This might interest you, even if you aren’t interested in interactive fictions… because they are trying to make a system in which they can become proper games! http://mollyrocket.com/news_0013.html it’s a total of seven posts detailing the problem, starting from this one.
This seems like a complete retread of a lot of things I’ve said before. Glad someone else is thinking the same thing I am. The short thing I think we can boil down the issue with interactive fiction to is, fiction is about neat things that aren’t happening to you. Games are about doing neat things. Interactive fiction allows you to control what interesting events happen in the plot. Games have you play through interesting events. I think games and fiction are largely separate or even diametrically opposed concepts. The goal shouldn’t be to build a better IF, it should be to build new types of games that model new types of experiences to test new sets of skills.
They weren’t really clear about their technology, but they’re apparently making a game that they claim will fix or at least innovate on a lot of problems with the genre/medium, and they’re talking a good game about understanding the genre’s problems.
I’ll see when it comes out or they release more details if they’re full of shit or not.
Is there a way to make dialogue choices into fun gameplay?
In my opinion, not really.
I mean, you could also ask a similar question, is it possible to make menu choices into fun gameplay? And we have things like RPGs, turn based tactics games, strategy games, and so on out of those.
We have things like choosing menu options and getting different results out of them based on what you choose, like modifying levels, granting the player different items, access to different areas, etc.
Fundamentally, dialogue options ARE menu options.
Because writers need to write out or animate the results of these dialogue options in full, there is a low level of recombination between these dialogue options. They are not multiple variables changing across time on a rapid iteration cycle, they are individual variables being set, having their results played out across a long iteration cycle, most of these variables not persisting very far into the future.
As was noted in the Molly Rocket posts, these games lack Intention and Perceived Consequence. There is no modeling of a system. There is modeling of a flow graph. Doom models the actual interactions of movement and directed projectiles that pass through the environment. Dialogue choices have no model of how conversations work, and that will be nigh impossible to implement for a long time because modeling those things is fucking hard. Instead we have what are basically riddles. It’s like there’s 3 doors, and a riddle on the front telling you which door to go through. You can make a difficult riddle, but it’s hard to make a difficult, but fair riddle, and it will confuse people even if it’s fair and they’ll feel cheated, because it’s not a lack of understanding of the perfectly consistent system, it’s a lack of understanding in a blackbox placed in front of a non-system.
Those guys think they can make it work and I’d like to see them try.