Why Writing in Games Matters (article)

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Nafai
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Why Writing in Games Matters (article)

#1 Post by Nafai » Wed May 30, 2007 11:49 pm

A series of 3 articles, linked here: http://www.rpgwatch.com/#5153

Its really more meant for writing in more action-oriented games as opposed to VNs, (since whatever your position on the art/writing balance in VNs, I don't think a VN player will ever be accused of "not noticing good writing") but there were some good points there, so I thought I'd share it here.

Browsed through the articles, and here are some initial thoughts:
- Must play half Life 2 :(
- The number one reason writing isn't taken more seriously in gaming is that writing doesn't translate into dollars. - very true in the mainstream games, though less so in RPGs and especially VNs - though low VN sales in the english speaking world might just buttress the point.
- Narrowness of the writers own fields of interest - I think this truly would impact a work. But unless you intentionally set out to create "cutting edge" art, its really hard to avoid. Its not so much as write what you know as write what you LIKE. At least for me - otherwise it becomes much less fun to write.
- The more choices/freedom you give a player, the more the level of difficulty of your writing task increases - and it increases exponentially (when branch gives birth to branch, which leads to another... and by now you're using events that are thrice removed form what would have happened in the main path)
- It really does help to have someone else read/ go through your work. I think all writers have blind spots... But you need to find a reader who (a) can be critical (b) is different enough from you he wont share your blind spots (c) is similar enough that the story you want to make is something he'd appreciate
- Really need to play God of War
- "There is no time allotted for testing the story, once it's in the game" - such a simple idea, and yet, I just realized it when I read it. It makes all those plot holes in games suddenly more understandable.
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#2 Post by monele » Thu May 31, 2007 7:26 am

A very very interesting article ^__^... Even if it usually boils down to the same conclusions for us amateur makers :)

The example for Half Life 2 is very good. Sadly, after a while, they kinda go into an all-action romp. It's still a good game ^.^

I'm very mh...... "slapped in the face" by this bit about game writers not being cultured enough. Darn... if that isn't my problem!... I know it, but I still keep wondering why I can't churn out something good ^^;...


So hmm... I'll have to ask (again?) about this : are there people here who would consider working with ideas from other people? I think I'm rather good at imagining concepts, but not at making them work. Maybe having some sort of shared authoring could help with this? *ponders*

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#3 Post by DaFool » Thu May 31, 2007 8:24 am

monele wrote: So hmm... I'll have to ask (again?) about this : are there people here who would consider working with ideas from other people? I think I'm rather good at imagining concepts, but not at making them work. Maybe having some sort of shared authoring could help with this? *ponders*
You're a much better writer than me, for sure :wink:
But I would welcome that idea. I mean, if T********* or D************ or M* * or C************** or m**** offered to help write my script for N.T. given my plot points that would be so nice. But first, yeah, I guess I need to give these forums an opportunity to see a full sample of my writing.

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#4 Post by Matt_D » Thu May 31, 2007 10:24 am

I'd help folk write scripts based on their ideas just as long as I had some freedom on character personality, I used to do a thing where someone would give me an idea and I'd give them back a super short story.

Writing from other peoples briefs can be a pretty liberating experiance, you only have to make them happy and not yourself which can be a real boon lol.
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#5 Post by DrakeNavarone » Thu May 31, 2007 11:02 am

monele wrote:So hmm... I'll have to ask (again?) about this : are there people here who would consider working with ideas from other people? I think I'm rather good at imagining concepts, but not at making them work. Maybe having some sort of shared authoring could help with this? *ponders*
I'm kinda doing this with two different projects right now, actually. I'm offering input and doing some light assistant writing for Araiah, now that Enerccio's picked it up (but that was originally my own story anyway, so it guess it's Enerccio that's helping me?)... And I'm also story editing for Nafai and The Elect, plus it definitely looks like there's gonna be some writing involved on my end too, in the future. So yeah, I'd be up to co-writing or assistant writing for a project. Actually, I really like taking others ideas and seeing what I could come up with them (I suppose I kinda did this with Starlit Sky, once you consider the inspiration for it...). I don't know if I could do it now though, unless the idea was really intriguing... I've been kinda busy and/or lazy with my current projects/duties lately, I don't think I could tackle much else...
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#6 Post by monele » Thu May 31, 2007 11:41 am

Writing from other peoples briefs can be a pretty liberating experiance, you only have to make them happy and not yourself which can be a real boon lol.
And this is what prevented me from taking the step : I'm scared I will be too protective of my designs and won't accept much from someone else unless it somehow fits my vision ^^;...
Mmm... Maybe what I need are people to bounce ideas with. Just talking about your problems with a scenario is often enough to suddenly realize "I guess I could do that and... hey, wait... I could do that!" XD...
But it's hard to find someone who won't care to be totally spoiled before the game even exists ^^;... (and who shares your ideas to some extent).

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#7 Post by F.I.A » Thu May 31, 2007 12:14 pm

A rather interesting read indeed. This proves that not only japanese loves to write.

