• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Landfish

Game Writers RANT! (flamers welcome)

92 posts in this topic

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?!?"
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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"!
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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


0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


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."
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?!?"
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Landfish, et al...
You have unfortunately proved my fears right.
You are all story gamers.

Every post you guys make has "story" plastered all over it.

"Wouldn''t Quake have been a better game if it had a better story?"
No, it would have been a different game. The story doesn''t interest me in Quake. The guns and my multiplayer opponents interest me. The layouts of the levels interest me. Bugger the story, it''s completely superfluous. I don''t want any effort wasted on it.

What bothers me is those games that play like shit because they supposedly emphasise story. Seventh Guest.
Possibly FF. I have never played it.
Is it a great game ''cause one of the characters dies? Could you stop it? If you couldn''t, it was a great STORY because the character died, not a game.

Now, you guys will not see the point, because you hate games with no story. That''s your fullest right to do, but it is limiting you as game designers.

Some of the best games ever:
Tetris. Sim City. Railroad Tycoon.

Stories? Where?

QuakeIII.
Diablo ( don''t you go arguing, you''ve constantly said it completely lacks depth. )

The three-liner stories work because they are not interactive, and not restrictive so as to bother you while you play the game.
You never get "but, I don''t want THAT to happen in the story" because there''s nothing to change in the story.
Wolfenstein: Your BJ Blaskowitz and you have to escape from a Nazi Prison Camp. That''s the ENTIRE story. The long version at that. It never gets in the way.

Let me put it this way:
if you make the story central in the game, you better have a DAMNED good way of influencing it, or it''s just FLUFF.



Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think if I were to summarize the revaltion that you have brought, MadKeith, is that the what''s the important part and what''s the fluff of any game varies from game to game. You can''t have one all-inclusive aspect that is "fluff" and one that is "the meat of the game".
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let me say this: I like quake, I liked Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior. NO story, but I liked them, and played all of them for hours. However, my point is, is that I liked Halflife and Theif MORE. I could really get into these games, and it made the whole experience better. Call it fluff, but if it makes the game better, I think that should catch our attention.

I''ll admit, I am the guy reading the manual of Tekken #, trying to learn the background story of the fighters that intrest me. But that doesn''t mean I don''t hate games with no story. God, I played Doom 2 more than I''ve played any other FPS, including the above mentioned. And yes, Keith, it bothers the HELL out of me when a game is supposed to be story based (RPGs) and don''t deliver. I feel like using it for a coaster when I''m done. I also like (and am currently playing) SimCity 3k, Master of Orion 2, and Diablo 2. Diablo 2 is the only one of these games that comes close to having a story (I said comes close ), but I still like them. Thinking that games would be better with story doesn''t limit me in any way, as I can make pong just as easily as full blown story game. In a sense, I guess my opinion is an elaboration on your own summary:

Don''t make the story in the game fluff.

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I realized that what we are talking about here is not novel; however, it seems like it to me because I never thought of it quite like this.

Landfish, I, and many of us have said before that the reason why we say Quake is a good game even without much story depth is because the designers didn''t try to pretend that it did have story. What we meant was that they made the running around shooting monsters using many different weapons the core of the gameplay.

Landfish has also said before that you have to have a central concept, and then make sure that everything else supports that concept. The central concept is the gameplay, and the "everything else that supports it" is the so-called "fluff".

We''ve been saying this all along in some form or another, but, for me, it just finally all came together in my think brain





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

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


0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think maybe this is something that could be related to the death of adventure games, they attempted to carry the game along with a linear story, which was apparently an interactive experience. This interactive experiences was the game part of it where you ran around trying to solve a particular "puzzle" (more like a case of hide and seek).

There was no action to focus on, no realy gameplay, just a series of decisions made by the designer which lead the player through the story, having approximately the same effect as a book.

Now with the large amounts of data that can be processed I think this idea can be taken the step further that it really needed, and that is the player makes the decisions about where the character goes even if these paths are more or less pre-defined as long as there are multiple-well-written paths to take.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Maitrek

There was no action to focus on, no realy gameplay, just a series of decisions made by the designer which lead the player through the story, having approximately the same effect as a book.



