Forword by the author:
Please excuse me in advance for this translation. I translated into English as I could. Perhaps in the near future there will be more high quality translation.
This article I wrote during long time, throughout a long and difficult period. Please to treat with respect my work. Your negative emotions and inadequate thoughts please keep for yourself. :)
I consider this part of the article exactly as a continuation of the first part about the archetypical classification of the video games.
This second part of the article has grown from separate fragments, which I added to the chapter “Tangents”, but over time I have edited and added new entries, and eventually it’s grown into something most voluminous. Often is difficult to add so much information on the single web page, so I divided the article into two parts. I hope that in this way will be more comfortable to read. :)
– So, we begin:
Many of novice developers and also those who for many years makes video games, sometimes asks himself: “And what is a game?”
But let’s think about the fact, what is the essence of the game, from which is made up, why we play it.
– All of us want that our own game will become interesting for most players.
First, let us remember why we go to the cinema, why we pay money and stay there for a few hours and look at the screen? – Just to see something interesting, possibly something fun, to know about the fate of some characters. Some of us will enjoy with the story, but someone else will enjoy with special effects. However, in the movie theater (at the cinema) we are only as spectators, who sit and watch. But in games, we do not just sit and watch – no! We are doing action (we act), and not just as actors, but namely as players. So, the player is more than an actor, because he can act as both an actor and as a director (like “actor himself” and “director himself”), fulfilling those actions and tasks that are prescribed by the main story or we ourselves can to invent something during the game and all of this is to achieve certain purposes, goals, targets (acting to the end of the level or story or to the finish of time of the round).
However, let us remember what is the game, in fact. To do this, remember something elementary. For example, take the simplest games, from those active childish, physical games in which you need to run, jump, throw, to count, to scream something etc. If you have forgotten somehow what you played when you were a child, then look at the children in the courtyard of the kindergarten or school. In such childish, active games, according to certain rules, you need to perform certain physical, vocal or mental actions for… and for what, in fact?! Well, it is simple – to achieve certain goals, performing some tasks, to count the points, to check the results of each participant and see who is the best or just to see how much anyone had advanced during the game. And further you can expect “fanfares” or a hit on the head, depending on the general results or just of your progress up to the timeout. Childish games are very varied. They can inspire you to do something great! ;)
Hey, but sports games – this is also the games!.. Have you remembered? – Wow! How much inspiration came from them, is not it!? ;)
And why we play in something? – Well, just for fun, to inflate “muscles”, “energy”, to train the brain or certain skills, to see or hear something interesting, or to touch something “great”…
Unfortunately, some developers make the games where you can just watch as a spectator, sometimes pressing some buttons (or just doing some single simple actions, such clicking here or there), all in order to see how the story will unfold and what will happen further with the characters. Such games were introduced into a separate genre – “interactive cinema” (interactive movie). It is almost like a game and almost a movie, something on the verge of arts. At the same time, it is not really a game, because not you by yourself perform absolutely all actions in the game and only occasionally push somewhere, something need to twist (and other minor actions). But the games, firstly, is a “living” active action of player, is permanent interaction (interactivity) with the game environment.
However, I suppose that the genre of “interactive cinema” will live long and will even thrive and grow. because with the advent of new digital technologies, the movie-game product (such as “the movie, plus game”) will allow for the player-spectator to choose any deployment (unfolding, advancing) of story. And each time may to review-pass something again the same moments whenever you want (for example, to see different evolution of the story, depending on your actions). So, this strange “genre” (although this is probably a separate art form) is very promising (has great prospects, perspective) and it should be viewed in the context of the fusion of the art of cinema and interactivography (art of video games).
Here I would like also to touch on an important, delicate moment. Some developers did not even think about the fact, that in their games need to add “a grain” of art.
Some people are still believe that the games is just a walking (or jogging) on some levels and shooting of some monsters, and “this thing” has nothing in common with art. But then not should to be offended by those who criticize your game from all sides, saying that it is full of stupid aggressiveness, full of meaningless (without sense) actions, soulless (!!!) and has no artistic value.
