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Game Writers RANT! (flamers welcome)


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#41 Maitrek   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 05:56 PM

quote:
Wavintor :
Games are like songs. Songs may have good writing and story, but insofar as they do they''re nothing more than a support for the song. The music and singing is what makes the song, just as it is with design and games. To the degree that your game''s focus is on story and character over actual gameplay, you are not making a game. You are making something else.



I disagree with you here on two counts.

The lyrics can make a song to some people (like me), and herein lies the problem for making a artistically satisfying game. It''s like the french dude said, some people aren''t going to appreciate it, these people are known as "normal gamers", there are very few gamers out there that will be able to make it a viable product. (no where near enough to support the amount of time and money you might have to put into a game with such ambition as to make people question and think).

A computer game can still be a computer game even if the focus is shifted from entertainment to artistry. Music is still music even if instead of creating a "popular" song you just create nice atmosphere or sound (ie comparing some dodgy band like Backstreet Boys to Vangelis). It''s just that the backstreet boys will suck to those people that like non-atmospheric music (and there are alot of them, that''s why we get more bands like those boy-bands than we get artists like Vangelis etc) and Backstreet Boys will suck to those who like decent older style artistic music.

It''s more a matter of audiences defining what is produced because the industry has become quite expensive and no one wants to take the time out of their life to really devote it to making a artistic computer game - and that''s what it takes to make art. Taking time out of life and really doing something that comes from within, it does not come from looking for a paycheque.

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#42 Knarkles   Members   -  Reputation: 271

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 08:05 PM

There was a good and long rant about the subject in the September issue of Game Developer Magazine. The author (whose name I don''t remember) of the article compared music and games in the sense that neither are really story-telling mediums.

Games are interactive and nonlinear, quite the opposite of stories, which are passive and linear. He suggested that we should concentrate on the "game" part of games, and not sacrifice playability for a good story. I agree. It''s great to have a good plot in a game, but story requires linearity. If a game is too linear, the player feels as if he/she was dragged through the game without the ability to influence the outcome.

That doesn''t mean that the story part of games (which need a story) should be neglected and handled by programmer on his free time. I don''t say programmers don''t make good writers, but there should be a dedicated writer or a few, especially in adventure and role playing games.

-Jussi

#43 ahw   Members   -  Reputation: 263

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 08:32 PM

LF : you don''t need writers for games, as much as you don''t need graphics artists, or musicians, etc ... basically, this is not what makes a game *be* a game.
And this is what I''d like you to think about. What is the definition of game ?
If I take my dictionary (again) I can read : "physical or mental ability purely gratuitous, that has no other purpose, in the mind of the player, than the pleasure it brings.
Then if I look up "art", I find : "set of means, processes, that tend towards a particular end." You could do more vague than that, but it would be harder

OK, then, what you can conclude is that the making of a game can/could be considered an Art in itself. Now the problem is that you are trying to mix this with Art (in the sense, the 9 forms of arts recognised by the Muses). And that''s where I don''t agree.
More often than not, games are not a form of Art, they are not the expression of something an author is trying to express ! They are merely work of commission, done for a buyer, just like Leonardo da Vinci did his Mona Lisa for a command... if the person doing this work happens to be an artist, it''s quite likely that his soul will be put into the making even of a commanded work, but in essence, it won''t be a work of Art as such.
If you do a game to express some personal ideas, to make a statement, to make the players wonder, think, etc, then I say you would be doing Art.
I was gonna say that Art is more often than not the work of one person, but there seem to be nowadays an evolution in this, so maybe games could be a good illustration of this. But anyway, what I am trying to say is, as long as you do games to please someone, you are not making Art, no matter what. That''s why artists don''t get recognised until they are dead, that''s why geniuses are always misunderstood, that''s because those people don''t work FOR someone, but because they have something inside that they want to show to the rest of the world, and they don''t care whether someone is gonna like it or not !

If you want to turn games into a form of Art, then don''t work for anyone else than you. If you chagne your game to please your players, that''s it, it''s not Art anymore. It becomes somthing else. But hey! the argument I am giving you here is exactly the kind of arguments my lecturers gave me when I applied to the Fine Arts, and I happily proved them wrong !
All I am saying is, you have to clearly state the rules, and in essence, if you decide that your way of practicing Art is to give the control of your production to other people, then maybe that''s YOUR Art...

The conclusion is that there is no right or wrong, really. Art is a personal thing by essence, it''s not something that you can jsut look up in the dictionary, and say : "well, you see, THAT is Art".
The whole fuck!ng thing is that you have to think by yourself, you have to create your own little definition, and you have to understand that it''s a damn selfish thing. You have to be selfish to be an artist, even if your Art is about sharing, in the end, it''s all about yourself... just ask yourself, why do you wanna do this ? What does it bring YOU ?

