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Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 27, 2010 2:06 pm
by greay
I'm a bit at a loss as to how Dramatica chooses to eliminate certain options. See, I'm starting to use it to work out the story for a game. I started by answering pretty much every question in the level 1 story guide until I narrowed it down to a single story form. I'm using this as a "base" story to flesh out the characters and world.

However, now I'm a little stuck. I wanted to start messing around with some of the variables to see how Dramatica would change the other aspects (such as journeys) but it seems like I've gotten too specific and now nearly all the choices only present a single option.

For example, at the very least I want a storyform where the Hero succeeds/good outcome, and one where he fails/bad outcome. But somehow the software has decided that I need a "happy" ending - that is, it will allow me to change the success/failure, but the outcome is locked on "good".

My question is, how do I know which of my choices have resulted in it being locked like this? I know ultimately I'm free to just ignore it, but I'd much rather know what "rule" I'm breaking before I break it.

As an extension of that, for my purposes it's much better for me to tweak individual variables than to clear the whole storyform & start from scratch, but it seems my approach has prevented me from being able to do that. Do people have suggestions as to the best way of going about this, or what I might have done wrong?

Re: Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 7:31 am
by phillybudd
The great thing about Dramatica is that it allows you to "drill into" your story from whatever direction you like. You can start by answering questions about your characters first, if your story is going to be more "character driven", or use the "Plot Progression" screen first if you want the plot to develop in certain ways.

Doing either will limit the options available as you get more specific. In other words, filling out the "Plot Progression" screen first will limit the number of options once you go to answer questions about your characters.

What you should do is set up two different dramatica files for your story, one for the successful ending and one for the unsuccessful ending. Then go into each, open the "Story Engine" and immediately set the outcome and judgement accordingly (you can set the checkmarks next to them to lock them, so that if you clear the story engine those values will remain).

Then begin answering the questions either through the query system, "Plot Progression" screen or however you wish to start. That way the options you're presented with for characters and plot will be specific to that particular Success/Good or Failure/Bad outcomes.

Re: Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 11:36 am
by greay
I thought about taking that route, but ultimately that's not an ideal solution for a few reasons. First off, leaving the judgment open is only the bare minimum requirement - I need quite a few more potential endings than that. And since, for whatever reason, Dramatica can only have one story open at a time, constantly switching back and forth (as I'd need to do, to compare choices) would be too cumbersome.

What I want (and what I've begun to narrow down on) is a single storyform skeleton, not completely filled out, where I can examine the results of changing a small set of variables.

So, for example, I found that my main problem was explicitly "choosing" certain options that Dramatica had narrowed down for me. After I reset those to be unset, I still had only one available storyform, and I began going through and looking at the aspects that weren't absolutely necessary to my story. Finally I got it down to a state where the core story I wanted to tell was still there, but a choice between "fate" and "destiny" would result in a story judgment of good or bad. That's perfect.

I also found that in this state, I was able to make choices in the story arc screen, which will be really helpful. For example, a choice early on between "obtaining" and "gathering information" closely maps to a choice I want the player to have at that point in the story, allowing me to plan the story accordingly. Of course, all these branches are going to be a nightmare to manage, but I'm getting much closer.

Now all I need is to understand /why/ some of these choices result in certain outcomes. Hopefully the Dramatica theory book (which I ordered last night) will shed some light on how all these things interrelate. Like, for example, if I set my impact character's 1st signpost to "innermost desires", again, the story judgment is automatically set to good.

Re: Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 11:57 am
by phillybudd
You can open multiple files at one time. Go to Edit->Preferences and check "file menu can open multiple stories".

Re: Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 6:06 pm
by greay
Oh, man. You're a life-saver. It never would have occurred to me that that was something you could enable/disable.

Re: Question about disabled choices

Posted: Jul 29, 2010 9:33 am
by phillybudd
Yeah, I think they probably did that because the way the interface of the app works (which is old and clunky) it's too easy to be editing the wrong file... so if WE decide to turn that option on, it's up to us to keep track of where we are! :-)

Keep in mind that to open multiple files you have to do it through the FILE menu -- clicking the "open story" button in the control panel window will close the current one before opening the new one.