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ElvenNeko

The story of my long journey on the path to become a game writer. What ending will i have? I need your advice on that.

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3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

So, a movie director never hires a writer to make a script, because he or maybe the camera man, costumer or someone else already have enough ideas, right? And all of them equally talanted for writing that exacly fits for what movie requires.

Video games are not movies. In the relatively uncommon case where a game studio wishes to make a very specific story-led game and they have a specific writer in mind, they may approach that writer. I don't think I've ever heard of this happening though I'm sure there must be 1 or 2 exceptions in the tens of thousands of games that got made.

What video game studios do have is a studio full of people who have designed games, and often also people who have written stories for games too. So they don't need to go looking for random members of the public to submit stories to them. The people they need are almost always in-house.

 

3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

They wasn't born with this expirience, however. Avellone, for example, only had a d&d module writing expirience when he was hired in game dev. He also get to write big games like Fallout already  year after his assignment.

(a) 1996 was a very different time - much lower budgets, smaller teams, fewer experienced people.

(b) He joined the industry as a designer, working on other people's game ideas. That option is open to you. What is not open is the option of submitting a game idea and having a studio make it for you.

 

3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

If those experts was always correct, they would not be such a huge amount of complete failures among aaa-developers in the last several years.

The AAA games industry, like the film industry and the pop music industry, has always been hit-driven and more about the 'portfolio', with a minority of successes subsidising a majority of 'failures'. It's not about being correct or incorrect and more about making decisions that, on average, keep the company thriving.

 

3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

But it seems like the most the can do - is to give "valuable" advices on how to make a "politically correct" games

We get it, you don't respect the industry, you don't like how they make the decisions. Okay. I'm not going to argue with you about it. But, it is the way that it is, and "if the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain".

 

3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

That's why every good writer must be able to cut and apart their stories for various unexpected changes, and i can do this as well. However, many of the things you describe should be calculated before game development even started.

Indeed - however, this is where experience in the industry comes in, which you don't have yet. And many things cannot be fully planned out before development starts. The complexity of a large computer game project is too high for that, plus things change all the time. Target platforms change. Personnel leave. One feature ends up taking more CPU time than expected so another one gets reduced. A bug fix in a renderer makes a scene look more correct but render more slowly. Change happens, and the story often suffers. That's the reality of working in an expensive medium.

 

3 hours ago, ElvenNeko said:

Your name isn't Todd Howard by any chance? I just remembered how he justified a terrible FO4 dialogue system with just the same excuse, only to tell later that "it was a mistake".

Facts are facts. Many players don't care about these things. Personally I wouldn't have put Fallout 4 players in that bracket, and that was his mistake. But it doesn't change the underlying constraints on how many resources can be put into storytelling in games.

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It's a crazy, somewhat random world. 
If you're idea is huge, you may want to split it up into 'episodes'. 

Kylo is correct imo.. But is it safe for me to say Kylo, that you don't necessarily want your examples to be reality? It's tough, but the AAA & film directors have their reasons. 
They might want to know you for a while 1st. As one could guess, they too have a lot of problems within their own groups. I've spoken to a few, and the stories they tell scare me almost to the extent where I'd rather not even get involved. However, don't lose hope.. & I don't think Kylo is saying it's all gloom & doom. It's just tough.
RE: Fallout in general.. The thing that turned me off F76 was the advert. It just seemed too, 'fun and easy, casual'. Fallout to me has always been a serious toned game with self aware funny bits within it. I discovered Fallout 2 from a friend years after it was made. But hey, I'm weird. 
Sorry if I seem like I'm hijacking a discussion, not my intention :)
 

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Posted (edited)
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What video game studios do have is a studio full of people who have designed games, and often also people who have written stories for games too.

I am both designed games and written the stories. I am not certain about my designs, because i haven't tried my boldest ideas and not sure how it will work out, but i still have the expirience. If the studios are full of people alike - they somehow hired them, right? They aren't born in-house.

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He joined the industry as a designer, working on other people's game ideas.

Sadly, 2019 is a different time as well, i don't see any openings for game designers without many finished games.

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It's not about being correct or incorrect and more about making decisions that, on average, keep the company thriving.

So they just flip a coin and hope it works out? Because there is no logic or even knowledge of the games in example that i mentioned above. And like you say above - they have a full team of expirienced developers. Why do they need opinion of someone who barely played any games at all, and has no idea of the true reasons of sucsess or falure of the certain game? Your can't be a restaurant critic if you don't eat there. How can you be an "expecrt" to lecture the developers on how to do their work, if you aren't even an expirienced gamer?

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And many things cannot be fully planned out before development starts. The complexity of a large computer game project is too high for that, plus things change all the time.

I can imagine a large open-world games like Assasin's Creed being too complex to calculate ahead, but if you making a turn-based rpg, for example? Or exploration game? Or even the online game i have concept for, where every single little detail can be easily written on paper before proceeding to development? Joining a development of a supermassive game was never in my intentions anyway.

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Facts are facts. Many players don't care about these things.

I never argued with that. But if your goal is "make a game that will appeal to the larger audience possible" you probably should be making something like Angry Birds maybe. Various genres exist because there is people playing them. There will always be games made as cheap and primitive as possible to make some fast cash, and there will be games that actually trying to impress people. So i do not get your point - the studio makes the game the studio wants to make. And i have a concepts for all kinds of games - from fully story-driven adventures, to the strategy game where story takes only a bit of player's time, i have ideas for almost any tastes in gaming.

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If you're idea is huge, you may want to split it up into 'episodes'. 

I have 3 rpg concepts that's all set in the same universe, and two of them are split on episodes so it will be possible for even smallest of studios to make a games out of them. If there will be enough resourses - full game it is, no - episodes then. All my other concepts aren't big enough to split them into episodic series.

Edited by ElvenNeko
damned typos

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8 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

If the studios are full of people alike - they somehow hired them, right? They aren't born in-house.

They typically get hired for junior design positions. This route is open to you, with some effort.

 

9 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

Because there is no logic or even knowledge of the games in example that i mentioned above. And like you say above - they have a full team of expirienced developers. Why do they need opinion of someone who barely played any games at all, and has no idea of the true reasons of sucsess or falure of the certain game?

This is venturing deep into strawman territory. I'm not interested in arguing with you over some hypothetical studio that somehow is both lacking knowledge of games and getting worthless opinions from shadowy no-experience investors, but also somehow successful enough for them to be around today and managing to become the target of your ire. The fact is, different studios have different strategies, they are all relatively well informed, they make decisions for many different reasons, and sometimes the outcomes can be better or worse than expected.

 

12 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

but if you making a turn-based rpg, for example? Or exploration game?

Yes, with modern team sizes and technology complexities they are still far too complex to completely plan out in advance.

 

13 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

Or even the online game i have concept for, where every single little detail can be easily written on paper before proceeding to development?

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth". Doing carefully detailed design is great. However, you don't know how hard it will be to implement, and you can't be certain all the gameplay elements will work. This is why most game development is somewhat 'agile' these days - the act of developing tells you something about the feasibility and suitability of your design, so you can refine the design before proceeding.

Incidentally, this is exactly why companies do remakes, sequels, clones. It's not a lack of ambition. It's about reducing uncertainty. By taking systems that have been known to work, that players were happy to buy, and which the developers may still have code and assets for, the game can be made more cheaply and at less risk.

 

18 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

So i do not get your point - the studio makes the game the studio wants to make. And i have a concepts for all kinds of games - from fully story-driven adventures, to the strategy game where story takes only a bit of player's time, i have ideas for almost any tastes in gaming.

My point is that the market for story-driven games, and the wider return on investment when it comes to stories in games, is far too small to support an ecosystem of writers pitching story ideas to game development studios.

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They typically get hired for junior design positions. This route is open to you, with some effort.

How? I never saw any openings without many additional conditions.

Also, what do they even do? Aside from mentioned supermassive games, that are simply too big to handle them alone, what's the point of hiring juniors if they already have main game designer? It does not sounds as crazy as hiring 5 different writers i saw one day, but still i don't getting the purpose of this job. Do you check the work of lead game designer for mistakes and possible improvments?

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Yes, with modern team sizes and technology complexities they are still far too complex to completely plan out in advance.

