The sequential Sets narrative shape could just as easily be called either the scavenger hunt or multiple act shape. Within the sequential sets the audience must either go through all scenes, do all set activities, or at least a significant set of scenes and/or activities within an act before they are allowed into the next act. Elements of this shape are as old as what is known as "Interactive Fiction" [Muc98], approximately twenty years. A popular puzzle for the more story based games has been to require players to find different objects which will later be vital to their success in entering different levels of a game, hence the scavenger hunt character of many sequential sets stories.
Myst [MM93] is largely a sequential sets narrative. More obviously, Discworld [Pra95] fits into this shape. The Discworld CD-ROM game is based on the series of novels by Terry Pratchett, though far from being shovelware (the cheap re-purposing of existing media), the structure of this narrative gives the audience a real sense of being in that world and participating in that world's events without sacrificing characterisation or plot development. In the first act it is up to the audience to help the character Rincewind discover the parts to make a "dragon finder". Retrieving each piece gives the audience a chance to find out the nature of this world and how it works. The audience also learns about how Rincewind sees and interacts with his environment, thus developing their emotional involvement with the character. Upon assembling the dragon finder, the audience enters into act two where they must direct Rincewind in finding the dragon, and beginning to unfold a terrible scheme whereby the dragon is being used by an underground group to overtake the kingdom, and so are led into the concluding act.
Sequential sets is particularly useful when a creator wishes to evoke a sense of place and encourage more direct involvement.
Copyright © 1996, 1998, 1999 Katherine Phelps