Me, the author of this article, am completely sure that the electronic-digital games represent the Greatest Art of All Time! And only in this way, whether it be at players or at developers, should be the attitude to games!!!
Of course, the players can perform certain tasks, for some results, but all of this will be just a colorless, transparent “shell”, in which, as in a “glass clock” will see “the rotating internal mechanisms” and no more. The developed game must be transformed into a work of art! And for this it is necessary “to instill” your author’s soul into the game. For this not need to be an pretentious art analyst (i.e. art critic!), or to be an outstanding philosopher esthete or an super art designer. – Is enough to love art as it is (art as such, art itself) and to be attentive to the details of the art work.
– for this, just invent a theme that is somehow near and dear for you (for example, about friendship, either during the war or in space travels, about the exciting “love between Earthman and Martian woman”, about the struggle, the fight against hunger in the poorest countries… in general, variants can be millions, and moreover, themes can be eternal or temporary, global or routine…);
– also insert a bright idea or a bundle of ideas (something like “that you should not to step on the same rake” in case if you do this or that, or about the fact that friendship or love can be stronger in the case of that or other happenings… again, variants are millions);
– as well, to your creation not forget to “attach” some metaphor, a symbol, an epithet (separately read about aesthetics, about the “figures of speech” – some stylistic procedures, which are not few; for example, “the anime” Japanese movies are full of such figures of speech), in order to infuse more artistic significance for certain moments of the game, to make them more special, more powerful, even qualitative.
– of course, do not forget to adds a hero and generally, to invent various characters (personnages; main-central, secondary, episodic), with his biography, character-nature (le caractère, характер), temperament, with its interests and goals in life. A detailed description of the characters is suitable for more extensive stories (plots). Although, for a simplest story, it would not hurt to be at least one simplistic description of the hero in a few words. For example, remember the game “Angry Birds” there is a motley variety of birds and pigs, with its special gaming characteristics, who as though are fighting, according to their interests, but the story in this game is just as a background.
Respectively, even for a very simple game, with a monotonous and ordinary gameplay, it can be conceived a character, specific for the game (– Hello to Pac-man!) -)
– It would not be bad to invent and artistic subject (story), at least one “as background”, for example, something like that: “Once upon a time lived some little pink people in a far country, on a small-small planet, in a corner of the galaxy. And suddenly there came an epidemic of “laughter” diarrhea. In short – a big trouble! And our brave hero-medic goes to rescue that planet, on the way throw the ampoules of vaccine in these poor and afflicted little people, who stay bended beside the old trees… ” – and here the main thing would be the chastity and measure in all. -)) And here is clear follows: the art is unpredictable, and variants – millions!
If into your game you will introduce at least one “grain” of art, then you can safely assume that has appeared a piece of art (artwork or something like that). But already how is the Game, let it to judge the greatest judges – the players, who PAY and enjoy (but if the majority not have any satisfaction, so blame yourself – and this means that it is time to change the conception of new works and generally, to change your approach to inventing games).
Such free-to–the play games, moreover only with the multiplayer, on expensive servers, are not long-lasting, they are all still be closed sooner or later, and for the next generation of players will not remain. However, the single player mode, created at least with the same functional elements, plus 5-8 levels, can raise the status of the game to a full work of art (artwork)! And if a single mode, together with the multiplayer, will eventually be sold as a normal digital product, then it is obvious that this fact will give for the game an existence for very long time. So the future generations will know precisely about this game and even will try it in action.
– I think that it is necessary to start thinking about this. ;)
The Old-ancient, Forever young…
By the way, I do not recommend to rely only on the story, while creating of your game. Do not forget that in the game, first of all, you need to play, and not only wait to see what will happen further with the characters.