What team sizes? Except corporations and very old studios - many, especially indie studios are not big. And it does not affect quality of their work either - for example, Obsidian, a studio with 170 people and massive expirience in making one of the best role-playing games out there still managed to turn PoE2 in one of their worst works, when at the same time team of 21 or 26 (i don't remember percise number) of people made a lot more complex and interesting Pathfinder. How could people with x6 smaller team that were recently assembled make something that's better in everything than creation of an industry veterans, the best of the best?

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By taking systems that have been known to work, that players were happy to buy, and which the developers may still have code and assets for, the game can be made more cheaply and at less risk.

But i did just the same thing with my concept of an online game - took the parts of the games that once were loved, but now long forgotten, gave them a bit more modern touch and mixed them with other things that were already working great in other games, making unique, but also familiar expirience, something that would have no competition (at least for now there is no games like that), but still working on the core mechanics that have proven to be fun, challenging and addictive for the players. Instead of simple making yet another midnless copy i created something new, but with a lot of certainty about how it will work and why people will like it. And the best thing about it - development of this game will be extremly cheap, with high possible outcome because of cross-platform gameplay.

This is exacly what is proven to be one of the most profitalbe formulas in game industry - first people awaked mobas, that once were just a popular mods and turned them into fully-functional games, then people took an old idea of survival game (first one were released in 2005), and turned it into 3D (that, by the way, were one of my first concepts for video games, but, since other people already made it happen - i stopped working at it) and that how survival genre were born, and then people took a battle royale formula (that first appeared in video games back in 2008) and also made a 3d action out of it, creating another huge explosion on the market.

If you want to go big, you must take at lest the smallest risks of making something new, but you should also have a strong foundation behind it, to know that it's going to work out.

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My point is that the market for story-driven games, and the wider return on investment when it comes to stories in games, is far too small to support an ecosystem of writers pitching story ideas to game development studios.

All adventures and RPG's (except so-called "action-rpg"), majority of the shooters, some strategies, most of the horrors, stealth actions - this all is too small part of the gaming? The next several "big"  and most expencive titles that are known for majority of games - Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us 2, Death Stranding are all a story-driven expirience, just as many other, smaller titles like VTMB2.

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39 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

How? I never saw any openings without many additional conditions.

Also, what do they even do?

It's hard, but it's not impossible. Junior designers have to come from somewhere. Usually you have to work on your portfolio and do more than just write, because narrative design tends to only be a part of a designer's job.

I wrote a list of the sort of things a designer can end up doing, on an old post here.

 

39 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

How could people with x6 smaller team that were recently assembled make something that's better in everything than creation of an industry veterans, the best of the best?

Your opinion that one particular indie/small-team game is better than a AAA game is not really relevant to the issue of how hard it is to plan a large game. Different companies have different aims, skills, budgets, constraints. Bigger companies can usually do more in some ways but have to make more compromises in others. Same goes for pretty much any entertainment product.

 

39 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

i created something new, but with a lot of certainty about how it will work and why people will like it

In your opinion. But you don't have the weight of experience to back up your opinion. What makes you different from the hundreds of other people with no professional game development experience who are sure they have the winning formula? You definitely don't know enough about development to know how that part would go. You have to accept your limitations here.

 

39 minutes ago, ElvenNeko said:

The next several "big"  and most expencive titles that are known for majority of games - Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us 2, Death Stranding are all a story-driven expirience, just as many other, smaller titles like VTMB2

So, we have:
Cyberpunk 2077 -  a classic tabletop RPG brand with big existing following
The Last of Us 2 - a sequel
Death Stranding - the lead designer and writer is a brand all to himself (but he started at the bottom too - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hideo_Kojima#1980s )
VTMB2 - classic tabletop RPG brand with big existing following AND a sequel.

The point is that although many of the biggest games are story-driven, there are only a handful of these, because they're super-expensive to make. This is why they are almost always based around an existing brand or IP, and written by writers with a ton of experience. And yet even so, many don't sell well enough. The last Deus Ex game sold poorly. The last Dishonored game underperformed. And the original Bloodlines absolutely tanked. These are tough things to sell even when they are known to audiences. They are expensive to make and so many studios steer clear. They certainly don't want stories from members of the public. You can be angry about this if you want, but it's the reality of the world and the market.

