(So I'm really getting back into the groove of my writting. I know this isn't much but It's something I kind of wanted to get out. So here I guess. :P)
When it comes to writing a game or an interactive piece of media, there are three key components I consider when judging how well the script of a game holds up. If a game doesn’t possess a solid plot, backstory, and dialogue through the entirety of it, I don’t really see much worth in it’s writing. Sure it’s one thing for games to excel in one thing, such as titles like The Last of Us possessing a very strong selection of dialogue, but when it falls flat on it’s back-story and plot (which TLoU did—it didn’t motivate the player enough to learn more of what had happened to the world compared to how much the game wants you to invest in the cast.) I can’t really appreciate the writing.
Focusing on theme, my thoughts on it are rather straightforward; what kind of message are you, the writer, pushing towards the gamer for him to learn? What is that glowing moral that is hovering over you that you’re addressing. This is something that I think that games really struggle in. Not that they have difficulties pushing out the theme but they cement their theme ideas in tropes or traditional archetypes. For example, a lot of Japanese titles have that ‘coming of age’ theme that is targeted towards the male pre-teen/teenage demographic. It’s not exactly a bad thing but it’s a matter of time before that theme is constantly recycled and the only thing the gamer can think of the game subject is ‘good triumphing over evil.’ Then again a theme can be altered by the actions the characters perform so I guess it boils down to a matter of how you conduct your character in the game.
(Games with great themes include: Persona 3/4, Dark Souls, Spec Ops: The Line, Prince of Persia ‘08, Max Payne)
Backstory/Lore is simple. Explain your world! How the hell did these things that are happening before you started your playthrough happen? Is it coherent through this singular entry/entirety of the series? Does the game do a good job at introducing you to the world, instead of forcing you to learn artificially by picking up collectibles. Not saying that note collectibles are bad, it just seems like a factor of lazy game design for the devs to ‘enhance gameplay time’ by adding optional collectibles. Backstory shouldn’t be devoted to being a ‘checkmark’ to write off on a list. With a lot of modern games being released today however, that’s all that backstory really boils down to.
(Games with great backstory: Pokemon, Max Payne, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, Alan Wake, Metal Gear Solid 3)
Dialogue is something I’m glad to see a lot of games hit really well. Dialogue needs more than just two characters interacting by talking. Dialogue can be heavily influenced by setting, past actions you’ve performed in a game (a lot of games that feature silent protagonists and binary choice options are examples), etc. But it also boils down to the actors performing the dialogue of a character. I know that we shouldn’t’ really have to worry about poor voice acting in 2014 like gaming had to in the 90s/early 00s, but it really does play a factor if a VA is feeling their character.
(Games with great dialogue: The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Bastion, Max Payne)
A game can excel in one part of a game’s script, but it can also fail miserably in the other two sections. There are very few games that I can think of that can really nail the three. Maybe in the future I can add what I think about which games fall under these.
I’ve been meaning to write something regarding character design in video games for a while. I don’t think I’m really qualified for it, nor do I think my intelligence is strong enough to even let me think such things. Even so, there are some things that bug me with a lot of character design. There are some good things, yet there are a lot of bads or whatever.
Usually I tend to be really open minded and adaptive in regards to which direction the artist/designer of a game takes with his game. I can easily tell on the spot if a game is for me or it isn’t for me. If i’m not really feeling the aesthetics I’m not going to play that game. It’s okay if a game isn’t catered to my tastes but at the same time I’m not going to ignore my criticism regarding your incredibly bad choice of art direction. For instance;
Hey look, it’s the boxart for Hyperdimension Neptunia, a pretty popular (?) RPG/lite Visual Novel that spoofs the game industry I guess. Disregarding it’s abysmal combat (played it, beat it, it’s shit.) , the art direction pisses me off. It’s obvious that by first glance of the boxart and with about a few good hours into the game, the cast of the game (the female cast) just seem to…not differentiate itself in regards to body proportions, facial expressions or their general outward appearance. If it weren’t for the games (abysmal) dialogue I would never be able to really tell apart between cute girl #234345 and cute girl #127634. I’m not going to say it’s lazy, because it isn’t. It’s quality art and the audience that NIS is selling this too are going to love it. Me? I’d just consider it mediocre. There’s nothing unique, clever, or stylish about it. It’s just…mediocre.
I think Disgaea has the same issues that Neptunia has in that some of the characters seem to share the same template in regards to body proportions, but what Disgaea has over something like Neptunia is that the ‘character’ the game possesses really displays a lot of external emotions. The character’s body expressions are popping out, they’re overflowing with charisma and charm that something Neptunia doesn’t have. …I really like Disgaea. Good game.
