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October 23, 2014, 10:34:27 AM
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Kegluneq
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« on: June 03, 2011, 09:27:14 AM »

I feel like a big problem in game writing, namely RPGs and its sub-genres, is that the NPCs just don't get much depth. They're less of non-player characters and more of signs with faces.
Every person in the world has a personality and a history, but not every person is you. NPCs may not be the player, but they still are characters.

Post your idea of an NPC, don't be afraid to go all out. Give him/her personality, motives, likes/dislikes, rivals, even an accent! Try to keep things within a fantasy setting for now, we'll change if we run out of ideas.


Here's mine to get things started:

John run's the local bakery. An ambitious fellow, his goal is to one day make the best sweet bread in the world. He has the hots for the pastry girl across the street, but so does the fruit vendor who supplies her. Can John get the girl and the bread of his dreams?

The player could help John by running quests for John to find exotic ingredients, or by buying lots of fruit from Mr. Fruit Vendor, forcing Ms. Pastry Girl to get fruit elsewhere and reducing her face time with the fruit guy.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 06:19:36 PM by Kegluneq » Logged
SundownKid
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 01:58:47 PM »

This is a pretty funny idea. But, shouldn't there be some kind of changing setting guideline to keep it from becoming a total mish-mash of different worlds? I think it would be more fun to try to make a character within a setting than something completely random.

Anyway,

Setting:

Fantasy

Description:

Dan is a school student who is playing hooky, but unfortunately the school is a magic academy and the truancy officers can find him using their crystal ball. You as the player must foil the truancy officers by covering his tracks.
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Kegluneq
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 06:03:56 PM »

Hmm, that's actually a pretty good idea.

Then we'll make the setting fantasy for now, should we run out of ideas we'll switch.
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filosofiamanga
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 09:26:57 PM »

 Cheesy
I actually feel the same when watching RPG, the NPC doesn't seem... well, characters, they seem to be humanoid signs.
It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.

It's a lovely Idea, well... I'll give my try.

GIRLS:
***
Carolina is a girl that was saved by a magician from die in the hands of a monster when she was only 6 years old, she receive a medallion from the magician that she seems to carry to everywhere. She wants to enter the magic school, but this school is too far from her natal town, so she must travel, but the path is dangerous, so she ask help to her friend Camila to see if his brother can help her.

Camila is the nice and typical blonde, maybe she's a little dumb because she didn't like to read books and the nerdy stuff her friend (Carolina) seems to love. She love however to use new dresses that came from Carmen, the older elf. She has a strong and older brother that works to bring the food to the family after his dad where kill by a monster when trying to save Carolina.

Rosalinda is the barteender love interest that keeps making gossips of all the town, she also read the cards and the tarot from the travelers. She is saw a lot of times on the cementery at nights, maybe she's a witch.

Pacifica is Carolina's cousin that recentelly was rescued from a team of bandits that kidnapped her, she was saved by Camila's brother and fall in love because of this. She speaks the languaje of the elfs and dwarfs, she's very smart and intelectual, she know a lot of history, art and music.

Marlene is the town principal dancer, she's the wife to the main musician in the town, she wants to create a circus to travel all around the kingdom, also she like to dance using sticks in fire, that seems like a dangerous dance that she learn in her natal and exotic land.

Mercedes is a nun of the principal church in the kingdom, she has a good heart, she's really old and have a lot of wisdom. When a man broke her hearth in her youth, she decided to enter the church and dedicate his love to only God.

Diana is a priest of an ancient temple, dedicated to an older God, she likes to debate with Mercedes about their religion, always getting to an agreement about being good to others without caring about which god is the real one.

***
GUYS

Carlos is Camila brothers, his dad adopted Carolina from a dying friend, He's strong, mainly because he works as lumberjack and in the market, carrying the people's heavy burdens. He is a realistic man, he doesn't think in long term because he knows he must work hard to pay the debts.

Rolento is the taxes recolector, he is very miser, but he has an strong crush on Camila, so he like's to borrow money to Carlos expecting someday he'll possess camila as a payment.

Daniel is the town musician, he likes to sing to love and womens, that's how he made Marlene fall in love, he read a lot of poetry, he also want to start traveling around the kingdom.

Rafael is the other town musician, he like to improve his performance each time he can, he know a lot of music history, that's why he likes to chat with Pacifica, inviting her to be in his house sometimes until late night.

Cecil is the town alchemist, he has a lab, he learned a lot in his travels about science and herbal medicine, so he's very renowed in the town. But when he start talking about crazy stuff like the earth is round, people start joking at his back.

***
Other races:
***
ELFS:
Manuel is a bandit elf that was captured a long time ago and never leave the town, he spend time with Cecil talking about his far away land, farther than the mountains that surround the town.

Carmen is an old elf that was raised by a human who found her lost in the forest when she was a baby. She loves to spend his time making clothes that are famous in the kingdom, She love to see her new creations in the body of Camila.

LIZARDS:
Arcadio is the boss of the bandits that wanted to kidnap Pacifica, he's very agressive and doesn't like to be in public.


Like I said It's a lot of fun to create NPC and detail them.
Tell me what you think, what should I add?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 09:31:59 PM by filosofiamanga » Logged
Kegluneq
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2011, 06:53:16 AM »

Good stuff! I especially like Cecil, his premise is so simple, but I feel like you could go really far with it.

