Writing for Gamers.

•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Writing for gamers is an interesting affair.

As games grow in complexity and into the mainstream consciousness, one would think there’s a place for storytelling in the place of games. After all, already games are creating massive imaginative worlds for players to romp around in. Secretive far off worlds for explorers to poke around and discover lost cultures and grand ideas. Yet story always seem to the weakest part in games. (Unless you’re Bioware, Tim Schafer or certain sections of Ubisoft.)

Truthfully, there are plenty of games that do a fantastic job of storytelling in games, providing the sort of narrative fiction that excites, titillates and affects their audience. Sadly, a lot of those stories fall back into the same basic conceit of good guys going out to shoot stuff. Even awesomely entertaining affairs such as 2009’s uncharted 2 and this year’s Mass Effect 2 can be boiled down to a guy with a gun and enemies in his way.

I’m not suggesting that all games should massive theses into the human condition. That wouldn’t be fun to play. I’m all for shooting stuff at the end of a hard day’s work. That isn’t to say that there’s room for more complex decision, or even more complex premises that goes on in games. Stories are actually trying to say something under the spit and graphical polish.

Bioshock for instance is a shooter and a story. Some say a mediocre shooter, but as a story, it details the fall of extreme objectivism. It’s high ideal into detailing a world that you might not otherwise get in a movie, or novel, made accessibly by the player being able to directly explore the result of this failed ideaology, taking his time through the ruins of a fallen philosophy. It’s sublime in exploring philosophical concepts dressed up as a game.

Similarly, Prince or Persia (2008) starts out as a simple adventure game, but the ending aims for something higher, something that makes use of the game mechanics and all the vocabulary at its command to give the player an emotional reaction. It might not work for a huge subsection of gamers, but it’s there and it hints at possibilities in crafting game stories.

Of course, there are times when games should just be ridiculously fun; Godzilla tearing through cities in an affort to harvest them, crazy ninjas flipping out and murdering slew of demons, sexy ladies chain firing pistols atop falling clock towers. There’s a lot of room for a variety of stories and the medium is burgeoning with the possibilities to craft narratives in interesting ways. The caveat is that we should identify the kind of story we want to tell, the audience we’re looking at and craft our stories in that direction.

Gamers are gamers, but we’re not all the same.


Lum the Mad vs The Elder Scrolls

•January 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

2009: A year of shitty MMOs

Well, actually, it’s some guy disagreeing with Industry Guru Scott Jennings. I’m developing feelings about Facebook games in general, as well as their micro transaction model, so this is interesting stuff that I need to archive.

He built this city, he built this city of Muck and Coals

•December 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

David Simon on writing The Wire

I really should start watching the wire sometime soon. Whatever he writes here sounds fascinating, and given that I’m going through some weird crisis of Funtasy versus Internal Thematic Consistency debate in my own head. Right now, Simon’s take on writing worlds to reflect real issues seems the most relevant towards creating epic fiction, at least in the ways that James Cameron believes he’s doing.

Tom Chick vs Jason Lutes

•December 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Emergent Narratives, Adult Content*, and the bits of game design.

All they’re missing is Derek “Kael” Paxton to get the high fantasy groove going. Also, adding Vic Davis’ blog to the linky list. I should get Solium Infernum soon.

*Adult != nudity, ultraviolence.

iNeed to Know

•December 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Everything you need to know about iPhone Development

Cached here for future references.

Smashing Princes

•December 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Can games be art?

Prince of Persia (2009) seems to think so, what’s with this very liberal arts essay on the role of intepretation, identification and action in the game. Given that I loved the ending of the game, I can agree to many of points the article makes. Either way, it’s an interesting read and inspiration to further the choice vs consequence style of game design.

Pat, meet Joe. Joe Meet Pat

•December 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Patrick Rothruss interviews Joe Abercrombie

Have yet to read Name of the Wind, but it’s on my vacation reading list. So, only a week more to apparent fantasy goodness. I really should be emulating these guys more in their work ethic.