Jun 12, 2012

[Screenwriters Fail at Game Writing]

A great post from TJ Fixman's blog on writing stories for games:
"[G]ame development almost never starts with story. Every time I go to a convention, I meet fledgling writers who tell me they have an amazing game idea they’d love to pitch me. But the truth is, games aren’t pitched like movies or TV. What gets a game green lit is invariably tech or gameplay driven. A studio discovers they can do incredible realtime zero-g simulation with their engine? We’re doing a space adventure! Did the design team discover some super fun time-based game mechanic? Let’s do a time travel game! Games are built around two simple questions: 'Where does our tech shine?' and 'What is fun to play?'"
Read the rest here.

Related Reading:
Should games even bother trying to tell a meaningful story?


Anonymous said...

Interesting read, but I think the RPG genre is an exception. It's literally based on the adventures from the tabletop games and it's development is effectively driven by the fantasy environment. It's a genre where developers said, "how can I handle dice rolling for a video game like this? how can I code a fireball?"

It's the only genre I can think of that defies that quote otherwise.

Pai said...

The extreme cases of RPGs as interactive stories (like Final Fantasy 13 and many other JRPGs) where nearly all of the 'gameplay' is reduced in complexity and importance favor of cinematics and narrative are not considered as good as the more gameplay-centered RPGs.

Final Fantasy 5 is a fan-favorite largely because of the class system. I think there comes a line where the 'RPG' slips into 'Interactive Novel' territory, which imo means it's less of a game and more of an interactive storybook. As much as I love a good RPG story, I'm not a big fan of interactive storybooks.

Pai said...

In other words, the more complex a story and the more cinematic a narrative, the more power it takes from the player and makes them into an observer of the writer's story and not an active participant in their own.

The original tabletop RPGs were all about players making their own choices and creating their own stories within the confines of the game mechanics and their GM's scenarios. Without the gameplay itself, you just have people telling stories to each other around a table.