Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Recommended Posts

 

One of the goals of art of writing is to be concise that is in fewer words impart as much information and atmosphere as possible as long as it doesn't overwhelm the reader.....

I only like your post cause well, this sentence I quoted is correct.  In modern writing, especially in the professional world, concise writing is stressed to an extreme extent.  Maybe a little too much, but it is what it is.  Obsidian definitely does not subscribe to the idea of concise writing though, whether that is a bad thing or not in the world of fictional fantasy game writing is a matter of opinion.

 

There's a very real distinction between what get's acclaim from literary circles/what the academics teach and what actually sells/is popular. In professional writing, concise and efficient text is very much the accepted standard.

 

In commercial genre fiction, not so much. The most popular author of the last 50 years is also the man most often accused of diarrhea of the typewriter. The most famous fantasy novel of all time is full of the most extreme purple prose, challenged only by the most popular horror/science fiction author.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a very real distinction between what get's acclaim from literary circles/what the academics teach and what actually sells/is popular. In professional writing, concise and efficient text is very much the accepted standard.

 

In commercial genre fiction, not so much. The most popular author of the last 50 years is also the man most often accused of diarrhea of the typewriter. The most famous fantasy novel of all time is full of the most extreme purple prose, challenged only by the most popular horror/science fiction author.

Not sure what authors you mean there, also don't confuse popularity with quality.  For example Deadpool is breaking all sorts of records as a movie.... However, if someone told me it was a better movie than say last years Revenant, which it clearly outsold already, I would call them an idiot.  Because they would be one.  Or do you think McDonalds is the greatest restaurant in the world?  I mean it sells more than almost any other so it must be the best .... right?

Edited by Karkarov

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

There's a very real distinction between what get's acclaim from literary circles/what the academics teach and what actually sells/is popular. In professional writing, concise and efficient text is very much the accepted standard.

 

In commercial genre fiction, not so much. The most popular author of the last 50 years is also the man most often accused of diarrhea of the typewriter. The most famous fantasy novel of all time is full of the most extreme purple prose, challenged only by the most popular horror/science fiction author.

Not sure what authors you mean there, also don't confuse popularity with quality.  For example Deadpool is breaking all sorts of records as a movie.... However, if someone told me it was a better movie than say last years Revenant, which it clearly outsold already, I would call them an idiot.  Because they would be one.  Or do you think McDonalds is the greatest restaurant in the world?  I mean it sells more than almost any other so it must be the best .... right?

 

The best? No. But it's very clear that McDonalds food is what's popular, not French gourmet. No matter how many food critics try and tell you snails are what's in, the fact is that hamburgers are what people are actually eating and what people actually desire. That's my point; just because something is popular with the critical elite/being taught in schools doesn't mean that's what's actually common, popular, or works.

 

The authors I was talking about were Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, and H.P. Lovecraft. PoE is a fantasy game; it doesn't make sense to judge it's writing by professional standards for memo's or by what the avante garde literary critics are into. If you're going to judge PoE's writing, judge it by the standards of the industry and genre that it's in. By those standards, PoE doesn't stand out as particularly wordy or "purple". It's highly descriptive and full of evocative language, yes. But not to an extent that's unusual--for a literary work in this genre.

 

For the standards of a modern RPG game, of course, it's insanely wordy. But I enjoy that; for me it's very immersive and makes me feel a part of the world, just as when I'm reading a really good book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

One of the goals of art of writing is to be concise 

 

No, it isn't. It is well known amongst those who read historical works or otherwise have an awareness of writing over history that 'conciseness', which now means 'plain simple words, short sentences, minimal poetic language', etc, etc, only became a golden rule for every kind of writing over the last century (at most). It is no coincidence that this has happened where poetry has become relatively marginalised, scholarly work has been forced to become basically a more pretentious form of journalism, and journalism itself has become so 'concise' sometimes that it is hardly worth reading. In other words, the insistence that everything is written in the same plain style has solved some inefficiencies while destroying many good kinds of diversity. There is no reason to say anything and everything should be concise as if there was one rule for writing.

 

That said, of course there should be good reasons to not be concise. POE's issue I would suggest is less to do with individual pieces, which are often fine, but their effect as a whole, and how you come across one detailed description then immediately another. Again, POE needed better deployment of writing, not "less writing". The basic confusion over this issue is why so many movies, games, etc. today basically read/sound like trailers + TV Tropes. "We have a problem!" "The [bad guys!] They're going to regret crossing us." "My [weapon] is with you." "For [homeland name]!"

