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October 30, 2008

Writing for Games: Week 13 – Coda

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 6:42 pm

Reflection on a “game-dialogue-violently-script-edited”

Prior to the submission of the cut-scene dialogue for Psycho-Ego I asked a good friend with 20+ years in film script writing to take a glance at the cut scene that I had written: it was violently script edited! Well, that was the first impression but further analysis determined the method to what, personally, appeared to be ‘madness’ made sense. Why reduce such ‘great’ explanatory dialogue from the script? Perhaps for two reasons: one, to make the dialogue a little more mysterious by making it less descriptive; and, two, by allowing actions to speak the words. This is what ObjectMan, the editor had to say:

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October 22, 2008

Week 12 tutorial activity: Designing the puzzle

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 8:15 am

The puzzles for Psycho-Ego will typically be the ‘physical challenge’ type puzzle – the kind that the Player will need to jump, crouch, climb, use a prop etc to either traverse a death trap, save a fellow NPC, avoid objects etc through the use of timing and logic.

In the level 10 treatment of the Psycho-Ego game the first puzzle will concern the Player getting past huge worms that will attempt to kill the Player if he/she either attacks or retreats from the worms. The Player will be provided with clues via a cut scene prior to coming across the worms, so he/she should be aware of the basic logic that will determine the worm’s decision to attack the Player. The question though is whether such a simplistic action type puzzle is a puzzle at all, or whether it is just there to break up the seemingly linear aspects of the gameplay narrative…

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October 21, 2008

Week 12 reading: Designing the puzzle

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 10:00 am

Week 12 readings: Bates, B. (2001). Designing the Puzzle. Game Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games (pp. 104-122). Roseville, California, USA: Prima Tech.

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Week 11 tutorial activity – non-linear dialogue

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 7:42 am

Dialogue development for a non-linear sequence in the game concept Psycho-Ego:

Developing a multi branching dialogue tree is somewhat problematic due to 2 main reasons:

1. How to develop something for a printed documentation format that will enable the reader to follow a complex dialogue tree easily [examples seen tend to use hyperlinked questions and responses thus making it easier to link the logic flow of the dialogue responses together]

2. How far should the dialogue tree branch? Should the dialogue be a puzzle in itself, or should it constantly return to the same path?

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October 14, 2008

Week 11 reading: Dialogue techniques

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 11:36 am

Week 11 Reading: Freeman, D. (2003). NPC and Dialogue Techniques Dialogue Interesting Techniques Dialogue Deepening Techniques. Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering (pp. 62-70; 71-88). Indianapolis, Indiana: New Riders.

So, giving our NPCs depth through dialogue, or perhaps indicating that the NPC has depth by the dialogue it responds with will be “Giving your NPCs heart and soul” (Freeman, 2003, p. 61). Exploring concepts such as emotional pain, regret, appreciation, wisdom, false emotions etc. in what Freeman calls “Technique Stacking” (p. 64), one could perhaps describe this ideal as not representing everything your NPC says or does through the use of face-on, literal values.

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October 9, 2008

Week 10 – Map for Psycho-Ego – The Knowing of the Self: Island of Okeanos

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 11:59 pm

The map below, right, is a prototype of the map that will serve as the basis of the formulation of the Psycho-Ego game narrative. As a work in progress, the aim was to identify a mappable region that would serve as inspiration for the overall development of the Psycho-Ego ‘game narrative’.

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October 7, 2008

Writing for Games: Week 10 readings…

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:57 pm

Rouse, R. (2000). Level Design. Game Design: Theory and Practice (pp. 406-425). Plano, Texas: Wordware Publishing.

Rouse (2000) gave an overview of the technical constraints that the level designer must take into consideration for the effective design of the game level: the need to keep all textures, models and gameplay within balance; brought together as a cohesive whole. In this regard Rouse states that the level designer is often the least liked team member as his job is to make certain that the development team are fixing the problems that the level designer finds in the development of the level (p. 407).

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September 29, 2008

Psycho-Ego Machinima

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 7:54 pm

Group project for GDT3102 Writing for Games: Machinima created from Second life.

Machinima concept based upon the Psycho-Ego game concept as detailed here.

The project team: Ash B., Roy G., Mirai R., and myself (Steve E.).

Download the PAL 4:3 machinima here: http://tigerleo.com/composition/Psycho-ego_machinima.mpg (right-click and save as).

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September 16, 2008

Week 8 readings: Game Genres

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 1:22 pm

Bates, B. (2001). Genre-Specific Game Design Issues. Game Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games.

Rollings, A. Adams, E. (2003). Genre Worksheets. On Game Design.

Bates (2001) described the following game genres: Action Games, RPGs [Role Playing Games], Adventure Games, Strategy Games, Simulations, Sports Games, Fighting Games, Casual Games, God Games, Educational Games, Puzzle Games, and Online Games of which the latter can be of any genre. Rollings (2003) defined the following genres: Action Games, Strategy Games, RPGs, Sports Games, Simulations, Adventure Games, and Hybrid Games; with the latter defined as a combination of “construction and management simulation” and a war game (p. 439).

