Ground" and "Concealed". Instead of carefully ducking at exactly the right movement, you build up your character's chances of being able to duck at that moment.

Now What is Storynexus?

Storynexus is an interactive storytelling platform built by the wonderful people at Failbetter Games, modeled on their wonderful "Fallen London" storygame. In Storynexus, a story is broken down into small interstitial chunks called "Storylets". These Storylets are parts of the story in which the player makes a choice, and what Storylets are available at any time is determined by the "Qualities" that the character possesses: these are adjectives describing the character that can be changed by the game, such as "Location: In the City", "Evading Recapture: 15", or "Knowledgeable About the Zombie Apocalypse: Rumors". One Storylet might let the character ask around about the zombie apocalypse, raising "Knowledgeable About the Zombie Apocalypse" from "Rumors" to "Investigating the Old Factory", another might allow a Knowledgeable character to flee the city, changing "Location" to "In the Wilderness", and yet another might allow the character to hide evidence of a crime, reducing "Evading Recapture".

Now How Does Sharazad Work?

For now, I believe I will keep that a secret. It involves surviving as a society, telling and retelling stories, and eventually leading your society to a glorious future.

I will also tell you that the current setting is prehistoric.