Category: Writing/Storytelling

Paratopic: A Game

diner

[~2500 words]

The best way to sum up my experience with Paratopic is this: The first time I played Paratopic, I didn’t like it; the second time I played it I liked it a little more, but the only reason I bothered replaying it was to get screenshots for this article. Nevertheless it’s an interesting game, with some neat ideas, and some good execution.

So, what’s the deal? Why is this how I experienced the game?

I was hearing a lot of buzz about the game on Twitter so I decided to check it out. (Worth noting is that since I started writing this, the developers have released an update which adds new content. I have not played the updated version. This is all based on the earlier version. You can get the game for yourself on itch.io.)

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An Example Of Storytelling That Isn’t Unique to Video Games Although Some Think It Is

-Or-
“Daniel Floyd Is A Fool And Raven’s Will Peck Out His Eyes”

snake and boss ending

[~1300 words]
#WallOfText

There’s this video posted by Dan Olson on his Folding Ideas youtube channel?/page?/account? It’s Daniel Floyd (writer for Extra Credits) talking about,

“…the very first game that I played that really made me… start thinking and looking for ways that games could do something with the narrative that nothing else could.”

For him, it was the ending to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which he states,

“… was the moment that lit the spark, that games can do something unique here, something that no other medium can emulate this in any way I can think of.”

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Examples of game mechanics that tell stories: Diablo 2, Starcraft’s Demo, Rogue, Star Control 2

riven-ferns-htrone

[~2700 words]

Recently I watched a good video by Mark Brown about the Last Guardian. He analyzes how the game communicates story through gameplay and he looks at one specific moment in the game. If you don’t mind mild spoilers on the Last Guardian then go check out the video, it’s pretty good.

This got me to thinking about other moments in games when story is being told through narrative.

Of relevance is an older post I made about Riven and how it manages to merge narrative and gameplay so that they are one and the same. The image at the top of the post is also for Riven, but there’s no storytelling going on there. I just like that view.

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Rewriting Variks’ stupid dialogue from Prison of Elders

variks-close-up[~15,000 words total]
[~8,300 words for all drafts put together]
[~4,000 words for “final” draft and final thoughts (this is really all I expect anyone to read)]

So, over a year ago I raged against how terrible and stupid Variks’ dialogue is in Destiny’s Prison of Elders. And to put my money where my mouth was I said that I would write my own version of Variks’ dialogue. Then I just didn’t.

For the longest time (over a year) I didn’t feel like going through the effort. Then about a month ago I suddenly felt like accepting the challenge I had given myself. So, I wrote my own version of Variks’ Prison of Elders dialogue which is much better than what actually appears in the game, although that’s not saying much considering the originals (“Kill them dead.”)
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Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 2/2)

sword-spin

[~3200 words]

Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 2)

CONTINUED FROM PART 1

[The Lugaru Dev Team has been working on an OpenSource version of Lugaru. Along with being free, OpenSource Lugaru also has a lot of single player campaign mods pre-installed, including my own single player campaign, “The Seven Tasks”. Check it out: https://osslugaru.gitlab.io/]

Map 7: The desert sandstorm

desert-start

I had fun with this level. People enjoyed it even though it’s very badly designed.

I got the “sandstorm” effect by lowering the view distance, altering the lighting, and altering the tint to the “fog”. The fog isn’t actually moving, but it still gives a good impression of a sandstorm. People thought this was cool.

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Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 1/2)

city-slashed

[~3000 words]

[The Lugaru Dev Team has been working on an OpenSource version of Lugaru. Along with being free, OpenSource Lugaru also has a lot of single player campaign mods pre-installed, including my own single player campaign, “The Seven Tasks”. Check it out: https://osslugaru.gitlab.io/]

PART 1 of 2

OH MAN! I have been trying to get through a backlog of ideas so that I could finally get to this. I still haven’t gotten through my backlog, but felt like jumping to this anyway.

I myself have dabbled in game design and modding over the years. I haven’t done much. There’s various reasons for this including that I’ve never had quality, modern PC hardware. For most of my life I’ve only had outdated Macs handed down to me by family.

Nevertheless, I figured that with all the analyzing and critiquing of other games that I do that it was about time I did some postmortems of my own extant work (some of my earlier modding, game design, and programming, as well as games I made on my graphing calculator, have been lost to history).

The first thing I’ll look at will be a mod I made for the indie game Lugaru, by Wolfire Games (aka David Rosen) (the sequel, Overgrowth, is currently being developed). I made my mod way back in early 2009 and the forum post where I posted it still exists on Wolfire’s website.
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Poetic Cartography: the use of decorative, non-utilitarian maps in games

halo-big-map

[~1500 words]

The first image isn’t actually a good example of what I want to talk about; it’s just a cool map in a video game. What I want to talk about in this post are maps that actually represent the level or playable space in a game, but which don’t actually serve a gameplay purpose to the player.

Let’s dive in.
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