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Joe Velikovsky talks about the Games industry and several film to game adaptations he has worked on - from a presentation at LAMPs Growing Worlds seminar in Hobart in May 2008

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  1. 1. LAMP “GROWING WORLDS” joe velikovsky 2008 NGC 281 – The Pacman Nebula
  2. 2. * The Art of Writing for Non-Linear - A General Theory of Un-Linearity Case Study- LOONEY TUNES: Acme Arsenal * Developing Game Scripts: Before, During and After Production * Promoting yourself as a Game Writer... * Industry Overview: The Australian Game Development scene
  3. 3. “ Art has to move us. Design does not. (Unless it’s a good design for a bus.)” - David Hockney WILL GAMES EVER BE SERIOUS LITERATURE’? “Some games already are serious literature – just as much as novels - or films or comics. In fact, they’re sometimes technically more complex to write than a novel or film... Metal Gear Solid’s themes and polemic on morality is up there with `Crime & Punishment’… `Spiderman’ is the Hamlet of our times... Even back in the 80’s, there was a `civil disobedience’ game - where you played Ghandi… And check out `The Mythology of Kyoto’… which rewards you with `karma’ in gameplay. Games are really serious literature. The `Sam & Max’ games are as funny as any TV sitcom… in the new `Simpsons’ game, you go around collecting `platform game cliches’ - such as “The Double-Jump” - it’s as wittily intertextual and self-reflexive as any Italo Calvino novel… `Myst’ was like Shakespeare for the multimedia masses. What’s really ironic is, games don’t even need to be literary, they just need to be fun to play. Serious literature can include violence (Crime and Punishment!) and this is also why we need an R-rating for games... We may want to see the films `American Psycho’ and `Fight Club’ for their brilliant satire and biting socio-cultural commentary - but don’t necessarily want under-18’s to see it – not until they’re old enough to `get it’’… but - the average gamer is 28 years old now - And as for `games causing violence’? - Aristotle’s theory of Catharsis.” Joe Velikovsky, Game Writer-Designer-Producer, JOETEEVEE.COM - 2008
  4. 4. <ul><li>GAMES NEED TO: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be fun to play </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a [good?] story. But - it’s actually optional. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why Point #3 is optional : Games must first of all `work’ (ie have no `bugs’, and not crash). Secondly - must be fun (not frustrating to play – the gameplay `hook’ is the key here) and thirdly – they CAN have a great story… but since this 3 rd point is optional (Gameplay is king, any Story is secondary), we have only gradually seen `literary’ game narratives emerge: e.g. Myst, Half Life, Deus Ex, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock, etc)… </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>MY SO-CALLED CAREER: </li></ul><ul><li>Joe Velikovsky - JOETEEVEE.COM </li></ul><ul><li>91-94 – Newcastle Uni (B.A. Comms) </li></ul><ul><li>95 - Game Design courses – AFTRS, 2 years </li></ul><ul><li>98 Script Assessor ( Fox, Polygram, NSWFTO , etc) </li></ul><ul><li>99 Sci-fi TV series for Fox Studios </li></ul><ul><li>2K Freelance Script Writing & Script Doctoring </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Writing, Multipath Movies @ BII </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inform P/L - Games Market Analyst </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2000-2002 Game Writer/Designer @ Ratbag </li></ul><ul><li>2004-5 - Creative Director/Designer, A-Rage P/L </li></ul><ul><li>2005-7 - Game Designer/Writer – Redtribe </li></ul><ul><li>2008 – JOETEEVEE.COM Game Consulting, writing Feature Film Script, TV, ARGS </li></ul>
  6. 6. GAME SCENARIO DESIGN, and GAME STORYTELLING & SPACE c/- Prof Henry Jenkins, MIT Game storytelling is often more about space , and less about character . …Why? Because Player freedom annihilates Character . Consider a ` Choose Your Own Adventure ’ book (over 250 million copies sold) - of all possible decisions, many are totally `out of character’ for the hero. But Games must allow for freedom of player expression, which often removes limits Character behaviour… enabling them to act out of character . Games narratives are therefore more about adventure, and moving through space . We can therefore look at Games as Spatial Stories … Game ads (promotional material) use screenshots . They show the audience (the Player) the space the game occupies... They show a potential to explore, to roam, and they present a notion of an immersive space.