 

 

I think what you're talking about at the end is "Hollywood" syndrome. Almost every line has to be catchy, and fit nicely into a movie trailer;) I personally think that's what killed Starcraft 2's writing.

 

As someone who works in a foreign environment, I really appreciate writers (and people) who are clear and to the point (no one wants to read flowery waffle in their second language;). In modern times, people try to be brief and concise to save time and to attract a wider audience. I don't think this is a bad thing. But yes, for entertainment purposes, its great to expand our styles.

 

In POE, sometimes the flowery works. For example, I love the text at the start/end of each chapter. It's largely waffle, but it has great mood. 

On the other hand, when I'm conversing with a character, like say Durance, and I'm trying to look for a point in the conversation, and he's just spiting out fire metaphors... yeah, that's kind of annoying. 

 

Edited by Heijoushin
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i tried playing planescape and couldnt even finish. heard all these great things but none of them were true.

 

i like the text, both white and grey,and im not finding the same problems. the longest conversations ive encountered so far, saganis life, durances bomb and the dead old tree lady, did not seem to suffer from a lack of concisisity ( just go with it). each reply option seemed to lead to new information. im really not seeing a problem with concisness here.

 

not trying to start trouble but i play these games to read. i like reading or knowing whats going on. if sagani says she liked my cookies i also like reading the extra grey text telling me she smiled, or half smiled or had a sarcastic eye roll when she said it. different things to different people i guess, but every bit of text doesnt have to reward me or mean something down the road. it ok for it to just be fun meaningless text about a single situation. diablo 2 was different. i didnt care to know every bit of landscape detail or facial expression. this game i do though.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

One of the goals of art of writing is to be concise

No, it isn't. It is well known amongst those who read historical works or otherwise have an awareness of writing over history that 'conciseness', which now means 'plain simple words, short sentences, minimal poetic language', etc, etc, only became a golden rule for every kind of writing over the last century (at most). It is no coincidence that this has happened where poetry has become relatively marginalised, scholarly work has been forced to become basically a more pretentious form of journalism, and journalism itself has become so 'concise' sometimes that it is hardly worth reading. In other words, the insistence that everything is written in the same plain style has solved some inefficiencies while destroying many good kinds of diversity. There is no reason to say anything and everything should be concise as if there was one rule for writing.

 

That said, of course there should be good reasons to not be concise. POE's issue I would suggest is less to do with individual pieces, which are often fine, but their effect as a whole, and how you come across one detailed description then immediately another. Again, POE needed better deployment of writing, not "less writing". The basic confusion over this issue is why so many movies, games, etc. today basically read/sound like trailers + TV Tropes. "We have a problem!" "The [bad guys!] They're going to regret crossing us." "My [weapon] is with you." "For [homeland name]!"

I think what you're talking about at the end is "Hollywood" syndrome. Almost every line has to be catchy, and fit nicely into a movie trailer;) I personally think that's what killed Starcraft 2's writing.

 

As someone who works in a foreign environment, I really appreciate writers (and people) who are clear and to the point (no one wants to read flowery waffle in their second language;). In modern times, people try to be brief and concise to save time and to attract a wider audience. I don't think this is a bad thing. But yes, for entertainment purposes, its great to expand our styles.

 

In POE, sometimes the flowery works. For example, I love the text at the start/end of each chapter. It's largely waffle, but it has great mood.

On the other hand, when I'm conversing with a character, like say Durance, and I'm trying to look for a point in the conversation, and he's just spiting out fire metaphors... yeah, that's kind of annoying.

Well said

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not about the length, but the content. When playing Torment Tides of Numenera, there's a lot of reading there and no trash mobs to kill. So sometimes I would go check out a new area and think to myself, "I don't want to read about any of these npcs, I'm just going to talk to that guy over there for a moment and then quit". Then after awhile, I realized that I get sucked in by these NPC interactions and I've been dropped into an immersion experience, I stop thinking of them as NPCs and more like puzzles and goals. That's Torment, not the number of words in the original game or IWD or PoE or item descriptions.

