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About Zenphobia

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  1. Zenphobia

    Writing to mimic Half-Life

    Quote:Original post by Talroth Quote:Original post by Beige That's really what makes HL, the storytelling, more than the story itself. Yeah, the storyline isn't really anything special. "Some dude in a cool suit doesn't die when a science project goes wrong. Cool suit dude tries to make it out of the lab alive, while blowing the snot out of a bunch of aliens and military guys" Throw in a few lines about the whole thing being planned by some super super secret goverment branch, which is THEN controled by the aliens, and you basically have the story for Halflife. Over simplification of any plot will make said plot seem stupid. The story and the way the story is told go hand in hand. The style of the story telling is part of the story. Every Final Fantasy: the world is going to end unless you beat the bad guy.
  2. Zenphobia

    How to write for Games?

    Quote:Original post by Torquemeda Mainly I'm talking about two different ideas. One is a variable edited story whereby the player picks and chooses either before or during what their preferences are and then tailors that story to them. A simple way is to just have a large body of writing and then edit that down and cut parts out as the player wishes. I think that programmermattc was spot on with his arguement that a game with multiple endings is really just creating content that a lot of players won't see. Ever read a "pick your own adventure" book? They suck. A well written linear story with one well crafted ending is much more enjoyable than multiple half-ass endings, to me anyways. Quote:I dont know if its just me but I am tired of trying to figure out how to do things they way the developers want me to do them, like for example figuring out how to get a letter out of a crazy persons cell, the only way to get into the cell, is to feed them a dead rat, which causes them to kill themselves by banging their head against the wall, now I never went to crazy school nor do I have detailed knowledge of biochemistry so I didnt have a clue about the effects of dead rats on people with schizophrenia, and of course opening the cell door before proffering the dead rat is completely out of the question because the developers said so. This sounds more like a design issue than a story issue. Quote:As for halflife I think they are a clever joke by the developer to get us to act like chickens as in we play to get to the other side and experience the vacuous story. Games and movies seem to love doing condundrums where heroes have to make choices which arent really choices at all. It's the suspension of disbelief, the illusion and immersion that those movies and games generate. Sure, Half-Life might not have a ton of characters all with their own personalities and witty remarks that they display on air-ship cut scenes, but you can't deny that Half-Life is immersive and that the linear direction is well disguised by brilliant level design and gameplay. Quote:Anyway as for making non linear stories what about forgeting making multiple endings which people are only going to experience once anyway and pad out the middles and make multiple ways of getting to the ending. Now I'm learning programming at the moments so dont know much about it but what about instead of trying to predict all the possible outcomes that can occur from certain situations why not try to create solid elements which can be behave semi autonomosly, (if you catch my meaning:-). What bothers me the most about this is proposal is that the choices "aren't really choices at all" because the end will always be the same no matter what the player does. A fork in the road is pointless if the roads meet again only to continue in the same direction.
  3. Zenphobia

    How to write for Games?

    Quote:Original post by Torquemeda Yeah but thats my point, I think with games it is possible to get a story in game that will please everyone, with stories and movies they are stuck forever in exactly the way they are created, but with games the player has control over it and can choose to partake of it what they will. For instance the Rpg Baldurs Gate had loads of books scattered about it with all manner of histories and stories, I can choose to read some of them all of them or none of them. Somebody likes Fmv while another person doesnt, all you need to do is give the player the option for it. I believe that trying to please everyone will result in various audiences getting a little of what they want, but not enough to make their specific tastes happy. If you did not intend everyone to mean quite literally, everyone, then forget this paragraph. In your first post you mention that stories in video games should be different from the stories in books and movies, however you state in this post that you enjoy the books scattered through Baldurs Gate. If you're not interacting with the stories, even if they are presented within a game (like books), then all you're doing is reading a glorified PDF. Stories in video games are different because they require input from the player to propel the story forward. For a movie or a book, a person needs to only be passively aware for the story to progress. The pick-your-own-path and statistical-good-or-evil approaches have been used to determine how a game's story plays out, but I feel that such strategies for making a player feel as though they are actually part of the story actually lower the immersion factor by encouraging the player to go out of character and consider the ramifications of his actions from a non-story-related stand point. Fable for example, used a ridiculously black and white (har) system for good and evil and it was very easy to see how choices would impact the character (kill my sister or take the weapon, hmm...). I much prefer the illusion that a well written linear story generates: the path is already set but the way that the game is designed, the player honestly feels as though he is the one making things happen, he is the one making the difference, he is the one making the decisions. Half 1 and 2 are fantastics examples of this sort of story telling.
  4. Zenphobia

