I'm going to list the authors of these sessions rather than their titles because often the titles were misleading.
I am leaving out one session because it was in a bad format, and the moderator couldn't get past his agenda. He opted to stop a beneficial conversation in order to move on to his next small-group question. I know my explanation is vague, but it was a bunch of writers sitting around in tables talking about morality in games and missing the point completely (at least at my table).
- counseling as a model for interactive narrative
- challenging mechanics trivialize narrative (Mots: This is the point the morality folks missed.)
- silhouettes as conversation choices rather than seeing speech options
- player doesn't know exactly what they've said
- they fill in the gaps--story grows in their imagination
- non sequitur responses also create gaps
Stephen Brock Schafer
- theater metaphor for the conscious and unconscious
- game image is the stage--the conscious
- the stage actors interact with the audience (unconscious) to form richer experiences
- even if we have a design to have "open endedness" or the illusion of (in terms of story elements; "if I am Oedipus and want to take a bath in jam..."), the technological resources to manifest that design are not present
- you can't express all those emotions without procedurally generated animations
- you can't have NPCs saying all this dynamic dialog without good text-to-speech
Steve Danuser & Tracy Seamster (NB: This pertains to MMOs)
- nobody wants to read what writers write
- Play is the shared experience: communal narrative or dialogue
- MMO challenges:
- - story arcs without conclusions; need to keep threads dangling
- - lack of single protagonist: everyone is a hero
- - pacing is up to the player
- - don't cross playstyles in an arc (solo to group to raid)
- - provide satisfaction to players with different playstyles
- - "build a soap opera"
- - frame the narrative to emphasize teamwork
- - e.g. building towers in eq2; sunwell opening in wow
- - don't trick the player into believing they are the world's only hero
- - narrow focus: don't Christmas Tree
- - create urgency with event-based or time-limited quests
- player stories are more memorable than anything the writer will tell
- not about the written word; it's about the experience
- quest journals: good intentions, but where is the focus among 100s of quests?
- non-verbal story telling elements to create atmosphere and mood
- - dark portal in Hellfire
- - scar through Blood Elf starting zones
Mary De Marle
- what does a game writer do?
- - help develop game story
- - write dialogs
- players say, "story getting in the way of the fun"
- goal of a story-based game: make the player live writers' story
- won't work if story and gameplay are separate
- the player story conveyed through: mechanics, levels, placement of game challenges, NPCs, ...
- Who's really creating the player's story?
- - core mechanics: designers
- - levels: level designers
- - NPC behaviors, movements: AI programmers
- - look and feel of the world: artists
- - sound
- The writer is the "keeper of the story logic"
- - ensures the story remains consistent across all other disciplines
- How to make stories into game stories:
- - divide into playable sequences
- - dissect intentions so other disciplines have clear understanding of the story logic
- - how many "blocks of gameplay" are needed to portray intention?
- - writer sits back and listens to designers and artists discuss blocks