Friday, August 18, 2006


A giant geek friend of mine read my first half of a rough draft of my key booklet. He pointed out a seeming contradiction:

The point of the system (at the most basic level) is to use emotional tension to make the audience invest in a key, then use the key to build emotional tension so you can, you know, use it to get the audience to further invest in a key.

Later, however, I point out that the more the audience is invested in a given key, the more difficult it is to further invest.

The thing is, the returns are quite good for a fairly long time. You're unlikely to "top off" a character even over the course of an entire movie. Concerns for "topping off" are really important only to series, campaigns, and long computer games.

In shorter works, "topping off" isn't really a concern, and the reasons to use multiple character keys is to give breadth of potential situations, rather than avoid inefficient investments.

He also asked for me to put in some theoretical mathy bits. After pointing out that every calculation would be multiplied by the sum over time of two unknown variables, he still wanted it. So I'll probably put in fun mathy bits.

1 comment:

Patrick Dugan said...

I could dig some math. I have an intuition that percolation theory may tie into to emotional density, maybe theres relevant math involved there. Maybe not, its just an intuition.

I suspect that replay value, one of the unique aspects of games and a design goal I think we both share, is highly incumbent on well managed investment asymptotes.

In creative writing classes theres a proverb that writing is re-writing, because thats where the majority of the time investment ends up in producing quality stuff (blogging is probably exempt and should be). I think we could analogize that to games, playing is re-playing, because for the really good games thats where most of the investment time is spent, though perhaps not for the majority of the audience.