Tomb Raider - On “Writing”
I have to write something about this latest drama. Have you heard yet? Have you heard?
Go and read this interview with Tomb Raider executive producer Ron Rosenberg - http://kotaku.com/5917400/youll-want-to-protect-the-new-less-curvy-lara-croft
Now, a million people will write about this today. And if a million don’t, then they should. But a lot of those people will be talking directly about the harmful message that this Tomb Raider game seems to be carrying, and what it says about the treatment of female characters in games. There will be pieces about the notion that a male gamer audience can only relate to a female character if they feel like they are protecting them. There will be pieces about rape.
Better writers, and better suited writers, will talk about those things. I just want to briefly talk about why this shit keeps happening. I want to talk about writing. And I need to be brutal here, so forgive me.
The vast majority of these idiots who make these games can’t write. They can’t tell stories. They can’t construct proper narrative arcs or realistically flesh out a character. They can’t write meaningful dialogue. They are not writers, but they think they are. The reason why they think they are is that no-one challenges the quality of their work. They are only writing games. They’re allowed to turn out shit and call it a job well done.
Think about it. If a great game is released, but the writing is terrible, how does that affect the overall critical take on that game? Hardly at all. And I’m not saying it should. I’m saying that the criteria by which we judge a video game barely touches on that whole, messy writing part of the equation.
Gears of War - sells a ton, critically acclaimed, terrible writing. Modern Warfare - same. Halo - same. Almost everything - same. But they sell in huge numbers and clock up high percentages on Metacritic. And so these “writers” coast by, believing that their work has value, believing that they are writers who can write. Hey, if your shitty work doesn’t negatively effect ANYTHING about your product, then how will you ever know how shitty it is?
But here’s the problem. If you’re not a writer who is constantly struggling to write well, and constantly questioning the quality of everything you do, then you are also not a writer who looks deeply into what you are writing about. You don’t pay attention to the messages within your work. You’re not asking yourself what you’re saying to your audience.
I genuinely believe that the writing team of that Tomb Raider game will today be asking themselves some questions about what they’ve turned out. The reason why they’re only asking those questions today is because they are not good writers. They’re only writing because someone gave them that specific job. They don’t have any talent for it, and they don’t love it. I have to believe that, because the alternative is ugly.
This is Stephen King, from his book On Writing:
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
Video game “writers” come lightly to that blank page every single day.
gozyeyed asked: Who is your favourite female video game character?
April Ryan of The Longest Journey. You haven’t played it, because you’re an idiot. Amen.
jakal323 asked: Still play God Hand?
The man who no longer plays God Hand is the man who no longer deserves to comment on ANY GAME that exists.
traumaswitch asked: Dear God of Games. Why is it everyone hated Mirror's Edge even though it was a beautiful diamond gleaming in a sea of first person shooter casual pish?
Because they fucked it up by putting guns in it. Amen.
GOG’S XBOX E3 CONFERENCE LIVE BLOG
18:28 - I can’t do this. How can you live blog this CRAP?
18:24 - I just…
18:20 - Internet Explorer has been announced as - I’m sorry. I can’t. I just… JESUS.
18:15 - Multi-screen entertainment. Telling us we need a second screen while watching a film or a TV show. This is dangerous, dangerous, culturally damaging talk. This is total BULLSHIT.
18:13 - If a fit looking guy walks on at #E3, you know you’re seeing nothing good. Bring on the fatties…. Actually. No.
18:08 - I hope this dickhead is a Scientologist or something. Otherwise, what’s his excuse?
18:06 - Very, very exciting. Xbox just announced a new thing called MUSIC. It features beats, like you might hear coming from your heart, and noises are set to it. It kinda makes you want to move a little bit. Very exciting innovation.
18:01 - I’m really trying to find something to blog about through these announcements of how to watch TV on your Xbox. We’ve had TV broadcasting for over 60 years. I’m TRYING here.
17:57 - Very, very exciting trailer for A CAR GAME. Looks like one of the best editions of the A CAR GAME series yet. Lots of CARS. Lots of ROADS. In the form of a GAME. If you’re a fan of the A CAR GAME series, you will want to check out this new A CAR GAME.
17:53 - It’s the Fable Kinect game now. The IP no-one cares about now utilises the technology no-one cares about. It’s a CARECALAMITY.
17:51 - The new EA stuff even recognises you swearing at the game. I wish this fucking stream of this conference would recognise me swearing at it.
17:49 - I cannot stop laughing at this terrible voice command stuff on FIFA. “SUB 3! SUB 3!” What is happening? Has the world gone mad? “SUB 3!”
17:47 - How come Microsoft is the last to know we’ve all moved on from Kinect already? The guy from EA Sports is on now to try to win us back over.
17:45 - This Splinter Cell: Blacklist looks really good. Lots of little set-pieces, and nice tools to play with. A pleasant surprise. Awwwww.
17:42 - NEW SPLINTER CELL! Yeah, so what? But wait - this LOOKS like Splinter Cell. Like, proper Splinter Cell. In daylight. Mm-hm. Mmmm.
17:38 - Halo 4 - hey, we all love enemies who teleport, right? DO WE FUCK.