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September 13, 2008

Machinima script:

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 12:09 am

Machinima Script: “Psycho-Ego: The Knowing of the Self” level three intro cut-scene “The Anima”.

Based upon an intitial basic script by Roy Gamsgro, for the second Writing for Games assigment, the following details of a basic script are offered for discussion:

PC = Player Character

Athena = the Anima

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September 10, 2008

Week Seven Discussion: Storyboarding & Cut-scenes

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 3:46 pm

Week 7 Discussion:

a. If storyboarding each part of a game takes work, how does it save the development company money?

The storyboard saves development time, and therefore money, as it provides a visually clearer identification of the development objective than text. It can serve as a style-guide of sorts in that it can indicate composition, movement and follow-through action that would be far more difficult to describe in text. In a development team of many animators (and in-betweeners) the lack of a storyboard would be the same as not having a script to work on in a film. Though both are important (the script and the storyboard) from an animation perspective the world has to be created by “hand’ rather than through a camera lens, so it is critical  that there is some sense of what the animation director is intending for the animators to do via the use of the storyboard.

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Week 7 Readings: The Storyboard & Pre-Rendered and In-Game Cinematics

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:05 pm

Week 7 readings from:

Pardew, L. (2005). The Storyboard. Beginning Illustration and Storyboarding.

Freeman, D. (2003). Writing Pre-Rendered and In-Game Cinematics Opening Cinematic Techniques. Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering

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September 9, 2008

Week 6: Game Interface

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 3:13 pm

Game interface plus navigation keys and buttons help file for “Psycho-Ego“:

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September 2, 2008

Week 6 Readings: Bateman (2007) & Freeman (2003)

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:26 pm

Bateman, C. (Ed.). (2007). Keeping the Player on Track.

Freeman, D. (2003). Agency Motivation Cohesiveness Techniques Tying Story to Gameplay.

What Bateman and Freeman offer in their respective readings would have been ideally beneficial prior to the development of the week 5 game story and any subsequent flow-charts. Concepts such as “Game Spine” and “Golden Path” obviously have an overall influence on the design of the game narrative. Concepts discussed by Bateman concerning dialogue would have been very useful for the week 3 Character Development & Dialogue. It is easy to see now how one will need to go back and review that material developed as part of those exercises and re-develop the content to take into account this new found knowledge.

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September 1, 2008

Week 5 Development of the Game Story “Psycho-Ego – the knowing of the self”

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 9:56 pm

[1.] Develop a story for a game [see high concept here] and answer some of the questions that Rollins (2003, p. 118) asks:

Q a. Does the story begin with the beginning of the game, or are you intending to use a back-story?

A. There will be some back-story in the prologue cut sequence to give an indication of who the Player character is, their role in the world, and what their main objective will be. (more…)

August 26, 2008

Week 5 reading: Interactive & Modular Storytelling

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 1:16 pm

Sheldon, L. (2004). Modular Storytelling. Character Development and Storytelling for Games (pp. 85-102). Boston, Massachusetts: Thomson Course Technology.

Glassner, A. (2004). Where We Are Plot Narrative Devices. Interactive Storytelling. Techniques for 21st Century Fiction. (pp. 10-17; 53-67; 74-75; 99-108). Natick, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters.

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August 24, 2008

Week 4 Discussion: The Game Environment & Second Life (SL) worlds

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:57 pm

Discussion topic: What functions or uses does environment design have in the overall game design process?

The game environment is the canvas upon which all the elements of the game are brought together in a unified manner. It translates the game’s back-story through its visual metaphors; it provides the reason for the Player to exist; and it determines the means by which the action evolves.

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August 19, 2008

Week 4 reading: Evicting the Elves

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 3:19 pm

Week 4 reading: Hallford, N., and Hallford, J. (2001). A Designers Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games (pp. 219-246)

… role playing games are not about rules. RPGs are about characters living in interesting lands with challenges to overcome. Unless you do a very astonishingly bad job with your design, players are primarily going to talk about the things that happen in the game world…. Role playing games are about worlds that people want to visit and explore, places where they will put the lives and skills of their electronic alter egos on the line to destroy or defend. Your job will be to build a world about which the player will care. (Halford & Halford, 2001, p. 219) [emphasis added]

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August 15, 2008

Week 3 Character Development & Dialogue

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 5:17 pm

“Athena” – Major NPC representing the Anima and Girlfriend of the Player for the high concept of a semi-educational RPG game “Psycho-Ego – the knowing of the self”

[NOTE: The graphic to the right has been a somewhat sad bastardisation of Kylie Minogue - the copyright for the original file states "Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License".
See original image and copyright statement here. ]
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Week 2 (Take 2) – High concept for semi-educational RPG game “Psycho-Ego – the knowing of the self”

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 1:52 pm

Take 2 at a High Concept treatment for a narrative based game as the previous game concept did not enable significant development of the game’s characters, nor did it provide for the development of dialogue.

i. Game concept (including genre)?

