2, Issue 9
January 24, 2000
the Mouth of Madness:
Some Thoughts on Game Design
of the things that surprised me about RadPipes great piece
this week on game design (check it
out in this here issue if you havent already
its great stuff) is that he made a few references to an
article I wrote several years back for PlanetQuake
titled Waiting for Casablanca. Sadly, the article
would appear to be gone forever, so I cant simply hyperlink
to it, but Ill do my best to summarize it.
was the result of my coming to the sudden and painful realization
that games, despite their claims to be otherwise, were for the
most part, lacking in any real storytelling. Of course, in retrospect,
I may have overlooked several key titles, but nonetheless, I wrote
this article criticizing the way the industry was going, which
appeared to be headed down a road filled with pretty graphics
and little, or no storytelling.
this was written before the release of Grim Fandango, Half-Life,
Outcast, or any other one of the many games that have been
released since then that not only tell stories, but do so with
incredible skill. Grim Fandango is an interesting one,
because youll notice in my review of the game I mentioned
that I was actually contacted by a member of the team at LucasArts
who said their game would live up to my expectations.
enough, it did. Whodathunkit?
has changed quite a bit since then. Technology has finally started
to take a backseat to gameplay (pure games like Quake
III Arena and Unreal Tournament aside, of course) and
this trend has produced a ton of great titles.
thing about hindsight when talking about games, is that games
(even the really good ones) fall into the bargain bin really quickly.
That means that games released just a year ago, can usually be
found for less than $25 if you hunt around.
that in mind, Id like to mention a few games that I feel
have some great storytelling. Each game mentioned below not only
has a great method for conveying its story, but also has great
characters, and an intricate, well-thought out plotline.
that in mind, lets look at some games, shall we?
(series): Both of the Fallout games are huge, huge RPGs,
but they also feature what very few games manage to achieve: a
real world. Until the recent release of Ultima IX: Ascension,
they probably had the most complete world (and in many ways, the
Fallout games surpass even Ultima IX). While most RPGs
have dozens of towns to explore, few of them are as well connected
as the ones in Fallout. Characters know each other, the towns
are intricately designed, every person, no matter how insignificant
has something to say. And each location has its own, unique backstory.
Not to mention the mythology of the games, which is actually well-written.
Fallout was missed out on by a lot of people, and thats
really a shame. If youre not intimidated by the size of
the games, check em out (and for the record, there were
some bugs that managed to make it into Fallout 2 when it shipped,
but rest assured, theyve all been squashed).