It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.
That's exactly what I was thinking. One of the reasons I made this thread was to find inspiration for a game I'm working on myself.
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SundownKid
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2011, 07:04:30 AM »

It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime. You stay in the same town the entire game, but every character has their own schedule and unique things to say depending on the time of day and year. They all have their own businesses and other things to worry about. The game is quite funny as well.
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LDuncan
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2011, 07:43:56 AM »

What might be more useful is to develop 3 or 4 traits that govern your NPCs personality, then describe how he would react in the given situation according to those traits. This will make it easier to spot a cliche character, and also stop you from adding so many traits that your character becomes unrealistic or unbalanced (think Edward from Twilight... he's good at everything and he's amazingly hot and he's super strong and he's super fast and he's... etc., the list goes on). Not saying that I've seen any of that yet, but I can see some newer writers thinking that breadth = depth. This could help them focus on depth instead.
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filosofiamanga
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2011, 09:31:22 AM »

That's exactly what I was thinking. One of the reasons I made this thread was to find inspiration for a game I'm working on myself.

Yeah, drop me a message in my MSN, check my profile, maybe we can have a good time chatting.

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime.

Thanks, I'll give it a try.

What might be more useful is to develop 3 or 4 traits that govern your NPCs personality, then describe how he would react in the given situation according to those traits. This will make it easier to spot a cliche character, and also stop you from adding so many traits that your character becomes unrealistic or unbalanced (think Edward from Twilight... he's good at everything and he's amazingly hot and he's super strong and he's super fast and he's... etc., the list goes on). Not saying that I've seen any of that yet, but I can see some newer writers thinking that breadth = depth. This could help them focus on depth instead.

I think 3 traits for a NPC is enough if it's a traditional RPG, if it's more like The Sims I believe 4 will be enough.
Even 1 good trait for a NPC is enough if the character really represents that trait.
The same could be said about the colors (traits) in a painting.
Having more colors doesn't mean the painting is better, sometimes 1-2 colors is enough.

About Edward, he seems to be the typical Mary Sue.
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LDuncan
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2011, 09:38:05 AM »

About Edward, he seems to be the typical Mary Sue.

Technically, Bella is probably the Mary Sue, since she's basically a blank template and the only time she's ever described, she looks pretty much like a younger version of the author. Edward is just there to fulfill the reader's fantasies.
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Kegluneq
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2011, 02:47:28 PM »

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime. You stay in the same town the entire game, but every character has their own schedule and unique things to say depending on the time of day and year. They all have their own businesses and other things to worry about. The game is quite funny as well.

Just checked it out, that's exactly how NPC's should be! Of course I understand why many games don't do it like that, but it's a pretty good example of what I was looking for.
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2011, 03:32:00 PM »

John run's the local bakery. An ambitious fellow, his goal is to one day make the best sweet bread in the world. He has the hots for the pastry girl across the street, but so does the fruit vendor who supplies her. Can John get the girl and the bread of his dreams?
Hehe he reminds me of Kazuma in the crazy manga Yakitate!! Japan. Nice idea.

Scifi (soory oversaw the fantasy constraint): Joel, 7 years old, wants to become a spacetruck driver when he grows up. He plays his dream all the time. You can often see him humming arround at the traffic-calmed side street next to the café, where his mother is a waitress. At school the kids mock him because of his "stupid low ambitions". This year, on his father's day of death, his mother buys him a tiny RC model spacetruck. "Mom, this is so phat, best dad day ever, ever!" But after playing excessively with the flying toy spacetruck, the spacetruck gets too far away and Joel looses control over it. He hears a distant clank. Obsessed by the toy he combs through the entire neighborhood, without finding it.
There he lies at the wayside, drenched in tears, can you help him?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 03:43:49 PM by Chromanoid » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2011, 10:13:21 AM »

My opinion is that rather than trying to come up with written, predefined personalities, game makers should try to develop elements and formulas of procedural NPC personality creation within a game.

Written content has been already seen in movies and books for some time, and there is not much new ground to cover. At least not for average game designers who are not usually very original artists in this area.

However, game worlds and content could be generated procedurally and some by random if designers would take more approach on this. Something that cannot be done in films and books, EVER. Specially there is lots of undiscovered possibilities in procedural NPC.

I have never experienced truly fascinating game story or NPC, they all recycle the same cliches which are completely dead already. However I have experienced even very badly executed procedural content, which even in such experimental state is much more interesting than basic stuff.



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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2011, 11:04:17 AM »

My opinion is that rather than trying to come up with written, predefined personalities, game makers should try to develop elements and formulas of procedural NPC personality creation within a game.

Written content has been already seen in movies and books for some time, and there is not much new ground to cover. At least not for average game designers who are not usually very original artists in this area.
I think we can improve NPCs just by innovative dialogue systems and better interactivity. PCG could enable us to add more of the same old NPCs - this cannot lead to better NPCs but only to more "bad" NPCs.

I have never experienced truly fascinating game story or NPC, they all recycle the same cliches which are completely dead already. However I have experienced even very badly executed procedural content, which even in such experimental state is much more interesting than basic stuff.
Did you play text heavy rpgs like planescape torment or fallout, did you play games like simon the sorcerer or monkey island? Books and movies are being written although there are many of them already.
You did mention it: Many game makers aren't that creative when it comes to story telling. This brainstorm could deliver ideas for deeper npcs and finally lead to richer experiences with npcs in games - just by improving the stories behind the characters. PCG can not cure flat characters.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 11:17:24 AM by Chromanoid » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2011, 11:32:23 AM »

PCG can not cure flat characters.