 

Mechanically, the npcs in these various different games are no different. They may even be in the same Engine for that matter. Yet how they are treated and how the interaction with the player is morphed, does change the experience. In Pillars, Josh Sawyer made it so that you can play the "psycho" build, where you can kill everyone, and the main critical plat would still work for you. That kind of design philosophy has secondary and tertiary consequences on how each NPC feels though. In an open world like Fallout 3 New Vegas, much of it is mitigated by factions and by the game environment. In a CRPG like BG2 or IWD, putting that kind of emphasis makes it easier for me to pattern recognize that these are NPCs written by other humans. Designed to be non essential, because they are non essential gameplay wise.

 

A puzzle isn't a puzzle if the "reactivity" of it means that no matter what random combination you use, you still finish the primary goal. That's not a puzzle any more. It's more like a maze for rats or a hamster wheel. By allowing that much freedom in the initial conditions, the obverse effect may happen, when the player realizes that they are in an artificial track designed to make that impression. Sometimes a tighter narrative, with more limitations on initial conditions and freedom for the PC, produces a more cohesive experience. Giving people freedom, merely makes them question whether they are living in a Matrix, if everything doesn't line up just right in the simulation. And in a CRPG like Pillars, a lot of things often times don't "line up" according to expectations.

 

If PST was more than 50% or 75% text gameplay, then Japanese visual novels are 99% text, 1% gameplay, 100% emotional impact. Since everything is in text, besides the simple engine code and images, it is easier to create alternative plot content for endings and characters. Pillars has something similar in the adventure skit mode, but they don't use it to that level, because there's no tradition of doing so in the West, other than the old adventure and text games. Pillars used that technology conservatively. Whereas using it to simulate a world where you really did "kill everyone" would make a lot more sense.

 

The often quoted classical academic authority is the line "brevity is the soul of wit". By some playwright who wrote more than 2 Pillars combined that is.

 

I transmogrified it to my own style "apathy is the soul of brevity".

Edited by Ymarsakar
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best? No. But it's very clear that McDonalds food is what's popular, not French gourmet.

 

Wow, wow, wow! I don't know where you are from, but i can tell you're using some particular point of view as a general argument. As a french guy i can't let this slip lol. I've several good friends, and there is no one i could ever bring to Mc Donald's. And the people i know i can, are actually more interested in the "convenient" side of McDonalds. What all the people i know really want here is "good, gourmet food", not ****ty Mc Donald's... People actually desire hamburgers? Well, sometimes it's true. But McDonald's? No. McDonald's is a default choice. We have many alternatives here (even for hamburgers). Last time i ate burgers, it was "foie gras, fig jam, steak", all handmade by proper crafstmen of my hometown. As i said, Mc Do is only the convenient option young people usually chose. Not the one people crave for. Definitely. And it may be the same about writting. I didn't like the writting style of Tolkienn, but i quite like the story he told in his books.

 

I'm not sure, even, that the concise point is really relevant. I don't think it's about text lenght. I use to think that people who can explain complex things in a simple way are talented. Because when you read them, it all becomes some sort or revelations, and you use to think "wow, i would never have been able to communicate this kind of mixed feelings of the character in just one inspired sentence".

 

In the same manner, people who are accused to be verbose may be people who like to use over-sophisticated language to explain their point. To the extent that neither me nor some of my good friends (who are all, i suppose, quite good with french language) can tell what his real point is. They are people who love to listen to themselves, imo. And now, you have the in between. The verbose type, but used to put an emphasis on details, where words themselves are as important as their goal. I would only criticize The second of my three examples.

 

Tigranes may be right in his assumption. That would explain why i was sometimes bored with text in PoE, even if well written, and why i was not this much in PS:T (aside from the "somldering corpse", where there were too much reading at the same time).

Edited by Abel
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The best? No. But it's very clear that McDonalds food is what's popular, not French gourmet.

 

Wow, wow, wow! I don't know where you are from, but i can tell you're using some particular point of view as a general argument. As a french guy i can't let this slip lol. I've several good friends, and there is no one i could ever bring to Mc Donald's. And the people i know i can, are actually more interested in the "convenient" side of McDonalds. What all the people i know really want here is "good, gourmet food", not ****ty Mc Donald's... People actually desire hamburgers? Well, sometimes it's true. But McDonald's? No. McDonald's is a default choice. We have many alternatives here (even for hamburgers). Last time i ate burgers, it was "foie gras, fig jam, steak", all handmade by proper crafstmen of my hometown. As i said, Mc Do is only the convenient option young people usually chose. Not the one people crave for. Definitely. And it may be the same about writting. I didn't like the writting style of Tolkienn, but i quite like the story he told in his books.