  7. 7. <ul><li>Games as `Spatial Stories’/ </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Henry Jenkins (cont) </li></ul><ul><li>Compare games with travel narratives – they are less about character development , more about the travel between spaces . </li></ul><ul><li>Consider most of Jules Verne’s work: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From the Earth To the Moon, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20 000 Leagues Under the Sea, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Around the World in 80 Days. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If your [film] story has limited/non-interactive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>locations, It may not adapt so well to a game… </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Also, consider the front material in various classic works of literature: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>War & Peace has a family tree in the frontispiece; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solzenitzyn’s works have military organization charts (Battalions, Generals, Sergeants, Privates etc); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pat O’Brien’s sea stories have a diagram explaining the ship’s parts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tolkein has maps.. . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… Games often have Maps as well. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><ul><li>ONE KEY GAME/NON-LINEAR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WRITING TIP: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>* KEEP IT MODULAR ! (So that your 10 Chapters can mostly be rearranged… but maybe Chapter 1 [your `intro’ level] and Ch 10 [the final level] are mandatory.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, this way - if a Level / Environment /Chapter gets cut/re-arranged during production… (or, turns out not to be `too hard/not fun’ in the Playtesting stage…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your narrative doesn’t suffer from `losing’ that Chapter of the story… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ditto, if a Character gets cut in development… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>As above… (make it so that losing this Game Character doesn’t `break the story’ as a whole…) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ALSO - `Make it Modular’ so that – perhaps the Player can choose their own path through the Story… ie They may want to explore a certain Environment first, so -- let them choose between (say) 3 different Levels – or, from 3 types of gameplay (choose: 1) on-foot, 2) driving, 3) flying)… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ie Vive le capitalism - `Choice is good’…  </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><ul><li>GAME DESIGN/WRITING PROCESS: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also – Design / Structure (and Write!) your Levels/Chapters so that they all begin and end at the same place (ie – back at the game `HUB’ -- from which all/most other Levels are accessed.) e.g. say a Central Control Room, or a HQ, or a Game `Base’, etc etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eg - GAME STRUCTURE / & `Tiers’ : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So -start with - The Game Intro Cutscene/FMV (say, 30 seconds long) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Play Level 1 (Like a Gameplay Tutorial , and intro the Characters & Story) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then, at the Game `HUB’, the Player can maybe Choose from 3 different Levels in any order: ie Choose Level 2 - or 3 - or 4? ( Tier 1 – easy to play ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then –Cutscene #2 plays - taking you back to `The Hub’ (…a new HUB?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then the Player can choose from: Level 5, or 6, or 7 in any order (call this `Tier 2’ – Medium difficulty to play ) - Etc…! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NB – But ensure that the First and also Last Chapters (eg 1 and 10) are mandatory, so that - as a Game/Story Designer - you know the Start and End of the Game Story … and the `middle’ can be in any order. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. GAME WRITING/DESIGNING PROCESS – AS OPPOSED TO FILM...   Film-writing Elements : Premise Theme Characte r Plot Dialog   Game Design (in an FPS) : ·        Good guys ·        Bad Guys ·        Items ·        Guns ·        Locations Level Design … `marriage’ of Gameplay & Story Screenplay = 45 scenes !
