Had a hell of a time at last week’s East Coast Game Conference. Met some great people, had some fun with the whole networking thing.
I also delivered a lecture about storytelling in video games. And narrative production. And heavily-armed rabbits. Here’s the Gamasutra write-up, courtesy of Lewis Pulsipher:
Rafael Chandler is one of the best speakers I’ve heard at game conferences and conventions. While his talks about story in games usually illuminates the entire process of game production, this time in “Story Production for Games” he gave us a faux post-mortem of a game (“Full Metal Rabbits”) to directly illustrate how the story of a game could be ruined by production problems.
Ideas ought to be cut out as the game progresses from preproduction to completion, but in practice things are often added on, sometimes by the developers themselves and sometimes by people “above” such as publishers. This makes a mess. Someone has to be in charge of meetings and the focus of meetings (though not necessarily of final decisions).
Failure to prototype the sound early on using amateurs to provide voice acting leads to problems at the end when it’s too late to fix the professional actor version.
Minutiae often distract developers from what’s important. That’s because it’s easy to research and discuss something that’s not really important, rather than answer big questions about the core of the game.
Zany documentation can be a problem. Skip the entertainment in the docs, which are a blueprint. You don’t expect the blueprint to be amusing or entertaining. Concentrate on clarity and precision.
Creative direction is vital, there needs to be one vision not a different one for every person. There must be a sole vision of the game that is jealously defended.
There is a notion that voice actors are too expensive. It’s better to spend more (money and time) on voice actors, not less. Remember that under union rules you have 4 hours with an actor, don’t just use him or her for 35 minutes, record alternate dialogue and multiple ways of delivering the same dialogue.
The first draft is not the best! Drafts need revision, revision, revision. “Writing is revision”.
During questions Chandler pointed out that unfortunately in video games, much as in Hollywood, the writer may be the one least responsible for a game’s narrative. And where the choice is between gameplay and story then gameplay is more important.
Thanks to Lewis Pulsipher for the write-up (and the kind words about my lecture)!