No, that's why it is completely different approach and much more interesting one. I want games to be adventurous experiences about discovering something that is not predefined. What could be more interesting than connect with NPC characters that consist sophisticated elements of intelligent design. "Well" written character doesn't cure the fundamental flatness of the experience, where in interactive environment (game) I connect with dumb, forced story carrying characters.
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2011, 01:56:44 PM »

PCG can not cure flat characters.
No, that's why it is completely different approach and much more interesting one. I want games to be adventurous experiences about discovering something that is not predefined. What could be more interesting than connect with NPC characters that consist sophisticated elements of intelligent design. "Well" written character doesn't cure the fundamental flatness of the experience, where in interactive environment (game) I connect with dumb, forced story carrying characters.
I think that the way "well" written characters are implemented into games has to be improved. As I understand you, you want procedural "undefined" intelligent npcs that may break the story or at least deliver a more interactive improvisational-acting-like experience. I want that too. But on the way to electronic souls that serve our games as actors we should nevertheless think about stories that can vitalize npcs and their environment. I guess w/o ideas about stories that make npcs vivid we cannot think about building procedural story tellers.
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2011, 04:23:06 PM »

... I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! does this. For fun, here are the original townsfolk backstories:

(warning: unedited content follows. Also, these were starting points and may not reflect the chars in the game.)

(warning: SPOILERS!!!)


These backstories were written by Adrianne Ambrose:
They are 1/10th of the game's characters. I'll post another 1/10 which I wrote. We split the writing of backstories 50/50. However, I ended up having to write the actual plot and dialog that are in the game.



Henry Picolo
   
   Henry Picolo is always up early to fix breakfast for every bachelor in town. As the owner and cook for the town diner and automat, he is kept very busy for a large portion of each day. A little man with a pot belly, he's goes heavy on the lard when trying to get the orders out quickly during the breakfast rush. He's caught the front of his apron on fire once or twice because his stomach tends to bulge over the griddle and his apron gets spattered with grease. Between the breakfast and lunch rush he prepares sandwiches for the automat, which he owns with his wife Roslyn. By slicing the bread as thin as possible, he's found he can get an extra three slices per loaf.
   When not at work, Henry can frequently be found strolling in the park. He carries a small notebook and likes to compose poetry about the weather, birds, and small animals he sees on his constitutionals. He's secretly composed several poems to a Miss M of the shinning ringlets and hides these poems in the box where his wife keeps the love letters he used to write to his her before they were married. That's one place he knows she'll never look.


Roslyn Picolo

   Roslyn Picolo grew up dirt poor on a farm outside of Brigiton. The town, for her, had appeared as glamorous as New York City back then. When the slightly older, slightly shorter and slightly pudgy Henry Picolo had started courting her, she was dazzled by the thoughts of being married to a man that owned his own business. Now, eight years later, nothing about Brigiton has the power to dazzle her. By persistent pressure, she convinced her husband to open the automat, with her as a partner. She spends her mornings sleeping late and reading fashion magazines. She spends her evenings stocking sandwiches in slots and collecting the coins from the vending machines. Roslyn has found that she's able to squirrel away up to fifteen cents a day without her husband noticing. She keeps the coins in the box that contains her husbands wedding suit, a place he'd never look. He doesn't like to be reminded of the weight he's gained since their marriage.
   Between her husband's early mornings and Roslyn's late nights, the Piccolos can go for days at a time while barely only seeing each other a few minutes a day. That suits both of them very well and has contributed to the longevity of their marriage.


Bouncer Phillip

   Bouncer Phillip is appropriately sized for a nightclub bouncer. When people first meet him they try to call him Phil, but the bouncer makes it known pretty quickly that shortening his name won't be tolerated. His mother called him Phillip and that's his name.
   Born in a fishing village in New England, Phillip grew up on the docks. He gained enormous strength as a lad helping his father haul in the day's catch, but never managed to get over his dislike of the smell of fish. At seventeen he hit the road, earning his keep for awhile as a sparring partner for a few of the less famous bare knuckle boxers of the day. But letting people hit you in the head for practice is no way to make a living. At the end of a year, all Phillip had to show for his hard work was a cauliflower ear and empty pockets.
Phillip landed his first job as a bouncer by accident. While drinking in a rough joint in Chicago, Phillip expelled a patron that was hassling one of the waitresses. The club's owner offered him a job on the spot. Phillip discovered he enjoyed bouncing unruly patrons into the street. And he also enjoyed the gratuities he was offered to look the other way while certain activities occurred in and outside of the club. Phillip would have happily spent the rest of his days working at the club in Chicago if the gambling bug hadn't bitten him. He was forced to leave the city in the middle of the night with the mob hard on his heels.
   Phillip drifted from town to town for a couple of years, working either as a bouncer, a security guard or mover. He had only intended to stay in Brigiton long enough to save a little money, but soon grew to have overprotective feelings towards some of the dancers. Or, more accurately, overly protective feelings towards one of the dancers.
   Phillip has made a few enemies amongst Brigiton's most prominent male citizens by being intolerant of high-spirited behavior. Any patron that gets up to shenanigans in the Nightclub will find himself in the street no matter his rank or the size of his fortune.

Lottee Alto

   Lottee Alto's mother danced in the chorus of the Royal Russian Ballet. Lottee herself was trained since birth to be a dancer, but during puberty she developed too voluptuously to ever be a ballerina. All of her dance training makes Lottee stand out as the obviously superior dancer at Brigiton's Nightclub. Her beguiling moves and voluptuous body has inspired ardor from many of the club's patrons and envy from many of the other dancers. One suitor was particularly determined to catch Lotte's attention and went so far as to rush the stage in an attempt to embrace the girl during her performance. This noteworthy town leader was summarily ejected from the club by its ever ready bouncer, Phillip. Terrified that there would be repercussions against Phillip for his gallant behavior, Lottee has aloud the town leader to kiss her hand and make cow eyes at her on more than one occasion in the hopes of placating him. But the man's zeal for Lottee has only increased and the girl has begun to consider leaving town or telling his wife. Possibly both.