Oh and I''ll stand by Wavinator at the stake ... don''t get all artsy fartsy with games, games are meant to be just that, a recreational activity. You can include "clever" content into games, you can include "artistic" content, but the main principle is to play, to produce endomorphin (I think) if you want to be more specific. That''s what people mean when they say "fun". That''s why you played seek and hide as a child, that''s why my wee sister (5) spend ages playing with dolls, doing dishes, ironing, cleaning, etc... just because it''s somehow ...fun... (and no, I don''t like the word, I think it''s too shallow to jsut say that, but I don''t think there is a point into goind geeper right now).

Nazrix : well, of course it would be great to consider computer games as another intellectual, cultural activity, and just like you say it won''t happen overnight.
but that''s exactly what I meant when I say you have to educate your audience !!!
You don''t do opera if there are no opera fans to listen it ! Don''t give jam to pigs.
And you say your target audience wouldn''t be 12. Well, that''s nice and well, but tell me please, what kind of audience is targeted by Tomb Raider, by Pokemon, by Diablo, by Quakelikes ??? And I am not talking about the age of the persons, I am asking, what level of your personality is attracted by those games ??? Think about it

Anonymous : the definition you give is correct, and sadly it''s probably the one most people accept. It''s actually the one I accepted until I actually went to Fine Arts and realised how shallow that was. Limiting yourself to aesthetics is exactly the kind of thinking that leads you to think that modern art is just "spots of paint on a white canvas". Of course it is, but it''s the point of the damn painting, the artistic content lies in the ideas expressed. It''s all about expressing one''s ideas. The way you do it, the medium/a you use, is something each artist has to decide *on his own*

I think the debate is gone into "is game making an art form" more than "are writers necessary to game making". But I think that''s better, because the problems lie much deeper than we can see, most of the time. And stopping at the litterary qualities of games is, IMHO, too easy. "We need more writers". Well ... yeah... so what ?

youpla :-P

ps: well .. I could be totally wrong of course But I prefer to believe it''s the rest of the world who is wrong...

#44 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 08:38 PM

I have to agree with Selkrank, and I have a few observations to make:
Landfish, you''re a writer more than a gamer.
You make the FUNDAMENTAL mistake of assuming that the main form of "art" in games is the story. Wrong. Selkrank hit the nail on the head - it''s the gameplay that''s central to a game. The rest is peripheral ( artwork, music, story ).
Tetris is PURE game art. It''s simple as dirt. No story, no real artwork that matters, no real music that matters. 100% gameplay. Nothing highbrow, heck, it''s plain cubist. But it works. People play it. Almost everyone who''s ever owned a computer knows about Tetris.
Minesweeper is art. Once you''ve played a game that simple for hours, you know it''s good. The goodness is its art.

Art is not something catcheable.
Art can be theater, movies, music, dance, photos, paintings, drawings, books. They all have some central features that can make it art. Books have writing style and story ( Ulysses is a good example of where the writing style and not the story made it art ).
Games have interactivity. That is GAMEPLAY people. It reacts to what you do. How it does that, and what it does with it, is central. Okay, there''s some music and some textures and some backgrounds and perhaps a story. Sometimes these could make it art ( Myst ). However, a true GAME has its GAMEPLAY to redeem it. We have plenty of examples of it, but they are all underrated.
*sigh*
Diablo.
What story?
What 3d?
What graphics?
Click ''n Kill.
Nomatter how much we put it down, it''s the GAMEPLAY that made it work. A story as an excuse for the graphics and action. But the action worked. Diablo was a good game. ( A worthless roleplaying experience, but a good game. ).



Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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#45 Dæmin   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 08:55 PM

I''d think that the type of game that you were creating would dictate what direction you''d want it to take, and wether it would be artsy, fun, enthralling, thinking, political, or well written. For example for FPS, that''s First Person Shooter! games you wouldn''t want a huge interwined story with many elements, many key combinations, or complex dialog trees, you just want to blast the enemy into smitherinies. Therefore you wouldn''t want them to overly complex, thinking or artsy, Doom didn''t have any of those things, you just pointed and shot. Like an action movie. Quake 3, or Unreal Tournament anyone?

In Roleplaying games you''d want to make the player feel emotions, play out the character, and envolve themselves in the intricate and complex storyline, much like a good fiction novel. Also you''d want to bring out some thining issues in your game, much like ina book, wether it be about politics, society, technology, etc. Ultimas (to some extent)?

