In every game, there is the part that you do first. This isn’t particularly meaningful to point out–a game is a series of actions, so how could you do any of it without doing something first? –but it’s relevant in terms of design. Whatever a player is doing first should, on however small of a scale, demonstrate the basic experience that the player can expect. This includes mechanics, character progression, world design, etc. Well, when we started designing the starting location, we knew he had to fill it with moments for the player to experience, and I had this little idea for the player to pass by a broken-down robot in the dirt. I thought it’d be fun if the player could piece together the story of why that robot was there based on where it was and objects that were nearby. Certainly, the short story would be missed by most of the players, but it’d serve as a little present to the players who did see it. I figured I’d need to “convince” someone as to why it’d help the game, right? I never did need to though, because I brought it up once and now, as you can see above, they’ve already started working on it. Let me tell you, that felt good.
My birthday is this week, and as such, I’ve decided to commandeer the weekly Dev Update to tell you about the fun I’m having writing for Gears of Eden. It’s a side of the game that we so rarely talk about, and honestly? I love to hear people talk about writing and all the little elements that are included in it. I want to help you get a feel for the world we hope to create, but my biggest goal with this is to just maybe give aspiring writers something to chew on. Plus, hey, it’s my birthday and I want to talk about me.
On our front page, we say that “humankind is remembered only in myth and legend” in Gears of Eden. To us, this means that the characters don’t all necessarily agree on what humankind was or how to feel about it. Think about Hercules from the Roman myths: everyone agrees that he was strong, but beyond that it gets fuzzy; some people see him as a well-meaning hero while others consider him a deranged killer. It’s a complicated myth, but generally speaking, they all are. There’s also a tendency among cultures to try and leverage mythology for political or monetary gain, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense. Should you really be shopping at Pandora Jewelry, if Pandora’s Box unleashed all chaos into the world? I digress; this is about the fun of writing in games! Well last week, while talking about how the mythology of humankind would be treated by our world, Ben Sledge brought up a plot point he thought would be fun, based on a part of the original Planet of the Apes that people tend to forget about. (Consider that the biggest clue I’m giving out today.) I liked it! And, selfishly, I liked how perfectly it fit into a part of the story I’d been working on in my head … so I told him about it. Just like before, I was expecting to need to convince him to go along with it … but I didn’t. He just liked it! And, let me tell you, that felt good too.
That’s the real biggest thing I’ve learned while working on Gears of Eden. Of course, you need to hear people out and to think about the goals of the project, but that’s standard in any collaborative effort! What I struggle with, and what so many other writers struggle with, is how internal most of the process is. You can think about story all day, but writing is specifically an exercise in letting that story out of your head, to live and breathe so that it can grow into something even better.
If your story is for others, then speak to be heard. If your story is for yourself, speak to hear it anyway, because the only way we grow as writers is let our thoughts oxidize on the air. A decent final thought for this Dev Update, right? I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Next week though, we’ll get back to talking actual programming and design, so be sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to see that discussion as soon as possible! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your week.