Saturday, February 28, 2009

Week Three Assignment

Send in your Week 2 stories! I've gotten a few, and they're looking good. I'll get them online by tomorrow evening. Please remember to include a title, otherwise I'll have to make something up.

Since last week was about the Player Character, this week is going to be about the Non-Player Character ("NPC"). In IF, an NPC is any animate being that is not controlled by the player, and they often take the form of people, animals, and robots. They range in complexity from the snake example in the DM4 (§17) to the eponymous character in Em Short's Galatea. In Adam Cadre's Photopia, the protagonist herself is an NPC, as viewed by a revolving cast of PCs; his Varicella has a wide-ranging group of NPCs of varying importance, including one around whom a scholarly essay has been constructed. A Change in the Weather and Suveh Nux feature adorable critters (rather, presumably adorable in the latter case) that, among other things, help the story world feel a little less lonely. NPCs can contribute greatly to the IF experience; the XYZZY awards have several categories to recognize excellence in this area. Once again, Em Short's blog is a good place to find some categorized examples.

Simple NPCs can be fairly easily created with the "animate" and potentially "female" or "neuter" attributes (DM4 §17, "People and Animals," for Inform 6) or the "person" kind (Chapter 3.17 in the manual for Inform 7). Automating their motion can be done with daemons in I6 (§20, "Daemons and the passing of time") or the "every turn" rule in I7 (Chapter 9.5). There are several approaches to writing NPCs; pick something that you feel comfortable coding.

This week, write a winnable story that involves, as a crucial element, an interesting NPC. It doesn't have to be very complex -- conversation is not required, or even necessarily desired -- but it should react in situationally appropriate ways. As before, you may continue working on an existing story, or start something new, as you see fit.

Here are some prompts for those who desire them:
• Implement your favorite animal, in a setting determined by your favorite film genre. The more disparate these two elements are, the better.
• Close your eyes and pick one of these. (Or, cheat a little bit. Here are some I think could be awesome: cartographer, weatherman, saucier, or busker.)
• Write a time travel story, complete with an NPC that thinks your PC is completely crazy.

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