    recommend a how-to-write book

    Quote:Original post by sunandshadow If somebody posted on gamedev like Strunk and White wrote that paragraph, with such a snide tone and the use of loaded words like "cost of the violation", they would probably get warned for borderline trolling. Consider all that the phrase "cost of the violation" implies: that not following the rules of rhetoric is equivalent to breaking a law, and always costs something. Absurd. What does it cost you to decide that a particular sentence needs to end with a ?! to convey the proper emotion? Does it cost anything if I decide to end a sentence with a preposition or begin one with a conjunction? Or, horrors, an incomplete sentence? The rules contained in S&W do not allow for the normal way people abuse language in dialogue, and which, when replaced with proper English, makes dialogue sound unnatural, stiff and stilted. And that doesn't even touch on the issue of postmodern or experimental fiction... Dialogue is a completely different beast when it comes to grammar. Dialogue is normally contained by quotation marks, suggesting that a person is a speaking (or has spoken) the words within, which tells the reader that they should not expect a flawless formal style, rather they should expect an informal delivery that is often associated with dialogue. I have really never heard anyone make this complaint about grammar, I thought it was generally understood that spoken English, especially in an informal setting, is held to a different standard than written english, which has the potential to be revised and corrected multiple times before it is shared. I think it's fairly obvious that EoS seeks to clearly define the rules of formal grammar and EoS does especially well explaining some of the curve balls.
  5. Zenphobia

    recommend a how-to-write book

    Quote:Original post by sunandshadow Gaah, I hate that book. But lots of people swear by it, so I can't deny that it's important. What exactly do you dislike about Elements of style? I enjoyed, and found very helpful, Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game anyone?) as well as Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern.
  6. Zenphobia

    Want to write for a text-based MMORPG?

    Quote:Original post by azoundria That 600 players is since the games opening 6 months ago with a extrememly small world. I'm sorry, but that 600 number really bugs me. 600 registered accounts does not mean that you have 600 players. Having run an Ultima Online free server, I know this fact first hand. Meaningless accounts quickly pile up as people log in, scope for a few seconds, and log off. Just because they made an account does not mean that they are players. I'm curious to know your average online numbers, because the inactivity of your forums suggests that Azoundria isn't as bustling and thriving as you would like us to believe (last post in the Member's Introduction being Jan 20 2006, other forums go back to 2005, with no forum having more than 8 posts). /end rant
  7. Zenphobia

    Stories which are important to you

    Fight Club (I mean the book). Grapes of Wrath. Breakfast of Champions. The Dubliners.
  8. Zenphobia

    The Mystic Quest Series

    Quote:Original post by Fournicolas By the way, I'm pretty sure Mystic Quest is a name that has already been used. You should google that before being sued... Yes, it was a Super Nintendo spin off of the Final Fantasy series.
  9. It's one of those situational rules, but for the most part, FPS especially, it's a good one to abide by. I think the RPGs that do a good job of breaking this rule avoid forcing the player to stick with one particular character throughout the game, example: Final Fantasy 6. The player controls a variety of characters and is never really forced to feel he or she "is" one of those characters.
  10. Zenphobia


    Quote:Original post by sunandshadow Why not think of the MMORPG as the standalone sequel to the RPG? So the RPG could have a complete story with an ending, then the MMORPG's open-ended story would start where the RPG's story ended. Ultima Online did this effectively, for a while anyways. Though I still can't see how an MMO, by itself, could be effectively story driven without alienating players or ruin the effect of existing within an RPG world.
  11. Zenphobia


    A story driven multiplayer game is tricky to keep players playing after the game is over. But umm, incased my edit was too late: Quote:Edit: If you're goal is to keep players interested after the story is over, if your game is a traditional rpg just with multiplayer, then consider incorporating a random dungeon generator and definitely a versus mode.
  12. Zenphobia


    Are you aiming more for a diablo style of play? Or maybe a multiplayer game that you continually add on too? Describe how you envision the gameplay working, and maybe then we can start working out how to design a story. Edit: If you're goal is to keep players interested after the story is over, if your game is a traditional rpg just with multiplayer, then consider incorporating a random dungeon generator and definitely a versus mode.
  13. Zenphobia


    I always looked at MMORPG writing as simply providing an immersive detailed world for the players. I never thought there was a way to "beat" an MMO, as it kind of defeats the idea. All the MMOs that I'm familiar just provide an interesting world, with lots of stuff to do and goals to pursue, those goals of course are defined by what parts of your world the player is interested and what he or she personally wants to accomplish. If you have something else in mind, please elaborate. If you want a book on world building, I suggest you pick up one of the campaign builder's guides for Dungeons and Dragons, or even just thumb through the Dungeon Master's Guide at the bookstore sometime. DnD guides provide a good amount of strategies for fleshing out a believable fantasy world.
  14. Zenphobia

    Fiction As Magic

    Quote:You know, it's not really wise to harass a mod so persistently. If I were her, I'd have suspended you a while ago. I was not harassing her. I was addressing her responses to my posts which were in response to her asking for an opinion on her writing. Never once did I insult her character or make excess, unwarranted posts aimed at her. Each of my subsequent posts responded to her subsequent replies. If she doesn't want me to say anything more, that's fine. All she has to do is say so. Side Note: I've found that there is no point in dancing around an issue for fear of offending or hurting someone, when writing is concerned. I'm direct because that gets right to the problem and thus right to solving it. I was merely trying to think how a reader would think when reading her work, and I raised my concerns.
  15. Zenphobia