Role Playing Adventure/Fighting game incorporating RTS (Real Time Strategy) of the Player’s virtual Personal Development through Archetypical and other Psychological experiences in a surrealistic 3D exploratory environment. The Player’s avatar (Persona) will be moulded and visually characterised by decisions made during the game via the  paths and directions the Player is presented with during a journey through discovery of; The Avatar (Mirror Stage), Understanding (the Self), The Partner (Anima/Animus), and God-like omniscience (Collective Unconsciousness). These choices will be governed by aspects of Freudian, Jungian and Lacanian psychology to which the Player will be presented with an overview and understanding of the basic principles of these psychological theories.

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August 12, 2008

Week 3 reading: NPC Interesting Techniques

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:43 pm

A reading of Freeman (2003) on NPC Interesting Techniques

Freeman (2003), in this reading, provides some interesting approaches and proposes a model for the development of interesting NPCs (Non Playing Character[s]). In order to come up with a character that is not cliché drawn from “the over-fished waters of Tolkien or Lucas” (Freeman, 2003, p. 46), a “diamond” model is proposed for the game designer to employ to identify four different traits that the NPC can demonstrate within the game narrative. However, it is pointed out that these traits should not indicate a boring character and again warns against developing traits which “we’ve frequently seen before in film, TV, or game characters” (Freeman, p. 47).

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Week 3 reading: Protagonist (The hero)

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 12:11 pm

Week 3 reading: Protagonist (or hero character) by Glassner in “Interactive Storytelling. Techniques for 21st Century Fiction” (2004, pp. 76-83).

In this reading, Glassner (2004, p. 76) gives an outline of the development of the hero character and refers to Abraham Maslow’s characterization of human motivation (1943) which is then broken down into eight levels constructed within three groups – each of the levels in each of the groups needing to be accomplished before the hero character can progress to the next stage of development:

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Week 3 reading: Character Development

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 11:09 am

A reading of Rollings and Adams (2003) on games Character Development:

To begin it is stated there are two sources for character design: these being either Art sourced or Story sourced design (Rollings & Adams, 2003, p. 122)

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August 11, 2008

Week 2 – High concept for educational game “Nutrition – the winning choice”

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 7:05 pm

Image source: food4life.org

i. Game concept (including genre)?

Educational game to teach children (and adults) the values and rewards of selecting and following a nutritious diet. Target age group is primary school ages of 6 to 12.

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August 5, 2008

Discussion topics: Week 2

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 3:28 pm

Discussion topics for Writing for Games: week 2

a. What might be the difference between coming up with ideas for games compared with ideas for novels and films? Can you think of any particularly successful or unsuccessful adaptations?

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Reading week 2: Conceptualization

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 1:32 pm

Game Concept Worksheet  - a reading and summary of chapter 6 “Conceptualization” (pp. 140-156) from the book “Game Design Workshop” by Fullerton, T., Swain, C., and Hoffman, S. (2004).

This chapter discusses the notions of taking an initial idea, then developing and refining that idea through brainstorming techniques and other activities in order to turn that initial idea into a game concept.

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Reading week 2: Game Concept worksheet

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 10:38 am

Game Concept Worksheet  - a reading and summary of “Game Concept Worksheet” (p. 53) and “Sample High Concept Document” (pp. 574-576) from the book “On Game Design” by Rollings, A., and Adams, E. (2003).

Game Concept Worksheet:

To turn a game idea into a game concept, list and answer the following (Rollings & Adams, 2003, p. 53):

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August 2, 2008

Reading week 1: The Design Document

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 5:32 pm

The Design Document  - a reading and summary of chapter 14 “The Design Document” from the book “Game Design Workshop” by Fullerton, T., Swain, C., Hoffman, S. (2004).

This chapter discusses the needs of developing a sound Design Document for communication purposes as well as suggest an example of how the Design Document might be arranged. [This blog has been written after reading Chapter 15 of Rouse's "Game Design: Theory and Practice", (2000).]

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Reading week 1: Game Development Documentation

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 3:37 pm

Game development Documentation – a reading and summary of chapter 15 “Game Development Documentation” from the book “Game Design: Theory and Practice” by Rouse, R. (2000).

Rouse (2000), in this chapter, discusses 8 development documents that the game designer may find useful and beneficial to the successful development, and possibly ongoing funding, of a game project. These documents are as follows :

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July 30, 2008

Should Game Designers “theorise” about games or should all “theory” be left to Academics?

Filed under: ECU MInT,GDT3102 Writing for Games — steve @ 2:09 pm

The short answer: both yes and no…
The long answer is, perhaps, more “academic”!

If, according to the Research Methods Knowledge Base (Trochim, 2006), there are “two broad methods of reasoning” comprising of “deductive and inductive approaches” to explore a theory and one assumes that:

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