Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
slowpid

writing for games

This topic is 5400 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

So, a writing for games forum...wierd... I first encountered this forum...mehh, a while ago I think...as an aspiring writer I was enthralled to find like minded people, that was until I looked at the actuall posts. Do you guys realize that every other thread here is either someone posting a LOOOONNNGGGG winded 'game intro' that sets up their 'world' for their version of 'conflict', or someone asking what else needs to be in a story but cool items. Now im not getting down on anyone, im just wondering what kind of writing your doing. Iv'e seen one good quiestion in the last few days, "How do I create characters that defy stupid stereotypes we see EVERYDAY in video games"....this is an honestly good quiestion every writer should be asking himself. He was answered with a post whose first line was "First they need cool names". Is that laughable to anyone else? Is it just me who sees this as an attrocity? Can I ask a serious quiestion on this particular section of this great web site? If I thought I could it would be something like this...."How long can people sit around on their computers while deciding what to name the ONLY sword that can kill the last boss?" How come nothing here is origional. Im going to admit that it was done a few times extraordinarily well, the make a world, make a cast of characters, make items and make a plot...JRR Tolken comes to mind. But do any of you really think that he did those things in that particular order? It is so saddening to see all the cool things this web site has to offer and then come to the part that would mean the most to certain individuals and finding nothing of substance. I know, people are either going to be mad at this post or laugh cause they know its true, but neither belong on my list of intentions, a very small list in fact. Primarily im writting this because my only intention is to find a few people to start this in a diffrent direction. As we all know, everybody and their brother has what they would consider a good story that they want to make into a video game, this becomes extremely imparent when we go into the help wanted forum, "I have a story idea, now all I need is a team!!!", I wonder why we dont see that here....I think its because some of the people in this forum are actually dedicated to refining their writting talents, and I think that we should start being there for those people, I know there are times when I wish I had somewhere to go for advise, but right now this is not the place, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how that could be, how do we make this a place for help? Im not getting down on anyone, I was just thinking that there should be specific things this forum could do? Has this forum helped produce even one full length script? I think it could spawn many. Is there anyone who feels the same way?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Pfff. Have you looked through the post archive? A lot of the reason we don't discuss theoretical issues here much is that they've all been discussed to death in the four and a half years this forum has existed. And people generally can't post their original game scripts beyond the intro here for copyright reasons. It's true that there are occasionally truly moronic posts here, but more than half of the posts here are quite intelligent. Currently there are several interesting and original topics, notably the comedy without a moron one, the backstabbing matriarchial lizards one, and the collaborative game story one.

I fail to see why you don't think the people here could provide you with help and good advice, I have my BA in English and the members of this forum have provided me with an amazing amount of help with particuar projects (my novel-in-progress especially) and refining my theoretical understanding of how writing works. There are many members of this forum who are very intelligent, some who are published writers, some who are very creative and helpful... I don't see how you can judge the community as useless before you try particpating in it. What is it that you're looking for that you didn't find here? Did you try searching the archives for it? If you didn't find anything relevant, did you try starting your own thread about it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was hoping no-one would take it that way. I was just saying that the majority of the things here are not writing specific. By the way, if most of the issues have been discussed over FOUR years, why would you think that im the only one here who doesn't know they are here. I remember you I think by the way, you did offer me some help, not that I asked for it, but I found it while I was reading and related it to my plot. I was more talking about the need for some of the more senior writers, like yourself I guess, could put certain things together above and beyond the questions an amerature writer would ask...like for example suggestions on organizing a plot, building it step by step...things someone without a BA wouldn't have, such as formatt. I did say that there are people who could help, I was just wondering if any of them wished to coroberate ideas and focus the help for some of the beggining writers so that they dont get flipped up-side down by the morons that ALSO post whenever they want....and I could unknowingly be one of them I guess.... - the quickest way to learn is to teach, right? -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't usually reply to people who abuse my favourite language so. However, you raise some interesting points that I believe do need answering...


The fundamental problem with "game writing" is that games are interactive and traditional writing techniques are not always directly applicable. There are as many game genres as there are TV programming genres and each requires writing to be handled according to its own subset of rules.

Now, the level of interaction in a game varies quite dramatically from genre to genre. Some place interactivity at their heart. In these games, a key part of the game's attraction is that the player is free to tell his or her _own_ story within the context of the game's 'universe'. The "game writer" does NOT write a story for such games. Instead, he creates somewhere for the player to create his own by ensuring all the relevant components for an interesting, compelling story are made available to the player.