As excellent examples are the old-ancient games on the old-ancient consoles, such as Atari-2600 and 7800 (was also the 5200), ColecoVision (you didn’t know ?! -excellent console!), NES or Famicom (it was also as Dandy, Simba and other clones), Sega Master Sistem (which was before Sega Megadrive–Genesis), Atari Lynx (release of 1989, an amazing portable toy, the world’s first with color display, + has exclusive games), series of portable-handheld devices Game Boy, WonderSwan and other. A lot of games on these consoles, one might say, are the games in the “pure” form. For today’s players these games may seem like some strange (but do not turn your nose from them!). However, in most of them there is no any “drops” of story, but it’s so exciting to play in them (remember at least about the “forever young“ Tetris, Pac-man, Maze Mania, Q-bert, Pooyan, Dig Dug, Galaga and other. – Hey, who said Flappy Bird?!).
Why so it turns out, is happening that in modern gaming blockbusters, with super modern graphics, we sincerely get bored sometimes (– as though not have what to play)? But look how interesting is to spend our time in these archaic games! It’s almost a paradox! But why? – Because in these “old-ancient” things is full of action, full of some interactive situations, certain tasks and with that simple “drive” that always attracts and fascinates the player.
I recommend you to come back sometimes to these old games, because they were as a foundation of gaming art and industry. And many of these interactive works will “live” forever. And not worth just to take and copy them – it would be too stupidly! They are not for foolish copying – they are just for inspiration. Keep in mind this!
Notes: because the old consoles officially are no longer manufactured, and the remaining older models is most often impossible to find in the free sale, then unfortunately we have to learn the old console games with the help of the so-called “emulators” – special applications that simulates game consoles. There are also emulators of arcade machines, of old computers and archaic operating systems. Perhaps these emulators (and old games) could be found somewhere, on some specialized thematic sites and some of them even being officially.
Story vs Gameplay
In front of some developers appears a question about how their literary scenario (either artistic or documentary) to transfer it into the game. Or simply saying – how to “transform” the story into the game. I will not bring too much details, because already it is the theme for a separate article. – However… Remember those active childish games and what they represent from itself. Also, remember that in the games, we are namely as the players and do, performs some action (and not just watching, like to movies) and that all these actions are aimed to achieve certain goals (objectives). Also, remember the ordinary life, in which we all act to achieve some goals, by performing certain tasks, initiated by someone or by ourselves.
In this case, it should to remember that any movements and in general, any activity, either physical or mental, vocal etc. (which are in your story) could to represent the game actions, transformed into game mechanics, which are harmoniously combined in the general gameplay (– Long live for the great Balance!). :) And if something will work badly, then just remove it, in order not to confuse, not to disturb the playthrough of the game.
Another important thing is how you will perform some action (namely as a player, staying in the game levels) and how you will look (through a virtual camera) at runtime of this action. Here I recommend not to mix the styles and methods of interactivity.
Linear or Nonlinear
To say honestly, sometimes I am very surprised (if not to say tougher) when I hear such foolishness that “all games will eventually become an RPG”. Maybe someone else will say that all stories will gradually become totally nonlinear? I.e. when in the games almost will not be the main story, but will present a conglomerate of different events, that almost not have some connection between them, except that with the participation of some hero or several heroes. But not one of them, in fact, will not be possible to name as “protagonist” (“main character”).
– Hello, Earth!? Perhaps you forget from what was begun the history of digital-electronic games and that the most popular were and remain namely the casual games, where especially there is only one background story or in general is missing such thing? And also the hardcore players (who actually played in this RPG) may NOT be the most numerous, but only casual players can boast with a large number? And you forget that the games are divided into various genres and even in separate categories such as archetypes? Hello, wake up, ardent lovers of RPG!
Although I, the author, am also a big fan of RPG, but I am not blindfolded and can good distinguish what it is kneaded at few meters from my face. -)
In short, let us not “to make an elephant from the fly” and with more opened eyes to look at things and phenomena that are present in life and in culture.
So the big question now is the following – you really need to introduce in your game a linear story or,
however, to add any branches, thereby making something like a nonlinear story?
