Omg Jon Blow Is Teh Awesome / Writing And Design


Scott Macmillan, Macguffin Games.

Session Audio

Devin Griffiths was kind enough to provide us with audio for the session.

Session Notes

Dean O'Donnell's Notes

(from his blog)

This was Scott leading a roundtable that was interesting, but also somewhat maddening, because some of us were speaking different languages. There seemed a whole camp (led by Tynan and Scott) who saw emergent stories as the future, but admitted that the stories had to be interpreted (read, rewritten) by humans in order to become interesting. So AAR's of Starcraft become interesting because a human is interpreting what would be unintelligible if you just watched the game. Additionally, there are a whole host of games, all strategy titles, which have interesting events happen, that, when strung together become a narrative that was experienced by the player. Personally, I don't see AARs of strategy games as threatening the novel anytime soon. When the writer-types in the room (myself, and Devlin leading that charge) talk about game narrative, we still want a feeling of authorship on our part. Bioshock is pretty much the same story for everyone who plays it, and it has definite high points and lulls, which were designed by the writer and designers. Mostly I wanted to talk about Braid, but everyone in the room hadn't finished it, and that put a bit of a damper on that discussion. Again, Braid is being held up as what games are capable of as narrative, but everyone who plays it has more or less the same experience. Braid is authored, whereas King of Dragon Pass, and Dwarf Fortress are designed in such a way that interesting things might happen. And that's a big might. Most of the time, nothing interesting happens, but when something special does happen, that's the one instance the player remembers and recounts.

Scott Macmillan's comments

Going to have to listen to this audio… I'm curious what I had to say while both completely exhausted and hopped up on my own ideas. ;) Just to clarify - I don't think that emergent story in games is "the" future… I think that it and authored narrative are both parts of the medium - neither is going to go away or be supplanted. I think our techniques with purposefully molding emergent narrative are less refined than with the authored stuff - that's one of the reasons I find it so interesting.


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