  12. 12. “ Boys” Games (eg `War’ games) Typified by: 1) competition 2) physical violence 3) a battle for territory 4) the elimination of competitors = say an FPS “ Girls” Games (`Sim’ games) Typified by: 1) building social relationships 2) communication 3) community 4) co-operation = say an MMORPG Prof . Henry Jenkins, MIT
  13. 13. <ul><li>GAME DESIGN / WRITING PROCESS </li></ul><ul><li>  Decide on type of game: a shooter, a driver, action - adventure, RP G ? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What type of M issions? Player `experience’?, Ramped –up difficulty. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Missions - l eads to - Game Scenarios / Locations / Situations – i. e . scenes! (I s it set mainly in a Kitchen - or a Spaceship? ) </li></ul><ul><li>Locations/Scenarios dictate the `filmic genre’ – Westerns & S ci -F i – are about `conquering frontiers’ = so they have big `game maps/worlds’ </li></ul><ul><li>Genre – usually dictates your Story (type) </li></ul><ul><li>Type of Story - dictates the types of Characters/ Archetypes (Heros/Villains) </li></ul><ul><li>Characters - speak Dialog = Scr een writing! Write Cutscenes to link Missions. </li></ul><ul><li>Development – Prototyping - Play-testing… </li></ul><ul><li>Then you have to write – Onscreen Text Help & “THE GAME MANUAL” </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>GAME WRITING / DESIGN / PLAY THEORY - Texts </li></ul><ul><li>`Ultimate Guide’ – Flint Dille & John Platten  </li></ul><ul><li>Andrew Rollings & Ernest W Adams (“Ebert’” of games) </li></ul><ul><li>Prof Henry Jenkins ( “Kael” of games) </li></ul><ul><li>David Freeman – Creating Emotion in Games </li></ul><ul><li>Academic Texts : </li></ul><ul><li>Rules of Play – Salen & Zimmerman </li></ul><ul><li>Gonzalo Frasca (Ludology .org) </li></ul><ul><li>Christy Dena - ARGs </li></ul><ul><li>The Best Sites : </li></ul><ul><li>www. </li></ul><ul><li>www. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Noah Falstein – the 400 Project The 400 `Game Design Rules’
  16. 16. Top 20 Console Games of All Time (Wikipedia - 2008) 1. Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green (Game Boy – 20.08 million 2. Nintendogs (DS – 18.67 million) 3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES – 18 million) 4. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2 – 17.5 million) 5. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2 – 14.89 million shipped) 6. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (DS – 14.77 million) 7. Pokémon Gold and Silver (GB Color – 14.51 million) 8. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2 – 14.5 million) 9. New Super Mario Bros. (DS – 14.16 million) 10. Super Mario Land (Game Boy – 14 million)
  17. 17. Top PC Games of All Time (Wikipedia - 2008) * The Sims (100 million total – including Expansions) * The Sims 2 (13 million)[170] o The Sims 2: Pets [expansion pack] (5.6 million) o The Sims 2: Seasons [expansion pack] (1 million) * World of Warcraft (10 million subscribers) o World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade [exppack] (3.5 million) * StarCraft (9.5 million, may include StarCraft: Brood War) * Half-Life (8 million) * Myst (6 million) * Guild Wars (5 million) * Cossacks: European Wars (4 million) * Diablo II (4 mi/ Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (1m) * Half-Life 2 (4 million) * Populous (4 million)[181][182] * RollerCoaster Tycoon (4 million in North America) * Doom 3 (3.5 million)[184]
  18. 18. Games Industry Structure Developer Consumer Retailer Distributor Redtribe Publisher Warner Bros SCE Harvey Norman/EB Games/etc John Netizen
  19. 19. Game Platforms - PC - PS2 - PS3 - XBox360 - Wii - PSP - DS - Phone
  20. 20. “ Console Wars” – Installed Base PlayStation 2: 127 million, as of December 31, 2007 Wii: 24.45 million, as of March 31, 2008 Xbox: 24 million, as of May 10, 2006 Xbox 360: 19 million, as of April 25, 2008 PlayStation 3: 13 million, as of April 21, 2008 Nintendo GC: 21.74 million, as of March 31, 2008 Dreamcast: 10.6 million [discontinued] GBA: 81.06 million, as of March 31, 2008 Nintendo DS: 70.6 million, as of March 31, 2008 PS Portable: 34 million, as of Dec 31, 2007 (Wikipedia - 2008)
