Writing and Design

Steve Ince, freelance writer and game designer, posts thoughts and comments on these two meaningful aspects of his life.

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Name: Steve Ince

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leipzig Fun

I just got back from Leipzig and while I'm waiting for millions of e-mails to download I thought I'd post some thoughts and comments about the show and some of the goings on. Firstly, the main reason I was there in the first place:

So Blonde - Nintendo Version
In a very well-attended press conference, DTP announced, along with showing Venetica and Divinity 2, a new So Blonde game.

What we're doing for this game, which is for the Nintendo Wii and DS, is to create something that we believe encapsulates a very unique approach.

We didn't want to do a straight port of the PC version, so we started with the original premise, and created a "What if..." game by posing the question, "What if Sunny had first landed on the dark side of the island and befriended One-eye?"

This gives us the opportunity to explore the ideas, themes and characters a new way as the story of Sunny's time on the island is seen from a different perspective.

Because the story unfolds differently to the PC version, the story and dialoge have been re-written and the gameplay re-designed. We introduce totally new characters - one of whom is player controlled for part of the game - and new locations. Some characters and locations that were in the PC game will not appear in this version because the new story takes a different path. Some of the locations are common to both games, but a number of them have been re-drawn to fit the Nintendo systems, such is the care and attention being lavished on this new game.

So, what we have is a new game that's not a sequel. Each game (PC and Nintendo versions) is a stand-alone game, but those players who play both games will be rewarded with a richer feeling for the characters, story and the history of the island.

For me, it was a fantastic opportunity to work on something with a very original twist and do so with characters I know and love so well. In many respects it was more enjoyable than the first time around because I could explore new aspects of the characters' relationships.

Venetica and Divinity 2
As I already meantioned above, DTP were showing both of these games at Leipzig and I was very impressed by each of them. Although they are RPGs, the art style and approach to gameplay give them a very different feel to one another. I think they're both going to be games to watch out for.

The Public Halls
I had a tour of the public halls to see what was being shown and was almost swamped by the throngs of enthusiastic gamers. I know that some people dislike the noise and the crowds, but I find it's quite like when I used to go to the fair when I was a child. I also think it's great that we have events that allow us to keep players excited about forthcoming games.

I was very impressed with the range and quality of so many of the games themselves, but two games in particular stood out for me - Lego Batman and Little Big Planet.

Lego Batman builds on the success of the previous fanchise games they've done, but from what I've seen it could prove to be even more fun than ever.

Little Big Planet (which had posters on billboards throughout the city of Leipzig) just oozes quality. I watched people playing all kinds of gameplay bits and pieces on a variety of televisions of different sizes and it really is worthy of the attention its been getting. The only question that remains - Is it good enough to make it worth buying a PS3 for?

Beer and Food
It was great!

As well as the work that gets done during the day, a convention like Leipzig is a great opportunity to meet up with existing development friends and make new ones. And the great thing about development friends is that they are both supportive of you and your dreams, but also make you question your creative goals - in a good way, of course.

And Leipzig is such a great melting pot of people from across the globe, where you get to experience different perspectives because of cultural variations. But underlying that, the one thing that strikes me is that in spite of cultural and gameplay development differences, you meet so many friendly people it's a pleasure to spend time with.

I also discovered something really cool - I can re-use a lot of my old jokes. The ones that my sons get sick of hearing, for instance. Though I was actually surprised that the following got a hearty laugh:

"What's brown and sticky?"
"A stick."

I'd like to thank all those people who where good enough to spend some time watching me demonstrate an early version of the new So Blonde game and those who took the time to interview me. Without the great work that the gaming press does (amateur or professional) we'd never be able to put over our new projects as well as we do. I'm glad, too that you're able to put up with my ramblings and jokes about stalking. Some of those guys were so busy we saw each other everywhere.

Other Work
I took advantage of my time at Leipzig to talk to a number of people about project ideas and potential work in a variety of guises. All the meetings were very positive, but I obviously can't go into detail. As soon as I have more information I can share I'll be sure to post something here. Just keep your fingers crossed for me.

You know, I'm going to miss Leipzig next year...

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Now, an important part of being a writer is understanding when and how to relax and this weekend sees the fourth annual Pocktoberfest. Looks like there are some might fine real ales on show and I hope to be sampling one or two as part of my relaxation therapy.

If you live in the area, or happen to be passing, why not check it out?