on writing games

don't run into the woods

there are many things that can go wrong with traditional storytelling:

… just to name a few.

but in games, oh my.

before games, you controlled pretty much everything. in games, you don’t.

in a book (or movie or tv show) the reader can either keep reading, or stop. that’s it. that’s as far as their agency can go.

well, that was true until choose your own adventure showed up, but still 99.99999…% of books are not CYOA.

when we write for video games, interactivity opens up a vast array of possibilities, but also a thousand potential problems.

the biggest issue is that the rules change.

not all of them, but enough so that an experienced writer may have to start almost from scratch.

therefore, it’s advisable to start small, beginning with what’s familiar.

there’s no need to start with a dynamic narrative roguelike RPG with reputation systems and randomly-generated NPCs based on modular archetypes.

it sounds like a great challenge.

but it scares me just thinking about it.

don’t run into the woods.

why not start with a linear narrative?

use all the techniques we already know and feel them in video game form?

have you heard of walking simulators? They’re just that, with one or two twists. Yet… ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I’m not saying you should show it to anyone if you’re not ready.

though it’s bad advice, if it helps you get started, it’s all good.

I’m suggesting that you write and feel it.

just like you did with your novels or short stories without even realizing it.

there’s time to gradually give the player the agency they deserve.

there’s time to get more complex and work around the pitfalls, one by one.

and remember King Stephen’s words…

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.