Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Post About Stitled, Nasty-Ass Dialogue

Okay folks, a bit of a rant here.

There's nothing that bothers me more than bad dialogue. You know what I'm talking about. The type of dialogue that reads like this:

Sam: But Jill, I know that you and your father have been wanting to move away from here for a while, but there's no way you have the money to leave now!

Jill: I don't have a choice, Sam. It's either leave now or have Grandpa come back and stab us in the back again! We may be poor, but we're not going to let ourselves be taken advantage of so easily!


Have you EVER heard human beings speak like this? Technically, the sentences are fine! Grammatically correct and everything. But DEAR GOD how they sound like robots.

Real humans converse with much fewer words, especially in English. Not only that, but both Sam and Jill speak exactly the same way. There's no difference in their language, in the words they choose, in the length and density of their sentences.

A rewritten, better version of this exchange:

Sam: Look Jill, I know you want to get out of here, but you really don't have the money right now.

Jill: I don't care. Sam, I can't stick around waiting for Grandpa to stab us in the back again. Just because we don't have any money doesn't mean we're gonna let anybody take advantage of us.

See? Don't they sound MUCH more like humans? But I bet we could make this better. Let's make Sam a high-end kinda guy - maybe a fancy attorney, and Jill his trailer-park-resident high-school sweetheart.

Sam: Jill, listen. I know you want to get out of here, but you just don't have the money to move.

Jill: I don't care! What am I supposed to do, stick around waiting for Grandpa to come and stab us in the back again? Me and Dad are getting out of here whether we got any money or not, Sam. We're poor, not suckers.

Hey! This is fun! Let's try it another way. Sam is Jill's nervous subordinate at a shipping warehouse and Jill is his immediate supervisor. Let's say their relationship is an amicable one, but Sam is still a little nervous about speaking up to Jill.

Sam: Jill, I just...I don't know... I get why you wanna get out, but - I don't know - do you really have the money to move right now?

Jill: I don't really care. We aren't letting my Grandpa take advantage of us anymore. I'm tired of getting stabbed in the back, and so's Dad. So that's it - we're outta here.

Or my favorite! TEENAGERS. <3 Teenagers speak with even FEWER formal parts of speech than adults and use a lot of slang/shortenings. HOWEVER, they don't sound like Jersey Shore obsessed fluff brains all the time. Observe:

Sam: I dunno, like, it doesn't sound like you have enough money to move.

Jill: Don't care - Grandpa's been totally stabbing me and Dad in the back for years. So now we're doing something about it. We're poor, not stupid.

So yeah.

Basic lesson: dialogue is SUPER important and it ticks me off when people write it crappy. I mean seriously - you talk everyday and hopefully, people talk back at you. LISTEN. Maybe even eavesdrop on a conversation and write it down. See how real people talk. It'll be a big help.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Post About Why Size Does(n't) Matter

So today is apparently a day for Indie Game Developers to write articles about game length and how it often plays into how a game's received. "It's too short" is a common complaint indie games often receive. And while I'm not a true indie-developer just yet, I think I have something to say that I haven't seen in the other responses.

From what I've seen from other posts (linked below), the general consensus is that size doesn't matter, and in fact, longer games are often WORSE because they are often full of padding. People have cited JRPGs that run up to forty five hours as opposed to wonderful indie titles that only run two hours. "I appreciated the latter so much more!" is the general consensus, and so you should!

If the 45 hour game honestly sucked.

Here's how I break this argument down: Size doesn't matter. What matters is how you feel once you're finished with the game.

Now when I say "finished" I don't necessarily mean you've beaten the story and unlocked every super l33t X-Box live achievement and can tell me exactly how many mobs spawn in the Dungeons of Solitude Basement Level 3. I mean, when you personally have finished your experience with the game.

It's much easier to finish a 2 hour title than it is to finish a 45 hour one. If you finished the 2 hour title and feel unfulfilled, you will most likely go to the first thought that crosses your mind "It was too short." I mean, if your experience wasn't what you expected and the end credits are rolling, more often than not, you'll feel like it could've been what you wanted if it were only a bit longer. You were hooked by the exposition, enjoyed the characters, but felt it just wasn't enough. It ended too soon.

As for the 45 hour game, more often than not, if you're not digging it, you'll quit by the 10 hour mark and claim "it wasn't interesting enough to keep me engaged, it must've been full of padding". But, to be fair, you've played more hours on the 45 hour game than you have on the 2 hour game. How do you know if the 2 hour game wouldn't have left you with the same impression if it had been 10 hours long?

