My article “Developing Meaningful Player Character Arcs in Branching Narrative” is now up at Gamasutra.com. This is by far the most in-depth discussion of games writing I’ve engaged in publicly, and it covers a subject I believe is underappreciated.
The article has a somewhat convoluted origin. At BioWare, I’d hoped to start running occasional “craft sessions” where writers could make presentations on subjects of interest–essentially, a regular advanced class on game writing where the lecturer would rotate with the students. I never did get the program up and running, and I’ve been left with these scattered thoughts ever since. Rather than let them go to waste, I figured I’d send them out into the world.
I’m opening comments on this post, in case anyone wants to debate. Whether future long-form articles on game writing appear on this blog is up to you. Readers, speak up if you find this stuff interesting. Fellow game writers, please say so if you find this useful–and if you’d like to contribute something similar, maybe we can get these craft sessions going yet.
One challenge writers face when moving from traditional media into video games is learning what, exactly, qualifies as “subtle” in the new medium. What works as a understated plot thread or gentle foreshadowing in a film or novel won’t necessarily work in a video game; and rather than examining why, it’s easy for a new writer to dismiss game narratives as obvious and hamfisted. (Many are, of course–there’s a difference between understanding a theory and executing it well.)
I’m speaking from experience, here–I had a hard time learning how to present anything subtly in games. Below, I try to save someone else from going through what I did. Continue reading
I wrote the Imperial agent for Star Wars: The Old Republic because nobody else wanted it.
That’s not actually true, of course. There were other writers who were interested and willing to take on the task. But as it happened, they were more interested in other classes while I was most interested in the odd duck of the lot–the one class that didn’t correspond in a neat, one-for-one fashion with a classic Star Wars archetype. Continue reading