But another question automatically appears: “But in general you understand what is a nonlinear story and how to make it?” – If not, remember that in the first part of this article, in the description of high-advanced archetype is written about the so-called “moderately nonlinear” story and “totally nonlinear” story (which may be called as “general nonlinear story”). And this refers exclusively to high-advanced archetype.
For greater certainty, I remind you the description of these story forms:
1. Story-subject moderately nonlinear: the main story obligatorily has branches, ramifications (quests – additional missions, which the player chooses before entering on the level, or already on the level during the game) which do not necessarily have anything in common with the same basic story. The game can have multiple endings, finals (but not necessarily!) depending on the one, single path, that the player choose for himself, or depending on the various decisions, made by him throughout the entire game.
Notes: and now remember the game series “Fallout” & “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”.
2. Story-subject totally nonlinear: there is a lot of ramifications, which have only the beginning from the setting of the game (about setting read somewhere individually). Some kind of main, basic story in principle does not exist. Also, there is no the main or secondary missions. The totality of missions (usually unrelated quests) make up a conglomerate (of different stories, situations and cases) that can be called as “common nonlinear story” (or just “common nonlinear subject”).
Notes: and now remember the well-known game series “World of Warcraft”.
For those who insist to write a linear story, for his game or modifications, I strongly suggest first to learn how to write an ordinary “linear” story, in which is usually present a single main character and a few secondary characters and usually there is a beginning of the story, growth, decoupling of the story and one final (here I am not your teacher – exists a sufficient number of more or less good educational literature about how write screenplays, plays, short stories and even whole novels – just open your eyes and look for yourself).
And then, after you have leafed through at least something from educational literature, you should to decide – why do you need namely a linear story (moderately or totally nonlinear) and how hard it will complicate the development of the game and how much time you will lose on it. When you understand that you have no little idea how hard and how much (–and it will be clear from the start!), then it is better to temper your zeal of pure enthusiasm and enable your intelligent, almost professional brains (– the modesty never hurts, yes-yes!).
So, if you want so much to include at least some “nonlinear” story into your game, then search for examples of such stories in other games and carefully study them (about the game series “Fallout”, “STALKER” and “World of Warcraft” I have already mentioned). But do you know where is better to study such stories?.. – In the television series! But you not to be too surprised! Raise your jaw! -))
– Yes-yes! Namely the TV series is the best source for the study of any similarity and diversity (almost to ugliness!) of the forms of more or less nonlinear stories. Such diversity you precisely will not find in the games! -)
Bravely begin to revise such unwieldy and long series, like “Star Trek: The Original Series” from the 60s, which, by the way, in addition to some quite stupid series, in each season there is an example of almost totally nonlinear story – that if to take a whole season, with 20 episodes each. And in total there are 5 seasons! I.e, if all the series of one season to place into a single “heap”, you get a certain big story (specifically – a story conglomerate), where different events seem to be so unrelated, that is not clear in general what, how and from where it all begins – but everything starts from the setting! (-Hello, World of Warcraft!). Respectively, in front of you appears an excellent example of a story almost totally nonlinear (I recommend watching this series with the already redesigned, remastered special effects from the two thousand years – just I care about your digestion! :) ).
Already in the next TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (where are 7 seasons!) when you put in the “story heap” all the episodes of the one season, we obtain a moderately nonlinear story, which is very pale, but you can see a single general line of story, also named as general storyline (or so-called “red line” of the story), which is able to unite almost all the episodes of the season.
In a series of the same universe, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, when we put in a heap the episodes of the one season, we get a clearer “red line” of the story (which brings together the episodes). For example, at the beginning of one of the seasons was the brutal attack on Earth (from yet unknown species of aliens), which killed millions of people. The glorious captain of starship Enterprise begins to investigate the incident, from episode to episode, throughout the season, and finally he finds out what was the cause of the attack of aliens, who “ordered” the attack and what the connection has this case with the history of the Earth in a more distant future, which in a “mysterious” way, influenced the past. – Even if in each episode has its own story (subject, plot), with a beginning, growth (or advancement of story) and ending, this “red line” of general story unites under him all the remaining episodes of the season.
