Even in the early 1990s, Wizardry was something of a throwback. Both the Wizardry and Ultima series–the two great and venerable franchises of computer role-playing games–had begun in 1981, but while Ultima was experimenting with 3D movement (Ultima Underworld) and combat-light, story- and world-interactivity-driven games (Ultima VII, the likes of which has still never been replicated), Wizardry was all about dungeon diving, turn-based combat, maddening environment puzzles, and more character builds and items than you could throw a spreadsheet at.
Wizardry was for the hardcore: the players who grudgingly accepted auto-mapping but wanted the quality of the auto-generated maps to be dependent on the skills of the in-game party members, and who were still willing to keep reams of notes to keep the teleporter puzzles straight. Wizardry was for players who didn’t need fancy graphics or in-your-face storytelling getting in the way of combat. In Computer Gaming World‘s February 1991 preview of Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant, writer Alan Emrich goes on about the appearance of trees in a Wizardry game; understandable, since the seventh installment was the first Wizardry to have a world beyond the dungeon at all.
And while Wizardry may never have broadened its appeal, Wizardry VII was a masterpiece of its combat- and puzzle-heavy subgenre, ceaselessly challenging and immense in scope. For my tastes, it’s a bit too much–too much combat, puzzles fascinating but slightly too insane–and yet it remains a game that entrances me.
Largely because of that odd duck that Wizardry traditionally never spent much time on: the story. Let’s discuss why it worked.
It’s been ages since my last post, and it’s going to be a while more before my next “real” update–life and work have been busy, and I’m going to be traveling with intermittent Internet for the next several weeks.
Hoping to get back to a semi-regular schedule upon my return. In the meantime, a few bits and pieces:
I’ll be attending New York Comic Con from October 10th through 13th. Not currently planning any signings or events, but feel free to say “hi” if you see me on the show floor or ping me via e-mail or Twitter if you’d like to meet up.
Game Update 2.4, “The Dread War” is coming out soon for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Quite a lot of the writing for the planet Oricon is my work–my first (though not last) work for BioWare as a freelancer instead of as an in-house employee. It’s short and focused (and leads into the update’s Operations), but I think fans of story-based content will enjoy it.
My third Dragon Age comic book miniseries, Dragon Age: Until We Sleep is out in a lovely hardcover edition. The trilogy is now complete and bookshelf-appropriate! My latest Star Wars comics (the two-issue miniseries Star Wars: Purge – The Tyrant’s Fist) have also been collected in Star Wars: Purge–a trade paperback that also includes stories by John Ostrander and Haden Blackman.
That’s it for now. Once again, forgive my sporadic posts, and I’ll try to get some new content up after NYCC!
We established in this post the ideal role an editor should play. Again, we’re ignoring line- and copyediting (improving the quality and consistency of individual lines of text, correcting grammar and typographical errors, etc.–vital tasks, but not today’s topic). Instead, let’s focus on high-level developmental editing functions, and work with these two assumptions:
A good editor can meaningfully improve the quality of a writer’s work. Even brilliant writers benefit from good editing and the critique of someone with a fresh perspective.
The skillset required to be a good editor is distinct (with some overlap) from the skillset required to be a good writer. Very few truly great writers are also truly great editors, and vice-versa. Such people exist, but–as with any profession–it’s difficult to achieve genuine mastery of two different skillsets.
With those points in mind, what’s the role of editing in the video game industry? Where do editors stand now, and where do we, as an industry, want to go? Continue reading
Not all editors do all the things below. This isn’t an all-inclusive list. (I’m not even touching line- and copyediting.) But it’s a start.
Patricia C. Wrede has a lovely post touching on some of this as well. Patricia C. Wrede covers pretty much every important writing topic on her blog, and frankly, your time is better spent over there than over here.
Nonetheless… Continue reading
Following up on part one, this post contains is a list of science-fiction espionage works I found particularly useful while working on the Imperial Agent. This is by no means an exhaustive inventory of influences (even disregarding non-science-fiction and nonfiction works–and there are plenty of both I could list); it’s simply a rundown of some of the most prominent ones. If you enjoyed the Imperial Agent and the descriptions below pique your interest, consider seeking these works out! Continue reading