Thanks for your response.  I let it go because I didn't want to open the door on taking the thread totally off topic but I can't stand aside and not go "Yeah pretty much".  There are hundreds of industries where the dominant seller is not a quality product, it is just the cheaper one and often times also more convenient.

Edited by Karkarov

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to disagree with the statements that it's not about length but rather about quality content.  IMO, those who have this sort of opinion (and I'm probably one of them, so don't get me wrong here) are already predisposed to being willing to read lengthy text.  Probably enjoy reading books (and longer ones, at that) too. 

 

But I think that there is a group of people who don't particularly like reading, books, whatever.  They're probably the same people who clamor for more voiced content and less pure text.  They'd rather listen to someone speak the words or see the TV show or movie than read the book or read the text in games.  And for these people I don't think that the quality of content means a damn because they largely don't like reading in the first place.  And the more they have to read, the worse they'll like it.  Of course, in the case of books, they can just not bother to read them and "wait for the movie" (if one is ever made of the book).  But in the case of a cRPG, they have to decide whether or not they'll try to plow through the text to "get to the good stuff", i.e. the game play.

 

 

Anyways....

 

I'm personally glad that PoE stuck with the old BG/IWD style of being primarily text based with limited voice overs.  From everything I've read, voice work is VERY expensive and IMO any resources spent on it detracts from the game itself, i.e. its content, game play, storylines, and so on, which IMO should be the entire point of producing the game. Put another way, I'd MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, rather have a game with 10 hours of game play with limited voice work as opposed to only 2-3 hours of game play that was fully voiced.  To me, it's all about the game, not listening to lots of voice over.  (IMO, if you want to watch a story and listen to people talk, that's what TV and movies are for.)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm.... I actually don't like reading, whether it's books or whatever. But i agree with you nonetheless. I'm not a huge fan of voice acting because it use to disrupt my immersion and tie my imagination (and it's the same for first person 3D games, where everything is shown, modelized), all the more when a voice is not even near what i 'd expect for one character. Maybe the reason why i can read text heavy games like pillars or PS:T is that i actually know what is at stakes, and what i can get by doing it. And i know that i can get much of a wonderful gaming experience.

 

To me, there are more people who like full voiced over games because they're used to them. Too much. Spoiled generation full of premade ideas. But i guess there are not many of these people who actually played PoE in the first place. According to what i read on the net these past few years, to these people, the matter is all about text. Not if it's long, or heavy. The text itself becomes the problem. Because if there is text, then, this must be a "****ty lame game for old geezers". I think that people who gave a try to Pillars are people who are more flexible about reading in games, even if they don't like to read in the first place.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to disagree with the statements that it's not about length but rather about quality content.  IMO, those who have this sort of opinion (and I'm probably one of them, so don't get me wrong here) are already predisposed to being willing to read lengthy text.  Probably enjoy reading books (and longer ones, at that) too. 

 

But I think that there is a group of people who don't particularly like reading, books, whatever.  They're probably the same people who clamor for more voiced content and less pure text.  They'd rather listen to someone speak the words or see the TV show or movie than read the book or read the text in games.  And for these people I don't think that the quality of content means a damn because they largely don't like reading in the first place.  And the more they have to read, the worse they'll like it.  Of course, in the case of books, they can just not bother to read them and "wait for the movie" (if one is ever made of the book).  But in the case of a cRPG, they have to decide whether or not they'll try to plow through the text to "get to the good stuff", i.e. the game play.

 

 

Anyways....

 

I'm personally glad that PoE stuck with the old BG/IWD style of being primarily text based with limited voice overs.  From everything I've read, voice work is VERY expensive and IMO any resources spent on it detracts from the game itself, i.e. its content, game play, storylines, and so on, which IMO should be the entire point of producing the game. Put another way, I'd MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, rather have a game with 10 hours of game play with limited voice work as opposed to only 2-3 hours of game play that was fully voiced.  To me, it's all about the game, not listening to lots of voice over.  (IMO, if you want to watch a story and listen to people talk, that's what TV and movies are for.)