Yvonne Glimmerette

   Yvonne Glimmerette was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her parents immigrated to the United States when she was six. A former beauty queen, Yvonne married well and divorced well three times. Her fourth marriage did not go as planned. The man owed millions rather than owned millions and as soon as they tied the knot, Uncle Sam came after Yvonne for the taxes her husband needed to pay. Yvonne also became pregnant for the first time and gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. It took years for Yvonne to extricate herself from the tangles of her last marriage and by the time she was free a lot of her beauty and charm had faded.
   Still wealthy by conventional standards, but not as wealthy as she once was, Yvonne floats from one hotel to the next, frequently spending a season in a resort town or at a health spa. She enjoys conveying the knowledge she's gained about men to the young ladies she meets on her travels. She also enjoys cards, cocktails, mixing rhinestones in with her diamonds, flirting with inappropriately young men and relaxing with a jazz cigarette. No man about town has yet caught her attention, but she's sure with the right lighting and the right timing she could catch another husband with the right bank account.


Otto Glimmermut

   Otto grew up dirt poor on a farm in Okalahoma. It taught him to despise dirt, old clothes, poor people and dingy living. As a teen, he snuck off the farm one night, hopped a train headed east and left everything about his hardy German farm stock childhood behind except his first name. Otto spent several years in New York City remaking his entire personality. He got a job in a fancy restaurant as a dish washer, then worked his way up to head waiter. While serving, he would observe the mannerisms of the rich. The way they expressed themselves, the way they dressed, everything. He also attended night school, eventually earning a degree in journalism.
   When Otto Glimmermut arrived in Brigiton to accept a position as a reporter for the local paper, he was dressed in the latest New York fashions. His speech and manners were impeccable. He always centers his writing on the social elite of the city. He loves nothing better than a society scandal, an heiress besmirching her reputation, a corrupt politician, even a lost prize poodle. Anything to do with the wealthy is worth writing about in Otto's opinion. He is invited to all the best parties. Most socialites are afraid to not send him an invitation. When asked about his childhood, Otto usually lets it be implied that his parents were in cattle, but they died tragically and he doesn't care to talk about it. He alludes to an eastern education and a lost fortune that may one day be recovered.
   Many a young lady has developed a crush on Otto, but he's never done more than twirl them around the dance floor. Rumor has it that he must have a husky sweetheart because when fashionable lady's gowns are shipped in from Paris or New York, he always purchases a few in the largest sizes.




Timothy Richards

   Timothy Richards was a sickly child. Or at least his mother found him to be sickly. If the merest cough or sneeze escaped Timothy's lips, she would keep him home from school and send for the doctor on the double. The physician usually found nothing wrong with Timothy outside of the usual childhood flu or sniffles. He never even diagnosed the boy with having allergies. But Mrs. Richards just knew with her motherly intuition that her child was of a delicate constitution and that doctors don't know everything.
   Timothy grew up with a fanaticism for hygiene. He usually kept a dose of every medication he could possibly acquire on hand, just in case he should suddenly come down with something. Schoolmates at Collinwood University, where Timothy majored in business, started dropping by to borrow cough syrup or pain liniment when they were unable to get to the store. Opening a drugstore with the money he inherited after his father's death seemed the most obvious career decision Timothy could make. Not only did he provide an invaluable service to his home town, but he and his mother had twenty-four hour access to any medication they might suddenly need.
   Visitors to Brigiton in quest of some type of health aid are frequently heard to remark that the small town's drugstore has a selection comparable to the drug store of a major city. Mr. Richards even tries importing exotic cures from Europe and the Far East. He knows that if the people of Brigiton are kept as healthy as possible, there is far less of a possibility that he will catch something from one of them.


Little Lynette (Fin) Junk Lady

   Little Lynette had a brief tour as the star of a vaudeville act when she was a young girl and the moniker just stuck. The fact that fully grown, she is only 4'9" has probably contributed to the nickname. In fact, most of the population of Brigiton does not know of Lynette's short career in show business and she would prefer to keep it that way.
   At the age of fourteen, Lynette ran away from the dingy lights of Vaudeville to marry Jimmy Fin. Theirs was a tempestuous marriage and the couple only lived under the same roof for very brief and sporadic periods of time. Little Lynette entered the antique business when a wealthy business owner made an offer for Lynette's grandmother's cameo that she used to wear on a high-collared blouse. Lynette was a bit strapped at the time and the desire for food far outweighed the desire to keep a hold of her family's history. But, selling the jewelry made Lynette realize there was money to be made in old stuff. She immediately put up for sale her old Vaudeville steamer trunk and several of the sequined costumes she used to wear.
   Because Little Lynette is tiny and has never quite lost her naïve childlike appearance, old ladies trusted her to sell their jewelry and other valuable items. With just enough success to make her overconfident, Lynette began buying out entire estates just to acquire one or two worthwhile items. Then, she was stuck trying to dispose of the rest of the contents, which usually had little to no value. As time has passed, Lynette has become more and more a junk dealer rather than the elegant antique dealer to which she originally aspired.
   If a resident of Brigiton is in need of a used copper kettle, rusty pruning shears, a print of an unknown artist or a tea cup with a broken handle, Little Lynette's pushcart is the place to shop.



