John Carmack’s bit about game stories, which are often porn stories, was controversial in the way that true things tend to be. It isn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be, but it often is.
Globetrotting military shooters illustrate this maxim fairly well: it might help, next time you are embroiled in one, to assign archetypes like Pizza Boy or Lecherous Mechanic to your various pawns. It’s not meant to be caustic, it’s simply observable. As a generality “good” stories are additive and “extant” stories are expected; it’s possible to lose on that axis but there have to be failures elsewhere. If you’re giving somebody a chance to play in big, dynamic environments with crates full of horizon tech while you incorporate the best thinking about interface the last ten years has to offer, though, well… maybe we can sorta meet in the middle.
I had a conversation two full years ago with 5th Cell’s Jeremiah Slaczka about what indie meant, and it’s something that actually takes some doing. I mean, Valve is “indie.” Right? Except they own the copyright on the digital equivalent of the carbon molecule. I’m not trying to denigrate them, and anyway, it’s not possible to. I’m just saying we might want to figure out what the term means with some kind of granularity: what virtues it supposedly represents.
I’ve been trying to figure out what has made writing the third episode of the game so different, and part of it is that there are thresholds of independence which exist on that spectrum. More than anything else, it is the responsibility that I find so refreshing. In many ways, my previous game writing experiences were essentially Work For Hire. Larger teams and Somebody Else’s Money tend to make blame a diffuse creature, and ultimately, decisions every person knows are wrong get made by “forces” that no individual person supposedly has any control over.
It’s not unique to games, certainly; it’s not even “unique.” It’s banal. You could be forgiven for thinking the very idea of these structures was to dilute blame, so resolute are they in purpose. True responsibility is a combination of
genuine agency, and
The credits on this game will be very short. Three people made it, and their responsibilities are clearly defined. It will be very easy for you to determine who you are angry at during any given moment! I vastly prefer this configuration.