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July 30, 2014, 09:13:02 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeWritingWriting's role in games
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Author Topic: Writing's role in games  (Read 1921 times)
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2012, 10:43:04 PM »

i'd consider that story / storytelling rather than writing -- writing usually refers explicitly to words. you can tell a story without words though, sure, and a lot of games work well that way. but there's nothing inherently wrong about words in games either, words can be very powerful
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2012, 11:24:01 PM »

I've played very few games with legitimately great writing; lots of games with good (or at least passable) plots, but not particularly well written ones.

Bad writing (translations esp.) stick out like a sore thumb, though.
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2012, 06:45:44 AM »

I've played very few games with legitimately great writing; lots of games with good (or at least passable) plots, but not particularly well written ones.

This is because good story writing is hard, like quality graphics is hard, and good music is hard. Just because most people can write, they think that it's easier to write a good story than to learn drawing or music composition. I think that's the main reason writing is such a backhanded art in computer games, industry AND indies!
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« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2012, 07:17:47 AM »

Even a game without any words can benefit from good writing, or at least from many of the skills which are required of good writers. Character and plot development, foreshadowing, themes and motifs, and just general cohesion of subjects are all just as important for many games as they are for stories told in other media.

Good level design should tell players more about a scene than would a written description of it. If there are enemies, they should exist because they fit into the world somehow, not just because something was needed to fill space. They should have character and significance.

Paul, you say this is more storytelling. That works, too
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2012, 03:39:00 PM »

I think that's the main reason writing is such a backhanded art in computer games, industry AND indies!

This is correct to a degree.  Most people have a very hard time discerning differences in writing capability.  Likewise, it's easy for most people to say "I've put some words in sentences, made some paragraphs, and that's a story, right?".  Most people know how to speak and read, and that with that hurdle passed, competent writing should, they feel, be automatic.

This happens more often then "oh music is just notes; drawing is just lines and stuff", because speaking and reading are things people use constantly every day as a means of communication.

But no, competent writing and storytelling take effort.
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« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2012, 04:53:58 PM »

I'm fine with action-packed games, and I'm fine with walls of text. But when those two are combined, it's almost always a disaster.

There are other ways of conveying a narrative, and in many cases, text screens are not what you want. My humble advice is show, don't tell. There's so much uncharted territory when it comes to environmental cues and scripted events, which I find to complement gameplay better than diary pieces and similar infodumps.
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« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2012, 05:07:31 PM »

DO don't show!
The goal IS the story, twist are change in the goal, ie halo:

Use halo to destroy the flood (goal) >> OUPS It does it by destroying all life in universe >> deactivate the halo (new goal)

OOt also does it a lot.

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« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2012, 08:00:24 PM »

There are other ways of conveying a narrative, and in many cases, text screens are not what you want. My humble advice is show, don't tell. There's so much uncharted territory when it comes to environmental cues and scripted events, which I find to complement gameplay better than diary pieces and similar infodumps.

Very right on. There are exceptions, the biggest being development cost. Text is often necessary, especially, in indie games, because you can 'show' a lot more for the same dollar. '7 Grand Steps' is a perfect example.

Imagine the expense of producing three whole worlds (copper age, bronze age, iron age) detailing four social classes for each age, from labors to rulers, just to avoid text.
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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2013, 02:30:22 PM »

Show don't tell is very important now that games can be more visual. If your game is going to be wordy, the wordiness being optional is always nice unless in case of like... an RPG. A good universal rule I try to follow with writing, game plot, etc is that the writing should compliment every other feature of the game and enhance it rather than take front stage.

This applies to an RPG setting too, where the writing would encourage more gameplay and more progress through the game. I think the Persona series does this pretty well, even if the normal days where nothing happens can get pretty nebulous and dull. Maybe a more general rule is everything should compliment and enhance everything else? Consistency is always good.

words  Shrug
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« Reply #24 on: January 06, 2013, 10:06:21 PM »

As others have said before, the importance of writing in a given game depends on the genre. It's not a big deal in a platformer, but story makes or breaks an adventure game. Though a good, heavy story in an action game (say, a racing game) could be pretty interesting.
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« Reply #25 on: January 06, 2013, 10:49:11 PM »

'Show, don't tell' is a phrase from writing though. You can 'show' in words, and that can be just as effective as showing graphically. I think Fallout is a good example of this. Actually, Fallout is a good example of both - you saw the ridiculously gory death animation and then had a text description painting the picture of exactly what happened. Without the text though, it would be much less memorable.
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« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2013, 05:16:53 AM »

It's not a big deal in a platformer
the trouble with saying this is that genres currently just refer to the perspective or one of the base mechanics of a game; there are plenty of story-based platformers that would be nothing without their writing. But either way I think writing - when done well - can be a benefit to almost any genre, and should definitely be considered no matter what kind of game you are making.

'Show, don't tell' is a phrase from writing though. You can 'show' in words, and that can be just as effective as showing graphically. I think Fallout is a good example of this. Actually, Fallout is a good example of both - you saw the ridiculously gory death animation and then had a text description painting the picture of exactly what happened. Without the text though, it would be much less memorable.
My favourite game for it's writing is actually Fallout New Vegas, because of it's amazing split main storyline. Although right from the start you have a set path in mind, by the time you reach New Vegas, it has become totally unclear which is the 'correct' way to finish the game. Every group in the game has such an incredible personality, with every action being completely justified. One of the things that struck me most was finally going to the Legion's base, and talking with Caesar. Throughout the game up til that point they have just been some marauding sadists, bent on taking over the world, but now they are an organized troop, with a nobel goal in mind, attempting to bring order in their own way. Just like the NCR.

The New Vegas story can't be written to a book, and should definitely be looked at for one way games can tell stories.
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2013, 09:44:00 AM »

I don't agree that showing in words is just as effective as showing graphically. Even when the writer is competent, showing graphically gets the picture across quickly and more efficiently. I think that aside from costs, any advantages that words offer for describing scenes are overrated.

What words are great for are ideas, thoughts, and dialogue, which aren't easily represented visually.
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« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2013, 08:07:26 AM »

It's not a big deal in a platformer
the trouble with saying this is that genres currently just refer to the perspective or one of the base mechanics of a game; there are plenty of story-based platformers that would be nothing without their writing. But either way I think writing - when done well - can be a benefit to almost any genre, and should definitely be considered no matter what kind of game you are making.
Oh, well, I don't doubt that, I'm just saying if your platformer doesn't have a deep narrative, you can probably get away with it. But yeah, a good narrative can really make a good game great.
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« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2013, 08:30:13 AM »

I don't agree that showing in words is just as effective as showing graphically.

Extending this idea, games can speak in many "languages".  Gameplay is one, visuals are another, music, sound, text and symbolism are still others.  I see a great deal of elegance in making careful choices about which is used to make a given communication, and in knowing what they say when taken together.
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