Yes, except the worst part (for me) was that playing an excellent adventure game with a great story was maddening when you couldn''t solve the puzzle. It was like reading your favorite book, only to have someone rip it out of your hands and demand that you solve a maze or crossword puzzle. Even when the puzzles completely fit with the plot, there was seemingly no way for the developer to give you interactivity once you''d gotten stuck.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Landfish, I wanted to say I really respect you for posting your viewpoint on this matter. I''m a writer who is just getting into game programming and every time I play a badly written game, I want to tear my hair out. There are so many writers here in Hollywood that we could spare a few for the gaming industry ... if the industry would only make room for us! I am only just now applying for a job in the game industry, but already my writing hand is twitching in anxiety because I am afraid I won''t want to keep the job if it requires me to work on a badly written game (I will forgive it the ill writing if it somehow manages to still be fun).

Writers get a lot of flack from non-writers. Rather like programmers get, "Only immature geeks would make juvenile computer games for a living," writers often get, "Hey, writing is easy -- I could do it in my sleep. I don''t see why you should get paid to do that!" Writers often don''t get taken seriously by non-writers, and often it is assumed that what they do is "pointless" or even "easy". But writing is not pointless, and it is definitely not easy.

There is a reason why there is only one Shakespeare.

Or one John Carmack.

Next time you work on a project, insist that a professional writer (with published work) be used for the storyline. If you don''t have the power to insist, at least voice your objection when they hire the guy who was DM for a year in high school. No matter how enthusiastic you are, or how good your ideas seem, if you don''t know C from C++, you shouldn''t be lead programmer. And if you don''t know second person from third person point of view, you shouldn''t be the game''s writer.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
girl in a box sez------>And if you don't know second person from third person point of view, you shouldn't be the game's writer.<------

You know, that makes me think of something bearing very little relation to what you've said. (sorry)

That is one problem w/ computer game writing I'd never thought of: narrative POV.

Should you use first person? Sometimes its hard to get the point across using first person. Plus, it does have an effect (good or bad, depending on what you're going for) completely different in computer games than in print. Rather than drawing a player in, as it would a reader, it distances the player somewhat because the player's avatar is establishing his own independant existence through the word "I". So first person's not good for games involving a party, or games in which the player is supposed to feel he/she is the character.

Second person is just clumsy. Text adventures proved that. I always had the feeling in Infocom games that I was a blind person being led around by someone explaining everything to me. "You see an antique dresser. There is a blue vase on top of the dressers, in good condition. . ."etc.

Third person would be good for an "epic" feel, but it would really destroy immersion. (could be good if you wanted the player to feel they are creating a story, tho')

That's an odd thing to mention, and a good example of the different perspective a traditional writer would bring to the table in game design discussions. Also, if you would agree w/ me when I say that the game's story should be told through the game itself and not through cut-scenes and external narration, it makes you think of what kind of writers you're looking for.

I would venture to say that Joe Novelist could not write an effective game plot without some guidance. The demands of game writing seem more suited to script writers, but even then, the medium is so different that you couldn't just pull in a Hollywood script writer, either, and expect to get it "just right". Which in turn is an effective argument for dedicated game writers, even if they are outsourced from another agency. Huh. Interesting.

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

Edited by - Anonymous Poster. on September 9, 2000 9:03:22 PM
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with this, but there is one more problem: A lot of good games (Homeworld, Descent) are made by new developers, who then go off to make their share of boring sequels and clones, and become normal developers. So all the game industry cares about is making better graphics, and the new developers, or just people with an idea, need to find programmers to make a good engine if they want to make a good commercial game. What we need is for more engines that are easier to license, so the people with the real original ideas can get a good engine and code their game with one programmer, instead of spending a lot of money and getting a whole team of programmers.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by girl in the box

Writers get a lot of flack from non-writers. Rather like programmers get, "Only immature geeks would make juvenile computer games for a living," writers often get, "Hey, writing is easy -- I could do it in my sleep. I don''t see why you should get paid to do that!" Writers often don''t get taken seriously by non-writers, and often it is assumed that what they do is "pointless" or even "easy". But writing is not pointless, and it is definitely not easy.


At least I (a programmer) definitely respect writers, because I know how hard it is to write a good story. I have written a few poems, but never a good story because I can''t even think of a basic idea for one. I consider myself better than average (what''s average?) writer, though I would never be able to write a book. I prefer poems and short stories.

quote:
Next time you work on a project, insist that a professional writer (with published work) be used for the storyline.


One point: if the entire team consists of amateurs, why should the writer be professional?

We are working on a strategy game, and our team has two writers. Both are also designers and the other also a 3D modeler. I''m also a designer, but not a writer.

