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."


"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.


  1. Loving the writing, very immersing. I'm not very good with grammar (as an engineer, I always liked numbers better :-) ), but it sounds great and reads well to me.

  2. I dig this past tense you got going on here. It works well even outside of conversations, like in the latest screenshot Saturday pic you posted. Very cool!

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