However, "100% interactive" games don't really exist and many argue that they may not, in fact, be desirable. If you read the studies of world mythologies and story made by Joseph Campbell in the 1960s, as well as the 'distillation' of Campbell's studies by Chris Vogler, you can see the patterns originally hypothesised by Jung that appear to be common to so many enduring myths and legends. (For what it's worth, the original "Star Wars: A New Hope" movie was consciously written following Vogler's infamous 'memo'.)

Humans (according to Jung, Campbell, et al), seem to prefer stories that include some form of point or goal to strive for. They like challenges and obstacles that are overcome. They want to see characters changing -- highly visible in US TV and movie stories where the ancient
  • 'morality play' structure still reigns supreme.

    In short, there are certain storytelling devices that appear to be important if you want the story to feel 'complete'.

    The result is that many successful games do _not_ give players total, complete and absolute freedom to do as they wish. Examples abound of game development teams who have totally failed to understand this. There are many examples of lesser 'build-em-up' strategy games, (usually with "Tycoon" in the title), where the openness resulted in a game that was, fundamentally, pointless. Once the novelty of the user interface wore off, there proved to be little else to do. Contrast this with Chris Sawyer's own titles in the same genre. He's most famous for his "Rollercoaster Tycoon" series, but his most recent title -- "Chris Sawyer's Locomotion" goes so far as to remove the explicit 'sandbox' option and many pointless micromanagement features leaving a pared-down, yet very challenging game. Each mission, above all, has a _goal_, even though the means to achieve the goal is left entirely up to the player.

    Others developers, on the other hand, have taken the writing too far and tipped the balance in the other direction. The best example of this is the 1980s game "Elite" (Braben / Bell). This game did spectacularly well, but every attempt to follow it up with a worthy spiritual sequel has failed. "Elite", being developed for 8-bit computers, naturally limited the player's actions to a fair extent, but it felt very 'free'. Where attempts at 'bettering' Elite have invariably failed is their requirement that the player takes on the role of a specific, explicitly defined character. Elite's protagonist was a complete cipher; _you_ were supposed to project yourself into the role and play as yourself. It was a true "role-playing game" in the original sense. This illustrates perfectly the tightrope-like nature of "Game Writing".

    Writing for games is a new and difficult craft as you need to understand the subset of rules each genre requires you to understand. Not all games actually _need_ writers. There's certainly very little writing required for an abstract puzzle game such as Tetris or Klondike Solitaire.


    The problem with this forum, and the reason I rarely bother to frequent it, is that writing is, in itself, a very well-understood craft. There's no trick to it: the best way to become a professional, paid writer is, firstly, to stop merely _talking_ about writing. Just shut the fuck up and WRITE!

    The preponderance of "What do you think of my cool story idea?" posts is merely the result of ignorance. The *setting* of an FPS or CRPG is ultimately irrelevant. It's the gameplay that matters. Story, in games, is like music in movies: it's there to *support* the gameplay, not dictate it. This isn't to belittle storytelling per se -- many movie soundtracks are already considered classics -- but the interaction, the gameplay, the mechanics, the user interface, the *gestalt*, is the important aspect. Story alone can never sell a game.

    "What do you think of my cool story idea?" Such posts are the literary equivalent of a musician playing a single note from every tenth bar in a symphony and asking the world to judge the entire opus from that evidence alone. Stories are linear by definition. Games aren't linear -- that's the whole damned point of 'em. If you're asking us to judge your worth as a Game Writer, offer us some _non-linear_ writing.


    --
    Sean Timarco Baggaley

  • Possibly even prehistoric, but certainly at least Medieval. The term "Morality Play" comes from that period.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    It might be more accurate to say that the quickest way to learn is to read a book or listen to a lecture, but teaching something organizes your knowledge into true understanding.

    As for teaching threads, like mini-lectures on plot, I have done many of these, and I continue to do them every few months when I think of something new to say. To prevent these from being lost in the post archives I have cleaned them up and compiled them into my developer journal. (See the link in my sig quote?)

    I have so far covered the following subjects:

    Aug 29 - Genres, some differences between writing for games and other kinds of writing, examples of my writing

    Aug 30 - More differences between games and other types of writing, areas of story design, good habits for writers

    Aug 31 - Story elements, story roles, archetypes, character dynamic

    Sept 2 - More than you ever wanted to know about worldbuilding

    Sept 2 - Naming

    Sept 8 - Plot

    Sept 8 - Plot II


    I am currently out of ideas for what subjects to cover here, so I would welcome any suggestions for additional topics you would like to see covered, and I'm glad if something I wrote helped you out in the past.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    hey sunandshadow, you know that feeling when your really really mad, you can find reasons to degrade and yell at just about everyone and justify why they deserve it? Yeah, well thanks for ruining my bad mood asshole.

    to the other guy;

    Yeah, I love psychology to. I think your right about the shut the @#%& up and write part, to a point. I've been a strict short story author for about five years...until about two years ago when I had the thought that short story writers are like novelists with a commitment phobia or poets without the existentialist bullshit. So I started a novel, and eventually bullied my way through it. Ive decided that finesse is the way to go, and its good to help people recognize that early, planning the whole time. Teaching just helps organize you and is all I was thinking of, but never mind, sunandshadow beat me to it....bastard.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Quote:
    Original post by slowpid
    hey sunandshadow, you know that feeling when your really really mad, you can find reasons to degrade and yell at just about everyone and justify why they deserve it? Yeah, well thanks for ruining my bad mood asshole.