Also, for the sake of professional interest you can see “Battlestar Gallactica” (sci-fi series of the two thousandth’s, a remake of the one older, almost childish show of 80th years), which is an excellent example of the series with moderately-nonlinear story (and again, if put all series of the one season in a single “heap” – an excellent way to understand the stories of serials – fast, cheap and cheerful, being said). The series “Star Gate SG-1” is also an excellent example of a moderately nonlinear story – there is the whole 10 seasons! (–Well, yes, I really like science-fiction. But what?). :)
But you want an example of a generalized serial story. where in each episode (like the game quest) have their own separate characters and even separate “universe-settings”, even if it’s too much ?! – Then watch the TV series “The Outer Limits” (one of the oldest television series, which in its time, partly have inspired the producer of the series “Star Trek”).
Most interesting in this series is that in each episode separately there is a classical story structure, with a beginning, growth-advancement of story, denouement and the finale. Respectively, these episodes separately are an excellent example of linear stories – is good for learning at the beginning! -) But if all episodes of the one season is collected in a “heap”… well, you already understand. -)
Someone would ask: – “And besides all this, is it possible to apply the story structure of TV series on the games?” The answer: – Of course!
I warmly remember the game “Star Trek: Elite Force-2” (2003, engine idTech-3 from “Quake-3 Arena”) – a mixture of shooter with RPG elements, advanced archetype. In this game is perfectly combined the spirit of the series in general (by “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Voyager”), as well a serial structure. Although there practically is absent (there is no) the nonlinear structure of the story, but the whole game in general reminds one large serial season! Exists there a separate episodes-missions, which seem to be unrelated to each other, but ultimately, they are tightly united by one single “red line” of generally, basic story, which results to one common finale.
Notes: I recommend to watch high quality TV series (such as those that are written above), and not the trash like “soap operas”, where there is usually some kind of Mary-Girl who becomes pregnant from someone like Juan Cock. But then, Juan flees to another country, under the pretext that is necessary to make an epilation of the chest and groin area in the beauty-As-salon. But is discovered that he was chasing by his ex-husbands, for whom he had left six children for each. Moreover, his ugly bananas-plastic “pride” has broken down, and also the batteries were depleted.
But in fact, is that the ghost of his Martian-grandmother pursues him on the heels of, since those times when he-She was JuAnIta. And all because the soul of troubled grandmother did not calm down, after that she choked on with saliva, where her removable jaw are stuck on the JuAnIta`s ass, after unsuccessful attempts to explain the traditional way of life, starting from the creation of the world. And now, a ghost of grandmother flees either for her jaws, or for the soul of Granddaughter-Man. In short, only Juan can know what the Cock was going on!
However, after the idiotic series like “The case happened in PussycunTown” and the next season of “The Shit of Fate”, the producers decided that is not necessary to mix vodka with liqueur and is best to move to mineral water.
But after a hot amorous TV “masterpiece” as “An ardent Zombie on the old lady’s bed”, the filmmakers find out that LSD does not help, and strengthened beer plus coke is better not to take more than ever. The most important that to have been born healthy children! Maybe grandchildren will be luckier…– It is better to watch “space opera”! Of course, there also exist different crap, but has less stupid routine garbage, and the science-fiction “foolishness” is much nobler and wiser. -)
By the way, sometimes in an RPG games is useful to apply such role-playing systems, based on points, as GURPS, SPECIAL (read about the “Fallout”), FUGE, etc. (or invent something separate). Although it’s not obligatory, but such systems significantly increase the level of quality of competition between the players, as well as survival rates, whether in single version or in multiplayer. These systems help you to grow the chosen character – i.e., namely it is skill systems. Of course, you can simply implement a skill system based on sale-purchase (+ detection) of in-game items, with their further modifications (as well as the crafting of the available objects, such as self-made, and if you’re too lazy, then give it to others to make). And for more specific skills and all sorts of things you decide already for yourself what to use – money (just buying the necessary skills and gradually increasing their level of effectiveness) or points (for distributing on the necessary skills and gradually increasing their level).
