The idea I’m working on at the moment has a lot of technology threaded through it, mainly Internet of Things interactive props of various kinds. I’m writing with the assumption that any interactivity I can think of can be made to work one way or another, and that I’ll work out the ‘how’ later (with the help of people who actually understand that stuff). This makes me slightly uneasy, as a control freak who usually does too much on my projects, but I also like that I’ll be forced to delegate.
A friend advised me the other day to use technology sparingly, and i think that’s good advice. I’m going to look at the show through the lens of "What is the minimum amount of technology to create the effect I’m after?"
I think this approach will lead to a stronger show, and the technology supporting the show rather than being the ‘star’.
It will also minimise the danger of the show dating. I want to create a show that is mindblowing and creates wonder in the players. Part of that will be using new technology that people aren’t familiar with yet. But over-reliance on that would result in a show that lost its impact as soon as people were familiar with the tech.
I also feel that creating a ‘mindblowing’ experience is mostly about how you use technology, effects, and story. It’s about creating a specific kind of surprise.
I’m working on creating my own vocabulary of interactive narrative design, based on Christopher Alexander’s classic architectural theory book Pattern Language. Pattern Language looks at specific needs a house has, and creates a loose ‘rule,’ e.g. ‘entranceway’, listing a loose series of effects a functional entranceway space needs – transition space between inside and outside, change of light, shelf to rest parcels, etc. Alexander created over 200 ‘patterns’ that make up his language (or rather, grammar of architecture). His book has also been an inspiration in the computing world.
I know traditional film three act narrative structure backwards. But that’s not enough for the kind of interactive experience I’m creating now. I may be reinventing the wheel, but I’ve decided the most efficient way for me to approach this will be to start to understand the patterns I’ve already used in interactive writing, to develop and codify my own pattern language for interactive adventures.
That’ll make it easier for me to apply what I’ve learnt to future projects, and also means I’ll be starting to build intellectual property. Writing this show is feeling painfully slow, it feels like it should be easier, and I think the reason is I’m discovering a whole new storytelling format from the ground up. The difficulty stems from the nature of the task. I hope!