More Reviews
REVIEWS Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunk Review
I was confident in my Dark Souls abilities. Then From Software released new Dark Souls II DLC.

The Swapper Review
One of 2013's best indie games swaps its way to Sony platforms.
More Previews
PREVIEWS Pillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES CounterSpy
Release date: 08/19/14

Tales of Xillia 2
Release date: 08/19/14

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Release date: 08/19/14

Madden NFL 15
Release date: 08/26/14


LATEST FEATURES Water, Water Everywhere: 15 of the Best Water Worlds in Gaming
Lots of water worlds suck, but not these ones, and they're completely Kevin Costner-free.

An Updating List of PlayStation 4 Updates We Want
Sony and Microsoft have been updating their consoles regularly, but we wanted to share our own ideas for updating the PS4 firmware.
MOST POPULAR FEATURES Picking Your Gender: 5 Industry Professionals Discuss Queer Identity in Gaming
Women from Naughty Dog, ArenaNet, Harmonix, and Gamespot unite to talk about what they want from games in terms of diversity.
 
Coming Soon

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP oneshotstop
Call of Duty will never be the same
By oneshotstop
Posted on 07/28/14
       We've all been there. Everyone remembers that mission. You and your partner are climbing up the mountains in the snow, striving to pull some slick clandestine operation about getting some intel on a bad guy, or something similar (because let's face...

MEMBER BLOG

Melaisis Melaisis' Blog
PROFILE
Average Blog Rating:
[ Back to All Posts ]
No Writing Is Better Than No Writing
Posted on Sunday, July 5 2009 @ 10:23:12 Eastern

Hey guys. Today I'm going to talk about something that should be important to all gamers. The design of most blockbuster games comes down to the writing behind it. For almost twenty years we've seen some great stories being told through this great medium. So what gives people like Rhianna Pratchett the right to say that writing in games is **** and we need more of it? This is a lady who has written for games such as Overlord and Mirror's Edge. She talks about the need for concept and content variation, but both of her games have included neither. The former was infamous for providing the player with lacklustre moral decisions and poor humour. The latter hardly held any narrative what-so-ever and was let down by bloody infuriating indoor sections. Is this woman qualified to speak openly about how she thinks this side of the industry sucks? I don't personally believe so; not until she actually plays some other games.


To begin with, we have to consider if games actually need writing. Its no secret that one of my favourite games for the PS2 is Shadow of the Colossus. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the game follows an adolescent and his horse as they traverse a varied landscape, killing huge bosses so the boy's girlfriend can be brought back to life. There's not a great deal of narrative to it and any exposition that the player is given has been heavily theorised upon. Most of the backstory comes through vague hints and overanalysis of dialogue, of which there's about twenty minutes throughout the entire thing. Does this stop SotC from being a good game? No. The developers have obviously let players conceptualise their own ideas about what the characters were really there for and, in a way, they've given a very personal experience to each gamer. If you play some linear bullshit, then there's little space to really think about what's going on for yourself.

Pratchett incorrectly identifies games writers as a new position on production teams. I can name tonnes of franchises and standalone games that have had heavy influence from great creative talent from Day One. Final Fantasy springs to mind, where each game is written by a bloke who gets a golden throne in Square Enix's conference room. While I believe that FF games tend to get weird as a two-headed goose by the halfway mark, these people obviously value their writing staff and contrast Pratchett's beliefs totally. Even Western companies have a tradition of appreciating good writers.

Valve have a talent of intertwining narrative with gameplay. I won't bring up the obvious examples of this in Portal, but even in Half Life 2 you're not sent on pointless quests. Instead, you seek out people. These people and their environments give you a little more exposition about the story at regular intervals. In an ideal world, this is how all games are written. In both the likes of Overlord andMirror's Edge, you basically work from a hub and are sent out on missions to... dostuff. There's no flow to the story there. Its just a series of different scenes loosely connected by other characters going 'OMG, ITS SO IMPORTANT YOU GO DO THIS!'. A lot of games are guilty of this and lack any real hint of momentum to drive the story forward. Gears of War, a game that would otherwise be identified as 'Hollywood trash', seethes with motivation to keep the player going. When it comes down to it, isn't that the purpose of games? If the player has no reason to keep playing, then the writers have done a bad job. You could be the best writer in the world, but if playing bores me I'll turn the game off.

Writers and writing itself is not necessary for a game to be good. Developers realise this. It is exactly for that reason that some writers are only drafted on at the last second to tag a story onto a novel gameplay concept. Mirror's Edge is a great example - that was built and sold around free-running. Of course they didn't need a writer. Hell, does anyone play EA games for the great character development? Whining about games needing writers despite them selling well is futile, and pretending the medium is just like a film is bloody ridiculous. Gameplay is thebedrock of a good title and the writing should work alongside that to provide a great experience.
comments powered by Disqus

 
More On GameRevolution