The Lesson

So I've decided to pull the plug on my interactive storyworld for the Pepper&Carrot Jam (titled The Lesson. I realized that what I was writing committed the ultimate sin for any bit of writing:

It was boring.

The premise was that Chicory, the founding witch of Chaosah, came back to the Hereva Dimension to check in on Pepper, the heir of her school. I was approaching it much like the first doctor from Doctor Who meeting the later incarnations of himself. "So, you're my replacements? A dandy and a clown?" the first doctor says in a withering tone. From there Pepper challenges Chicory to a bit f verbal sparring, not realizing that Chicory is impressed with Pepper's capabilities but wants to be sure that Pepper doesn't fall into the trap that Thyme fell into of trying to be like Chicory. Thyme is of course pissed off about this return because she literally had to carry the school in Chicory's absence. In the Pepper&Carrot timeline Chicory gets so fed up with answering questions about what a true witch of Chaosah is that she creates a pocket universe and disappears, leaving Thyme to lead the school. This storyworld would play off of those dynamics and reveal that the ultimate way to lead is to not concern yourself with the past but concentrate on the present and who you are in this moment.

It sounds good as a concept (hell, even writing down the summary is making me question whether I'm making the right choice) but the proof is in the writing. One of the cardinal rules of storytelling is to show, don't tell. Unfortunately getting to the point where that scene can be set up properly is taking some major work - work that I'm not sure gives enough of a payoff. It's basically Le Mort D'Artur by Chris Crawford but with a scenario where the only payoff of the game is getting Chicory's blessing. Hell, the whole point of the game is to not try to get Chicory's blessing and be your own witch.

So I'm calling this design a failure for now, but that's OK. I think we put too high of stakes about trying to not fail then when we fail on something that we try then we take it as a personal disaster. Nope. I tried to make something that worked and it didn't. I learned something more about Interactive Storytelling, namely that the biggest obstacle is boredom. With most games you can at least distract the player with puzzles or some other nonsense to keep them occupied. Nope. This one was just flat out boring as heck. Maybe I can come up with something else but for now this one gets abandoned and the lesson is learned. No harm, no foul. I'll figure something else out.

Ever onward.