  21. 21. A Typical Game Developer Team: Producer Production Assistant Game Designers (1 or 2 or 3) – (much like a Director on a film) Project Manager Programmers (10) Artists/Modellers (10) Interface Designers (3) Animation Team– 6, incl. Animation Director Game Writer (& maybe a Script Editor) Sound/Music Guy Marketing Department (3) = (approx 30-60 people in total)
  22. 22. <ul><li>QUESTIONS FOR THE POTENTIAL </li></ul><ul><li>CONSOLE-GAME ADAPTATION OF A FILM… </li></ul><ul><li>What is the Key “situation” in the film/TV property (eg - Trapped on an island?) </li></ul><ul><li>How to extend the story into `game space’? (eg LOST - phone games ) </li></ul><ul><li>Locations? (How many, and What are they? Are they all fairly different?) </li></ul><ul><li>What type of M issions? (Get off the island, find food, shelter, rescue someone) </li></ul><ul><li>Characters/ Archetypes (Do you need extra ones for the game? - LOST) </li></ul><ul><li>WHAT IS THE `CORE GAME MECHANIC’ ...? – The `Hook’? Why play this ? </li></ul><ul><li>Why unique? (Points of Difference?) – FPS has been done </li></ul><ul><li>Why the same? (Predecessors?) – FPS has been done </li></ul><ul><li>Use an Existing Game Engine? Costs $$$ </li></ul><ul><li>Consider other genres besides console games – ARG, handheld games, pc, MMORPG? </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>FILM/TV/GAME CROSS-MEDIA </li></ul><ul><li>Big Franchises : </li></ul><ul><li>PC & Console Games </li></ul><ul><li>Harry Potter, Star Wars, LOTR, </li></ul><ul><li>Narnia, Jumper, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Shrek, Over The Hedge, The Simpsons </li></ul><ul><li>ARGs </li></ul><ul><li>Majestic (standalone) </li></ul><ul><li>The LOST Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Speilberg/Kubrick’s A.I. & `The Beast’ </li></ul>
  24. 24. “ THE TRIANGLE” of Game Design Art / Animation Team Code Team Designer/s “ THE GAME VISION” 3 forces – often pulling in 3 directions…
  25. 25. “ THE TRIANGLE” Art / Animation Team Code Team Designer/s “ THE GAME VISION” Technology Academic Theory Pop culture 3 more forces that `come into play’ on the Game Vision…
  26. 26. “ THE TRIANGLE” Art / Animation Team Code Team Designer/s “ THE GAME VISION” Technology Academic Theory Pop culture How the Game Vision alters: most games are overambitious in their scope – and get scaled back – Be prepared for this!
  27. 27. Designing/Writing Looney Tunes 1) Basic `Game Vision’ / Story & WB client requests 2) Research (watching episodes, reading) 3) Choosing 10 game Levels (from 181 LT episodes)… - The 10 Chapters were like `10 Playable Episodes’ 4) Designing the Story for `Modularity’ 5) Scriptwriting – the Cutscenes and In-game Dialog 6) Cutscenes & Game Level re-writing of same 7) The Looney Tunes Comic… 8) The Manual/WB web site/promo material Looney Tunes ACME ARSENAL: Senior Designer & Writer: Joe Velikovsky Copyright 2007 - Redtribe/Warner Bros Interactive
  28. 28. <ul><li>GAME DOCUMENTS GENERATED: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Vision (2 pages) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Concept (10 pages) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Design Document (30 - 200 pages) – updated daily by Game Designer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>60-Page Character Bible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>30 pages of Cutscenes (in film screenplay format) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>OTHER DOCS GENERATED ALONG THE WAY: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Story Pitch Doc (30 pages) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gameplay Pitch Doc (30 pages) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive Screenplay ( 5 00 pages) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cutscene Shooting Script ( 120 pages ) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. GAME CONCEPT DOCUMENT - Headings: Overview Platform/s Genre Gameplay `Hooks’ Camera (1 st Person/3 rd /Isometric?) Single/Multiplayer Characters Mission Types Game World/Setting See: www for Examples of How to write Game Design Documents & Game Scripts Realism? Theme Story Look & Feel / Visual Style Competitive Analysis Points Of Difference Target Audience Target Territory Licensing? Or - Original IP?
