Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Game design - character & story

Game Design - Story & character
It's taken me a while to gather my thoughts for this blog. However, gamasutra.com really has been an invaluable source that raises points I might never have considered.

To start off, the importance of good story and character design is a point that will never cease to exist. It is true that there will be so many people who will buy so many copies of a sub-standard game just because they can, but why whould you want to?
You would have thought the companies might have liked to bring next-gen to the storylines aswell as the graphics.
Take Mercenaries 2 for example, it does what it says on the tin, but what a hell of a boring tin that must be. Someone wants revenge, you blow some stuff up, get shot, yadayada. I suppose we've grown not to expect too much from a sequel but can't someone break that chain?

Character design can be typical and as I've learnt, also skin deep - http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20000720/gard_01.htm - reading this was a big help.

People judge others by looks first; how you compose yourself, characteristics etc. and we stereotype. This obviously applies to characters on tv, in films and in games as well. As Bonnie Tyler appropriately sings, we do indeed "need a herooo".
As well as being aesthetically pleasing to look at, our hero characters need to be someone we can relate to or look up to, someone we root for and not despise. A balance of background, characteristics, looks and personality will lead to a strong character.

Using Mass Effect as an example again, 'Shepherd' is a hero to be watched more than played. The story can be changed to a certain extent, and you can make her/him really mean but it's much more satisfying to see her emerge from the devastaion at the end, intact and the saviour of millions. Although you have control over how she responds to people, this doesn't take away the believablity.

The film 'Hancock' uses an actor's (Will Smith) real-life personality to conflict with what the audience should be feeling about him based on actions in the film, causing us to hope he becomes the hero rather than stay the 'bad guy'.

Personally, I have quite a typical attatchment to certain characters and stories, whether it be in films, books or games. I tend to like a touch of fantasy mixed with reality, so maybe odd creatures, or magic involved. The main character, reasonably good looking, maybe lacking confidence but still independant gets dragged into something unexpected, adventures entail and so on. Maybe a bit of a love interest thrown in, with a dark, mysterious, talented character. I'm also a sucker for some witty sarcasm.

I've put links to info on my fave fiction books on my other blog: