Matthew Birdzell

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About Matthew Birdzell

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    Design
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    QA

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  1. Ahh I gotcha. I've always thought its about balancing story elements and what players like in games. You bring up a good point - its not always about that. Its about what the designer wants the players to experience. Which might not be what everyone else likes.
  2. Thats why I asked . I don't have all the answers. Of course people will say yes. But what do they see that they want pushed? I understand not all players like the games I like. I've read many comments over the years since The Last of Us came out that think its overrated. Thats okay. I disagree. Its a simple game that was executed extremely well with a lot of qualities. Also yeah...if the story is too emotional then its possible you risk your audience's loss of interest. But you can always avoid that if you know what you're doing. I really just think that if you're a smart writer, working with experienced game designers, you can find new ways to avoid known problems with interactive stories. Its just limits that we haven't pushed past yet.
  3. Many of the games I enjoy single player wise are linear stories, but not all. Some have branching dialogue trees or different paths, like Life is Strange, any Elder Scrolls game, or Telltale games. Some like Halo (my personal favorite), The Last of Us, any of the Tomb Raider's, Assassins Creed's or a recent obsession Horizon Zero Dawn are linear narratives. Some also have small sides stories and some are straight forward cinematic experiences. For those linear games, what do you want to see improved on as the game industry, and interactive writing, advance? Do you want less exposition dumps and more player exploration to uncover mysteries? Do you want better voice acting? Stronger, more natural dialogue? For me I want all of that. I want quick time events/interactive cutscenes that don't take away the challenge of boss fights. Furthermore, I'd like to see better written villains. Some games are more of a "power trip" than an emotional journey. And that's perfectly fine. But some titles lack a quality antagonist that fits nicely as the opposite of the protagonist. On that note what about a balance of a "power trip" and a serious tone? I bet there are games that already do that; I just haven't heard of them. Lastly, what sort of experimentation should game developers and writers do? More risk taking or strengthen known genres?
  4. Development blog #1 - Introduction

    Sounds neat. Good luck!
  5. Predefined game stories or write as you go.

    One way to go about it.
  6. I never played the classic consoles growing up. Parents never bought my siblings and I the SNES, NES, Sega, etc. Even if I was born in 1992, when those might or might not have existed, I never played them. Didn't learn about those until MUCH later in life, unfortunately. But from I know they really focused on gameplay, reaching an audience, killing 8 bit space ships and jumping on mushrooms. If anything they had extremely simple "stories." Then some came out to challenge that. It wasn't until my parents got us a GameBoy Advance, with a clear case, that I discovered gaming playing Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Now I could be wrong, or my timeline is off, but I'm pretty sure that was the first gaming experience for me. I might have played stuff before that. My memory doesn't go that far haha. But I really didn't into games that had any level of sophistication in their story until Bungie Studio's great and revolutionary Halo: Combat Evolved , but the 2003 Windows XP port by Gearbox (I don't think I started playing the series in 2003. It was that, or 2004 or 05). I still own that copy! This was what fully introduced me into big worlds, entertaining gameplay and interesting stories, merely years before I got into Halo 2. Except for those floaty vehicle physics...too easy to die to tapping the front of a Ghost! In the succeeding years it was also Call of Duty Classic (the first in the series) - in my opinion probably the second best in the series - and Battlefield 1942, all on Windows XP. CoD Classic and BF 1942 had a bit of narrative, but it was really about experiences in war rather than a single character. In the years to come I really just focused (still do!) on Halo's awesome campaigns (sometimes even the less awesome ones), expanded universe and its multiplayer. I didn't a lot of attention to other single player games. Except Skyrim later on. I believe I drifted every now and then, but really just stuck with Halo. It was all about its multiplayer, co-op campaign, Mary O'Donnell's incredible music, and custom games. Good times! But man...I should have tried other stuff! Now we come to "today". I realize more and more that interactive storytelling is so absolutely fascinating. We have more knowledge, more tools, better developers, more writers, and more ideas than almost ever before. We're capable of making games that are a balance and fusion of gameplay and story, experiences with simple gameplay but are quite deep and intelligent in writing. Or you have indie games that harken back to simple stories, or themes, but incorporate level design that give you visual stories through the environment. I think its truly amazing; the progress made is crazy. However, the art of game design and interactive storytelling is such a young, and unique, medium I think we can do much more. Since I'm focusing on writing, perhaps creative design as well, I see that we've made improvements in cinematic quality experiences, such as voice acting, dialogue, plot arcs and how characters develop. But there's always room for improvement even in the best of titles. Adding more depth, when necessary, to bad guys or showing more story versus too much exposition. There are areas I probably haven't thought of. As a seventh year (yeah... ) college student studying writing, I know that I have grand ambitions to make or contribute to games. I also know that its going to take quite a bit of work. Years and years of it. Lots of trial and error, some failure, but also some success big or small. Currently I'm working little by little on my first game story. I've been brainstorming plot ideas, characters, villains, environments, mechanics and more. Even though I really, REALLY want it to be written and developed as an Xbox exclusive in the future, I know that it could fail. Very well could be nothing at all. Which would suck. Oh yeah...that would be a big bummer. But...thats the reality of life...and wanting that career! So perhaps my first goals as a student of game development is to take small steps, work hard, persevere, ask for help and continue to drive forward. Learning the tools of writing, game writing, and working with development teams little by little. Maybe some of those first jobs won't be all that great, but they should provide the experience I need that's so valuable in a $100 billion industry, where so many are vying for success. Alright...time to call this block of text good, before I bore you haha. What sort of goals do you have, if you're working to be a game developer? What are your stories? What did you have to learn, or what do you have to learn, to get where you want to go?
  7. Predefined game stories or write as you go.

