Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Sloppy Overview for the Nature of the Solution to the Ludo-Narrative Problem that I Came Up With in the Shower

Since three exists as the perfect number, I have used it's dividing properties to segment the solution's overview into digestible parts:

  1. Create a System to Govern Narrative
  2. Blend the Narrative System and the Game System in a Meaningful Way
  3. Define and Represent the Narrative System with Proper Writing and Audio-visuals

Each of these must come into being excellently and holistically in order for the problem to be solved in the game. Success in one area does not lead to a total solution. This means that a project would require the programmers, the designers, the writers, and the artists to all collaborate in contributing what they can to the whole. For most big studios, depending on how they are governed, this is probably a quite challenging route to take. It will probably take examples or archetypes of how this is done, provided by small developers, to give the bigger guys the template they need to all follow in order for big budget games to see leaps in solving the ludo-narrative problem. Or something, who knows.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recovering from Severe Burnout, I Look Towards Revolution

I have spent the entire past month doing absolutely nothing. The previous semester of school and Crawl had simply killed me. Fair enough though, it is quite advantageous to intimately understand one's own limitations. So I can not regard the experience with regret.

It is time for some existential angst.

My priorities have shifted as a game developer. Originally, my intentions were more to use development not only as a art, but a vehicle for fame, wealth, and love. Such things as I imagine them are ultimately worthless, however. Furthermore, they do not come from just simply creating artwork. Rather, other factors usually play into the attainment of such desires. One must know the right people, play the economic systems in the right ways, interact with others using a right spirit, etc. Plenty of people have enjoyed my creations, and some have even been inspired by them, but this does not lead to what I wanted. For many years, I saw game development as a vehicle for my well-being.

I am an idiot for approaching it that way; my current well-being is far beyond even marginally comfortable standards.

Pursuing a life in game development (amongst other, less honorable factors) has left me without a job and a thriving social life. Essentially, in some sense, this road has led me to the exact opposite of what I wanted. I could quit right now and conform my life to the world's normal path to attain such things.

I can't. I love the craft too much.

My desire now, at least on the most important level, is to focus on others in the best way I can. Focus on others by way of creating games. For awhile, I suffered depression since I felt no one understood or respected this pursuit. I felt like a drug dealer addicted to his own product. In some sense that might be true. But the irrefutable truth is this; an excellent game can bring excellent joy to a person's life. For this purpose, to deliver joy, meaning, and awe to humanity, I create games. This is a noble cause to dedicate one's life to.

Okay, enough with the ridiculous existential musing; I am going to play around with some thoughts I have had regarding the project I discussed before releasing Crawl.

Basically, I want to get "story" right in video games. I have done plenty of reading on the subject and have seen many previous attempts. This does not qualify me to complete the job, but it has motivated me to take a risk in attempting it.

My focus is on allowing the player to explore the characters and world with plot as a sort of dynamic onward pacing of the forward motion of that exploration. I want conversations and meaningful actions/decisions. I do not want quick time events. I want dynamic, not scripted, interactions, and yet I want authorial intent. I do not want role-playing. I want a system generic and powerful enough to be applied well to any literary or game genre; the solution applies as well to a science fiction shooter as it does to a romantic comedy. I do not want a nearly impenetrable ruleset that removes all meaning from decisions for a casual participant.

I am going to write the first prototype in Java using a text based interface. This will not be the final form of the story engine; it is simply a temporary interface to start playing around with the logic systems I have in mind. It will involve two characters, one assigned to the player, the other assigned to the game, and will pit them in a conversation. My current metric of success is surprise. If I myself, the creator, can be continually surprised by what lies within the probability space of the game rules, I will be satisfied with the depth. From there I will implement more characters, events, plotting, etc.