§7.2. Liveliness

A character who sits still in a chair and does nothing is much less convincingly alive than one who seems to be pursuing some sort of personal agenda. There are all sorts of ways to achieve this, but the least challenging is by introducing some random change to descriptions, and by giving a character some very simple routine behavior to carry out.

For instance, we'll often want the characters in a room to be described doing different things every time we look at them. Camp Bethel shows how this may be done.

Every turn rules lend some sprightliness to otherwise-silent characters, as well:

Every turn when the player can see Mrs MacGillicuddy:
    say "Mrs. MacGillicuddy vacuums around [a random fixed in place thing which is in the location]."

We might expand on this by providing a whole table of things for Mrs MacG. to cycle through, or a text variation effect that gives her different activities every turn, as in

Every turn when the player can see Mrs MacGillicuddy:
    say "Mrs. MacGillicuddy [one of]vacuums around the furniture[or]tries to remove gum from the underside of the desks[or]causes a racket by testing the smoke alarm[or]makes a pointed comment or two about them as sit by idly while someone works her fingers to the bone[as decreasingly likely outcomes]."

This is no great innovation in characterization by itself, but it does at least remind the player that the character is alive and moving about, even when he isn't paying attention to her.

Annoyotron Jr demonstrates a character who actively tries to get our attention, and whose routine of behavior changes just slightly if we show signs of having reacted to him.

Lean and Hungry implements a classic thief, a character who doesn't interact with the player much except to pick up valuable objects he finds left around the map. Later we will see rather more advanced ways to make characters act on their own goals and plans, but this kind of simple behavior is easily rigged as part of an every turn rule.

Finally, Text Foosball extends the every-turn-rule idea to create an opponent who joins us in a randomized game of table soccer.

With animal characters, this kind of repetitive, semi-random behavior is often adequate: we don't expect animals to talk, or pursue steady goals, or to take an interest in what we do in their presence (unless it involves a food they like to eat).

For people, we are likely to need an assortment of additional techniques.

* See Animals for a domestic cat and dog


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arrow-right.pngOnward to §7.3. Reactive Characters

*ExampleAnnoyotron Jr
A child who after a certain period in the car starts asking annoying questions.

**ExampleCamp Bethel
Creating characters who change their behavior from turn to turn, and a survey of other common uses for alternative texts.

***ExampleLean and Hungry
A thief who will identify and take any valuable thing lying around that he is able to touch.

****ExampleText Foosball
A game of foosball which relies heavily on every-turn rules.