About the “perks” (abbreviated from perquisite) someone has already heard? -)) In general, decide for yourself, what and how to use them.
Although, to be honest, to improve the skills in general I prefer the money, but should somehow to learn the skills and to practice (for example, in the game to buy brochures and books with instructions, such as textbooks or to pay of someone from the characters, for your instructing and training; sometimes someone can offer this for free, as a gift, as the appreciation or instead of money, etc. – Hello “Shenmue”!) – in such a way it seems to be more authentically, truthful, just like in life. -)
The Modding as a Way of Learning
It often happens that some novice developers, who so far have not done anything interactive, they take some application for making games, with built-in editor and game engine (such as Unity, Unigine, Game Maker, Torque, Leadwerks and a lot of others) and begin to make something. After creating of something unpretentious, they stop, while continuing to dream of a “greatest RPG or shooter of all time”. Even working in a team, the situation are not too good at all, just because they not have enough experience. Here I do not mean professionalism. Just is not sufficient experience – this is it! So where should to accumulate a good experience?!
You somehow have a “super-cool” game concept? Or even a whole scenario that is “dusted” in the van, which still you dream it to be designed in a super game? But you still jump from one engine to another, from one editor to another – still looking, investigate somewhere and try to conceive some things, but you still not reach a normal version of the game and as a result you get some clumsy alpha version with a strange gameplay??? Also, in your concept are prescribed some meetings and dialogues (replicas) between characters (face to face or among a few characters, and sometimes even dialogues on walkie-talkies or at the mobile phones etc.). There is also a lot of missions, with the heaps of replicas, plus cut-scenes (cinematic sequences) with the movement of one or of several virtual cameras (which also should to be directed, as by a filmmaker), plus all actions of story will take place on some exotic islands (– for example)…
Wait a minute! – Do not you think that you have done your concept too complicated? Then what do you expect from a simple editor, in which you barely know how to move objects, which do not have tools for creating mixed animations, not have cool shaders for super detailed material, there is no editor of characters, and the editor of landscapes gives some clumsy polygons, plus the vegetation looks like a bunch of pixels that are always directed only with one side to the player?.. Are you seriously going with “this” to make your cool game? So what then?.. Again looking for? But you have done until now something like that? No?! And you do not want to program (to coding) by yourself, to making utility-plug-ins for the application that you liked, or even begin to make your own game engine with the editor?
– If not, then stop for a while, select for yourself a period for the accumulation of elementary experience!Choose an existing game, which you think is also “super cool” as your future game. Check it out if it has its own editor to create the most simle modifications to it. For studying, I would recommend those editors that are incorporated primarily in those games that contain any subject, some characters, different missions or even some simple quests.
When you create levels, should pay special attention to the study of the real world, so to say, for inspiration. – Look at photos, videos about real places, buildings, different interiors etc. But you do this
not because in your game to be something more “realistically” (–it would be very realistic in a fantasy game?!), but above all, to give even something authenticity for your virtual game world.
By the way, do not confuse something realistic with something authentic, i.e. with something veracious (also, veracity) – that is something in which you believe could be true. For example, if you made a house with roof, then it should be clear, at first sight, that is namely a house, not a clumsy dog house. -)
The most authentic (veracious) level design can be considered namely those, in which you enter and immediately begin to think that you’re in a place that really exist, even if it is a fantasy world or a distant planet (already, an not even good level is the one, on which you begin to have doubts, where some very bad details immediately appearing in the eye). Of course, anything like this you can not do from nowhere!
So, it is necessary to study the existing analogies (and generally any other analogies, more or less “authentically”, for your inspiration).
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