This is the character art for the Japan team from The King of Fighters 97. I’m using this piece of art to give a better visual representation at how I would usually like the art direction of a game to go in. Compared to a lot of other fighting games and my thoughts regarding them, what separates KOF apart from the rest is it’s ability to have it’s art to be generally consistent and contemporary. The characters, while some bizarre (Benimaru is a stretch yeah.), are entirely believable/relatable in it’s aesthetic and manage to keep it’s consistency sequel after sequel, even going as far as to maturing the characters along with their design. They don’t stray out it’s contemporary archetype but at the same time they aren’t afraid to reach a bit more with it’s direction, with characters like Duo Lon and the Orochis. Good art, I guess.
Soo…yeah, I really like character design. There are the goods, the bads, and the things that manage to stay in the middle. When I’m not exhausted I could muse on this more lol
November is shaping up to be yet another huge month for gamers this year. More so than the previous ones. Yes, another entry in the Call of Duty franchise will surface, and another Assassin's Creed game that will be entirely underwhelming to play and question why the hell is that franchise is still going (with all due respect to Assassin's Creed fans, of course.) But this year is a bit different: It's because the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 are releasing! Hooray, the next generation of console games is arriving! With very interesting titles to come out for both consoles such as... uh... Actually, when I look at the short and long term of the releases for those consoles, there literally is nothing that is reaching out to me. Killzone for PS4 is nice, sure. The dedicated server support is decent as well for the Xbox One. But there isn't anything that's keeping me tethered to be interested in the next-generation of consoles. I mean, I have both a 360 and a PS3, as well as a mid-tier PC to run quite a few titles. Is there really anything at all that's tailored for my interest?
If anything, I can give a point to the Nostalgia factor.
Here's a fun story: Right around the time Microsoft had it's first E3 conference for the Xbox One, I was glued to my seat with absolutely no expectations set. After the "TV TV, TV TV" snorefest of the consoles' reveal, It'd make sense to just not care and enjoy the hysteria that came with live conference--HOLY SHIT THEY JUST SHOWED KILLER INSTINCT.
I screamed, I whistled, I cheered with a lot of my friends in Skype Calls. then I remembered that, "This is Microsoft, what's the fucking catch." As time passed on, I leared who was working on the title, the roster, the free to play setup, etc. But honestly I didn't care. I was essentially succumbed by blind nostalgia. Hype to see the dream sequel of a game I waited YEARS to play again with a lot of my friends. (For the record, I've been following the development of this game like a Hawk.) But let's disregard KI and focus on the bigger picture: Nostalgia. Normally I don't place Nostalgia as the first of my vision for interest in a game because it generally works out for the game to not live up to my expectations, or be forever saddened at what could've been (See: Konami in general.) For these next-generation consoles, I've been following a basic principle with the games being featured. "Is there something like this already? Does it remind me of something fond?" So far other than a few future titles ("Rhine(?), Sunset Overdrive.") the lineup has been generally weak for me in the next two year. So what is there for me? I want something new! Unique! Classic! ...Well, there's always the Wii-U and the Playstation Vita.
Child of Light is another game I'm really looking forward to, and is really unpredictable, knowing Ubisoft's record with RPGs (there is no record.)
Let's not beat around the bush here: The Nintendo Wii-U has very little games to let it stay it's once warm, now sterile welcome. Yes, there's the marios, the Zeldas, the Ubisofts, but is there really anything worth investing for in the future for a Wii-U? No. Basically, the Wii-U is the only console whose lineup is completely up in the air. No one really knows what's going to happen for the console other than Smash Bros and Bayonetta, and I think that's what's really fun about following it's release. The fact that Nintendo is so seclusive about what it has in store for the console from both itself and future partners is...fun. there's a legitimate sense of hype building up that Nintendo products can bring to the table, and personally that feel of "what the fuck is going on?" is the fun with having something like The Wii, The Wii-U, and even back then the Gamecube on the side.
The Playstation Vita has this "probably?" factor to it as well. Sony's been having a really big indie push, which is downright perfect for someone like me whose been spending more and more on indie darlings. What does this have to do with the Vita? Well, the Vita is great for indies like Hotline Miami and (my personal favorite) Spelunky. I think the probability factor lies in "will "X" have cross-buy/cross-play? Will "X" support the Vita? Why won't "X" come on the Vita?" I'm very excited to see stuff like FEZ and Borderlands make it to the little console. I'm ESTATIC about the price drops (less so about the memory card drops. 25%? Nah, man. Cut that to 40%. No one buys Arbitrary memory cards anymore.). I'm really interested in the Monster Hunter-clones and the like coming from Japan, and--basically, I'm all over the place in what I want with these things, and I really think that's something the PS4 and the Xbox One should provide with it's launch.
November's gonna be pretty damn fun to spectate, though.