Sadly, it is true to say that most players hate reading. If any games starts with a load of texts, they will always press the ESC button to skip it and get on to action. Hmm.. that might be the reason why most of my friends have no interest whatsoever for VNs.

If anything, I have to say that even the story rather starts to stale in the rpg department. Not to sound bad, but current Final Fantasy series looks more like Squareenix's milk cow decorated with the golden graphics to me.

Of course, the only exception I find is the Shin Megami Tensei series by Atlus. Perhaps for their rather "anarchist" style of writing.
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#8 Post by Nafai » Thu May 31, 2007 12:37 pm

DrakeNavarone said:
And I'm also story editing for Nafai and The Elect, plus it definitely looks like there's gonna be some writing involved on my end too, in the future. So yeah, I'd be up to co-writing or assistant writing for a project.
And he's doing a bang-up job, let me just say ^_^ I can't wait to see what he comes up now that I've also 'turned him lose' on the promotional projects.

Monele wrote:
And this is what prevented me from taking the step : I'm scared I will be too protective of my designs and won't accept much from someone else unless it somehow fits my vision ^^;...
Mmm... Maybe what I need are people to bounce ideas with. Just talking about your problems with a scenario is often enough to suddenly realize "I guess I could do that and... hey, wait... I could do that!" XD...
But it's hard to find someone who won't care to be totally spoiled before the game even exists ^^;.
Well, I'm always available to bounce ideas off on Moni - least I could do for my future coder :)

There's a way to collaborate though that doesn't necessarily involve tweaking your characters or your vision. A group of writers could collaborate, not on a story per se, but on a shared universe wherein they would place their stories. I did this once with a group of writers, and it was great fun while it lasted. We got together and decided what stories we wanted to write, built a world which could house all these stories, then wrote them separately, but each person's story would introduce elements, characters and events into the world which we could and often did reflect in our own stories. Sort of how the shared universes in western comics work. Sort of a wiki-styled collaboration - but you have greater creative control there, and still have a lot of the benefits of a collaboration. It was fun having my characters/concepts make "guest appearances" in other stories :P
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#9 Post by monele » Thu May 31, 2007 1:10 pm

Well, I'm always available to bounce ideas off on Moni - least I could do for my future coder
Ping! Pong!

I might take you on this offer then XD... But prepare to be flooded with, pretty much, the raw state of what my brain churns out XD
a shared universe wherein they would place their stories.
Mmm... Interesting, yes... There was a possible inclusion of the MagBou universe in another game at some point (though abandoned since) and hm... I'm pretty sure some writers would like to work with Elven Relations context too, no? :)
But it might be better to build such a shared world from the ground up ^^

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#10 Post by DaFool » Thu May 31, 2007 1:44 pm

monele wrote:There was a possible inclusion of the MagBou universe in another game at some point (though abandoned since)

But it might be better to build such a shared world from the ground up ^^
Sometimes I couldn't help but think of the musicbox jingles whenever I'm drawing for Nettestadt :wink: But yeah, this world of mine will be more Germanic, more Brothers Grimm... more fog, more existentialism, oh yeah, not to mention the sex... :D

I also note mikey's comment in ER why not to have a sequel... good point... since we're still in the infancy stage, might as well create as many stories with as many different universes and atmospheres as we can.

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#11 Post by monele » Thu May 31, 2007 2:09 pm

You want some contrabass jingles ? :3...
I also note mikey's comment in ER why not to have a sequel
And I realize this is going full force against MagBou 2, wah!

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#12 Post by Lambda '00' » Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:02 pm

Well, back on topic :wink:
When writing a game that you might have to turn in for English class -don't even ask why, as I don't know how that happened...- you ALWAYS should triple-check for any spelling and grammar errors (comma splice, anyone?)
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#13 Post by Recca Phoenix » Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:11 am

writing definitely matters for most RPG players. A game like final fantasy 7 for example is interesting because of the story. I'm sure that if this same story were poorly written with flat characters, etc., even the most interesting of worlds or gameplay systems would seem dull. Dragon Warrior 7 was a huge game with tons of stuff to do besides the incredibly long main quest but it had virtually no engaging plot (as the hero was a blank slate) because of this. The characters weren't all that great either. So I lost motivation after 120+ hours or so playing it.
on the other hand, fighting games get away with poor translation, little to no writing, etc. (though rival schools was a GREAT fighting game with a storyline and VN-style conversations and VOICING!!!) and no one cares because it's all about the gameplay.
But for me, good characters and a good story are a must unless I'm just playing tetris or puzzle bobble or something like that.

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#14 Post by Enerccio » Sat Jun 09, 2007 6:51 am

I disagree with half life thingy.

Maybe it is just me, but I liked Half Life more than Half Life 2 - because Half Life didn't have any real story. It was jsut action.

But what valve did to HL2 or HL2EP1 made me little sad.
ZOMGSUPEROMGWTFBBQ story is not necessary for HL2. HL2 should be action puzzle game (as was HL1) not some mix of story about aliens that want to control earth and some humans aiding them etc....

but still HL2 was good game, but it would be a lot of better for me without that story (and with more ammo at one time. hell with 3 rockets only)
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