Whats going on with writing for Games?!

  • #1, by DANOSAURTuesday, 09. December 2014, 14:33 10 years ago
    I consider it important to differentiate between recent storytelling for games and adventure game storytelling. Mainly this is based on the fact that adventure games have no such thing as an open world, character development or stuff like that (which is very popular in recent game design).
    Nevertheless, I think it is valid to know what a (lets call him) usual game writer considers to create and write a story. I did not dig deep into the masses of literature to that subject but I´d like to start a discussion here. Maybe some people here did study more on the subject and are willing to share their knowledge here. That would be amazing!
    Checking Amazon I found a couple of books on the subject of general writing and storytelling for games. I don´t know which of these sources are state of the art but they seem to be a good read. Here are just a few I thought are good:

    - wanna become a writer for games? Ubisoft gives you some hints what to expect and what requirements you have to meet.

    - “Character Development and Storytelling for Games”
    (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 15. April 2013

    - “A Mind Forever Voyaging: A History of Storytelling in Video Games”
    (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. November 2012

    - “The Ultimate Guide to video game writing and Design”
    (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 2008


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  • #2, by afrlmeFriday, 02. January 2015, 01:41 10 years ago
    I believe that adventure games could be made more open world - well if the writer/developer is willing to put in some extra effort. With non-linear, progressive story-line in combination with say the exploration side of the original Simon the Sorcerer game (you could get everywhere by walking through the various scenes & there was a lot of scenes which had no interaction - I thought it was a nice touch, but then again, so was the map as it saved a lot of time), you could create an open world game with a branching story-line. Think TTG's: The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, but with more freedom of exploration rather than limiting the character to small areas for each chapter/act of the story. It could have been epic.

    I'm a big fan of non-linear, progressive story-lines & exploration games.


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  • #3, by afrlmeFriday, 02. January 2015, 03:04 10 years ago
    Ok afterthought... I figured I would elaborate on my take of non-linear vs. linear based story-lines in games.

    Linear is essentially a fixed storyline from a games beginning to its end. The player can only follow a fixed storyline - usually in a fixed order of progression, although sometimes linear games contain faux non-linear elements such as allowing the player to choose what to say/ask during dialog conversations or allow the player to try/combine objects with other objects, as & when they like, but usually these elements have no impact on the actual storyline itself.

    Non-linear on the other hand, is more complicated because it can come in various forms. Actually I believe non-linear adventure games were pretty popular during the early years of the PC, think text based adventure games back on the old IBM/Acorn machines, which gave you various choices/directions for each scene. I myself have never really played any of them because I didn't get a PC until I was about 11 years old. Most of my youth was spent playing games on consoles & gaming machines, such as: atari, amstrad, amiga, sega, snes etc.

    Faux non-linear as I mentioned above is used to give the illusion of player choice when in fact, they choice/action makes no significant changes to the storyline or game world.

    Strict non-linear could allow for certain player choices/actions to affect the storyline, characters reactions & game world around you, but these still usually follow a specific order in the games universe. Think TTG as an example as those games choices do impact the world around you but in general you can't really freely explore the game world or play the game in the order you like.

    Progressive non-linear - with progressive, being the keyword - would be the same as strict (above) but the world could adapt to more of your choices/actions, you could possibly choose who you want to play as, explore, choose which story branches you wanted to play, or not play & in which order you wanted to play them.

    I guess I could mention one other form of non-linear approach to story-telling, which would be procedural based gaming. I'm not very savvy on procedural based games at all, but I think they are very interesting as the games automatically generate the world/storyline based on lots of different factors or by random at the beginning of the game. Essentially you could play a completely different game, each time you pressed new game. Here's a quick example of a procedural indie game that I think worked quite well: "This War of Mine", the game procedurally generated 3 characters at game start, as well as items that could be found in your run down house, the events that occurred during the daytime (who visited, what they wanted) was also unique to each play-through. Also the locations you could visit/raid on each play-through was different. The amount of days/weeks you had to survive was also different on each play-through. You could choose how to approach each situation or whether to run away, give away food, kill or spare someone. Your actions could result in permanent death of your team member or other people. The game was actually pretty tense & atmospheric & kind of reminds me a little of that "gods will be watching" game that was recently mentioned on the portal (pinboard) page, in a way.


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  • #4, by ke4Friday, 02. January 2015, 11:07 10 years ago
    Nice summary,

    i can't even immagine to create a progressive classic point&click game, but it would be quite epic.
    Or is there any?