 

That's not a problem with the writing, that's a problem with people in general. The only way to get all humans to agree is when you point a gun at their heads, apart from that, they disagree about all kinds of things.

 

So some people want short term benefits, at the sacrifice of long term. Others are the opposite. Others don't care either way.

 

Some family may have the patience to work their way up the social ladder from immigrants to blue collar to something higher up, over generations. Other families may just be satisfied with tv, public transportation, and a food stamp system for about 4 generations.

 

Changing the product you offer to people isn't going to change people's priorities. That's up to their own choices. There are plenty of people online and on youtube who just skip through [written] dialogue. In a sense, they are more audio learners than visual linguistic. 71 different ways to learn.

Edited by Ymarsakar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd agree, but some will choose the gun. Well, I guess those guys will die and the rest will agree.


bother?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, there are more people who like full voiced over games because they're used to them. Too much. Spoiled generation full of premade ideas. 

 

I completely disagree with this. I've played games since the 80s, love to read huge fantasy and sci fi books, and I vastly prefer voice acting. Why? Because it adds depth to the characters. While the first voice acting attempts in the early 2000s were so bad that it was almost impossible to prefer it over straight text, these days voice acting is quite good and add a lot to games ... it's as simple as imagining those you interact with on a daily basis having no voice - communication would be through either writing or (I guess) sign language. Whether you realize it or not, you attach emotions to that persons voice - it's meaningful, and it characterizes them. Same with video games, which is why voice acting is so important. That said, due to limited resources, I don't think all lines need to be spoken - but having voice acting is important in video games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Voice acting has gotten better but it's still often bad. And bad voice acting is not only bad in and of itself, it prevents players from imagining the characters in a different way. Just like Mona Lisa doesn't become necessarily better if 3D animated, adding more detail isn't always a positive thing.

 

One major problem with VA is not the VA itself but how it hurts good writing. VA makes it much more difficult and costly to edit/change lines, or to write as much as the situation demands. You end up with lines that are not sufficiently polished, lines that no longer suit the final plot/situation, lines that seem too squashed, etc. as a result.

 

I'm supportive of VA when the budget is used to get the really good voice acting and iterate it right - spend that million dollars on one or two characters done properly (the money is often about studio time as much as expensive professionals).

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's highly dependant on what games we are talking here. If that's pop-corn blockbusters like Dragon Age or Mass Effect than yes, voice acting is rather mandatory, but cRPG is actually floating unique genre that binds together literature, music and visual arts. If individual used to reading alot, in my humble opinion that person has pretty vivid imagination and even superb VA may ruin it. I can't speak for all, but for me it's often the case, the voice and manner of speaking of certain charater sometimes breaking up real bad from what I imagine would fit. 

On the side note, specifically for PoE VA breaks narrative flow pretty hard, I just can't get over it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

people forget.  for more than a decade following ps:t's underwhelming (from a sales pov) release, black isle and obsidian (and bioware too) would invariably reassure players by observing that their new titles would not have as much text as ps:t.  bioware adopted a loose 3-line guide 'cause o' feedback from bg 1 and ps:t.  why?  'cause folks stopped reading.  people started clicking through some o' the more tedious ps:t dialogues and descriptions w/o even trying to read.

 

and again, sales o' ps:t were terribad... took Years to finally get into the black, and only after it were eventual released as a two-for with soul bringer. as much as some folks loved ps:t, too many people did not.

 

...

 

ps:t is still our favorite crpg, but we got loads o' complaints 'bout it, and not just 'bout the bad combat and buggy release.  ps:t writers indulged in excessive exposition and lugubrious navel gazing that frequently set our teeth on edge.  many characters in ps:t gots kinda cheesy theories o' metaphysics that they wanna share with you... in detail.  a kinda comic book profound is what writers seemed to be aiming and they made similar reliance on exposition as one expects from anime or comics.   show, don't tell-- is a writer's axiom.  coaxmetal didn't do a damn thing.  stood largely stationary in the siege tower and tried to wow us with creation-through-destruction philosophy... or were it destruction-through-creation?  doesn't matter.  were not particular deep or profound, and it were all revealed through clumsy exposition.  is opposite o' show don't tell... and were all too common an approach in ps:t.

