I have begun brainstorming the peripheral characters first, mainly because they are one source of background information vital in discovering just what has happened, to whom and why.
Reba was fun to write - a little mad - no, not really, just old and a bit mysterious, but she is inside the wagon - a treasured [if slightly feared] Romany elder.
I wanted to avoid using an organisation chart [the M$ tool drove me to insanity and drink last time - agreed, for me not a very long journey] so I found something free on the web called FreeMind - a java-based XML-producing mind-mapping tool, and it seems to work hoopily. Discovered a raft of similar tools which got me thinking that I shoulda been using something like this a long time ago - I think back to the tortured mess I was when building quest monster talk files in MUD, and how inadequate a linear tool [like a wordprocessor] is at that task.
Reba is there for richness, and to connect some dots I am placing elsewhere in this space. Trying to include cultural identity to a second population group here, so the devil is in the details. Some nice cultural references here, including arranged marriages, fierce and loyal friends, human foibles and other niceties.
The process is as before - make the MUD char, give it this talk file; make a MOO bot, teach it these keywords [and prolly some randoms and question response fill-ins, because they are a little richer]; make a "thing" in secondLife and give it this talky script;
Next step: I must get around to investigating the markup to encapsulate this story tree in an AI file for my newly installed AliceBot [thanks Alicebot.org for providing me with an extensible, multi-personality AI-driven conversation engine that I think I can mash-up to connect to something in-world]. New frontier - my first SecondLife in-out world mashup - Azwaldo will need to be my guide as noob is my flavour.
Will keep you posted ... tap, tap, tap ... is this thing on? Is there anybody out there?