17:34 - Halo 4 looks beautiful. Could have done without the live-action CBeebies start, though.
17:25 - Look at all these guys on Gametrailers, sitting behind a desk with ties on, like the first day at Dickhead School.
17:21 - I wonder what Halo 4 will look like. Chances are it will look like Halo 3. But then it might look like Halo 2. There’s an outside chance it might look like Halo, or Halo: Reach. I dunno. It’s a really, really interesting thing to think about, ISN’T IT?
17:13 - Kevin Smith talking about doing a Jay & Silent Bob game. What year is this? HANG IT UP, KEVIN.
17:10 - I’ve heard more RAWK music in the past four minutes than in the past 34 years of my life.
17:06 - It’s 25 minutes until the start of the conference, and I have made some tea. It’s totally next gen tea! (Empty cup, tea somewhere in cup, tea unlocked through paid DLC at a later date).
Hi, and welcome to the Live Blog of the Microsoft Xbox conference thing at E3!
Refresh for updates!!
I’m watching it HERE - http://www.gametrailers.com/netstorage/e3/live.html
I made a short video to show you how terrifying even an “uneventful” day in Day Z is. Turn it to HD in the settings to see it in its full glory.
LIFE OR DEATH
For me, great games are all about choices. Decisions.
Day Z, the mod for ARMA 2 that sees you trying to survive in a world full of zombies, is a thing of constant choice.
Do I run? Do I crawl?
Do I shoot? Do I flee?
Do I explore? Do I leave it be?
Do I spare his life? Do I murder him?
Do I go left? Do I go right?
Town or forest?
Day or night?
Life or death?
This is a fine, fine thing.
MY BIG E3 PREDICTIONS
Here are my predictions for the big announcements at this year’s E3.
MONTY FRONT-FRONT: The Commodore 64 legend is back in a brand new Monty Mole game for the Wii-U. It’s a platform game with an innovative new “shrug-dance” element, where players can use the Wii-U tablet to do a shrug-dance and say “Nuh-uh, no front-front.” I have no idea what a shrug-dance is, but I’m sure Reggie will explain it.
RAVIN’ RABBIDS GO FRONT-FRONT: Expanding on the whole “Front-Front” thing that’s going on, Ubisoft will announce a brand new caper involving the intellectual IP no-one gives a fuck about. Players will be able to use their Wii-U tablet’s “Apathy Sensor” to do a shrug-dance and say “Rabbid no front-front.”
A MARIO GAME OF SOME KIND: For a Nintendo machine of some kind.
TONY HAWK’S “LOOKIN’ OLD” - Tony Hawk will take to the stage to announce a game, but we’ll all be thinking the game’s title before he even says it. In this new skateboarding game, we’ll be able to step into the sneakers of Trad Bagelheifen, a new skater on the block. Trad hooks up with Tony Hawk and a bunch of other old guys and he’s like this to himself - “I need some new friends. Jesus. I mean… It’s fuckin’ OLD DUDES.”
MODERN WARFARE 2: BLACK OPS - This will be a very awkward announcement of a new game in the Call of Duty or Modern Warfare or Black Ops series, where some guy in a suit will look confused and say “It’s…this is Modern Warfare, right? Is it? Sorry, Black Ops. Wait. Which one are we on? Um…” He’ll then stare blankly at the crowd for a few minutes. An American will make a whooping noise, and the guy in the suit will say - “One second, trying to think…” And then someone might see a ghost.
WE FUCKED UP: KINECT - Described as an “Honesty Simulator”, Microsoft’s new game allows you to take part in the board meetings that spawned the whole Kinect idea. By raising your arm, you can pitch terrible ideas for a motion control system that will arrive to market when the boat has already sailed.
WE FUCKED UP: PS MOVE - A version of the Xbox WFU game, but with a smaller print run.
WE FUCKED UP: BLIZZARD (COLLECTOR’S EDITION) - Retailing at $250, this version of WFU allows you to do nothing but stare at the back of the game’s box while your PC spits the message “HONESTY CODE: WE FUCKED UP” at you. The Collector’s Edition features a 10 inch statue of Truman Capote and a hardback book detailing the half-remembered making of a Cheech and Chong film.
ANGRY BIRDS FRONT-FRONT: The big release for iPad and iPhone will be Angry Birds FF, which sees you buying Angry Birds again so that you can fling the cute creatures through the latest trend - Front-Front styled shrug-dance structures. Will be followed by Angry Birds Christmas Front-Front and Angry Birds Everyone On The Planet’s Birthday Front-Front parts 1-365.
NEW CONSOLE - THE DREAMCAST SLICE - Sega will announce a new Dreamcast console. But to play safe, it will be released only in slices, like the way you can sometimes buy a pizza. The games will be released as “toppings” that can be put on your slice and can only be used (played (eaten)) once. Launch titles will be Crazy Taxi & Mushroom, Shenmue & Sausage and Toejam & Cheese.
Whatever happens, I’ll be blogging all through E3 right here.
DAY Z: DAY ONE
Pitch black. I mean - almost total darkness.
A run forward into a dark nothingness.
And somebody has left a single flare behind. A tiny pool of light.
And then I hear something running at me.