    I might have worded this better haha. I also mean narrative rich games that strike a balance of fun and quality writing, not just purely narrative. Its all very tough to do, no doubt.
  8. Deciding on what your gameplay and design is.

    My ideas is for a third person action/shooter with some fantastical elements added later on. I'd really like to make a non shooter game, but this idea is burning in my head haha. Shooter, non shooter, platformer or other style alike, I want to write games that have those features. I've considered this game to be an FPS in a way too, but not like your normal FPS of today.
  9. Predefined game stories or write as you go.

    That's how I see some yeah.
  10. I'm working on my first game, a story centric experience. I have ideas on mechanics, levels, visuals, and what not, but nothing I can firmly decide upon. How does one consider what they want?
  11. How do most game devs create their narrative rich games? Is it combinations of predefined narratives before production? Or do they write as production goes, making refinements and edits along the way, until they arrive at what they think works best?
  12. Ohhh haha. I didn't think of Quality Assurance. Haha Extra Credits...I've watched several of their videos. This one? I dont remember. Ill watch it anyhow.
  13. QA...thats just Question/Answer right? So that is all about testing a game and the developer's asking of my experiences, what needs fixing, what can stay? I'd love to find something like that. Testing in general would be great. Designing would be great as well. However I have very little understanding of that. I can read books on game design for starters. That can work too.
  14. As I get closer to finishing college, not this final full year but two more terms after that (five terms total), where would I do to check out game writing internships? I'm looking to gain experience, as I have none. It would be great to find ways to write game reviews, test games, or start my career of writing game narratives. Ideally my ultimate goal is to write for 343 Industries on major Halo titles. I'd also like to give my hand to other series I like, recently established IP, or create new ones. But I need to take small steps first, or get very lucky and land working with Halo right out of college. That probably won't happen. I really want to find Xbox internships, to be honest. However, getting experience for both Xbox and Sony would be great. Xbox because I'm a big Xbox fan, Sony because of a few specific games. So what should I look out for? Advice? I'll start with talking to my English advisor. See what she says.
  15. Thanks I don't read visual novels or interactive fiction myself...not too much into those but you have a point. I'll have to think of more specific entries now haha. Hmm...hard to chose whats next. Blogging isn't something I'm experienced at.