Beatrice Bodie

   Beatrice Bodie is a prim little bird of a woman that dresses in very prim clothing with high button collars and long full skirts. She lives in a neat yet tiny house lined with primroses and a white picket fence. The house itself reminds passersby of a teacup in some odd manner.
   Beatrice never married. She lives off the small income she received from her parents. When she was in her late teens, she was briefly engaged to a young traveling salesman that used to frequently pass through Brigiton, but she learned such a horrible story about the young man's great uncle that she broke off the engagement and refused to ever see the man again. Since then, she's spent her time cleaning her house and tending to her small garden. She also eavesdrops on everyone she possibly can. She knows of all the smut that transpires in the town and is convinced that a lot more exists if she can only catch wind of it. Her next-door neighbors are afraid to converse in their own back yards and the most innocent of conversation in any public will quickly die off if Beatrice is seen approaching for fear that any fragment of a story might be misinterpreted.
   On more than one occasion Miss Bodie has Otto Glimmermut with tidbits of smut that she has overheard while sneaking around the town. At first the reporter tried to pay Beatrice for her slivers of gossip, but the lady takes much more satisfaction in seeing the firth of others printed in the paper than she would any monetary reward. Miss Bodie is particularly keen to find glean any gossip she can about the high school girls of Brigiton. She finds the girls a bit obnoxious with their low-wasted dresses and their bob haircuts. Beatrice is convinced it would do the girls some good to be the focal point of some seedy scandal that would take their high opinions of themselves down a peg or two.
   About every week to ten days Beatrice receives a package from a maiden aunt in Canada. It's usually homemade bottles of bath oil or a giant bottle of perfume or some type of liniment or medicinal cure. Within a few hours of receiving a package from her Canadian aunt, Beatrice usually develops a debilitating case of the hiccups and has to spend the rest of the day resting in the house.



Madam Zambinovka

   Madam Zambinovka speaks with a heavy, indefinable Eastern European accent. She clothes herself in richly colored fabrics of threadbare silks and damasks. The people of Brigiton and especially the inhabitants of tent town recognize that Madam Zambinovka has the gift of second sight. She is frequently approached by all levels of Brigiton society for advice on the future.
   Dorothy "Dot" Crenshaw was born in Des Moines Iowa to a middleclass salesman and a housewife. Even as a child she was able to read people, their faces, their postures, their motivations, etc... Once out of school, Dot flailed around for employment. She tried being a secretary, but never quite got the hang of typing. She spent several months as a sales assistant in a Des Moines department store. There she earned record sales by always knowing exactly what the customer wanted, but was fired due to a misunderstanding over whether the wife of the department store owner appeared to her best advantage in floral prints. During this time, Dot was courted by several young men, but could usually see their baser motivations and that knowledge always quickly ended the relationship.
   Dot's transition to Madam Zambinovka was a gradual one. She initially only took on the persona when working as a palm reader at fairs and costume parties. But little by little, she began to be completely absorbed into the character. Part of Madam Zambinovka's reason for moving away from Des Moines was to isolate herself from anyone that knew her as Dot Crenshaw.
   In Brigiton, Madam Zambinovka spends her time, not so much reading the future as giving good advice. She can recognize when a young girl is about to make a foolish attachment or when a business scheme will go bad. It just happens that most people prefer to have their good advice wrapped in the exotic cloak of mysticism. The fortuneteller sometimes employs outlandish or erratic behavior to keep the more invasive town inhabitants at bay. She enjoys her privacy.
   Madam Zambinovka has a soft spot for the inhabitants of tent town. She frequently will slip a few coins into their pockets or somehow manage to share a meal with some of the leaner folks without making her actions feel like charity. The wealthier inhabitants of Brigiton, she charges for her services without reserve. Madam Zambinovka frequently manipulates the futures of her wealthy patrons to encourage them to be more charitable and understanding.



Flatfoot Crooning

   Flatfoot Crooning earned his flat feet walking the Brigiton beat for the last eight years. He's a big guy and he's not going to bust anyone's chops unnecessarily, but he's also not going to take any guff. He knows who the hooligans are around town and he's willing to allow a certain amount of high spirited behavior, but there's a time and a place for everything. For example, fireworks are fun and everyone enjoys lighting them. But the time to light fireworks is on the Fourth of July, not outside the mayor's house in the middle of a cold September night. If Crooning happens to see some of the lads participating in certain shenanigans and then those lads decide to skedaddle, the officer will usually not give chase. His feet hurt too much after a lengthy sprint. But, the high spirited lads will want to keep their noses clean for an extended period of time. In all likelihood, Crooning will hunt down each hooligan and treat them to a little justice. Sometimes the justice borders on vigilantism and sometimes it's more to the letter of the law. The way Flatfoot Crooning sees it, it's a waste of tax dollars to haul a boy in for every little offense. Sometimes a good punch to the head serves just as well as a night in jail and the boy is more likely to learn a lesson.




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----------- backstories by Keith, SEE NEXT POST ------------------

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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2011, 04:25:46 PM »

Here are some of the backstories I wrote for, 'Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!'



Edsel Baskerval

This pleasant woman quickly overcomes initial prejudices of her poorer than plain looks with a bright wit and thorough memory of the town Library's contents. Never married, she landed the job when her father passed away. She was very nearly raised within the hallowed walls lined with the world's knowledge.

Mayor Stogie felt this was a good political move, subsequent to the women's right to vote and Earl Potts hiring Ruth Quince as a bank teller. The town's population was quite accustomed to 'Little Edsel' at the library, although the word 'librarianne', rolls off some tongues a bit awkwardly.

The biggest crises in Edsel's tenure happened last year, when a crowd, whipped up by the Reverend Clutch wanted to burn all the library's books on mixed drinks. She managed to appease them by conspiring with Todd the Barber and producing a pile of pamphlets about various hair tonics. Special collections now contains a section entitled 'Paleo-mixology' where she hides the complete stock of bartending guides. These are sometime 'checked out' by approved members of L.O.D.G.








