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  • Hey everybody, how’s it going?

  • We are Extra Credit and we are here to talk about these.

  • In this series of weekly videos

  • were going to be exploring the world of game design.

  • I’ll be doing the talking, James will be doing the writing

  • and, over here, is our new artist: Allison Theus, providing us with the visual aides.

  • Alright enough with the introductions, let’s get down to business.

  • Our first topic:

  • bad writing in video games.

  • It’s a very common complaint.

  • We all love our games, but we can’t help but wonder:

  • Why is the writing in these things so terrible?

  • Really, how hard is it to hire a decent script writer?”

  • Well, let’s take a closer look.

  • It’s true: video games have told some painfully bad stories over the years.

  • And there have been more than a few lines of dialogue

  • that are just nails-on-chalkboard painful to listen to.

  • In fact, I think weve all been downright embarrassed for this medium at times

  • by some of the ridiculous things that come out of game charactersmouths.

  • But before we can try to find a solution to this problem,

  • I think it’s important that we understand something:

  • video game storytelling isn’t just about the writing and dialogue.

  • Because video games are an interactive medium,

  • the gameplay and mechanics of the world are just as important to telling the story.

  • Narrative”, notwriting”, is what we should actually be talking about here.

  • All too often, even seasoned professionals talk aboutthe writing

  • as if it existed independent of all the other elements that go into game creation.

  • Well it doesn’t;

  • and we aren’t going to be able to create compelling narratives in games until

  • we wrap our heads around that.

  • So first let’s answer the big question:

  • what iswritingin a game?

  • It’s what the characters say in cut scenes and dialogue boxes.

  • It’s those little voice stabs that characters shout out during combat.

  • It’s also the background chatter that characters spout as the player passes by.

  • It’s the words in the options menu and the loading screens.

  • It’s the flavor text describing guns or equipment or alien species.

  • Ok, so it’s a lot of things, but I’ll tell what it’s not.

  • It’s not the high concept. It’s not the idea behind a game.

  • Few games ever start with a fully-baked story that the developer is itching to tell,

  • much less a complete script.

  • Most games begin with a mechanic, or a piece of technology,

  • maybe an art style (or, in some tragic cases, a memo from the marketing department).

  • This means that a game’s actual writing tends to be constrained from the start.

  • Writers are often brought in pretty late in the development cycle,

  • so they usually have to work around whatever development has come before them.

  • And there are always plenty of obstacles they have to work around.

  • Sometimes it’s a game mechanic that complicates things.

  • Consider those games that feature moral choice systems.

  • If the game’s designers decided to put a two-dimensional moral choice meter in the game

  • (the ever populargood or evilbar),

  • than all the moral choices the writer writes have to fit within those two dimensions.

  • Or sometimes a weird disconnect can occur if the

  • plot and the gameplay conflict with each other.

  • Consider games where characters can be revived during gameplay,

  • but then die in the plot line and OH AWESOME my Pheonix Downs are worthless now.

  • I’m sure you can all think of game mechanics like this that constrain a writer’s options.

  • But what other parts of development can act as roadblocks?

  • The art is a big one.

  • It influences the entire feel of a game.

  • It establishes a mindset for the player and the personalities of the characters.

  • You can’t go writing a light, fluffy script for a game with a gothic horror aesthetic

  • well

  • actually, that could be pretty awesome

  • you get what I mean though.

  • But there are other elements of the art pipeline that can get in a writer’s way too.

  • Comparatively small things,

  • like animating voice-acted cutscenes.

  • Very few games are re-animated or re-lip synced when localized for foreign countries,

  • which means that character’s dialogue is automatically

  • constrained to the length of the original sound file,

  • regardless of what language you are localizing from or into

  • Voice acting itself has an enormous impact on what a writer can write.

  • Weve all seen million dollar cutscenes just RUINED by bad voice acting.

  • We could do an entire episode on voice acting

  • And we probably will

  • Even programming and production issues can interfere with the writing process.

  • How good is the game’s dialogue parser?

  • How good are the internal development tools for branching dialogue trees?

  • Oh and remember: you can’t go writing storylines

  • that the dev team doesn’t have the time or money to develop.

  • Alright,

  • so it’s clear that there are a lot of development issues that influence game writing,

  • but trust me, that doesn’t mean I’m letting the writers off the hook here.

  • Let’s take a look at what’s going wrong on their end.

  • First off, manygame writersare hired from outside the industry

  • and don’t really understand how to write for an interactive medium.

  • This is all pretty new stuff, and they just don’t have any experience with it.

  • They don’t understand that,

  • in an RTS game, when you give and order to a unit

  • its acknowledgement should be only a second long, tops.

  • Or that nobody wants to read huge blocks of text in a game.

  • These types of writers often come from a background where dialogue

  • or text account for the majority of their audience’s engagement with their work.

  • This simply isn’t true of most video games.

  • Consider a TV show,

  • Consider a TV show, even an action heavy one:

  • in one hour of footage, you probably have at least

  • 20-30 minutes of dialogue.

  • But in one hour of gameplay, youll often have less than 10 minutes

  • Our medium is enormously compressed because we have

  • so many other ways to convey narrative to the player.

  • Which brings me to our last point:

  • the general failure to create stories from an interactive perspective.

  • Video games are a fundamentally different medium

  • from all other mass media to date.

  • you can’t just write for it using old techniques

  • from different media and expect it to work.

  • You wouldn’t write a movie script the same way you would a novel.

  • And you wouldn’t write a newspaper column the same way you would a stage play.

  • So why would you expect writing for video games

  • to be the same as for any of these other media?

  • Games can’t tell their stories through disconnected

  • segments of gameplay strung together by cutscenes.

  • Games need to tell their story through gameplay.

  • Narrative should drip from every texture

  • and be integrated into every facet of the world.

  • It should come through in the menues and the interface

  • and in every loading screen.

  • but, most importantly of all, it should

  • come through in the mechanics of the game.

  • The mechanics should teach us about the characters and reinforce the plot line.

  • They should, fundamentally,

  • attune the player to their character

  • and let them explore their character’s actions.

  • I know it sounds like I’m asking a lot, but weve seen it done before.

  • Consider the Silent Hill games (excluding the most recent ones):

  • their combat mechanics reinforced the weakness of their characters.

  • Think about the Dawn of War series

  • and how much flavor is packed into each race’s voice stabs.

  • ou understand what it means to be an Ork

  • simply by hearing them go about preparing for war.

  • Games like Shadow of the Colossus,

  • Demon Souls or Bioshock

  • deliver a great deal of narrative through their world and environments alone.

  • Even the Katamari games delivered a new kind of

  • whimsicle narrative through their artistic style, mechanics and use of sound.

  • Here’s the key to take away from this:

  • the development team must be conscious of the narrative of their game from the outset.

  • he game’s narrative should be considered as

  • all of the elements of the game are created and assembled,

  • because every part of a game helps to tell its story.

  • Well, I think that about covers it.

  • Thanks for watching and see you guys next week!

Hey everybody, how’s it going?

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エクストラクレジット - 悪い文章 - なぜほとんどのゲームは悪い物語を語るのか (Extra Credits - Bad Writing - Why Most Games Tell Bad Stories)

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    王卓漢 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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