Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing for _Video Games_by Steve Ince

As we continue down the adventure of game design during this immersive learning seminar, we dig deeper to discover a balance between learning and fun for our target audience. At this point, an obstacle we are against is going beyond the development and pushing the limits to find something really valuable.

For the “Humanities Group” (aka. Non-Computer Science (majors)), we have designed a list of literature necessary for us to comprehend to iron out kinks in our system (as well as for accreditation purposes). The list includes, but is not limited to the following:

What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

A New Culture of Learning

Ultimate Guide to Game Writing/Design

Writing for Video Games

Making Transmedia

Reality is Broken

Exodus to the Virtual World

Indirect Procedures: Musician’s Guide to Alexander Technique

Digital Storytelling: A Creator’s Guide to Interactive Entertainment

Philosophy Through Video Games

Chris Crawford on Game Design

The Art of Game Design

Game Design Workshop

Steve Ince said in his book Writing for Video Games "...what players love are the characters and the stories told about the whole world they inhabit..." This book explains how vital the role of a writer is when it comes to the collaborative game design experience. The audience will be captivated by the setting, plot, characters, conflict, etc. rather than the point-click of a game.

In the past, designers used to be the writers. According to Ince, now novelists and storytellers are brought onto the team to enhance the overall quality of the game and player satisfaction. Designers and publishers recognize the value of a good story, strong characters, and a well written dialogue.

Ince describes professionalism in game design as essential. Through design to production, delivering on time is crucial. An acceptance of criticism must be expected, but furthermore, the consideration of said criticism and adjustments to prototypes need to be seriously considered. Anything less than professional is cheating players out of the experience and threatens their future financial support.

Interactivity is seen in endless modes throughout genres of games. Ince uses the example of cut scenes. Cut scenes can be rewarding for a player if it is shown at the end of a level. An option to spread audience captivation is to allow a player to skip past the cut scene. The diversity is opened up by doing so, rather than limiting players to a specific niche. This is best done when a player feels the story unfolding rather than meeting premeditated outcomes.

Though Ince thoroughly explains a handful of genre's, two specific fields are relative to this project. Children's games need to designed to have an easy interface, clear instructions, a unique reward unusual to more mature audiences, and generally run on smaller budgets. Educational games generally run on a series of fun activities rather than puzzles, fun sound effects and characters as incentives to play, and often have printable options to physically show progression outside of the game. I believe these are key goals that should be incorporated into our project this semester as we build an educational game for a targeted audience of approximately age ten.

Our paper prototypes are rapidly changing at this state in the process. I think that now we are at mid-sprint, it is important to make concrete decisions on the mechanics of our prototypes and remember our two key goals. 1.) Stick to a learning objective and 2.) Make something fun. Somehow there is a science in balance of those two goals with a beautifully written script and aesthetics. Is that the value we are looking for?

Hey, at least this is only Sprint 2!

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