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

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Lost Game - a scene

I decided to pull out one of the scenes from the "never to be published", Call of Cthulhu: Destiny's End. This takes place near the beginning of the intended game. Emily has taken car keys belonging to her father, Michael, and her new friend, Jacob, is waiting for her.

Emily leaves the house with the keys in her hand and her backpack slung over one shoulder. She holds the keys aloft to show Jacob, who’s been pacing impatiently up and down the drive.

Jacob: You don’t have to do this. What the Professor said about Innsmouth scared you, I can tell.
Emily: Then it’s time I faced my fears, don’t you think?

One of the house windows opens and Emily’s father pokes his head and shoulders through, shouting after her.

Michael: Emily! Don’t you dare take my pickup!
Emily: Shit! Get in the truck, Jake.
Jacob: You stole the keys? Cool!
Emily: He treats me like a kid. I’m twenty two for Christ’s sake!

Emily fires up the engine, slips the truck into gear and bullets out of the drive, narrowly missing another car travelling in the opposite direction. The other driver is forced to swerve to avoid a collision and Jacob looks back to check that the car hasn’t come to any harm.

Jacob: Your dad looks really pissed.

Emily looks in the rear-view mirror and spots her father running into the road, having escaped from his temporary prison.

Emily: I’ll worry about him when I get back.
Jacob: He had it coming.

Emily gives Jacob a look.

Jacob (smiling): It was kinda obvious.

At the end of the driveway, her father has stopped running and stares after his truck, fuming.

Michael (shouts): You stupid, little...!
Michael (to himself): Why is it you never listen to me?


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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The right tone

Last night I stayed up late (for me) and spent a little time on bits of a novel that I've been fiddling with for some time and yet has not progressed very well at all.

Much of the problem has been getting the right tone and voice for it and last night I think I managed to do just that. I was tempted to plough on with the novel regardless of this problem, but the task of re-working and editing would have been too great if I couldn't get most of the way there on the first draft. Prose is fiddly like that.

When I write dialogue for games, the important thing is to get into the heads of the characters before doing so and understand their roles in the game and how they relate to one another. Once done, writing the dialogue becomes so much easier and almost writes itself. Prose, for me, is more complex and harder to get right.

I can understand why an increasing number of novels are written in the first person - the prose becomes the main characters account and not some faceless/nameless narrator. Unfortunately, because I have more than one main character POV to handle I didn't want to go down the first person route. I don't think switching between characters works in first person - it implies that these two characters have colaborated to tell the tale in the book. Also, if the writer can't make the two characters different enough it can make the novel confusing.

My solution to the problem was to push the narrator POV hard up against the character's POV which actually gave the prose the tone and voice of the character slightly removed. I'm hoping that this will work particularly well when switching between the characters.

Perhaps I can make some headway, now.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Games Forum Germany

Next week I'm talking at the Games Forum Germany. I was rather surprised when I was invited and, of course, very honoured. I hope I give a talk they'll be pleased with.

I decided to talk about aspects of character, but I didn't want to go down the route of it being an instructional talk, so I'm hoping that I can just give the audience plenty to think about.

As I was preparing my talk there was one point where I thought I wouldn't have enough to say. Now I'm worried that I have too much, so today will be spent on a little polishing and trying to make sure the timing is right.

I know there's been a mention of the talk being recorded, but I don't know, yet, if that will be made available to the public in general. I shall endeavour to find out.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Mitchell - new cartoon cat

Another idea for a cartoon cat forced it's way into the now-cramped cupboard-under-the-stairs that is my mind and being fired up about the look of the character and the fun I can have with him, I've already posted the first cartoon online.

I hope you enjoy his exploits. Please tell me what you think.

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