Dr. Victor D'Latte

Victor got his medical degree in the U.S. Army. He moved to Brigiton during the Great Flu Epidemic, having heard that it was one of the few American towns to escape that tragedy. After settling in as a staff physician, Victor married a pretty nurse who later died of tuberculosis. It was the fiery young Susan Fragette fighting on the front line for women's suffrage who attracted him next. Although, married Mrs. Fragette waged her battle on a secret, second front. Both were exceptionally careful in keeping their affair private, and from it was conceived a great compromise that compelled the town leaders to support the women's movement. Victor had no trouble convincing most of the hospital, and at the same time he was raised in the general politics of that body.  

Three years ago he was appointed as head doctor. Already, his and Susan's plan had been in effect for nearly eight years. The Mayor heartily approved of Victor's upward mobility, honoring him with the key to the town on his appointment.

Today Victor lives more on his reputation and position than his abilities and efforts. Too many times that position ends up prone.



Mistress Hippilyta

She is not a slut. She has had many, many romantic relationships among the townspeople. Yet sex rarely occurred, unless it was the beginning of spring. Somehow, her reputation remains as unsoiled as the flowing wisps of fabric she usually wears at school. Dean Hemlocks iron discipline melts like ice in the presence of her warm personality. He can't figure out why he never stands up to her. Although he has mustered the effort on several occasions. (The legacy of her daddy's wealth supplements the high school's budget.)

Unnaturally connected to the earth's rhythms, and her own, this free spirit may have never had an unhappy day in her life. In fact, her childhood was miserable. The daughter of a rich financier, he had no time nor inclination to raise her. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father never remarried, due to the true love he held for his wife. She was left to her fantasy childhood until his death, by heart attack, when she was put under state governance, yet the previous mayor could not let her inheritance of wealth fall under the control of anyone in town. She remained a ward of the state until her maturity. The only thing her social caretakers could encourage in her was a love of art.

Although consider flighty, she is able to work the civic system like none other having been raised close to its inner workings. It was a cinch for her to get the teaching position, even having little formal education. Her own art isn't particularly noteworthy, but her lessons run deep with meaning and purpose and wisdom. Considered flighty and a nuisance by the town, she is generally regarded as ignorable. Hippilyta did not support suffrage. An anarchist to the core, she's against all governance.


She has another name, but it is buried in the documents vault of Town Hall.



Julianne Fox

Her mammie once told her, you have the brightest mind. Don't let anyone ever discover that, especially men. Julianne threw that advice to the wind after the first time in school she corrected a boy three grades ahead of her. When he confronted her with his hurting ego, she beat him up and his two older friends. It was a precarious moment, but the school teacher never said word of it. The teacher simply challenged her mentally until Julianne was three grades ahead for her age. She took the teaching exams three times, acing them each time, yet the school board unanimously rejected her application, until she was fourteen. She worked in Brigiton's Little Red School house until the High School was built. Missy Hippilyta and her were employed on the same day. They are good friends, although Julianne is several years older.

Julianne often wonders how the high school could be built to support more students than the town had in the early grades. She just didn't buy the story that Brigiton was the center of a much larger school district. Every time she does the math, it came up showing that there were more high school students graduating than freshmen entering.(the high school is for grades 7 through 12. meaning it was also a middle school) This leads her to remember the other thing her mammie taught her. "The world doesn't figure out."

Julianne is currently engaged to Maximillian, but they haven't told anyone. It was she who got him the job at school. They'd met at a national exposition in Chicago, during the previous summer. The local men never were  too keen to impress a woman who could calculate a restaurant tip in her head. They're waiting another year to marry, to give the town more time to accept Max's 'out of town', 'big city' foreignness. Both are waiting until their wedding night to lose their virginities. Neither of them know how.





Dean Hemlock

Charles Wilber Hemlock was a musical prodigy. At age eight he composed his first symphony, but the tin drum and wooden recorder were of poor quality and nobody noticed. He next won every foot-race, climbing, and swimming contest that was put to him by his adolescent peers. Again, since there were no official outlets for youthful competition, his achievements never rose to more than a superficial respect from his friends. He tried playing chess and quickly beat every player in Brigiton, including Old Oswald, but more people played checkers. He thought that game was boring.

At age thirteen his conquests slowed way down. Hair also began to grow on his face and armpits. Suddenly, he couldn't throw a ball if his life depended upon it. He stumbled in the middle of any race, no matter how short. His grades plummeted, and his friends largely abandoned him. If it hadn't been for Madam Zambinovka, more commonly known then as 'little Sheila Dickens' his life would have collapsed. She was his one true love, but she failed to notice. He didn't care. Too shy to approach or even pass her a note in class, he hung constantly in her background.

The day she kissed Reggie Gordon, in the 10th grade, was he day he swore off women, forever. His scholastic scores improved and he devoted himself to study. He was the youngest man in the district to earn a teaching certificate, and later the youngest man to join the school board. He remained single and uninterested. When Mayor Stogie announced the high school project, he was the man of the hour, picked to recruit and organize its faculty.

The first person he hired was Miss Hippilyta. Somehow her resume' had landed on top of the pile and there were many glowing recommendations from public officials. He had considered her name quite strange, but when he met her he quickly surmised that her name was the least strange thing about her. Still she had her paperwork in order, and she only wanted to teach art and music. Clearly, she could do little harm there.

His life at the top is a lonely one, and the only solace he can find is in passages by Nietzsche. 'The most common motivation is to obtain power.'