 

on the other hand, a few o' the characters in ps:t is fantastic.  ravel is still our most impressive crpg character, and second best is a distant runner up.  ravel is not just the hag trapped in the maze, but is also ei-vene and marta and mebbeth.  ravel shows and not simple tells. to many, ei-vene seem like little more than a signposting character that teaches the protagonist how to interact with ps:t named npc and to also provide healing supplies, but she is an incarnation o' ravel herself.  with benefit o' hindsight, the puzzle that is ravel comes together  and we recognize the sheer scope o' her commitment and sacrifice.  best character, and single best dialogue encounter is the final dialogue with mebbeth after returning from the planes... after ravel is already "dead."

 

is more than a couple fantastic characters and quests in ps:t.  yeah, we gotta dig through all the clumsy/young writer clichés (ironic given that chrisA were attempting to avoid clichés) to get at the good stuff, but when ps:t does something right, no other game is as evocative or clever. 

 

regardless, black isle, the developer who made ps:t, was aware that their approach to ps:t coulda' used a  minimalist esthetic.  black isle did not hesitate to reassure potential future customers o' upcoming games that they would not be doing as much dialogue and text as were utilized in ps:t.  is not that fans were too stoopid to get how profound were ps:t.  the problem weren't with the audience.  takes more skill to be profound with less.  more text is rare resulting in better or more profound writing.  the actual problem with ps:t weren't with excessive text, but rather that the writers typical did so little with the extra text. no game woulda' benefited more from an aggressive editor than ps:t would have.  is good stuff in ps:t, but is also more than too much padding. 'course the black isle folks were still young and learning their craft.  they learned how to say more with less... some o' them.

 

point is that ps:t is a particular poor example o' economic writing. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

  • Like 5

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Planescape Torment does not cater to the same audience as CRPGs. They are closer to the card game sub culture, table top role playing and war gaming cultures, notably Shadowrun has a similar niche vibe.

 

The target audience is slim cut of the one RPGs normally have, but on the other hand, it connects with the "hidden unseen" audience, which is the novel reading grand fantasy/sci fi audience.

 

PST will never appeal to the average gamer or even average RPG focus group. Rather than the mainstream, it's opposed to the mainstream. Before Kickstarter came out, companies had little clue about what marketing group they were appealing to. All they saw was sales numbers, it didn't accurately reflect which meta culture, which mainstream culture, or which sub culture they were dealing with.

 

Without that targeting information, they don't know why people like what they like. One settled upon answer was mainstream AAA games like FPS shooters, massive RPGs like Mass Effect, and various other semi niche games like Minecraft or Sim City.

 

The audience that Planescape Torment, and now Tides of Numenera, has to develop aren't the people who read the game and thought "there should be less text", they instead need to push to target the sub cultural groups off the beaten track who wanted more content and more depth. When a certain demographic doesn't have a name for itself, it's even more invisible than niches like 4x or city builders or survival simulators. The people exist, but the advertisement managers have no idea where to find them or how to get money from them. Until crowd funding proved that these people existed. They weren't just nebulous "cults" that grew up around certain games like BG2, Wasteland, or PST, that are now loyal customers of big AAA plus games that satisfy their cravings. These people existed and they had money to fund a project. Not enough for the movie makers and AAA makers to triple their investment, but enough to do business.

 

Pillars has a similar target demographic and group, although not precisely the same overlapping boundaries.

 

Japan, of course, already has a name for these demographics that like visual novels. They even break them down into sub genres. Audio books, also have some overlap in the target audience. But computers can do more. They can combine art, music, voice, reading, and gameplay all together. Eventually the money investers are going to figure out that there's an entirely different media that can be constructed out of all these restrictive genres and niche classifications. Usually they wait for some proof that the numbers exist, but the numbers takes time to grow, culturally. But when something achieves that status, like Lord of the Rings, all the big money guys will want to farm it and rake it in, even though they had nothing to do with generating or growing the audience to begin with. When a niche product becomes mainstream, it's nice and pulls in a lot of popularity, although it dilutes what made the niche truly special. Ideally, this can be setup to run parallel, so that the mainstream culture does not merely absorb the sub cultures that made things special. Mutually advantageous trade instead.

