Post­cards From The Clip­ping Plane

Con­ve­niently ig­nor­ing the se­ri­ous side of videogame de­vel­op­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - JAMES LEACH James Leach is a BAFTA Award-win­ning free­lance writer whose work fea­tures in games and on tele­vi­sion and ra­dio

Ten New Year’s res­o­lu­tions for devs, sug­gested by James Leach

As we ap­proach a new year of games writ­ing, the time has come once more to cre­ate a set of res­o­lu­tions to ap­ply to the ti­tles be­ing cre­ated in 2016. Of course, like all res­o­lu­tions, they’re not worth any­thing and can get con­ve­niently for­got­ten by March, but it’s the prin­ci­ple of the thing.

The first res­o­lu­tion is to avoid flash­backs. I mean, who really likes flash­backs? It’s im­pos­si­ble to see them with­out be­ing aware that it’s the most ob­vi­ous way of telling you what you need to know or, worse, what you should al­ready know. When you’re in front of a flash­back, you’re not in the game or the story. You’re sim­ply learn­ing some­thing you’ll need to call on later. And worse, you’re think­ing, ‘When will this flash­back be over?’

Res­o­lu­tion two is not hir­ing fa­mous peo­ple as voices. The prob­lem here is so many games are de­lighted to have se­cured the ser­vices of a star that they play up to it. “Wow. We’ve got Billy Fa­mous-guy. Let’s write stuff that sounds like Dr Mur­der be­cause, ha ha, he’s fa­mous for play­ing Dr Mur­der in those films. Ev­ery­one will be aware that we’ve got Dr Mur­der on board. Our work here is done.” The trou­ble is that a year later the game has a se­ries of outof-con­text and, gasp, un­funny asides, which only serve to re­mind the player that Billy Fa­mous-guy was in a ca­reer down­turn, had just come out of re­hab and was go­ing through a messy di­vorce, but can still im­pose his own brand of an­ar­chy on three videogame di­a­logue writ­ers and a bored au­dio en­gi­neer.

Res­o­lu­tion three is a big­gie. We’re go­ing to steer clear of ob­vi­ous plot twists. Yes, of course, a de­cent tale will have un­ex­pected mo­ments. Sto­ries are by def­i­ni­tion about over­com­ing ob­sta­cles and hav­ing the char­ac­ters change and learn from them. But this year we’re not go­ing to em­ploy the fol­low­ing tropes: (a) col­leagues who turn out to be work­ing for the other side; (b) de­vices that we spend the game re­triev­ing only to end up un­know­ingly de­liv­er­ing to the foe, and we’ve done the heavy lifting for the bad guys all along; and (c) the game-chang­ing uber weapon we’ve been tot­ing turns out not to be the weapon, af­ter all – we’re the weapon.

Res­o­lu­tion four. No. We’re not go­ing to try to write a new Trevor Philips-type char­ac­ter. Not now. Not ever. Shut up.

Res­o­lu­tion five. What if the zom­bies are us? What if the zom­bies are nor­mal peo­ple driven to the edge by be­ing con­stantly ex­posed to the Daily Mail web­site? What if we’re driven to zom­biedom by the world we’ve know­ingly bought into? We’d have to shuf­fle to­wards an in­creas­ingly pan­icky army and po­lice force, sure of vic­tory only through our sheer num­bers. This res­o­lu­tion isn’t a neg­a­tive one. I really want to make this game. And 2016 is the year it’ll hap­pen. I just need a mind­less team of hun­dreds to code it for me.

Res­o­lu­tion six. Let’s not keep be­liev­ing that find­ing out what hap­pens next is its own re­ward. Yes, we can see there’s a pos­si­bly fix­able shut­tle to that tan­ta­lis­ingly close and be­guil­ing land over there. We know that’s where we’re headed, but we’re al­ready aware that what awaits us is a dif­fer­ently coloured map and the same weaponry but with twice the power. Oh, and the en­e­mies there will be just slightly more than twice as hard to mow down.

There isn’t a res­o­lu­tion seven. Un­less you can un­lock it. That will re­quire the hid­den res­o­lu­tion five b, which you missed. Go back. It’ll be worth it. Or sim­ply go to the Edge web­site and down­load it.

Women. They’re res­o­lu­tion eight. All I need to say is un­tapped mar­ket. I could add the words so­cial me­dia, safe­guards and kit­tens. None of this mat­ters be­cause fe­males play the games they like, not the games that are writ­ten for them. Or do they? We should ask some. Should we? Oh, this is a mine­field.

Res­o­lu­tion nine. Any game in which you have to fol­low or es­cort an NPC who trav­els faster than you can walk but slower than you can run must be can­celled, and those work­ing on it must have their eyes put out. Bonus ear dam­age to the de­vel­oper via a pool cue may be awarded if the NPC re­peat­edly ut­ters no more than four ran­dom phrases along the lines of “keep up” or “where are you go­ing?”

Res­o­lu­tion ten is a sim­ple one. Let’s not aim for edgi­ness by putting swear­ing, harsh rap mu­sic and achingly now phrases like ‘on fleek’ and ‘ FOMO’ in our games. As an in­dus­try we’re chiefly fortysome­thing white guys who drive in­ap­pro­pri­ately sporty cars and prop our sun­glasses on our heads. Our teenage chil­dren will not thank us for try­ing to be like them.

And there it is. A sim­ple credo for a bet­ter videogame in­dus­try in 2016.

Any game in which you fol­low an NPC who trav­els faster than you can walk but slower than you can run must be can­celled

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.