Plotting Talk

I gave a talk on plotting last night at a meeting of York Writers. I was pretty nervous, as many of the writers have been published, and wondered how they would take what I had to say. Thankfully, they all seemed to enjoy it and it fired up some interesting discussion afterwards, which resulted in us running over the normal…

Developing Thoughts 24

Interaction Density I came up with the term “Interaction Density” when I was part of a long forum discussion on the way there are no adventures targeted at 8-13 year old boys. Why did the likes of “Day of the Tentacle” and “Monkey Island” appeal to this age group when they came out, yet today’s adventure games fail to do…

Developing Thoughts 23

Back-Story No, this isn’t the story of how I’m in constant pain with my bad back. But now that I’ve brought it up, I wonder how much sympathy I can garner from mentioning the stabbing pains that run up and (That’s enough, Ince. Get on with the column, you pathetic wimp – Ed.)Ahem. Back-story falls into the same category as…

Developing Thoughts 22

Character Profiles Part of my current job involves creating the character profiles for my client’s project. Now, I can’t go into the specific details of what I’m doing (for obvious reasons), but I thought I would reflect on how important it is to do this work. Although I’ve already discussed characters, in an earlier column, this edition deals with the…

Developing Thoughts 21

Obstacles of Desire One of my favourite obstacles in a game was in Beneath a Steel Sky. Though I worked on this game, I didn’t contribute to the gameplay design; so I think it’s okay for me to feel this way. One of the reasons I enjoyed my eleven years with Revolution was that I had such respect for the…

Developing Thoughts 20

Puzzling Through the Obstacles One of the criticisms levelled at Adventure Games these days is that they can feel a little old fashioned. I’m increasingly of the opinion that this is because they contain these things we refer to as “puzzles”. This term can then create the wrong idea in people’s heads as to what sort of game adventures are….

Developing Thoughts 19

Shall we interface? Have you ever picked up your joypad or approached your keyboard and found that you struggled to play the game that’s in the machine because the interface felt wrong? Have you ever given up on a game simply because you were fighting the interface more than playing the game? When the interface creates these feelings in the…

Developing Thoughts 18

Level 17 Made Me Cry This may seem like I’m being a little slow on the uptake, but I wanted to finish off my two-part piece on mechanics design before writing this. Besides, it’s always best to ruminate on these things for a little while before launching into commentary. Reacting too swiftly to news, people’s statements and press releases can…

Developing Thoughts 17

Gameplay Mechanics part 2 So, it’s a week later and we’ve called the design team together to discuss the results of the brainstorming session. We’ve all typed up our thoughts or scribbled notes in the margins of the brainstorming list. The project is in the early stages, so we’re all really excited about it. We don’t care if it’s going…

Developing Thoughts 16

Gameplay Mechanics About eight years ago, I was sent a game design handwritten on two sheets of A4 paper with one very small map drawn in pencil. Most of the writing described a story, rather than gameplay, but it was clear that the guy who sent it thought that we’d just take it and implement a game from this. I…

Developing Thoughts 15

Motivation and Conflict Like many other aspects of game development, motivation is two-pronged. Not only do you need to consider the motivation of what drives the player character through the game’s story, you also need to consider how to keep the player motivated to continue playing the game. All games, whether they have a story or not, should ensure that…

Developing Thoughts 14

Dialogue? What dialogue?Part Three That this subject had stretched itself to a third column shows the importance I feel that dialogue plays in story and character driven games. As I touched on briefly last time, if vital game information is revealed through dialogue, conversations should not be separated out from the overall gameplay. This means that because dialogue becomes an…