Edited by Ymarsakar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a non-native English speaker(never used English in real life 。。in school may be).Just want to say  it is really hard to read some of the text in this game(actually。。。most of them) but when a character have the voice acting somehow it make things  easier . because the pauses, emotiones, tones in those sentences I cant be sure i got it right or not.  as to those new-words 。。 curse me so bad。 

But when gaming becoming a learning process ,i feel like I m really studying  the world through the words , ,try to understand every single word as i could ,kind addictive,but when i finished part1(just bought this game) ,just feel exhausted  :blink:

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, when the french version of the game was so awful, i used to play Pillars in english version (was the case for Wasteland 2, too). Indeed, it was... exhausting. And reading text became a chore. Because, after all, i never use english either in my everyday life, and i learnt it all by myself these past few years.

Edited by Abel
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been appreciating some of the textual descriptions of items (unique swords, armor, etc) and the spots you can click in certain areas to get textual descriptions to enhance your mental imagery of that locale in ways graphics alone cannot convey.  Both are optional to read of course, but I like them.  It adds to the feeling that the whole world has a well formed history, when even weapons have their own story to tell.

 

I agree with some people above that "verbiage for the sake of verbiage" isn't good, but I also don't want to see too much pandering to the attention-deficit crowd or the folks who believe in-game writing should be at the grade-school level.  There are plenty of other genres for that, including other sub-genres of CRPGs such as the Diablo style games.  I likes me some mindless hack-and-slash too, but variety is good, and variety was teetering on the brink of extinction for a while.  I appreciate that Obsidian didn't chase that trend too far.  When the vast majority modern games don't demand more than a gnat-like attention span of the player, it's nice to have a few left that reward reading.

 

Spiderweb Software are also doing some nice literary games.  Their graphics are 80's oldschool, but the writing is well done.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been appreciating some of the textual descriptions of items (unique swords, armor, etc) and the spots you can click in certain areas to get textual descriptions to enhance your mental imagery of that locale in ways graphics alone cannot convey.  Both are optional to read of course, but I like them.  It adds to the feeling that the whole world has a well formed history, when even weapons have their own story to tell..................

 

Yea I don't want them to take away item descriptions and the background stories of various items in the game or the books, I mean I love that stuff that contributes to the atmosphere  and environment.............but the text of actual dialogue between characters, the questions and the explanations... that can use some polishing......I hate it when I ask Durance a dozen questions and then after half hour of reading lines upon lines, I realise that I didn't learn anything special, its just the same **** that he's been saying in different words, since he joined me and more or less the same stuff that everyone else has been telling me about........there is just too much redundancy at some places. Same thing that could be said in 50 words, is said in 200 words with a load of non-essential info detailing every slight action of the character you are interacting with......there is absolutely no need to go into that much detail, leave some room open for player imagination as well..........BG did a lot better with concised approach, although it could have used a bit more text but PoE has too much of it, imo.

Edited by Brimsurfer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good discussion. If you're curious about where we at Obsidian stand on this issue, I can shed some light. (Although I'm just speaking for myself here.) 

 

- Concise is only the undisputed goal of writing to high school English teachers. (No offense, teachers! Those kids have to learn self-editing.) Many of what are widely considered the greatest works of literature of all time are so dense with words that they are unreadable to much if not most of the population. One of the hallmark traits of literature as a genre is that the authors commonly push the form in a new direction with a distinctive prose style. Hemingway did this with conciseness. Joyce is more at the other end of the spectrum with his more adventurous works. Both are considered masters. "Good writing" is completely independent of verbosity. (And frankly I never loved Hemingway, because concise, taken too far, becomes dull.)

 

- That said, we want our games to be readable. We are not looking to enter the literary canon by displaying our comma splice or stream-of-consciousness prowess. Concise isn't always the answer, but I think "clean" is maybe a better target. Does the prose have a nice flow to it? Does it avoid redundancy with its descriptive words? Are we breaking it up enough with dialogue that it's not wall after wall of text?

 

- We often were not clean in the Pillars base game. There are a ton of reasons for that. Rust, experience level (maybe 10 different people contributed writing, all with varying levels of experience), a lack of time to edit, a new setting that demanded a large amount of exposition, and a plot that exacerbated the problem by requiring that a lot of it be front-loaded. I cringe at plenty of my own stuff when I look back at it. 

