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writing for games

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Yeah, I know it looks like a topic which has been discussed before, and in many ways it is! There''s been some discussion about an apparent gap between "story-oriented" gamers and "gameplay-oriented" gamers. Here''s my question: How many people really hate linear stories in games? Yes it reduces replayability. That aside, I actually quite enjoy playing through a game to find out the end of the pre-written story. I have to do stuff (fight monsters / solve puzzles) to get there, but knowing that there is a pre-written story is what makes this stuff worthwhile for me. I confess I only kept playing Diablo II because I wanted to see the next cutscene. What I''m trying to say is that I think writing can be a bit like presenting a movie in the reader''s mind. Trying to split up the story and place bits here and there to allow for interaction is like putting the scenes in out of order. Yes, it makes sense with a bit of thought, but the atmosphere and emotion can so easily be lost because that ORDER is not in place. I can guess many are going to answer this by saying "that''s writing a novel, not writing for games". That''s why I want to ask, what are the methods for writing for games? Obviously it''s a skill, but has anyone come up with procedures? And I''m not looking for a random situation-generator. I''m talking about taking real prose and creating the interactive story in such a way that it can evoke emotion/atmosphere in the same way that a linear story does. It''s been done to varying degrees in a number of games. Must the writer start from scratch, writing the story in special modules to fit together in special ways, or can an existing linear story be cleavered up into parts? What do people think? Point me to an old thread if necessary. Trevize ------------ "once again, we are hungry for a lynching that''s a strange mistake to make..." - radiohead

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quote:
Original post by golan trevize x
And I''m not looking for a random situation-generator.


Pity. Earlier in your post you asked for the solution. Why do use the word random in your above statement. Random implies no relation to anything. Remove the word random, and get to writing situations. And if you''re really good, you''ll come up with a way for such situations to weave together in a non linear non predictable non constrained story that the player experiences.

Try it.



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quote:
Original post by golan trevize x
Yes it reduces replayability. That aside, I actually quite enjoy playing through a game to find out the end of the pre-written story. I have to do stuff (fight monsters / solve puzzles) to get there, but knowing that there is a pre-written story is what makes this stuff worthwhile for me. I confess I only kept playing Diablo II because I wanted to see the next cutscene.

What I''m trying to say is that I think writing can be a bit like presenting a movie in the reader''s mind. Trying to split up the story and place bits here and there to allow for interaction is like putting the scenes in out of order. Yes, it makes sense with a bit of thought, but the atmosphere and emotion can so easily be lost because that ORDER is not in place.

As long as you are thinking about how the scenes will be split, and how the interaction will work, you are taking a vital step towards writing for games rather than for novels anyway, and I applaud that.

quote:
I can guess many are going to answer this by saying "that''s writing a novel, not writing for games". That''s why I want to ask, what are the methods for writing for games? Obviously it''s a skill, but has anyone come up with procedures?

bishop_pass mentions one. Another idea (admittedly not a procedure) might be to focus on characterisation rather than plot, as plot is more reliant on chronological progression than characterisation is.

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
And if you''re really good, you''ll come up with a way for such situations to weave together in a non linear non predictable non constrained story that the player experiences.


That was kind of my question. If anyone has "come up with a way" and turned it into a procedure. Nobody wants to squash originality, but there must be certain ways that will work with certain situations. Even some examples of how it''s been done before.

One way, for example, is to have a large mostly unchangeable plot going on right to the end of the game, but also to put in smaller subplots depending on the player''s actions. In the end, though, we''re not affecting the big plot, since changing the big plot means investing in heaps of extra game that might not be played.

Another way is to do away with the big plot completely, and use the interaction of the smaller ones to bring the game to some kind of conclusion. My problem with this is there no real "theme" to the story anymore. It''s more like a series of episodes, each with its own climax.

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these days turned out nothing like i had planned" - powderfinger

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I think there are two aspects of this:

(1) The game as a computerised story through which the player moves from the beginning in a linear way to get to the end. To progress he / she may have to solve puzzles, fight monsters etc.. and failure or defeat may bring up an alternative course of action but on the whole the player is following the author''s storyline. "Betrayal at Krondor" is perhaps a good example of this.

(2) The game as a storyworld in which the player can create his / her own story within the parameters of the world. I can''t think of a good example of this genre. People say that "Deus Ex" might be but I haven''t played it. However this is very much a developing field and so there are no definitive ways of creating such games.

To me there is nothing wrong with either approach. If games became cheaper there would be nothing wrong in the computerised story game that was played once and discarded. Think of them as the paperback you buy for a journey etc.. There is no reason why you couldn''t computerise "Oliver Twist" or "Huckleberry Finn" - as long as they''re out of copyright protection

On the other hand the game as storyworld is a challenge for writers. To create that type of game that has emotional context is not the problem so much. Given the player is creating his own story he is more likely to be emotionally involved with it.

But looking for a theme in a storyworld is the wrong way of going about it. The player may project his own theme into the world. The writer''s job here is to consider all the likely possibilities in the world and and anticipate the player''s reactions. For example if the storyworld is a school - an ideal setting in many ways - start by considering what role the player might want to take - teacher, sports jock, computer whiz, janitor etc..

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan

As long as you are thinking about how the scenes will be split, and how the interaction will work, you are taking a vital step towards writing for games rather than for novels anyway, and I applaud that.




Novelists also have to think about how scenes will be split and how characters will interact. They just have more freedom in which to work.

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