Friday, March 10, 2017

Past Tense in Action

This post returns to the subject of a previous post -- past tense and its utility. One of the best things about it for game writing -- especially for games like mine which are low on visual information -- is how much information past tense narration can give in a short amount of time. It takes stuff out of the player's hands, sure, but a lot of that stuff isn't very important (think of all the ways you've had to say goodbye in games). Here's an example of a scene in my game that uses past tense. Everything in bold is a player choice.


The adventurers infiltrated the crowd, hoping to glean information from some of the customers.

Most of the people in the common room were adventurers of some sort, so it was hard to find conversations that didn't involve boasts about treasure, battles, or faction politics. But some stray words on the subject of the Lord Mayor's family caught <FirstName>'s ear, and the party soon found themselves conversing with two individuals, a man and woman, seated in the corner furthest from Cricket.

"Ah, so that's Rylev's sister. He asked us to find out what she's doing in town."

"Did he now? You must be with the Society then. Well, Kilyar and I are free agents," said the man -- his name was Desi.

"And by that, Desi means free in the normal way, not in the Society way." said Kilyar.

"Which is another way of saying we just live here."

"That's right. We' re not adventurers."

[Continue.]

"As for what she's doing here," Desi continued, "Kilyar and I have no idea."

"Folks will talk. You know -- She's killed her husband; she's run away with a still unknown and apparently invisible young man; she's stolen a vast quantity of jewels and is on the run from Last City law enforcement."

"And then there's the most obvious theory."

"She's here for Ida's Deeps, just like the rest of you."

"But what about the dungeon interests her? 'Ida's Deeps' is only a partial explanation."

"True. Maybe she'll oblige you with the other part herself," said Kilyar.

The two companions moved on to another subject, and the adventurers excused themselves.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Hard at Work/Getting Rid of Chaff

I've been writing, tweaking things, and experimenting a bit with the game, but I haven't much I can really post about. But I swear my silence is productive. 

One of the things I've been intent on recently is cutting -- editing both my writing and, more broadly, elements in the overall design that seem to me superfluous now. 

For instance, I've recently gotten rid of extensive item descriptions for common items as well as detailed mechanical information on weapons and armor. The game is going to be writing-heavy in some respects, but I want most of that writing to be in the form of conversation, and I want to make exposition as minimal as possible. Item descriptions, save in some special cases, will give only mechanical info. For instance, I recently changed the description of a copper wand from a few sentences about the icons on the wand, how difficult the storage of discordium is in magical implements, etc., to "Does magical damage." The other information may be provided in other ways if it seems important for the player to know, or it may not -- I'm really trying to curb the world-building enthusiasm many fantasy-inclined people have except where it has something really important to do with the story.

I also found that I was packing way too much info onto the text item icons, which made them confusing and unattractive, especially on small screens; the information was also redundant and easily accessible via in-game menus. So I've stripped these mechanical elements details away. 

A happy coincidence is that the elimination of both item descriptions and detailed item icons will save me time when adding more items to the game.