Something original

I hope!

Just read the making of God of War in an old back issue of Edge. David Jaffe says something along the lines of “I watch Casablanca and I wonder how we’re going to makes games as affecting for so long, to give the player such long-lasting memories”. I’d quote verbatim, but I’ve left the magazine in the toilet and I can’t be arsed getting up again (thanks, Jack Daniels).  Bear with me, cos it has been over ten years since I saw Casablanca, but if I remember correctly, it’s about the main character having to break his principles to save the person he loves.

If there’s one thing games love to give the player, in a way, it is rules. As in, “you can do this and that, but don’t do that or go there because you will break the game or the story or your immersion”. Examples of “wrong things to do in games” – finding the invisible walls which hem you into a linear section of a game, shooting at the characters you’re not supposed to shoot, purposely putting your non-player team mates in the line of fire. There are thousands more.

Why do developers try to prevent you, the player from doing this? Because it breaks the story they have set out for you. For your entertainment. Even though, you are the one who is trying to entertain themselves in their virtual theme park. They say “no, this is the story that you paid for, and if you do that you are jepoardising it, so we will do this instead”. You are, in essence, trying to break the principles of the developers.

Now, this may be entering the territory of the future, where computers themselves write most of the software, which is directed by human hands and minds, but fuck it. Why not incorporate these things into your story? Have these designers and creators not played Dungeons and Dragons (I haven’t, yet, but it’s my point, so I’m using it)?I know you can’t plot for every interaction a human player could possibly think of, but then again, you fucking can, you lazy bastards. There’s a point and click adventure game called Time, Gentlemen Please. The creators have written responses for using anything with anything else in the game, pretty much. Unique responses. In a cartoony point and click adventure game, but they did it.

There’s a game in development called LA Noire, by a developer called Team Bondi, headed by a man called Brendan MacNamara. Now, Mr MacNamara has proven to be a bit tasty with hyperbole (see: his previous games, the Getaway series, the first of which I really loved as being a flawed game with slices of genius). This game was in Edge, and Mr MacNamara claimed to have written a script for the game which was 20,000 pages long. Since the publication of this issue of the magazine, Mr MacNamara has stated to various websites that this was a misprint, and that the actual amount of pages is 2,000. Fair enough. It’s still fucking big.

But. But! What if it was 20,000 pages long? What if it let you shoot anyone? What if it tried to account for every action you could do? Bored in a mission? Fuck off and do something else in the game! Don’t worry, the detective case you were working on will be solved incorrectly by your subordinates and innocent people will go to jail. BUT THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES FURTHER DOWN THE LINE. Why? Cos the game knows you could have stopped the real criminal, but you wanted to steal a flash car and piss around instead.

Let people do what they want. And instead of trying to shepherd them into doing what you want them to do, just punish them for it. Punish them within the fiction you’ve already made. Who knows? Maybe then they’ll take it seriously. And play it again. And want to do it the way you wanted them to do it. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to go against their own principles, because it felt like the right thing to do. And if you are a good enough writer, you’ll know that they’ve done it, for that reason they have thought of, and you can write them a conclusion for that.

Take as many pages as you need. I’ll play it.

1 Comment

    you write about stuff awesomely, you should be paid for this shit xxx

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