 

- I do believe we're getting better at writing cleanly, and hopefully those who've played White March would agree that we're trending in the right direction. (I'd be curious to hear your impressions, though.) Some of the above root issues still persisted, so we weren't perfect, but I personally felt in playing the game that it was quite a lot easier to read through it without getting fatigued or rolling your eyes at overwrought prose.

 

- There are certain unfortunate requirements of the form that handcuff you as a writer. I don't think many people are aware of them until they actually try to write RPG dialogue for themselves.

 

One of the biggest is that branching dialogue encourages NPC monologuing as a device to mitigate the amount of branching that you do. If every time the player has an opportunity to respond, we have to give them 3+ things to say, the more the NPC can say between those player responses, the less enormous your dialogue file is. (There are other measures equally as controversial - having more inconsequential lines that all funnel to the same NPC response, or giving the player less opportunity to make choices of what to say, forcing them to say some lines from time to time.) Writing an RPG dialogue is a balancing act of trying to find the structure that will make the player hate you the least that you will also be able to finish on schedule. But you will see NPC monologuing dating all the way back to BG and PS:T, and that's why. It's unnatural and it reads kind of silly. It's not how I would write dialogue in a book or screenplay. You'll note the dialogue in our short stories reads quite a lot differently than our game dialogue.

 

The other major issue is that we have to cater to a player base with a broad range of attention spans. Some read everything, but many skim and miss stuff. Sometimes that stuff is very important. Unfortunately, as the goal is for everyone to understand what's going on, sometimes important information has to be restated several times or in several different places, or else people will miss it or fail to understand it. Maerwald was a victim of this. (He was also overloaded with exposition, which was a separate problem. Don't give crazy characters exposition, kids.) I did a first pass of Maerwald, and testers were not understanding what his deal was. So I dumbed it down, and still the same problem. By the time people understood his story, the dialogue had become a slog. The testers were bright people that were doing their job properly, so that's not to lay blame on them. Just making the point that what's redundant to one player will often be a minimum requirement for another to follow what's going on.

 

- Going forward, the choice of how much text we use will continue to be defined per-project, I think. With Pillars, if we were to do a sequel, I don't think the goal would be less text, per se, but we would want to be more economical and readable, hopefully with more time carved out for a real editing pass.

  • Like 15

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quibble:

 

we wouldn't put joyce at the opposite end o' the spectrum from hemingway.  early joyce is most frequent categorized as minimalist realism, yes?

 

that being said, given that poe were a new game in an unfamiliar setting, we expected exposition.  is tough to present lore in a crpg w/o resorting to at least some exposition... particular as poe is a collaborative writers effort.  a single author can use a half-dozen chapters and +100 pages o' text to slowly present essential information 'bout the setting. is much more difficult to artful develop the setting or characters in a crpg when you got multiple writers and individual encounters is functional insular and discreet.  considering the joinables is often purposeful tangential to the main plot, one wonders how you produce meaningful character development w/o resorting to exposition.  how many genuine dialogue encounters does each joinable get?  do an entire character development arc with so few opportunities has gotta be challenging... and far different from movie or novel character development.

 

one additional observation:

 

use joinable npcs for expositive lore dumps might be a mistake.  am getting that is natural to use durance to explain the magran (sp?) but is clumsy and leads to excessive exposition.  the problem is compounded as you make joinable companion character development a quest.  the player, seeking to advance the durance quest is motivated to read through all available dialogue options in the hope that at least one such dialogue choice will open up the route for advancement o' the joinables quest.  this means that our initial exposure to a joinable is frequent extreme heavy with exposition that provides a considerable 'mount o' lore that only tangential develops the character.   we often read through the durance lore dumps multiple times during the course o' the game to see if a new option has become available.  tedious and unnecessary.

 

if you are gonna use joinables to dump lore through exposition, then find some clever way to indicate to the player the dialog options that is essential for quest advancement, and which dialogues is only existing for your lore dump.

 

HA! Good Fun!

  • Like 1

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With Pillars, if we were to do a sequel, I don't think the goal would be less text, per se, but we would want to be more economical and readable, hopefully with more time carved out for a real editing pass.

 

This is good news. I don't like the idea of writing dialog to the lowest common denominator.

Edited by mychal26
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...