I've played some live roleplaying games a couple of days ago and started thinking about interactive stories again

I'm always fascinated with interactive stories, but ultimately, I'm almost always disappointed in them

It seems like such a great thing - to have a story that unfolds however you want


And in terms of tabletop RPGs and things like that, they work!

My disappointment is about the video games trying to do these things

I like reading Emily Short's blog on interactive storytelling emshort.blog/
But I rarely like a game where I influence the plot

So my most recent idea about this is the following:
These games feel like "What If?" Marvel Comics

The great thing about plots is that there is a single way the story goes and it's the "right" way, the "canon" way

Tabletop RPGs combine this with interactivity. You can't reload a saved game and ask the GM to go from there. But you genuinely can influence the plot

In video games, however, you are free to explore all the possibilities. So I feel disconnected.
I just "browse" the events, I don't live them. Sometimes I do get immersed, but it's much harder.

Now I wonder what to do with this information

There are games that try to limit your "browsing". There is a flash game that saves a cookie in your browser, so that even if you reload a page, it shows you the end screen where you saved the day or doomed the planet or something

There are games that only allow autosaves

And there are games that don't focus on story, so you build your stories yourself. Like Dwarf Fortress (which I haven't really played). Your decisions lead to some outcomes and you can't really browse all the branches

Another possible way to make stories "canon" is probably MMO-ness of the game.
When there is a single world and the devs are like a GM of all the players, making the events canon and updating the content. I wonder if there are games like this that really allow the players to change anything.
Maybe MUDs?

So now I'm kind of at a loss.
I really want an interactive story experience. But now I kind of realize why they feel so shallow to me.
And I don't like sandbox games like Dwarf Fortress

Spirit AI spiritai.com works on making really good NPCs that feel like people (I think). Maybe that will bring enough complexity so that alternative routes of a video game don't just feel like alternative non-canon universes of comic books

Until then, I think I'll keep playing linear (and almost linear) games. And maybe trying some experimental stuff sometimes.

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