    Unfortunately the game i'm currently working on is pretty Linear, it would probably takes ages to create open story, but still i believe it has something new to offer. We are using some new elements uncommonly seeing in point&click games. We took the basic principle of point&click games, because we always loved this kind of games and trying to put something new in that.

    Key Killer

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  • #5, by DANOSAURFriday, 02. January 2015, 12:32 10 years ago
    Hey Guys,

    @Lee thanks for sharing your thoughts! The purpose of my post was just to show what has been done mostly with adventure games (except the old text adventures, you are right!) in the past 2 decades.
    I would love to see a non linear open world adventure game as well. I am not sure if making it open world and non-linear would also make it another kind of genre. Is that still a development within genre boundaries? I don´t think so.

    It´s a sensitive topic I suppose. If you take a look at the development of the genre since the golden era of adventure games the only things that really changed are small things in game mechanics (inventory development, etc.), graphical style and in case of storytelling TTG seems to be the only creator who took a more character focused development approach in adventure games so far. And that is an important one if you consider creating an open world game. It makes sense to let your character develop further while he is running around ganining experience within the game world.

    Another challange is not adding to many open world characteristica like enemies you could fight for example. That is of course possible but still it would transform the whole thing into another genre.

    The challanges you will face while writing a story script for such an adventure game are tremendous. I once discussed the oppertunity to try developing a coop adventure game where the 2 players are not playin on the same machine with a friend who´s in the gaming industry. There are so many things that happen to the typical things that come with the genre adventure game... to get a result out of that it would take years of devopment I guess....

    I probably missed some stuff here, but I hope you generally get where I am heading...

    I really like where this discussion is going ;-) but keep in mind, we are still talking here in terms of writing a story for an adventure game, not the general oppertunities of creating one.


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  • #6, by afrlmeFriday, 02. January 2015, 13:21 10 years ago
    I don't believe that we have to stay true, nor follow a strict set of rules when creating an adventure game these days.

    You could for instance call Tomb Raider or Fable an adventure game, although both are more action orientated, use keyboard & mouse or a controller & feature rpg mechanics.

    There's nothing wrong with fusing genres & sub-genres, or creating new genres. They make games more exciting.

    I think the biggest issue in regards to adventure games (especially point & click adventure games) is that the large majority of developers who make them seem to think that the story-lines have to be witty, full of eccentric characters & puzzles & contain 5 million puns. To be honest I would rather see more adventure game developers trying to create a more serious &/or dark storyline. I don't care if it's sci-fi, horror, drama or crime based.

    Couple of examples of more serious toned (recent) games: blackwell series is mostly dark & bleak, although joey does crack a few puns/jokes every now & then. Gemini Rue was a dark sci-fi crime game with atmospheric undertones.


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  • #7, by afrlmeFriday, 02. January 2015, 13:42 10 years ago
    @ ke4: in a way Simon the Sorcerer was pretty open world (kind of) as you could play a large amount of the game in whatever order you liked. Most places were accessible from the beginning, just by exploring from one scene exit to another. Some places however were not accessible until you had found or done something to help you progress. For example to reach the castle/fort (whatever it was) in the snow area, you needed some extra strong mints to melt an evil snowman that was blocking the path. Or as another example, in the snow region again, you needed to replace a climbing pin in the mountain side to progress further. But these things weren't really related to following the storyline itself.


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  • #8, by DANOSAURFriday, 02. January 2015, 13:57 10 years ago

    it is not about staying true for me as well. I know all these possibilities could push the genre further.
    And I agree that games like fable, tomb raider and even skyrim, have their adventure game elements to them.

    The fact that many Adventure game developers are so narrow minded that they are stuck in a "retelling a story the lucas arts, the sierra, the double fine, or the pendulo way" cycle makes me sick sometimes... It is like accepting that things have to be done in a certain way and surpressing any kind of progress. I guess you know what I mean (but that does not mean they are all of that kind, don´t get me wrong!). That is why there are so less of the darker games you mentioned or the games that push the boundaries further (I was talkin with a friend the other day, how a game like deep space or the alien universe could be set as an adventure game ... maybe we should continue the discussion here HEHE)

    .... Let me continue this later. Family needs me.



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  • #9, by afrlmeFriday, 02. January 2015, 14:05 10 years ago
    There's Stasis that is being developed by Chris (pyke) which is an ISO-perspective sci-fi/horror game which reminds me quite a bit of the Dead Space game series. Looks like it will be a very nice game, even though I'm not a massive fan of ISO-perspective games, it seems to work for the game.

    I think that anything has the potential of being created as an adventure game, as long as it's approached in an interesting way.


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