Wednesday, September 29, 2010
TV Tropes is a wiki that details pretty much every literary trope known to man (for more than just television) and links them to examples in books, films, movies, comics, television shows, real life, and more. It's a very interesting read.
A friendly warning: this site may be addictive. I've found myself inadvertently burning hours here when I only intended to read the page initially linked. It's interesting and fun, though.
You'll find the enchanted neighborhood of Christopher's childhood days."
And mine as well. "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" is one of my most favourite stories of all time. Not only do its catchy songs stay with you for days, but the characters leave remarkable impressions and relate to both children and adults. I was not allowed to watch much TV as a child, but between reading Pooh's books and occasionally getting to see his movie when a babysitter came over, I had pretty much memorized the entire tale by the ripe age of 6.
The other stories that always stick with me are classic nursery rhymes, fables, and parables.
"Bah, Bah, Black sheep have you any wool?" is not easily forgotten, for it rhymes and is so popular throughout American culture, how could one not pick it up?
Parables like "The Little Dutch Boy" by Peter Miller stick out for a different reason. Aside from reading Clifford the Big Red Dog, 101 Dalmations, The Bernstein Bears, and The Magic School Bus, arguably my favorite stories as a child (and admittingly, now) are fables and parables with a moral. "The Little Dutch Boy" discovers a small crack in the dyke. Thinking quickly, he plugs his thumb into the crack to stop the leak from flooding the village. Diligently, he sits there waiting all night until somebody sees him and gets help. The lesson teaches children that acting quickly can prevent large-scale disaster. Proactive solutions now lead to smaller problems later. The book, "The Children's Book of Virtues" By William Bennett includes this story and several other memorable tales. The illustrations are beautifully done and commit the tales to memory even further. You can see or buy the book here http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Book-Virtues-William-Bennett/dp/068481353X
Stories you know by heart make great background while you work. Often, I leave on "Winnie the Pooh" or other songs or stories I have memorized when I animate videos. It makes for a pleasant experience, and I no longer need to see the images, since the story is forever ingrained in my brain (assuming no brain trauma in the future).
TTFN, ta-ta for now!
So far on this blog, it looks like people have only mentioned entertainment as the things they know by heart. Movies, games, and song lyrics. I guess that's because this is a public blog to classmates that we've only been in contact for about a month now. However, the two narratives that I first thought of when Professor Pat mentioned "things we know by heart" are more serious. The first one is the story of my family, especially that of my grandmother who escaped from Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe during WWII. The second narrative is that of the Gospel, or the story of one Jesus of Nazareth and his connection to each of us. I try to shape my own life's story according to these two narratives. And I know that talking about faith isn't fashionable anymore but, well, it really was the first thing that popped into my head when the assignment was mentioned.
Also, I noticed in "Pause and Effect" that "gospel" is one of four narrative categories (epic, gospel, essay, and romance). How does that work? I mean, the Gospel is one story told four slightly different ways. Maybe it's an interactive narrative, in that as Christians we each contribute our own lives to the story of Christ's sacrifice? Hmm...
My most favorite movie that I know by heart is Titanic. The story of this movie is about two lovers who meet up on one of the most challenging times in history. The two lovers' names are Rose and Jack, where Rose comes from a rich family while Jack comes from a middle class family. The story of this movie has really intrigued me since I was a kid. I remember when Rose jumped off the row boat just to go back to Jack. And this is when Jack said "Why did you do that, why?" and then Rose said, "You jump I jump right?" Also, I loved the music, particularly the song "My heart will go on" The music and the dialogues are great concepts for storytelling because they both show what one is willing to go through in order to stay close to their lovers, creating an interactive drama for the story as a whole.
Resident Evil 5 is another favorite thing that I know by heart. This game is fascinating, because it allows the player to interact with their chosen characters. For example, when another player or the computer heals you with a first aid spray, the player being healed can thank the other player by pressing circle. It was pretty neat. I did that once with an online player who had a microphone, and he said "you're very welcome" the moment my character said "thanks, partner." As Meadows stated in chapter 2.2, the "character" in an interactive narrative is one of the main keys to an excellent interactive game. Another reason to why I know this game by heart is that it allows players to buy add ons. These add ons have two mini stories, an online versus mode, and a whole new mode of mercenaries (see video), where players can get the highest score by eliminating as much enemies as they can. The add ons also add to the interactivity of the game, because some parts in the original story are shown in these mini "deleted scenes" of the game.
If there is something important that I have to also know by heart, it would have to be the subject of science. Why, you guys may ask? Because science is everywhere around us. It has helped us since ancient history and still continues today. We have discovered many new things because of science, including the art of storytelling by way of digital technology. I believe that storytellers and digital artists should create games, books, and/or movies that contribute some kind of donation to current causes. This would not only make whatever it is interactive, but also would make it interactive to those in need. The idea of helping people is one of the important facets in the subject of science.