Coach Arnold Gustov

He is an anachronism, for the 1920s. Methodical, overweight but active, he knows he was put on this earth to train boys to become men: competitive, loyal, powerful. Why does he have to put up with those darn girls, just become some idiot let women have a voice in politics? He thought he'd left Europe to escape such nonsense. Yet he is a polite man. Bravado alone does not impress him, accomplishment says all he wants to hear. While he appreciates grace and style, victory means more. Women, especially girls, do not even enter his mental picture of humanity.

Now that the painful memories of The Great War have lost their edge, in America, he plans to introduce saber dueling into the sport regimen. Prussian discipline is Arnold's ultimate goal. A dueling scar is the perfect hero's mark. If pressed, he might allow foils for the girls.

His own conquests in Brigiton have landed him a wife of german descent and praise from Dean Hemlock. The Dean appreciates the coach's efforts, but would rather see girls exhausted on the athletic field than in dark corners of the school. Arnold disagrees. He believes that stirring up a girl's energies only stirs up trouble.




Nurse Nacht

Is thinking of retiring. Her scores of years attending the sick and wounded and aiding quacks have finally taken their toll upon her. As a child she was inspired by legends of Florence Nightingale. That was the last thing to inspire her after taking up the call to nursing. While the brave injured soldier on to recover fuel her ego, weak and whining people make her ill. Yet she understands her job well, to nurture the unfortunate. Her long tenure has created many many antibodies in her attitude, while not quite verging on contempt.

She has lived in Brigiton all her life. She originally learned her nursing skills from a specialty magazine based upon Miss Nightingale's 'Notes on Nursing', and then from actual practice. She was twenty three when she attended her first patient. There wasn't even a hospital in the town, nor a doctor. Someone had to drive one in from fifty miles away. The patient lived until the doctor arrived. Miss Nacht felt the fire of success, even after the man died while the doctor worked to save him. Her opinion of doctors has remained at a low, throughout her life. Dr. D'Latte has raised her opinion, to that of contempt. She is, however, duty  bound and follows instructions to the letter. She feels no responsibility once her opinions are countermanded by a doctor.

She was married once, but her husband died from the great influenza, in another town while on business. She had no children, but her husband had three. None of them ever contacted her. She found out through the grapevine long after his death. It is easy to say, she has never had a romantic attachment to a patient. She was somewhat attractive in her youth, and she quickly learned how men under her care often crave more than her capacity allows and how to brush it aside. She does occasionally miss the implicit compliment.




Thaddeus Cane

As a child he collected frogs at a rate that alarmed his aunt, until she realized he was serving their legs cooked to his friends who had built a clubhouse in the woods. She put a stop to that nonsense with an endless supply of wood from the shed. Thaddeus was also employed at splitting the wood for the shed.

His relationships with women have always run aground. Although handsome and intelligent, he never seems in tune with their wishes, or even needs. Its as if women don't exist to him, except to ease his natural desire for romantic companionship.

Taught in the little red school house, with a strict diet of reading, writing, arithemetic, and rear-ending, Thaddeus took to education with a fever. He was first in his class and completed a two year's teacher's college ahead of schedule.

Never comfortable with the world outside Brigiton, he returned immediately and worked as a freelance truant officer until a position was available at the local high school.

He is highly regarded by Dean Hemlock, simply ignored by Julianne Fox, laughed at by Hippilyta and always crossing swords with Susanne. His students can cite every rule for grammar and puntuation and the parts of speech and have never won any creative writing awards.




Mrs Tin

A widow and owner/operator of the boarding house. Her husband, a hard working laborer at a countryside quarry, died soon after paying off the mortgage of their large home with the full expectation of a large family. However, Miriam was their only child.

Of her four residents, Mrs. Tin is most fond of the polite and noble Rev. Clutch who brings a flower to the morning breakfast every day. He has a pact with Frank the Flower to provide him with flowers from Mrs. Tin's garden. She worries the most about Truant Officer Wedge who seems inordinately concerned about Miriam's attendance. She has made it perfectly clear that work supersedes her studies, even if she has had to be held back one grade. The girls is obviously bright and studious, one year won't keep such a girl from success. Her work keeps the house functioning as it should, a fact that only Edna Piper seems to appreciate. If only her commissions were more regular then so would be her rent. To Mrs. Primly, Mr. Primly is the perfect example of a guest. He keeps to himself, pays on time, and has no disagreeable habits. (Miriam would say differently since she has to put up with his finicky nature.)




Miriam Tin

Miriam is a senior, held back one year due to long hours of work helping her mother run their boarding house. She enjoys school because it is a nice break from her work. She is not excited about college, but expects to attend, if not this year after graduating, the following, depending upon if  her mother can save enough.

Although several boys are actively courting her, she does not really know what she wants from them. Marriage, certainly not. The men in her house have given her ample reason to reject that cornerstone of society. They are largely egocentric skinflints who treat them as their slaves. The Rev. Clutch has his veneer of morality, but she can see right through it.

Still, she is fairly romantic in her thoughts about life. She can be quickly caught up in a day at the amusement park, a swim at the public pools, a walk through the woods or along the beach.




Secretary Primly

A recent Shinola man, this paragon of efficiency and order has few complaints about his status, many about everyone else. Even his estranged wife quickly fell from his graces after the third time she hung a kitchen hand towel with the center not folded to the front.

Engaged twofold at the high school, secretary by morning, librarian in the afternoon. Sometimes he schedules a reversal, just to disprove those who think him too inflexible.