What I'm trying to get at is this: as long as the game feels finished and fulfilling, the length is accurate. If it feels too short, the story hasn't been fully explored and there's a pacing problem. If it feels too long, there needed to be cuts - the story dragged and, once again, there's a pacing problem.

On the whole, I prefer more over less. Not because I like my video games with repetitive, dull tasks or boring sub-plots, but because I love more good story. A short good story with awesome, fun game play is GREAT! A long good story with awesome, fun game play is better just cause there's more. I am an ardent believer in "two scoops are better than one" (as long as said scoops of imaginary ice cream don't have any calories. XD).

I'm not a true indie developer just yet. Read the peeps below for a real developer's insight. These are just my two cents on the subject.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Post About Fun Extras That Became the Post About Goals

Poll results are in, and most people voted for the "creator commentary, concept art, new content" extra types. A fandisc or extended "non-adult" content also ranked well. I was really happy that no one voted against extras completely! I know that I'M often tempted by extras for my favorite games. Glad to see everyone else is on board with me.

Creator Commentary is one of my favorite things in a game. It's so cool to get that "behind the scenes" look, although I don't really like having to replay the whole game to see the commentary. (Such as in a movie where the commentary is playing over the film). If the game is nearly 10 hours long, replaying it all with creator commentary sorta seems tedious to me.

I'd prefer interview style commentary with the creator, writer, artist, cast, etc. Maybe THAT commentary could be accessed via an "extras" menu that would skip you right to the scene of the game they want to talk about.

ALSO BLOOPERS. Bloopers are my favorite. <3 A must-have if you have VAing in your game.


I am proud to announce that the other day, I finished writing an ending of Project "O". There are still many more endings to go, but finishing the beginning, middle, and end of my script just felt incredible.

The writing is far from over. I'd say I still have a good month of work ahead of me. Not to mention editing. But I'm on my way, and once I achieve my ultimate goal of a 100% finished script, I know I'm going to be on Cloud-9.

Thanks for voting in the poll everybody! I'll keep you guys updated on more progress. :) Can't wait till I have enough to actually show people.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Poll: The Post About Extras!

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Those individuals are indeed Yoda and Darth Vader of Star Wars making cameos in Soul Calibur IV.

Now, you're probably wondering why on earth I'm opening this post with a laughably stupid screenshot from a fighting game. Darth Vader and Yoda were included as extra characters to the game depending on which version you bought. (Yoda for the 360, Vader for the PS3). In that way, they were marketed as incentives to buy both versions. (Stupid incentives, but what can you do?) You want both the characters? Get both the versions! This tactic was used for Soul Calibur II as well, where popular characters from other franchises were added to the line-up based on which version you bought. (Link was on the Gamecube version! Lucky devils!)

So there's a new poll up asking about what extras you as players would pay for when it came to Bishojo Games/ Visual Novels. I'll go through each option to break it down:

Adult Content: Pretty obvious. Do you wantz the pr0nz? In all seriousness, paying for adult content isn't completely out of the question. I know some people who don't like adult content in their games and some who play strictly FOR the adult content. In that case, having the option is a good one. Not to mention that producing adult content requires more time and resources and thus one could arguably justify charging a couple of bucks for it. (To those over 18 of course).

Extended Non-Adult Content: What about paying for extra scenes? An extended "+" version of the game? How'd you like to pay a few extra dollars to see an extended version of a movie? See the "other side of the story" perhaps? Maybe a new protagonist?

Fandiscs/Side Stories: This one isn't rare in Japan at all. You've played the game, you've fallen in love with the characters - you just wish there was more out there starring them! Often, Bishojo games will get spin-offs called "fandiscs". They might have extra stories, more capturable characters, etc. But they're stand-alones, that is, not tacked on to the original game.

Extended Bonus Content: Including things like an art gallery, interviews with the cast and crew, creator commentary, bloopers... Would you pay for the "behind the scenes" look?

I wouldn't pay for extras: Do you just expect the extras to be included in the game? Do you not really care about extra stuff at all?

Extras are unfair and lame: Or do you think that extra pay-for-play content is lame? Even if the original product is free? Or does that make it worse? (Getting you hooked on a free product, then asking you to pay for more fun stuff concerning it (god I make this sound like a drug-ring O_o;;)).

The reason I'm asking this is because I'm dedicated to making MG Studios a freeware studio (at least the first few titles) in order to spread the love for Bishojo/Otome gaming to as many people as I can. However, hosting a website and games requires funds, and so, one has to think of creative ways to keep oneself afloat.

So what do you guys think? Which of these appeals? (You can pick more than one). And if any of them do, how much would you be willing to pay for them?

Thanks guys! Poll is on the main page, on the right, and closes in ten days!