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January 14th, 2010, 09:40
Chris Avellone will be updating his blog at Obsidian on Video Game Writing vs Writing, particularly answering the questions of fans who have written in. Here's a partial snip of the first entry in this series:
Do you feel that video game writing, and video game story creation differ from other forms of creative writing? If so, how?

Yes, especially for RPGs, because reactivity usually requires you to tell the "story" out of sequence - and usually you have to tell several stories at once depending on how many branches you provide.

In general, though, it's better to approach it from the game mechanics standpoint and let what the player can do in the game tell a story. Fallout's good about this - some of the best "stories" I got from Fallout 1 and 2, for example, were ones where Stealth and Combat options spoke for themselves in reactivity and quest solutions. And a lot of child pickpockets got blown up from ticking dynamite that somehow got planted on them - or through accidental repeated injections of Super Stimpaks.

In short, the game "story" can end up being less important than the player's experience in the game, whether they are actual story events are not. It's hard to compete with a story about how a player's 3rd level dwarven fighter survived a bum-rush of 20 orcs in a narrow corridor armed only with a ball-peen hammer and smashed through them Oldboy-style with only 2 hit points to spare… and it's guaranteed to generate more passion from the player than perhaps your most tragic character with his heart-rending story to tell. It's something you just have to accept, and even better, provide opportunities for. Give the player room to breathe.
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January 14th, 2010, 09:40
The man's got his heart in the right place…
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January 14th, 2010, 10:15
Yep, it's on the shelf next to the bits of child pickpockets.

Seriously, this is a great piece. I can remember those hard fought battles like they were yesterday, but most of the storylines from the hundreds of games that I've played have faded from my memory. For instance in Albion I can remember quite clearly a battle with some third level alien beasts that wiped out most of my party. I was down to one guy and had to use some of my precious ammo for my only handgun to survive. Even then I was down to a few hitpoints. I could tell you everything about that battle, but as far as the plot was concerned I can remember a little from the beginning and middle, but for the life of me I can't remember the ending other than that I enjoyed it.

Battles aside, what is this "accidental repeated injections of super stimpacks"? I didn't know you could kill those kids that way. Also, I never even thought of planting a bomb on them. I just ran past the little rodents.

The Falllout games are truly gems. Even after all these years I'm still finding out new things about it. I never did try the stealth aproach. Maybe it is high time I found out.
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