Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 21, 2015

Email: Story-life

Greetings, Mal of the Storm

Point 1: Your recent posts on “injecting” stories into games reminds me of something, back when Half-Life 2 came out it was a pretty unremarkable game, and quite glitchy, but yet the pressed loved it to no end, why?

Because audiences accepted the “not cutscenes”, where you stand and listen to characters. The press and game makers went bonkers, celebrating a new method of shoving story into games, finally they’ll accept our genius writing!

Nearly every games copy this now, if not, its the audio logs from Bioshock,heck even racing games are getting stories! A genre that almost never had any to begin with!

I’d love to see an arcade game play like this, you stick in .75 cents only to witness 5 minutes of cutscenes and loading, what if phone games were like this too? Would Angry Birds have sold better if the characters all had deep dramatic backstories? Perhaps Heroes should have cutcsenes before every minion waves, so we can learn about Knights desires, and Wizards dramatic wisdom.

At this rate I expect to be reading college engineering books with random, deep monologues from fictional characters.

With creativity, the only case I’ve ever seen “creativity” work on a product is the Nissan Juke (and even everyone buys them in gray, a truly unique color), otherwise it just creates impractical products that age like milk. Saab was very “creative”, but they could never actually sell their cars.

People dont buy “creative” TVs or smartphones, they buy them for their task, shouldn’t videogames be the same? Made for the task of entertainment? Escaping?

Maybe they need to sell fictional books along with TVs, to explain why the creative menus are so confusing. And be sure to limit the TV for just 5 channels, only getting 2 more each day for 9 days, you dont want to overwhelm those “peons” that dont appreciate your genius.

Someone should make a story on this whole thing, the game maker who wanted deep stories and creativity into his products, who ended up closing shop from tiny sales.
Thank you for reading


I’m stuck between two points of view on this.

The first is that the person who gets to have fun is the gamer, not the developer. After all, being a game maker is a JOB. It isn’t supposed to be ‘fun’. The person who gets to have fun is the gamer.

The second is that so many great games came from the game developers ‘having fun’ doing it. How to interpret this? I think of it like a musician. Game development is very much like a musician. A musician’s training is very technical. The musician must constantly train, keep up with the scales, warm up, etc. But when it comes to performance, the musician cannot be a computer. It is no fun to listen to a computer. The fun that a musician puts into the horn, fun comes out of the horn. This happens with games as well (such as Mega Man 2’s development).

The issue is that fun takes a backseat to the technical discipline. Game development is steeped with technical discipline. Story creation, as well as movie making, is also a steep discipline. Ask any best selling author or movie director. However, game developers have not made best selling books or movies. They don’t understand that discipline. It is why their stories and movies come across as so amateur. It is because they are amateur.

Earlier game developers also did not grow up on games (because they did not exist). They had table top games, sure, but they read many books. I doubt Aonuma has ever read a Western fantasy book. Imagine how much cooler Zelda would be if he had?

The difference between the excitement of the press and the regular gamer is always interesting. What I think is going on is that the press are aligning themselves with the developers and/or industry. If the industry gets excited, the press gets excited. The press wants to be buddy buddy with the game makers because they want to be game makers.

If these people were story or movie masterminds, why don’t they just write stories and direct movies?

I’ve done some dabbling in game making, and one thing is clear: you believe your crappy game is beautiful and wonderful. It takes much discipline of constructive criticism to edit your game. Many game companies have come up with ‘sciences’ of gameplay deconstruction. However, there is nothing for story or movie deconstruction. A game maker’s ego is not tied up in the gameplay as it is in the story or movie.

I think you’re right that they are all looking for new ways to inject story into their game. Might I make a suggestion? Try the manual. (click the link! No, not THAT Link!).

The Legend of Zelda manual




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