In sports games you''d want to recreate theatmosphere of the game, and the reality of it too, like the crowd, soccer hooligans anyone? , good ball physics, good player models, good animation and good controls. I''d like to see (haven''t seen this yet) a good tough sport game (Rugby, Gridion(weak), Aussie Rules Football(YEAH!)) game that has a detailed hit profile and detailed body / biology reponses. So instead of using those hit profiles in Soldier of Fortune (another weak shooter), which are mearly used for "eyecandy" it would be good if they moved the technology to a sports game such as the above mentioned games. That would make them a lot more realistic and more atmospheric.

In real Time Strategy games the object is to make the player feel important as the commander of an army, it should be very detailed and realistic - to an extent - and allow a wealth of information to the player, to such an extent that IMO Wargames and Real Time Strategy titles should be merged into one genre, but focusing on smaller battles with more orientation towards strategy and tactics. More attention should also be placed on individual units, so much so as there would be no stupid meat grinder rushes like in Total Annihilation, Warcraft, etc, but that it would allow the true commanders to excell in strategy. These games should be also politically motivated, and the best result of this that I have seen is in Shogun: Total War. Although there are other games such as this I haven''t heard of them yet so I have not mentioned them...

Well that''s about it of my RANT, I shoul reiterrate that waht the game is should be defined by what general genre it fits into, therefore a nice deep thought provoking adventure game would be considered art to a degree, a fast fps game should be considered "fun", a sports game (including racing) should be considerred accurate representation of reality, and a Real Time strategy game should be considered to be deep, thoughtful, and require good orginisational skills.

I''ll let every individual decide how they should interpret this for that I cannot control, but just before making a game think about what genre it is and what you want to bring out of the genre, be it horror from an RPG, speed from a racing game, or fantasy from a space shooter.

Dæmin
(Dominik Grabiec)
sdgrab@eisa.net.au

#46 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 08:56 PM

It seems that the more effort that you put into a post the more likely it will be convieniantly ignored. I wonder why, hmmmm. Bah, who cares.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

#47 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 09:00 PM

I think people are reassured by the sound of their own voice, Paul, and prefer not to hear the voice of dissent in other people.
I think I''ll give up trying to make any point in these forums and just limit myself to moderating and answering questions...


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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#48 Knarkles   Members   -  Reputation: 271

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 09:06 PM

Considering emotions:

There have been two games where I remember having "real" feelings about the characters. Usually the feelings come from the gameplay: I feel happy when I succeed, sad when I fail. These games have been different, and they are Final Fantasy 7 and Deus Ex. I don''t know what''s about them. Perhaps I can somehow identify with the main characters or perhaps it''s the plot, I don''t know.

-Jussi

#49 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 09:16 PM

I''m willing to venture that you feel involved because it''s your action, DIRECTLY, that has caused the next part of the story to be revealed, and you realise that it has turned the way it has because of what you did and how you chose to do it.
The story is tuned to what you expect, and the interactivity makes it believeable that it happened.


Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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#50 Knarkles   Members   -  Reputation: 271

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 09:24 PM

quote:
Original post by MadKeithV

I''m willing to venture that you feel involved because it''s your action, DIRECTLY, that has caused the next part of the story to be revealed, and you realise that it has turned the way it has because of what you did and how you chose to do it.
The story is tuned to what you expect, and the interactivity makes it believeable that it happened.


Were you replying to my post about emotions?

No, I don''t think "direct" interaction is why I felt involved in the story, because I remember this happening only with these two games.

-Jussi

#51 pacman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 04:49 AM

Well, it looks like a lot more people have an opinion about this now.

Landfish, I''m not a big art person. By this, I mean in my art class last semester, I looked forward to gallery vists only because I got to go home 2 hours early. I love books, music, even some movies, I''m just not into "art".

Wavy (), I don''t think Landfish was trying to say that a game isn''t good unless it has good writing (are you?). I agree that game design should never be second to artistic expression: without the rock solid desgin, the game is going to suck no matter what. But I also think that, as a creative field, people should be encouraged to put a little bit of themselves into the games they make.

Immagnuman: "That being said, if I wanted a story I''d read a book."

That''s a load of crap. Would your favorite RPG be what it is without it''s story? Whoever thinks that books are the place to be for story, think again. Games have the potential to tell the best stories ever, they just haven''t yet.

Selkrank: "He suggested that we should concentrate on the ''game'' part of games, and not sacrifice playability for a good story."

This guy is full of crap too (man, I''m angry this morning ). Story and games are NOT mutually exclusive, and a story does not have to be linear going into it. A story is always linear AFTER the fact, but just like life, there are so many possibilities, and a story is just a collection of what ended up happening. An example that proves my point: Chrono Trigger. You think because of it''s story, it lacked gameplay?

ahw, I agree that the best game you can possibly make is when you say "go to hell" to everyone else, and make what you want. That is the way it''s supposed to be.

Keith, one question: how much better would Diablo have been if it had had a good story and more role playing?

