Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Million Dollar Actor, Five Dollar Writer

Shamus Young | 15 Jan 2010 21:00
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Stories in games often suck, and they don't need to.

There. Made my point. See you next week.

Oh. You want to see some sort of thought process behind this line of thinking? Sigh. Fine.

I've heard the argument that "games are about gameplay, not about story". Pong didn't have a story. Neither did Pac-Man, etc. That's all fine and good. A game doesn't have to tell a story to be good. I'm not suggesting that Lumines would have been a better game if developer Q Entertainment had added a plot about saving the world from space aliens by matching squares of colored blocks and hired Liam Neeson to play the part of the Haggard Scientist who Knows All The Answers But Nobody Will Listen. (That role should go to Jeff Goldblum anyway.) The game had flashy colors and music that stimulated the pleasure centers of the optic nerve. And that was enough. But I am suggesting that if a game is going to take the time to tell a story with flashy cinematics, then there's no excuse for it to be stupid nonsense.

Let's break it down:

For your average five-minute cutscene, you need the following:

1) Someone to write five minutes of dialog.

2) Voice actors to perform the scene.

3) An audio technician to capture the audio and get it into the game, as well as a director to guide the performance.

4) A motion-capture actor or actors to enact the scene.

5) The motion-capture technicians to grab that animation data and get it into the game, as well as a director to guide the performance.

6) A 3D artist to build the characters.

7) A musician to score the thing.

8) A few more artists to build the scenery, create the texture maps, set up the lighting, add the props, and set up various things like particle effects.

9) And finally, you'll need someone to bring it all together, script it, and either capture it as video or put the scene into the game engine.

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