Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Doctoring the Docs

When I got the job of writing the Storytronics overview, reference docs and tutorials, the first thing I did was ask myself: "Why do we need new docs?" The old Erasmatron docs were fine - after all, they taught me almost everything I know about Storytronics. I could just touch them up a little and voila!"

"However", my self replied, "it took you a godawful amount of adjusting, processing, assimilating and defining before you started to see what's what". My self was right - the learning process was one messy business. "This is because your intuition lead you in the wrong direction every step of the way…" he managed to say as my medication took effect and repressed him into the subconscious grotto where he belongs.

This is the lesson I've learned from my years as a Storytronics rookie - our docs need to make effective use of the readers' intuitions, not fight against them. So for the past two months I've been working on the "Storytronics up close" section of the docs, the core portion which explains all the clockwork, trying to make it intuitive. And let me tell you, she's a tough little beast. I've already written two versions which were technically complete, but they just weren't accessible enough.

The catch is that whatever explanation I choose has to present every part of Storytronics in an intuitive way, but it seems that making certain parts clear turns others obscure. That's no good - in Storytronics, either you get it all or you don't get it at all. I've just now settled down on a very good approach that makes the heavy hitters - Verbs, Plans, Events, Options, Inclinations and Roles very clear. The problem? I can't get OTerms (the Subject, DirObject and other constituents of Plans and Events) to fit nicely into this approach. She's giving me a good fight - there's blood all over the ceiling. But it's a matter of days before she succumbs.

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