Monday, October 28, 2002

Another World: it's a story

Torill Mortensen, thinking of MUDs and such, asks about Another World:

"Where is the politics supposed to come from? Is that the game AI? Who will raise their voices, who will cry and who will undress?

The characters of Another World are simply that: characters, written on the page. It's one interfolded and interlocked set of stories that unfolds differently in each reading. It's a sculptural hypertext, quite close to Card Shark and Thespis.

Take Miles Corbett, the correspondent for the Times who wants to be your friend, your advisor, your confidant, and who has such good contacts in the Intelligence Community. I don't want him to be a "player character", because a role-player having a bad day could ruin everything. I don't want him to be a robot, because he'd be at least as hard as Julia to program -- even without worrying about dramatic pacing -- and he's just one character.

Instead, I'll simply write about Mr. Corbett, his intrigues and his passions and his singular advice. In some readings, you'll see a lot of Mr. Corbett. In some readings, he'll fade into the woodwork, or leave the stage early. When he turns to you and says,

"Wake up! Look about you! Look at that boy over there. Yes, that exquisite elf lad, Jehann's boy. Tell me: don't you want him?"

This might mean one thing in your reading, and something else entirely in mine. Everything Corbett says and does is written down: at most, the computer decides what would be best to say at each moment and what is best said later, or not said at all.