Also, don't forget to memorize these structures of the heart by "heart!"
I also know a lot of movie quotes by heart. My brothers and I have always played movie quote games and even though the two of them are way better than I am, I'm still pretty good at guess movie quotes and using them in conversation! One movie I can recite frequently is "Pulp Fiction". I have a few of those monologues and conversations down pat. I also know some stories by heart, mostly greek mythology and children's stories, but I'm not confident enough to say that I could get through all of them without messing up.
My favorite song of all time and one I most definitely know by heart:
A song I know by heart that you probably wouldn't expect:
I would really like to know what the difference is in committing something to memory and knowing it by heart. Technically speaking, everything you know is known "by heart," simply because you know it... Then again, does knowing something by heart mean you know the whole thing word for word in the correct order/sequence? If that's the case, is it not true that you know the burger king slogan by heart, or maybe the jingle for some other company? Whatever the case, I suppose I'll go with the music idea that was mentioned today. Probably the very first song that I truly committed to memory because I was the one who wanted to know the song - like... flat out listened to it over and over again until I had it DOWN - was Maxwell's Silver Hammer. I know... but what can I say, I was in the third grade (I think?). Of course I knew twinkle twinkle little star, and all those good ones you learn in Kindergarten, but like I said, this was the first one that I wanted to know as opposed to learning... unless you count Do Wa Diddy on the radio or the Pokemon theme song... Anyway, after Maxwell's Silver Hammer there were a few more, I suppose, but that's the one that sticks out for the most part because it was pretty much the first. In more recent years, the majority of music that I have been committing to heart has been my own music. I write a lot of music, I've had several bands and am in the process of starting and leading several. I am the sole songwriter for all but one of those. I am also the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and harmonica player (when it calls for it). But I digress. All of the songs that I memorize are generally my own, and therefore have a special place in my heart (or at least they did at one point in time... some I now have condemned to Hell due to my hatred and/or emotional detachment from them), so I guess you could say I "know them by heart."
The next thing I would like to talk about that we mentioned in class is losing the game but winning the story. I'm going to be rather brief on this, because I'd simply like to mention the fact that it is also possible to win the game and lose the story. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is perfectly exemplified by one of the groups currently in the class with the game where, whether you are the good or evil character, the evil character always prevails. So in any situation, it can be a win-win, a win-lose, a lose-win or even a lose-lose.
The final and shortest of my discussions here will be of Pluto no longer being a planet... I'm sorry, but where did that guy get off saying that? I don't care what the books say, I'm still going to teach my children that Pluto is a planet and some moron said otherwise and, surprise surprise, people listened to that moron... I think this right here could sum up how everyone feels about that guy:
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
His exposition on Aristotle and Freytag's story triangles is valuable, because he doesn't just take them at face value to be the be-all and end-all of effective narrative structure. By understanding "the classics" we can also better understand what structures motivate us to push a story in a certain direction and, interestingly, how to breakaway from these structures. In essence, it's about getting a new perspective.
One quote that really stuck out to me was the one atop of page 60, where Doug Church discusses the difference between games (as a form of interactive narrative) that allow the "reader" to shape the narrative and ones that allow the reader to "figure out how to turn the prewritten pages". This is extremely relevant to me, because I'm thinking of ways in which to meld real and meaningful interactivity with our project. I want the player of our game to feel like their presence, choices, decisions, etc (basically their interactions) has effects on the universe (or multiverse?) of our narrative as a whole.
But I have to balance this with the reality of being able to produce such concepts, with my current knowledge and the time I have been alotted, when I put the game together in Multimedia Fusion. I guess one way of simplifying the above paragraph is by referring to steps of interactivity. We have observation, we have exploration, but do we have modification and change? I've got a great team though, I'm sure we can figure it out!
As far as Meadows' views on imagery, I'll just say I agree with him and then defer all further questions to this brilliant masterpiece: http://boingboing.net/features/morerock.html
Subsequently, the chapter moves on to discuss narrative. We have already discussed a part of this section in class referring back to Freytag's Triangle. However, the narrative is actually a lot more complicated than several steps on a triangle. "A narrative is built, symbol by symbol, brick by brick." (Meadows, p. 24) Moving on, reading inbetween the lines just explains how every story and even every sentence has a beginning, middle, and end, while at the same time containing interactive elements that are determined by the user. Readers can control the pace, the level of participation, and the dwell-time, which is key to be aware of when creating a story. The audience likes to be in control. Furthermore, Use-Case Scenarios are used to help supplement these interactions, but what really distinguishes a narrative from just a lot of soft-ware related writing is the opinion in the story. Narrative requires opinion.
