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Clearing the Haze: Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS
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Clearing the Haze: Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS

October 22, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

I was just wondering, because it sounded like you were giving a lot of options to the player. I was wondering how much of the -- since it's obviously scripted -- how much of the direction of the narrative is given to the player.

RY: It's a linear experience. Because that's what I mean -- in order to get those points across, you've got to steer them in a particular way.

I think that people are a little unnecessarily afraid of the word "linear," because they seem to think that means that it's bad.

RY: Linearity, and not liking it, is because they think it's going to take choices away from the player. But we're giving them all those combat choices, so the way they fight is so immensely diverse -- and in the multiplayer as well and the co-op of course. It's just about making sure there are enough features and enough ways to play the game for you to feel that you're not being restricted.

Yeah. You just have to give people different methods from getting point A to point B that they can feel that they have their own amount of choice.

RY: Exactly.

The multiplayer that you say has some ancillary story stuff -- did you start out planning that way?

RY: Yes. Although [Haze is] a complete game unto itself, our plan is to expand that universe. So we've got an enormous amount of story and related events to tie-in. So this is just some stuff related to one particular story.

So more of it's there if you want to get that out of it?

RY: Exactly.

Okay. But you can't do it in the single-player? They're multiplayer maps only, right?

RY: Yeah.

How do you actually plan for story within the multiplayer environment?

RY: Well, it's more about the objectives. It's about them being related. For instance, in a very, very, very basic form -- I'm not allowed to talk too much about it -- let's say you come across a battle taking place -- that battle is what's happening in multiplayer. So the things that happen there are the things that you might be able to do because of how that landscape's been affected by the battle, is because of what you're doing in the multiplayer.

So in the single-player, you play through an area where you see evidence of something that's already happened, and in multiplayer you can actually make that thing happen?

RY: In its very basic form, yes.

That's a pretty interesting idea. I don't think that's really been done so much, and I applaud you.

RY: Thank you!

How is it being a full-time scriptwriter at a developer? That's not a common role to have.

RY: No. Free Radical are very forward-thinking like that, because normally what happens is that if you're lucky, you get in a freelance writer who will write the main script. But then you've got a bunch of guys who aren't writers, after that one writer's left -- guys like programmers and designers and stuff -- trying to write additional dialogue as the game changes. So you end up with like...

For instance, the main narrative of Haze is about 100 pages. The script of Haze overall is 1,000 pages. So that would've been 900 pages written by someone who didn't understand the vision of the original. So I'm right there from the pitch documents right into scripting the additional dialogue right down into the manual, to make sure that there's a consistency in that product and the quality of writing.


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