I feel like environmental storytelling is where subtlety can come across.
If one can be deeply entrenched in the team and know what's going on, there's the ability to put those kinds of moments in.
JP: Yeah, I agree. I agree completely. And going back to environmental storytelling, you know, I'm a firm believer that everybody on the team is a storyteller. So the background artist that makes that texture that goes on that wall, they have the opportunity to be a storyteller.
If they understand what the story is, if I communicate the story to the team well enough so that they understand what's going on, they can create something that I didn't think of, but that they thought of, that's really cool. And they can put that on the wall, and it's like, "Damn, that's awesome."
And I think that's when I feel the best as a writer -- when other people come up with great story ideas and put them into the game, that match the overall vision. It's great.
As long as everyone's focusing on the vision. I mean I doubt that Valve, for all their intelligence, knew that "the cake is a lie" was going to be the story throughline of Portal.
But it was because they created these opportunities for you to see behind the curtain, and that wound up being so significant. And in Left 4 Dead, that happens as well. That kind of stuff winds up becoming the story, and the thing that you pay attention to, if you want to pay attention to that stuff.
JP: Yeah and I think Valve is staffed by a bunch of geniuses. I love their games. But, you know, I bet that they played that game a lot during development. And that story kind of organically came up from all the time they spent playing, all the feedback that they got from the people that played, and they were like, "Okay, this is something that would surprise the player, but would totally make sense in this universe." And that's why -- going back to why writers need to be on staff -- having somebody there that can take all this feedback, and rewrite something, and present it. It's very important.
And there's something to be said for being able to walk around and look at what everyone is doing. You may not always have the chance to do that, because everyone is kind of head down in what they're doing, but when you can, it's really definitely valuable.
JP: Well, Insomniac has a great kitchen, so we always get together in the kitchen to talk over coffee or whatever.
That's a good place to do it.
JP: Yes, it is.
Developers often talk about how ideas that germinate in random discussions between a couple people wind up being features that get implemented.
JP: Totally, and we're often talking about other games. Other games that we've played, and we're like, "Oh yeah, how did they do that? That one thing? Were they spawning their guys off-screen and then bringing them in there?" And we're like, "Well, we should try that."