Yeah. I've been finding
recently that the best narrative experiences I've had in games, several
of them came in the last year. But a lot of them were not -- they didn't
feel overly written. It was just so well integrated into the design
of it -- I think as it should be -- it was
not entirely spoken, it was communicated through the universe.
DD: Yep. I agree. Well, what's one of the first big rules of movies? It's that if you have voice-over, there's something wrong with my script, because what you're explaining to people, you should be able to in visuals and cinematography.
we talked about, at Austin GDC, about BioShock's approach. Fantastic
approach, they used the medium really well, and they took some sort-of
'50s radio, War of the Worlds approach, and it worked really well. And
I was just listening to the talk today on story, that was the ad hoc
talk, that was my favorite one at the conference so far.
Like you were saying, the thing about superfluous characters, and stuff: There's so much superfluous stuff in games. It seems like things should be better planned, story-wise. They're constantly introducing new characters, instead of figuring out ways to make it simple and solid.
I don't know;
I think some of it is ambition, maybe? And some of it is just not knowing
how to create stories, and trying to emulate stories that are really
sweeping and complex, but they're not
really. I mean, you think they are, because they have all these
nuances, but nuance and complexity are very different.
DD: I agree with that. And what I would
say -- not to say that we have the only answer, or anything, but --
what I've noticed inherently, and it's starting to change, is that processes
that we can learn from Hollywood are very good. Did you ever notice
that there's a distinct lack of position in video games? We do it a
lot at Silicon Knights, and there's just a few other companies that are
doing it. But how many directors do you see?
And our philosophy: We have several
directors on a project, and with engagement theory, we've got content,
and story, artwork, game design, technology, and audio. We have five
directors. Plus my role on Too Human is as a director.
But how many times do you say, "Oh,
this person's the creative director," but there's no overarching
director. That person who's responsible for that game's vision,
from when you first started out, to the end. And so many times, in our
industry, do people pitch a product or pitch an idea, and by the time
they start and the time they get to the end, they don't resemble each
other. That's a fundamental flaw in the process. That means something's
wrong, and I think one of the things is lack of directors.
You know, if someone says they're the lead designer, that's not director. If someone says, you know, "I'm the lead technology person," or, "I'm a lead programmer, and I have a lot of influence over game design," that's great. But they're not the director either. And you need someone to take responsibility for that, to carry it from the beginning to the end, and I would like to see more of that in our industry, actually.
It started off being very producer-driven,
and I think Electronic Arts' model has been very heavily producer-driven,
but I think it really needs to change past that. There is a need for
producers, for sure: we need to keep on the schedules, we need to make
sure that the budgets are intact, and as Ken Levine said, we have fiduciary
duties to make sure that we're on time and on budget as best as we can.
But my role as a director is to make
sure that the creative vision stays on track to the end. And I have
producers and executive producers say, "Hey! Keep in line!"
but I'm always like, "What can I do to make this game the best
that I can, and keep it on that vision?" And when the game is all
said and done, I would like to do something at some point with you.
After you play Too Human, and it's all done, I'll give you -- and I can't do it before, because there are too many spoilers, but -- there's a one page sheet that we did, when we first started project, before we did any of that; and some of the dates are wrong, but beyond that, it's pretty accurate to what our vision is.
And I think that needs to happen more often in our industry. Not this sort of continuous grind and churn. I know the process is iterative, but the content flow direction from beginning to end does not need to be.