-Jussi
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am thinking more and more that we/you should move this discussion to the new forum

Girl in the box: don''t worry, they are just jealous
Usually, you would get this kind of "hey! *that* is easy" reaction from coders because what you write is actually readable by any literate person, while their work is more cryptic, and thus it must be harder But I''ll assure you that most developers I know are quite illiterate ...

Anonymous poster : I had a debate once about the merit of telling a story First vs Third person in the context of RPG (that is, as a DM, would you make people play any other way than 1st person).
I still don''t know what''s best. I think for combat it is still interesting, as you tend to create more details (the player) when you are looking from outside, while being inside is more frenetic, intense, but you seem to have less power (see the opening sequence of Private Ryan, see any FPS fighting system vs a 3Rd person fighting system...)
As for 2nd person ... well, it doesn''t see to annoy players to be told what they are doing, as most of the time, if I do so, it''s because they would bother describing mundane task, and doing it for them allow me to add a note of lyrism in the description ... or sometimes, they wouldn''t know what to do, and I simply start them on the right track. People like to be helped, but not to obviously, give them choices...

2nd person for description though, is quite annoying. You see, you hear, blah blah blah. I dunno, it just sounds as too much. For actions, though, I don''t see an alternative.

Selkrank : maybe you are just like me who hate painting on something bigger than A4 paper. Oh my Fine Arts lecturers would always annoy me and force to use massive paper sheets, but in the end, I just love working on small scales. I guess it can happen for writing as well. I just don''t understand how you can dissolve and add fluff in a story so much that the story can be summarized in a few lines, but take up hundreds of pages ...
But I am quite happy with my texts, so far. I had never written something that long.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There ya go, moved to game writing at popular request, though I hate losing these threads.

About writing in games: You ask "1st person, 2nd or 3rd.". How about none?
"There''s a table in the center of the room, underneath the crystal chandelier. Several people are sitting around it, playing cards."

This is impossible for some situations:
"One of the people at the table hears the door opening, and turns around to face it ([you, me?] )"

Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
that''s third person, AFAIK.
he/she/it/they (in english )
The problem you describe is even worse/more visible in P&P RPG, as it is much more difficult for people to make the distinction between "I" the player and "he/she" the character. The advantage is much more descriptive dialogs between the DM and the players, but on the other hand, it''s a bit more confusing, jsut as you say.
"The bandit decides to slap the huge barbarian in front of him. Obviously, he must not be alone, but what will the barbarian do?"
"Who, me ?"
"uh,yeah, the barbarian, that would be you !"

mmm
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
damnit...i was looking for this thread. why didnt anybody tell me it moved to this forum!?!

anyways...i think that stories are only efective in certain types of games. who would want to see a story in a racing game? or what about a simcity, or a fighting game(well, lets wait to see how the bouncer turns out first)

as far as fps go, i mostly just see the story as a way of making different levels. this doesnt exactly go for the quakes, but for other fps like perfect dark, or duke nukem. the only reason for the little cutscene/story, is so the player now knows that they are going into outerspace, to play on the alien spaceship. this is story? not hardly. the developers just said to themselves..."hey...wouldnt it be cool if we did a level on an alien spaceship!" "that doesnt fit in with the rest of the game though!" "so what? we can just do a little cutscene/story sequence showing the character needs to go to the spaceship!"
i may be very wrong in this, but it is how i see many games being made. flame away.

rpgs are a different matter entirely though. without a good story, then the game falls flat(in my opinion). the same for adventure games. most of todays games stories are so cliched, so tried and true, that nothing new is coming to these games. of course there are many exceptions to this, but often, the gameplay is a let-down for these games. i mostly see one or the other - good story/bad gameplay - or - bad story/good gameplay. its just a toss-up between the developers.

now i am all for good stories. there is nothing better than a good story. but that''s not for everyone. i just dont think that we should start putting stories into games that dont need them. if the game stands up by itself, then the story just might get in the way. leave it out. "you cant please everyone all of the time."

-Luxury
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lux, till today I didn''t even know there was a forum to move it to!

A lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about how I want games to be made. It seems like you guys feel I want to put more story in games. Not true. Quake is fine with the quantity of story it has now, and so it Diablo. Any more might interfere with gamplay, and you guys know I think gameplay is pretty crucial.

I just want to have those 2 or 3 lines of story to be better written, is all. And we need a writer to do that properly...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites