Yes, really. I didn’t make this up. This is what they are called.
I am looking into using computer Games for some creative pieces. This all started with an evening show and tell organised by Creative Animators Network in November 2014, all about Game design and introducing some of the software available to make them. In particular open sourcesoftware designed to be used by beginners and non-programmers. It was very very interesting.
Lindsey, the organiser, arranged a more formal than usual presentation about Game designing with three experts. And of course, being Dublin, they were all from just down the road.
Twine tales this is for making interactive fiction. it provides a free easy game writing tool for making games or interactive sotries. it can also be used for mapping out a story as pasrt of Game design . It is arelated to the original role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and can plug into the back of other tools, like Fungus software. It si very good for artists to use is Interactive.
Twine is free, easy and adaptable, based on narrative branching. It will adapt to your skills, enable you to get your story across. A good example of a Twine Game is this one a detective story or to see some other examples of what can be done see Dublin Twine Jam.
Developed and made available as freeware, by SNOZBOT – a Dublin based tech company FUNGUS is used in combination with ‘Unity’ a free all-platform Game engine. Well represented on YouTube, the Unity forum is good and there is also the Unity asset store where you can find readymade ‘castles’ etc.
The Fungus game looks like a picturebook. Images are called ‘sprites’ and controls are drag n drop, you can add an mp3 or voice over, think in terms of a visual novel -‘People like reading & writing stories’. It is text based and interactive, a networked storybased game, including features for dynamic story games. A typical example is the ‘ closed room game’ – a genre -and quest based games are popular too(eg 404Detective Agency) in general each game lasts about 15 mins. Fungus games are shared on the Snozbot dedicated platform.
What the Writer of Games had to say
GameJams are useful. The Game writer is a narrative writer-designer, building the story. It is related to film/tv/online stories, 80% is like all writing and there can be Game writing panels. It is a very ‘crowded’ area and most writers can do some of the techy stuff too. the best result is in a team with knowledge of marketing. animation, and programming. There are some problems and pitfalls unique to writing for Games.
Pitfall 1 Player agency. It is vital that the story must be driven by the player not the character, and the story advances only when they make a choice. There must be interesting nuggetts to play through, sequences, quests; lots of small stories plugged together.
Pitfall 2 Production.In TV etc there is a ‘waterfall’ production model. In Games it is not linear, it is very ‘Agile’. It is completed in layers, some of the story wont make it, it can get chopped up. Also driven by design needs ‘we have a submariine…..’ .
Pitfall 3 Deliverables
We still have some of the usual deliverables, a world bible, character, and scripts. It may not however look like a script, from Final Draft for example. In games it may combine a word file, Twine, a few notebooks and an Excel spreadsheet, in particular Excel is used for dialogue. You can also use Artsydraft to do this.
the writer will never go near the Game engine, ‘Dialog available only if certain conditions met’ and there is no standard template. If commissioned to write for a Game ask in what format the company want it delivered. See International Games Developers Association for information on submission formats, also on Excel scripts and Quest design.
A Fungus Workshop -‘The Jolly Dublin Gamecraft’
This was on 6th December 2014 in the Irish HQ of Microsoft (https://www.gamecraft.it/events/jolly-dublin-gamecraft/) and included a table of game developers being introduced to FUNGUS for the first time. And me.
The user interface is designed to be accessible to non programmers and is essentially a series of drop down selection options, of course with its own ways, but a straight forward enough system. Just have to get familiar with it!
Holding place objects are in the shape of toadstools –
Dave tries to explain to me the core concepts of Computer Science –how code results in electrons doing summat.
Starting to think about making a Game
After a slow start it finally dawned on me what was the nature of these types of Games. Just as the local toy shop has shoot-em-up games with soldiers, it also has games like Lego and Playdoh, so computer Games can be non-confrontational as well. They can be Games about building a world, or be an interactive story. This is where FUNGUS and Twine fit in.
I have two possible notions knocking about at this stage, one using Twine, a sort of interactive morality test, and the other a basic Game using FUNGUS.
It occurred to me having played with it a bit that the way to approach making a game using FUNGUS would be to visualise it like an old fashioned simple puppet show, with flat-form characters moving on and off a stage area, as if from the wings. As a starting point it felt like a good place to begin, and I just happen to have a lot of very old books on the subject.
These are classic books about the craft of making puppets and puppetry as theatre. These are ‘how-to’ books from the 1930’s with no ISBN number or publication dates on them, mottled with age and full of detailed instructions on how to model a marionettes head or build a puppet stage.
So, this is one starting point. I also need to look at children’s books – and indeed board games. And that’s before I go anywhere near the programmes!
I also discovered – even in my short try out – that if I am to use images, not just words, I will need some sort of raw material to work with . I will need a background element, and characters and objects (or props) – properly called ‘Sprites’ in game design, which matters for navigating the Game engine commands. So, I will need to make these separately and have them prepared for insertion into the Game when that stage is reached. I’d like these to be quite interesting and made outside the Game UI environment. And now, as ever, I cogitate.
Ha! It’s exciting!!