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Writing For The Hero With 1,000 Faces PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Writing For The Hero With 1,000 Faces. Storytelling Challenges and Gears of War. On today’s menu. Storytelling in games Crafting the player experience. How? Not by accident, that’s for sure. Storytelling in games = group effort For many on team, uncharted waters

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Writing For The Hero With 1,000 Faces

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Writing for the hero with 1 000 faces l.jpg

Writing For The Hero With 1,000 Faces

  • Storytelling Challenges and Gears of War

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On today’s menu

  • Storytelling in games

  • Crafting the player experience

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  • How?

  • Not by accident, that’s for sure

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  • Storytelling in games = group effort

  • For many on team, uncharted waters

  • Today’s session is for all game devs, not just game writers

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  • Work with freelancers?

  • Unique challenges

  • This session can help

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Gears of War

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Group Effort

  • Gears

  • Bioshock

  • Blacksite

  • Always working with team

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  • Different projects, similar challenges

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Here We Go

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  • 1 2 3

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mirror neurons

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  • There’s only one Fenix

  • But 3 million + guys playing as Fenix

  • One hero, 3 million faces

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Movie = His Story

  • Plot

  • Character development

  • Exposition

  • Conflict

  • Dialog

  • For one story: his

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Game = Zillion Stories

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  • Every player wants to drive the story

  • Every player is different

  • What the hell

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  • Where to begin?

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  • a place to begin

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  • Their mirror neurons are telling them the game is happening to them

  • Not their avatar

  • Them

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  • Players respond emotionally to what they do

  • If the player does it, it matters

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  • Here comes the takeaway:

  • Use mirror neurons to match player experience and avatar experience

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  • Design game & story so that player and avatar want the same thing

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  • Can use this concept to decide what stays in your story and what goes

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  • Fenix’s dad no, Colonel Hoffman yes

  • Alpha Squad

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  • Can think in terms of emotion

  • What will player feel when he plays?

  • For an FPS, there are some safe bets...

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  • Anger

  • Fear

  • Frustration

  • Dominance

  • Satisfaction

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  • Use mirror neurons to immerse player in your game

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  • Mirror neurons are cool

  • Experimenting with it now

  • Hope to say more about this in future

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Story can do 1 of 2 things:

  • Amplify gameplay

  • Or

  • Block gameplay

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  • If story mirrors player’s feelings, then story amplifies gameplay

  • Booyah

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Neurons Good

  • Mirrors player experience

  • Amplifies gameplay

  • Integrates story with game

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  • 1 2 3

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Cinematics can:

  • Throw player out of game

  • Force story on player

  • Reveal too much

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It’s a pickle

  • You want to tell the story

  • But you don’t want to get in the way of gameplay

  • Help

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  • Player can solve this problem

  • Put that guy to work

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  • Things we do at the same time:

  • work

  • surf the web

  • IM

  • answer phones

  • eat lunch

  • talk to coworkers

  • wish we were doing something else

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  • We have all become multitaskers

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  • How to integrate without distracting?

  • Think of game space as a stage:

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  • Front of the stage = gameplay

  • Back of the stage = story

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  • Tell story AROUND the player, instead of TO the player

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  • Tell story in bite-size chunks

  • Run it in background

  • Tie only loosely to gameplay

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  • Breadcrumb the story

  • Little at a time, early and often

  • Use this to pace the story

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  • This makes story portable

  • Can move story around level to match game design

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  • Baird & The Cole Train

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  • Everything contributes to story

  • Visuals, audio...

  • Call out in story meetings

  • Designed for gameplay, but helps story too

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Backstage Good

  • Story runs parallel to gameplay

  • Story builds naturally

  • Story is portable, adjustable

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  • 1 2 3

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  • Script review process can be painful

  • What to leave in? What to cut?

  • Always pressure to cut

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  • What always makes the cut:

  • Gameplay instructions

  • Often story is reduced to:

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  • Why does this happen so often?

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My big fat theory

  • No clear right or wrong with scripts

  • Uncharted waters for most devs

  • Fall back on approach that works

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  • 90% of the writing in this industry looks like this

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  • Code is great

  • Without it, none of us would here today

  • BUT

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  • Stories that are built only on logical sequence of events fall short

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  • Good stories are more than logical:

  • They are true

  • Not the same thing

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  • Stories help us understand who we are

  • And we need that help

  • We’re crazy!

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  • The writing we do for each other - in stories - works when it’s rooted in human behavior, in what drives us and moves us

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  • Your player interacts emotionally with your game - hopefully: that’s the goal

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  • Your player is already emotional

  • With a throughline, you can add structure to that experience

  • Send him from Point A to Point B

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  • Send him on an adventure

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  • But what is a throughline?

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It’s Friday night

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  • Children of Men is about one man’s journey from despair to hope

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  • ...but that IS what it’s about

  • That’s the throughline

  • That’s where the story goes, from beginning to end

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  • Children of Men trailer

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  • The throughline is your story’s engine

  • It’s what pushes the story forward

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  • But wait

  • Doesn’t this force a player to listen to dev’s story, instead of creating his own?

  • Not necessarily

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Throughline for games

  • Build throughline in the game itself

  • Have the player experience it and impact it through his actions (gameplay)

  • Use mirror neurons, backstage

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Throughlines Good

  • Simple, flexible

  • Gives you freedom to iterate game and script 100 + times

  • Keeps story in focus

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  • Gives your writer something to work with

  • Helps you make informed decisions about drafts, edits

  • Saves time and money

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wrapping it up

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  • Storytelling = group effort

  • These are tools the entire team can use

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How to use these tools?

  • As a checklist

  • Taped over my desk

  • Every script revision & story meeting

  • Both conceptual & analytical tools

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  • 1 mirror neurons

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  • back 2 stage

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  • throughline3

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Good luck

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