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Just curious if you have made a decision on how to proceed, ElvenNeko? Out of all the feedback you've received, what sounds the most appealing (or makes the most sense) to you? Maybe people can offer more constructive guidance, if they knew which way you were leaning towards.

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Posted (edited)
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I wrote a list of the sort of things a designer can end up doing

That's a list of lead designer's task, i supose (and some of it are certainly meant for other professions), but what of this junior does?

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What makes you different from the hundreds of other people with no professional game development experience who are sure they have the winning formula?

Did all those people finished a lot of console and absolute majority of the pc games that were released during their lifetime? Do they spent averagely 70 hours per week on gaming? That all gives more expirience than any theorycrafting. You know how things are made in thousands of games, you know how people react on them, you know what gamers need and what they already sick of.

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This is why they are almost always based around an existing brand or IP, and written by writers with a ton of experience.

CP is based on tabletop, yes, but how many tabletop players are among those who preordered it? If there were no pc games before - you can count it as a new ip. Also not long ago they announced that their engine are flexible enough to allow people with bad pc's still play their game (most likely it will be like with Witcher, when playing the game on tech bellow minimal requirements were still comfortable). That's how a good tech solves a lot of problems you mentioned above - they just made an engine that can handle anything they want to.

TLOU was created as a new ip, the story just isn't finished yet, that's why we getting a sequel.

Kojima, by the way, is a good example of how one act of trust from Konami could change the writer's fate - if they never listened to his ideas just as nobody wants to listen to mine, MGS might as well never exist. And he one of the examples of a writers and designers who just know their work well, an example of how things end up if you trust a good writer and designer instead of picking "anyone of other developers" to make you a game concept.

And VTMB2 isn't an actual sequel, it just shares same universe and that's about it. I can list you tons of smaller original story-driven games that doing completly fine - for example, recent A Plague Tale - i would not call it the best of the best, but narrative there is certainly above average and leaves a very positive impression, i would say that writer and game designer did a really god job there. Or take SOMA, that's a completly generic walking sim when it comes to gameplay, but the absolute brilliant writing helped that game to become one of the best horrors and sci-fi games ever created. This. and MANY other stories aren't based on anything at all, but still was received warmly by the players.

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And the original Bloodlines absolutely tanked.

You realize that it wasn't even a developer's fault, let alone writer's? Dumb publishers killed games before, and they keep doing it now from time to time. And the game is still concidered as the best RPG ever done by a lot of players, including myself.

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Just curious if you have made a decision on how to proceed, ElvenNeko?

I don't know, not sure yet, things aren't looking good for me, if everything told is true and there is no exceptions. It's not like i ever expected anything from being a disabled pauper from a thrid-world country, but to have no ways out at all... I wish i could change at least one thing about my life - be in changing country of birth, removing mental issues, or even simply being born in rich family so i could just pay the studio to create the game - then some of suggested here ways would open for me. I wish i could at least have a friend in any studio, so he could pretend that my writing is his own and suggest my concepts instead of me. But that's all not an option... And i am trying to think about what is, but for now all seems impossible, but i am still processing all this new information and trying to think of a way.

Edited by ElvenNeko

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We're all dealt our starting cards in life and it's up to us to use what we have to the best of our ability, but nothing is written in stone. I have no idea how hard it would be for you to relocate, but I would stop looking for excuses and seek solutions. Spending all day and night trying to match your 'exceptions' on how the industry should work for you is a waste of time and energy.

Sit down, get a piece of paper and pen and find out everything you need to do to improve your situation. If you need to relocate to take an entry level developer job then find out where that is, and what you need to do to get there. Another solution is to go at it solo or with a group of like minded people. I'm not saying any of this will be easy or if you have any possibility of making it happen, but going around and around this issue will do you no favours.

Life isn't fair, and life will be hard, but you have to do what you can and that involves a lot of struggle. If this is something you really want to do then you'll find a way.

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I can save around 1-2$ per month. And not every month. I don't thin i will ever be able to relocate anywhere, especially concidering that it's pointless now - i still can't walk to the office every day, except if i will be just living there. Being born in another country could only help me to learn English as a native language, but it's too late for that.

Why it's impossible to do solo - i already answered, as well as about all my attempts to find a team. One way to fufill my goal i know, but it's not the time for it yet, for now i will search for the other ones.

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