  30. 30. GAME OVERVIEW Genre Comedy Action-Adventure Target Platform PS2 (PAL, NTSC), Wii Xbox 360 Players 1 Player (with Companion Character) & 2 Player Co-Op. ESRB Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes. Release Q3 2008 Localized English, French, Italian, German, Spanish Demographic Everyone 10+ (10-50)
  31. 31. FMV #1/Cutscene #1 Ch 9 Wackyland Tier #1 Ch 1 – Castle FMV - to Hub Ch 7 – WW1 Ch 5 - Mars End FMV Ch 2 - Egypt Game `Hub’ Ch 3 - Camelot Ch 6 – Wild West Ch 8 – Tazmania! Tier #2 Choose (from 3 Chapters) Tier #3 Ch 10 Castle – BFG Bugs! Tier #4 Tier #6 MODULARITY [Ch 4 = cut] NB - Each Chapter has own Intro & Outtro FMV Tier #5 “ Evil Porky in Hell” bossfight
  32. 32. 10 WALKTHRU’S – (40 pages per Chapter x 10 Chapters) - plus images = 70 pp each 20 x CUTSCENES = 1-2 pages each EXCEL SHEET - 1060 ROWS x 8 COLUMN HEADINGS each: CH # FMV #/GP/SS Chapter Act Location Line Direction Notes Looney Tunes Game Script Copyright Redtribe/WB Line # Filename Character Type CH # FMV #/GP/SS Chapter Act Location Line Direction Notes 1 BUGSCH1ACT1FMV1Waaaaaaaaaaaaaagh.wav BUGS PLAYABLE CHAR 1 FMV 1 Castle Frankenbeans 1 Air over Forest/River Waaaaaaaaaaaaaagh ! (screams in terror) Bugs hurtles through the air 2 BUGSCH1ACT1FMV1IknewIshouldatakenthatleftturnatAlberquerque.wav BUGS PLAYABLE CHAR 1 FMV 1 Castle Frankenbeans 1 Castle parapet I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Alberquerque! (matter of fact) Bugs checks his map
  33. 33. SCRIPT EXAMPLE ENTRY : (1060 lines total) Line # 977 Character DAFFY Type PLAYABLE CHARACTER Filename DAFFYANYCHANYACTGPWellwealllearnedsomethingkids.wav CH # ALL FMV #/GP/SS ALL Chapter ALL Act ALL Location ALL Notes/Condition When Companion Character (eg Bugs) dies Direction (turns to CAMERA, shrugs, then - thoughtful) Line Well - we all learned something here, kids!
  34. 34. Game Writing jobs..?
  35. 35. <ul><li>Send a Game Concept Doc (10p) </li></ul><ul><li>Send a Sample Game Script (30p) </li></ul><ul><li>Other Narrative Writing Sample (eg short story/short films) </li></ul><ul><li>Your CV </li></ul><ul><li>Ask Game / IT Recruitment Agencies (e.g. Conkerberry) </li></ul><ul><li>DIY [Console Games] – “Barriers to Entry” : </li></ul><ul><li>Engine (Unreal 3 / Gamebryo 2.5) $500k / $50k </li></ul><ul><li>Anark Studio 4 - $1000 </li></ul><ul><li>Maya 8/Max 9 - $5000 / $4000 </li></ul><ul><li>Havok $500/seat Max plugin -- or $75k for GDK </li></ul><ul><li>Dev kits (PS3) - $10k – Wii is $2k </li></ul>Applying for Jobs…
  36. 36. * The FUTURE of Writing for Non-Linear? * PS3, Wii, Xbox360 – 10 years’ cycle * Mobile phones = scenario writing * More x-media Film/TV/Game properties... * Need: Better A.I. For NPCs!!! (the Turing Test) *... & ARG s!