    Steady on, old chap: There are ladies present. (No, not me.) Besides, there's no call for that sort of language. This isn't the GDNet Lounge, or a thread on politics.


    Quote:

    to the other guy;

    Yeah, I love psychology to. I think your right about the shut the @#%& up and write part, to a point. I've been a strict short story author for about five years...until about two years ago when I had the thought that short story writers are like novelists with a commitment phobia or poets without the existentialist bullshit.


    I disagree with this. I don't doubt that some writers would fit your description, your implication is that a short story is just a very short novel. I've written both, but find I prefer novel-length stories and the screenplay format over the short, but this is because I don't tend to come up with story ideas that would fit into a short story format. (It doesn't help that I prefer science fiction. The short story market for SF isn't exactly massive in the UK.)

    I believe short stories are to novels what a three-minute pop song is to an orchestral symphony. Both are equally 'valid' forms. Both are bloody hard to do _well_.

    There are composers who can do both with equal aplomb, but far fewer who have a natural aptitude for both forms; in most cases, they have to learn and practice hard at one or the other until they can get it right.

    The short form is particularly suited for certain forms of storytelling: SF authors in the past have often used it to tell overdrawn "shaggy dog" jokes aimed at geeks and nerds. (Asimov was particularly guilty of these, although he was at least very good at writing them.) The other popular SF short story formula is the "story-with-a-twist-ending" made so famous by Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone" TV series, but also popularised by fantasist Roald Dahl.

    The novel form isn't ideal for these story forms. 'Joke' stories, in particular, often work best when pared down to the barest minimum needed to make the punchline work.

    Novel writers aren't inherently superior to short story specialists. There's an old saw that art is more about what you leave out or delete than what you put in. The biggest problem is that the short story market is much, much smaller than it used to be, so novels are often the only viable route to take if a writer wants to make a living from writing fiction.

    (The modern novel, incidentally, only dates back to the 18th Century, with Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe among the earliest pioneers of the form.)

    Regards,

    --
    Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Quote:
    Original post by stimarco
    Quote:
    Original post by slowpid
    hey sunandshadow, you know that feeling when your really really mad, you can find reasons to degrade and yell at just about everyone and justify why they deserve it? Yeah, well thanks for ruining my bad mood asshole.



    Steady on, old chap: There are ladies present. (No, not me.) Besides, there's no call for that sort of language. This isn't the GDNet Lounge, or a thread on politics.




    Hey! Don't call me a lady! lol ;) But yeah, if you're going to call people names at least use smileys to show that you don't mean it in an offensive way. One of the duties all the moderators here are charged with is to combat flaming/trolling, which means if you are in a bad mood and want to yell at anyone do it somewhereelse, beause doing so on gamedev will get you banned.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    While I am not a professional writer and I dabble at it more than anything. I also seem to have put my 2 cent in the wrong places on Gamedev when I first started this account so I was sorely under rated and haven't earned many points there after.

    But as far as writing goes I would say that practice is your best offense that goes for any type of writing.

    Writing for a game is perticularly hard and I think some of the reasons that you haven't found that many technical posts in the "Writing For Games" forum, would be because there are so many ways of writing for games and each is specific to the game that your writing, that its almost impossible to outline a clear cut way to step-by-step go through and complete the project.

    I am a poet and haven't been able to get through even a short story simply because the plots and events I come up with need to be described in detail at a Novel level. I just haven't found a story I could stick with.

    So as far as this forum being a little non-technical its completely understandable. And for a full length script to emerge I think that our Collaborative story is coming along pretty well provided people remain interested.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    HEY CAN I ASK YOU GUYS WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING HERE WRITING STORYS FOR THIS FORMUS WHEN YOU GUYS COULD BE OUT DOING IT FOR ANOTHER BETTER PLACE FOR LIKE A PUBLISHER OR EVEN A GAMING COMPANY? OH WELL.

    Share this post


    Link to post
    Share on other sites
    Sign in to follow this  

    • Advertisement
    ×

    Important Information

    By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

    GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

    Sign me up!