The oddest moment in his life was an unexpected fling with Mistress Hippilyta. It was spring and he had escorted her to the little red school house, after class hours. Apparently she wanted to surprise/prank the teacher, Mortimer at the time, with a mural on his blackboard using several chalks she had dyed with natural food oils. He had refused to lend her the key to the school. So he instead unlocked the front door for her. Upon learning her intent he had ordered her to desist in her plan of vandalism and exit the premises. She instead had stripped herself naked before him and dared him to relive her of the chalk. By morning a brilliant mural had emerged upon the blackboard, and Primly emerged with a new understanding his estranged wife's current pursuits.

Any lesser man would have found the metaphoric 'stick up is rear' broken in hundreds of places, but Primly was able to perceive it as a mere mistake of character and scheduled forthwith a self-flogging in the woods to set his mind straight.




Jane Brumble

Jane is still studying for her high school diploma. She's only junior, but was tapped to teach temporarily at the little red schoolhouse after the previous teacher, Mortimer Bird, lost his mind to alcohol. (He is occasionally found wandering tent town, begging for shoe polish.)

Some of the older kids challenge her as she is small and seemingly no older than the oldest students. However, she has proven herself capable of disciplining any who defy her. That's the reason she was picked. She had a reputation in the school for quiet, knowing deference until backed into a corner. The school board decided not to pick a senior, because they were too close to graduating.

Young Jane's mother does not really want a school teacher for a daughter, as they, in her opinion, rarely marry. But the extra household income is very useful. Her father is more supportive, but pressures her to set her sights higher, say High School. Jane does not know what to do when she graduates, but she enjoys working with young kids. The only part she enjoys about the older kids (boys especially) is punishing them. In fact, Mr. Thaddeus Cane has been most solicitous about a great variety of corporal methods. He has been especially attentive.

Few other males have been. Jane is not a particularly attractive girl.







T.O. Wedge

Officer Pablo Wedge often thinks about teenage suicide. He wonders how he ever stopped himself from drinking pure lye after receiving straight F's, losing his girl friend, hearing that she'd lost her virginity, and being bitten by his own dog all in the same evening. It was the smell. It had to have been. Wedge has seen that grim outcome twice since his employment with the corrections department of Town Hall. He is not part of the police, but receives his marching orders from a separate official in town hall who also oversees the police from an accountability perspective.

Pablo is concerned for the welfare of students. He takes every one of their truancies personally. In his room at the boarding house, he has personally drawn sketches of every kid he's caught at misdeeds, to memorize their faces for future watch-keeping. He has taken several sessions of personal instruction from Mistress Hippilyta. Their few attempts at romance failed quickly. Technically, Pablo draws very well, but artistically he is too straight-laced.
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2011, 10:39:42 PM »

As I understand you, you want procedural "undefined" intelligent npcs that may break the story or at least deliver a more interactive improvisational-acting-like experience. - - I guess w/o ideas about stories that make npcs vivid we cannot think about building procedural story tellers.

I'd say that the "written story" should be about the rules set by designers, of how these NPC's are generated when game is loaded first time. Depending on type of the game, the story generates itself in some way. Is it bad or good story, is it interesting or not - it is not the point. The point is the experience for the gamer which is something new, but also completely different each play time. I am personally very interested creating complex systems like this, but because I don't have any programming knowledge and with game maker programs you can't go very far, it is still only ideas in progress.

I don't think main point of gaming and games is experiencing prewritten stories (good games have never been about any story), but to experience technology and virtual worlds that are probably impossible in reality. Game developers want too much to be storytellers, and too little they want to be experimental science folk.
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2011, 01:49:00 AM »

I don't think main point of gaming and games is experiencing prewritten stories (good games have never been about any story), but to experience technology and virtual worlds that are probably impossible in reality. Game developers want too much to be storytellers, and too little they want to be experimental science folk.
I totally disagree. There is a big subset of games that need a good pre-written story.

Generated stories may work for some games. But games are a tool for story telling like books or movies.

I ask once again, did you play adventures like Grim Fandango or Day of the Tentacle? Procedural stories may be a nice feature, but games can be excellent story tellers without such procedural content.

It is like adding procedural level generation - replayability increases. But you can play through good "only one story games" like you can read good books or watch good movies multiple times.

Games are pieces of art, there is no "main point of gaming and games". A story can make totally boring gameplay to something that makes you think about the world - games like Edmund or Terrorist Killer are just glimpses of what games with a small but constant story can do.

@Mods: can we move this discussion to another topic?
@Musenik: Nice stuff, haven't read all ones yet (but soon Smiley)...
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2011, 02:21:14 AM »

But games are a tool for story telling like books or movies.
This is where I totally disagree. We already have the book, and the film. We don't need game to be doing the same thing all over again. Games are not tools for story telling, they are tools for creating playing experience. Game and story are two different things, and forced marriage usually not work.

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I ask once again, did you play adventures like Grim Fandango or Day of the Tentacle? Procedural stories may be a nice feature, but games can be excellent story tellers without such procedural content.
I havent played those, because they do not interest me. Stories in those might be "good", but then I would rather read a book or watch a film about the same story. I don't see the actual game (art) and gameplay interesting in any possible way. So just the story won't do it for me.

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It is like adding procedural level generation - replayability increases. But you can play through good "only one story games" like you can read good books or watch good movies multiple times.

I never watch film or read a book multiple times because the story, the reason is always somewhere else. Same thing with games.

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Games are pieces of art, there is no "main point of gaming and games". A story can make totally boring gameplay to something that makes you think about the world
Story cannot save totally boring gameplay - ever. Here we probably have the main difference as a person. I gather my view of the world from real events, science, religion, or whatever. Then I would like to see those implement in gamePLAY, not storytelling. What are all the functions / elements / variables that generate for example Deep Water Horizon disaster? Such scenario which evolves automatically and by random from a set variables, could generate game content. Thus then being the "story" if we want to use that word.
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