Monday, April 6, 2009

Vampires, Game Writing and Kitchen Sinks

I’m a strong believer that there is no such thing as a good pun, but I was going to achieve fame and immortality by titling this post, “Interview with a Vampire Writer.” Okay, that sucks too, but I like it anyway because I made it up and therefore -awesome. Then I went back and re-read the title of the post to which I was going to link, “Interview Without a Vampire.”

So much for that.

Moving on. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an interview up this morning with Brian Mitsoda, a writer for the shoulda-been-a-classic PC RPG: Vampire: Bloodlines. I still need to track down a copy of this game and play it. I like vampire stories (Twilight excepted). I like PC RPGs. The only reason I never made time for it was its rep for being unforgivably buggy. Another one for the wasted potential Scott & Jean file, I suppose. –sigh- I’m digressing again. 

Anyway, the point of all this (hey, that only took four paragraphs to get to) -in addition to being an interesting read overall- is that Mitsoda has a great, great quote about the game industry’s failure to separate good writing from good gameplay. (Cue my rant about Fallout 3 winning a writing award.)  Here’s the quote, but be sure to check out the whole interview:

I think if critics are going to focus on a game’s writing, they should analyze not only the marriage of the narrative to the gameplay, but set some higher standards for what they expect from characters, plot, and dialogue.

A good scene, a good line, and/or a decent character do not make a game’s story great. Bad writing is bad writing – it might not matter if the game is fun, but don’t score the story higher because the game mechanics were tight or the setting was novel. Ultimately, the writing really isn’t that key to a fantastic game, but for those that do make it a crucial part of their game and hype it as such, those are the games the gaming press should be a lot more critical of. And for those that identify themselves as game writers, critics and fans should absolutely hold feet to flames ad infinitum, myself included.


bill abner said...

Great quote

And Bloodlines is a Top 5 RPG for me. It's awesome. I never had too many bug issues post patches and I had an absolute blast with it.

It also has one of the scariest scenes in gaming -- that damn abandoned hotel. Jesus that creeps me out just thinking about it. It was so good -- I was tense and I was PLAYING THE VAMPIRE.

I was drawn to that game because I played the vampire RPG in college a lot -- I knew the world backward and forward before I ever played the PC game, so I knew the clans, the backstory, etc.

Still -- great, great game.

Blob said...

You might have hitpoints and not even know it, if you've ever subscribed to gamespy/fileplanet/ign/whatever.

Blob said...

Also, about separating good writing and good gameplay - the game industry sucks at separating commercial success from good anything. If it made lots of money, it almost always gets lots of awards. And Fallout 3 made lots of money.

Brandon said...

Twilight does not count as a vampire story. They sparkle in the sun for Christ's sake. Those aren't vampires, they're bedazzled goths.

todd brakke said...

Oh, the next time Twilight comes up in conversation with Angie I'm going to say that. I'm sure it'll go over very well.

bill abner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill abner said...

Angie likes TWILIGHT?

Angie's 13?

Todd that is gross.

todd brakke said...

Yeah, uh, well... what can I tell you? She also likes Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. :)

Brandon said...

At least Charmed had hot chicks on it.