    Fiction As Magic

    Quote:Original post by sunandshadow Quote:Original post by Zenphobia Philosophy is the study of the justification of beliefs and putting those beliefs into a working system of reality, where as science is based on empirical knowledge derived through observation and expirementation built upon the idea of disproving hypothesis. Philosophy deals specifically with ideas, science deals with data. That's a vast oversimplification. Humans deal with both data and ideas in everything we do, so all human endeavors deal with both. No one would do any science experiments if they didn't have the philosophical belief that an experiment was the best approach to learn something, and that learning was desireable, and that the particular issue under study was the one most worth investigating. The act of inventing a hypothesis to test is an act of philosophizing. When people philosophize they draw on scientific data they have read about as well as personal experience (which is semi-scientific data because it did happen but not under controlled circumstances). If you look at the historical roots of science and philosophy, no distinction was made between the two until the 1800s - before that alchemy was founded on astrological beliefs and scientific thought was heavily contaminated by religious philosophy. So I would say, the difference between science and philosophy is that science is philosophy plus testing, and science has discarded those philosophies which testing proved to be false and ignores those philosophies which are untestable. I am genuinely curious where you learned this definition. Interpreting scientific data is not philosophy. Philosophy deals with concepts that are not testable. Anyways, Francis Bacon drafted an early form of the scientific method in the 1600s, advocating the scientific revolution (a split from philosophy). Quote:This forum is a community for writers to help each other through mentoring and trading constructive criticism. If you don't want to help other people and be helped in return I'm not entirely sure why you're here. It is of course your right to give as much or as little as you want, but I personally believe strongly in mentoring, and that's why I have spent 5 years (without pay) being the moderator of this forum and trying to help all the people who come here to learn. If you want to be specific, this is a forum for writers who are writing video game stories. I still fail to see how me pointing out that rhetorical questions are a weak device is not constructive. A nonconstructive comment would have been: "Your introduction doesn't grip the reader." Nice and vague, nothing to really go on. If you want a solution, remove the rhetorical questions. Your original: "So, what is fiction anyway? Well, at its root, fiction is a form of magic. “What?!” you may be asking, “I thought this book was supposed to be a logical orderly analysis, not some mystical mumbo jumbo!” Yes, it is a logical orderly analysis. Anthropological analysis of human beings in all cultures and all times reveals that we seem to have this odd instinctive belief that magic ought to exist (regardless of any evidence that it actually does or not). We even seem to instinctively agree on the principles by which magic ought to operate: symbolism and sympathy." How I would word the intro (my unrevised first draft): "Fiction, in the literal sense, is the telling of a story involving imaginary events and imaginary people. Fiction's ability to inspire emotion and lull readers into a state of suspended disbelief, where the once imaginary events seem to become vivid and tangible, can be likened to the careful weaving of words and components to cast a magic spell, suggesting that there is more to fiction than the simple telling of a story. If one word is misplaced, the spell will fail and the effect will be lost, making writing much like magic, a craft involving the mastery of fragile substances and volatile solutions to achieve a mystical end." Then I would dedicate a new paragraph to summarizing the topics to be covered, which may begin introducing the fields of science that you will be touching on. So on and so forth. Quote:Quote:The point was, an acclaimed Anthropologist disagrees with your organization of magic and religion (and you weren't even sure where you got your definition). The point was, it doesn't matter _where_ a definition comes from, it matters _why_ a definition came from, which I remembered and explained to you. If you're going to be talking about Anthropology, it would make sense to agree with the experts in the field, unless you have done some anthropological studies and would like to offer some new light. Quote:A book is not a discussion, a discussion involves the exchange of ideas between at least 2 parties. Obviously, you're reader can't talk back. Actually the reader can and does talk back, it's the book which can't hear and respond to the reader's comments and questions. It's true that books cannot truly be discussions. But its also true that discussions promote learning more than lectures, and so an author writing non-fiction should try to imagine what their reader's comments and questions will be and answer these in the text, making the writing as much like a discussion and as little like a lecture as possible. Quote:As I was just saying in my response to the previous quote, a major part of being a writer is anticipating the reader's questions. So of course I am assuming the reader will have questions. Using a rhetorical question to tell the reader which anticipated question I am answering should make the reader feel satisfied that I am recognizing their concern and confusion and help the reader keep track of where in the conversation we are. If you were truely anticipating the reader's questions, you would not have to force feed them one. And I'm sure, with your experience, you could write a paragraph that answers these questions without resorting to Q and A. Quote:Quote:The spell metaphor may be nifty, but I think you've made the idea way too literal to be useful. That's because it's not a metaphor; I am trying to say that writing a piece of fiction is literally an act of magic.[/quote] Too bad it's literally not. Quote:On the other hand, the author might choose to include a chapter on the difference between a prescriptive and descriptive linguist. The book is about writing fiction, after all. I doubt Zenphobia would be criticizing Faulkner or Joyce for their stylistic liberties. An English teacher with whom I'm very close once said "Before you can break the rules, you must have mastered and tamed them." Meaning- Joyce and Faulkner paid their dues before they took "stylistic liberties." This is exemplified by the difference between the Dubliners and Ulysses, also note that Dubliners was published before Ulysses, allowing him to establish credibility before trying something risky.
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