A similar question to Daemin: if Quake of Doom had a great plot, would you have played through the levels just to kill, or find out what happens next?

This has got to be my longest post ever . That''s all I can think of now, so I eagerly await anyones reply.

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"

#52 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:39 AM

I think Diablo, Quake, and Doom would all benefit from more story. It would just add to what's already there. I thought Thief had much more depth because of that little bit more of a story.

Furthermore, if someone made a game where artistic expression overwhelmed the gameplay, I think there's nothing at all wrong w/ that. I have seen movies where it was obvious there was a profound message and that message had priority over the plot itself.

If someone were to make such a game, they'd have to just realize that's what it would be: a game where the artisic message was the priority. The game probably would not be commercially popular because people wouldn't be used to such a thing, but I see nothing wrong w/ it.







"NPC's are people too!" --dwarfsoft

"`Nazrix is cool.' --Nazrix" --Darkmage


Edited by - Nazrix on September 7, 2000 2:41:27 PM

#53 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:43 AM

g

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

#54 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:45 AM

You know, this would have to be the most pathetic thread i''ve ever read!!!

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

#55 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:49 AM

Yeah, I think we''ve rode this topic out as far as we''re going to. It''s getting rather rediculous.




"NPC's are people too!" --dwarfsoft

"`Nazrix is cool.' --Nazrix" --Darkmage




#56 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:50 AM

Why do people keep on misquoting me?! Et tu, Madkeith!

My philosophy is NOT that Story, or writing is central to a game''s being art. This is a misunderstanding stemming from two different conversations happening at the same time, one about writing and one about art. Just for clarification, here is what I believe, and always have.

The Experience of Playing a game is what is central to the design. All parts contribute to this equally. (in quality, not quantity). There are games with bad design and bad gameplay that are saved by their (supposed) great story. Final Fantasy VII (I don''t get it, but some people do...)

There are games with horrible story that some people like for their excellent gameplay. I have never denied this.

To make Der Ubergame, we must look at all parts as pieces of the EXPERIENCE. Gameplay is prominant on this list, simply because it is the most obvious part of the experience.

What I said way back then was true. We need better writers to make games better.

#57 ImmaGNUman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 08:17 AM



Immagnuman: "That being said, if I wanted a story I''d read a book."

That''s a load of crap. Would your favorite RPG be what it is without it''s story? Whoever thinks that books are the place to be for story, think again. Games have the potential to tell the best stories ever, they just haven''t yet.


You totally took that out of context. By story I meant that I dont wanna have to read a novel to start playing a game. I want the story to be developed in-game, through actions, not 100 pages of text. In fact I have stated(perhaps in other threads) that some of the best games I have played with stories are very good, but a story isn''t essential and a good game doesn''t nessicarily have a story and a good story doesn''t nessicarily make a game great.

-----------------------------

A wise man once said "A person with half a clue is more dangerous than a person with or without one."

#58 pacman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 08:38 AM

Well, in that case, I apologize. No one wants to have to read a novel before they play a game, they didn''t buy a book, they bought a game. I also agree that a good game doesn''t need a story, nor does a good story make a good game.

My point is that a good game with a good, well integrated (not 100 pages of text before the game starts) story can transform a game into something better, deeper, and more meaningful. Even FPS can benifit from story (Theif).

*GASP* Oh man, I just realized that Landfish and I agree!

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"

#59 Anonymous Poster.   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 11:45 AM

Don''t you think that if we had easier to use (less technical), more affordable tools for game development, a team of five guys could put out a unified vision that would really rock your socks? Until that happens, we''re stuck w/ either "amateurish" games, or corporate games. Either way, we''re screwed. . .what movie was that, 8mm? that says something like "You don''t change the devil, the devil changes you." Well, that pretty much sums up how I feel about being an artist (note, not a cappucino-sipping artsy-fartsy high artiste, I said *artist*) in corporate America.

If you see the Buddha on the road, Kill Him. -apocryphal

#60 Knarkles   Members   -  Reputation: 271

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:06 PM

quote:
Original post by pacman
Selkrank: "He suggested that we should concentrate on the ''game'' part of games, and not sacrifice playability for a good story."

This guy is full of crap too (man, I''m angry this morning ). Story and games are NOT mutually exclusive, and a story does not have to be linear going into it. A story is always linear AFTER the fact, but just like life, there are so many possibilities, and a story is just a collection of what ended up happening. An example that proves my point: Chrono Trigger. You think because of it''s story, it lacked gameplay?


"Sacrifice" is the important word there. If you can make a good story without sacrificing gameplay, it''s perfectly OK. I don''t say we shouldn''t concentrate on the story, but gameplay is more important, because that''s what games are all about. See the thread What makes you play?.

-Jussi




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