Next, it goes on to explain the importance of metaphors and imagery in narratives. I must assert that imagery is probably one of the most important elements in telling a story. If a reader can't imagine the scene and be immersed in it, much of the key interaction is lost. Speaking of interaction, there are four main steps to it including observation, exploration, modification, and reciprocal change. Although reading about it seems strenuous, these four steps always occur even if we don't realize it.
Finally, the three different structures of interactive narratives are discussed which include the nodal plot structure-- a series of noninteractive events. The modulated plot structure--plots that still support the dramatic arc, and lastly, the open plot structure which is basically a road map of events. In retrospect, I never realized there were so many elements to a narrative but reading up on these will definitely help in writing our story.
The initial chapter of "Pause and Effect" introduces the concepts of narration and perspective, describes their history and present day manifestations, and explores their ability to interact. In short, this first chapter lays an excellent foundation for a course on interactive storytelling.
Meadows begins by examining perspective through the centuries. For instance, the painter Giotto allowed his viewers to connect with his creations by developing visual perspective. The concept of perspective applies to writing as well, with visuals and words combining to produce "dimensional and emotional perspective". Furthermore, Meadows discusses the narrative structure of Freytag’s triangle, or a plot structure consisting of desis (beginning), peripeteia (middle), and denouement (end). He also mentions Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorite authors. Meadows describes how Poe eliminated the desis of his stories to form mystery stories. Seeing as I shamelessly skip to the middle or even end of a novel, perhaps this desis elimination explains in part why I enjoy Poe’s work.
Narration also receives an examination. Meadows begins by mentioning AOL, which feels somewhat outdated to the modern reader. Granted, this book was first printed in 2002, so a book that deals with the constantly evolving world of interactive media can be expected to feel dated faster than a text on, say, geology. I also promptly created a Banja account to explore the book’s example of an interactive game. Perhaps by 2002 standards this Flash game was groundbreaking, but to my jaded 2010 perspective it felt like one of thousands of Flash puzzle/interaction games. Meadows also mentions interactive marketing, a precursor to what we now term “viral marketing” as seen in the promotion of the movie Cloverfield and Halo (ilovebees.com). Furthermore, the idea that programming is a digital narrative is discussed although, since basic programs such as spreadsheets have no human elements, this narration is incomplete. Personally, I feel that spreadsheets are tools to manipulate our analysis of reality, nothing more, just as metaphors and symbols are tools to manipulate our understanding of reality. Finally, the story is presented as an interaction between the author and the reader. As I discussed in an earlier comment, the reader has to uphold her part of the interaction in order to fully experience a novel. This explains why so many great classics put me to sleep when I was required to read them in middle and early high school – I wasn’t fulfilling my side of the author/reader collaboration!
Meadows next describes interaction. With interaction, a user collaborates with the author not only to understand a narrative/experience, but also to construct it. The principles of interaction are input vs. output, inside vs. outside (the world of meaning vs. the world of sensorial experience), and open vs. closed (reactive vs. unresponsive). Furthermore, interaction is accomplished through the four steps of observation (viewing the author’s interactive environment), exploration (determining the user’s power to change said environment), modification (invoking that power), and reciprocal change (observing the user’s effect on the environment, reacting to those changes, and making further change). I was delighted to see that Meadows mentions Myst, one of my favorite childhood computer games, as an example of interactive narration.
Finally, these principles are combined into the idea of the interactive narrative. In this, the author provides tools for user to build a story. There is a balance between interactivity and narration – one that my group has struggled to find for this course – that Meadows describes with three plot structures. These are as follow: nodal, with one path featuring separate feedback loops; modulated, with separate paths and the option to explore between them; and open, with no set narrative path and instead unfettered exploration. Using these concepts, our project is a nodal plot that requires user interaction to advance along the narrative path. Potentially, we can change it to a modulated plot system.
All in all, this chapter addresses some concerns in our own interactive narrative development (namely the balance between narrative and interaction) as well as provides excellent tools to analyze our work and construct future progress. As a team, we look forward to continuing to apply the concepts put forth by this chapter to our own interactive story.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The second part of chapter one was more interesting. I enjoyed the section on narrative. As a writer, the section about metaphors interested me a lot. That may be odd, but I relate to this section. When writing poetry the weirdest metaphors will come to me or ill sit there all day trying to come up with one to portray what I want to say without saying it. The strange thing is that metaphors can be both very difficult and very easy depending on the topic.
I may not be getting out of the book exactly what I am supposed to be getting, but I’ve enjoyed certain sections a lot. Random things I’ve appreciated are the pictures and the quotes throughout the chapter. I was surprised to see a scripture quote because it seems now a day’s someone might be “offended” by that. But I liked studying Giotto’s paintings and reading the quotes throughout chapter one.