With GDC coming up in a few days all of my time is spent on either schoolwork or my big portfolio piece Horizonticality. However, I have a couple of extremely awesome things that I’ll be doing by the end of the month and I wanted to jot down a quick record of them before I take off for San Francisco.
A: The Large-Audience D&D Session
50% of my Philosophy of Art grade is wrapped up in a group presentation, which take the form of any medium we desire. My group has agreed to do a D&D session with the entire class, and I’ll be DMing. The thesis of the presentation is twofold. Firstly, that experiencing a story is a more engaging process than reading or observing it (The logical extension of “show don’t tell”). Second, that D&D follows in the footsteps of classic theatrical styles that use a blend of real props and the audience’s imagination to create the complete scene.
The details of the plot aren’t worked out, but we have our framing device in place. Another member of the group will be playing the role of an author who is writing a work of fiction based on the audience’s exploits. I am a wizard who observed the events, but I have brought this band of adventurers in to describe events from their perspective. In this way the D&D session is contextualized, and we have injected the necessary themes to work our thesis’ into the production.
Of course, getting a random audience of people to become involved in an interactive presentation is a challenge. We have a couple of ways in place to do this. Firstly, we have props that will be handed out to the audience that are designed to remind them of their characters. Second, we are going to seat the audience in the front of the house instead of in the regular seats (if possible given space requirements). We are also going to work in a great deal of direct addressing early on with an eye to force players to flesh out their characters. Once we have at least a few people ready to engage us, we start handing out contextualized rewards (read: chocolate) for doing things, with the hope that this will bring everybody else on board.
There are some serious concerns about production that we are a little concerned about (we are trying to use a lot of different theatrical techniques…including a smoke machine and our own lighting…), but the biggest fear that we have is that we won’t get anybody engaged. The solution is an alternate thesis: that the benefits of interactivity as a medium come with the price of audience pacivity. It’s important that we can’t be criticizing the audience with this thesis, but rather demonstrating a tradeoff. We are prepared to do this, but we would rather that everybody get involved and (most importantly) have a good time!
B: Bastion, the Dramatic Reading with Music and Stage Direction
For the second year running the Classics department at my university is holding the “Pythian Games“, a public speaking competition. Last year I did a dramatic reading of select passages from 1984, but I wanted to do something a little more impressive this time. I decided that a dramatic reading of Bastion would be both an interesting exercise, and a way to introduce the game to a new audience. I have the script transcribed and edited, and I have somebody in place to sing Zia’s song as part of the production. My hope is that I will be track down enough people that I can simulate the “carrying of Zulf” with real actors, but if not I’m going to talk over a video.
The neat thing about this is how well it works (with an appropriately edited script). The only really tricky bit is the ending, because the Rucks is describing events differently from how they actually occur. This is why we need to have a visual component of the kid carrying Zulf: It’s one of the most interesting parts of the game, and any kind of interpretation MUST include it.
Ok, back to coding