Script Lock

Script Lock

Writers Max and Nick Folkman sit down with other writers and developers for an informal discussion about storytelling in video games.

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    Ep 30: Ashly Burch & Kate Dollarhyde

    Ashly and Kate are here to talk fan fiction, writing processes, letting your work breathe vs brute forcing it, whether games need their stories to be great or not, dealing with bad notes, voice acting and having too much or too little info to work with when you go into the booth, staying true to an IPs voice while also bringing your own, writing as a fan, ways to handle the problem of crafting stories when players might not be paying attention to/remembering key information, making players feel helpless, and much more!

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    Ep 29: Kim Belair & Harrison G. Pink

    Kim and Harrison are here to talk about whether modern games leave enough to the player’s imagination, introducing a New Game Minus feature, if you have a lot of money, you can’t afford faith (from a corporate level), the weirdness of Earthbound, feeling obligated to share lore because you have it instead of holding it back, studios valuing plot logic over emotional logic between characters, open world design problems, giving players more verbs, being able to ask for help more in games, making choices explicit to players, too many twists, and the need for lower stakes.

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    Ep 28: Josh Mosqueira & Darby McDevitt

    Josh and Darby call in to discuss tabletop gaming, the benefits of an english degree, being a game director at Blizzard, the business realities of game development, the relationship between narrative design and game design, the importance of the player's story, the problem with plot in video games and how to deal with it, the storytelling of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, whether games will ever be remembered for their stories, bad writing, working with established franchises, dealing with the expectations of players, and much more!

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    Ep 27: Sean Vanaman & Jesse Stern

    We've got Sean and Jesse in to talk about joining the industry with no preconceived notions, the importance of having somebody with strong storytelling sensibilities in a senior leadership role, how building scenes first and then finding a writer NEVER works, generating trust with your team, trusting the process, the skills you improve over making games, staying usefully ignorant of the process, the hardest scene to write in games being two people talking to each other, maintaining a professional curiosity, when is the right time to share ideas with your team, the problem of people mortgaging fun and entertainment for subtlety, and Sean’s experience working on Mickey Epic.

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    Ep 26: Aleissia Laidacker & Rob Morgan

    Straight outta GDC, Aleissia and Rob join us to discuss augmented and mixed reality experiences, interactive immersive theater, how to get players to not break experiences, whether AI is the future for making games accessible or not, Sleep No More (as always), should players be aware of a narrative changing around them, managing the user experience, having stories where the player isn't the hero, participation through implication as a storytelling conceit, using AI tracking and Machine Learning to help systemic games, attuning players to treat the world around them as if it's not devoid of social consequences, the player's self-importance about their own experience, advancements in systemic design, our collective excitement at the prospect of a wrestling game using the nemesis system, parallels between wrestling and storytelling, how do you make a believable NPC, and sooooo much more!

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    Ep 25: Émilie Poissenot & Brie Code

    We're starting 2017 off right with our guests Émilie and Brie! Topics include making games with people who don't like video games, modular narratives, integrating positive psychology into game design, story emerging from systems, the storytelling challenges of being free to play, updating a game every three weeks and the challenges therein, emotional triggers that create engagement, player ownership in games, the importance of giving space to the audience, and games as a personal growth tool.

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    Ep 24: Emily Garrison & Julie Marchiori

    It's our last episode of the year! Emily Garrison and Julie Marchiori drop in to talk about using agency to empower players to build their own stories, gameplay verbs, the narrative potential of systems, environmental storytelling, level design, the research phase, design processes, subtext in games, the importance of downtime with your characters and why it's difficult for studios, minority content, examining the choices of players, and a heck of a lot more!

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    Ep 23: Tim Schafer & Jake Elliott & Cara Ellison

    We are JAM-PACKED with storymakin' knowledge as we talk with Tim, Jake, and SURPRISE RETURN GUEST Cara about using Twine as a design tool, knowing the implementation of your writing, working the fat off your prose style, the hero’s journey being just one bag of tricks that works, the differing emotional states between pitching and working, thinking of structure like Brutalist architecture, the most over utilized/underutilized tools in the storytelling toolbox, the importance of having/not having voice over, fatigue from world-ending stakes, internal writing rules, deciding to use/not use puzzles in adventure games, and whether there’s too much pressure on conclusions.

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    Ep 22: Mel MacCoubrey & Ann Lemay

    Mel MacCoubrey and Ann Lemay are here to talk about whether going to university is necessary for becoming a game writer, being a salesperson to other departments, Ubisoft internships, the length of game stories, being a narrative director, one thing they wish all departments knew about narrative to start with, dealing with players who don't care about story, how narrative is everything, the possibility of AAA studios making smaller open world games, being scientifically accurate in Mass Effect and historically accurate in Assassin's Creed, coming onto a franchise that has already started, fan fiction, how to acknowledge every possible action of the player without diluting the story you want to tell, whether we should be concerned about side content overshadowing the main narrative, the hardest and easiest characters to write, the importance of communication, and jeez, so much more!

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    Ep 21: Rayna Anderson & Alexis Kennedy

    This week we've got Rayna and Alexis talking about the Beast ARG, not underestimating your audience, small teams vs big teams, pruning your ideas through technical constraints, why game writing should be more like short stories, bloat in modern game writing, trusting the players more, how to get lots of words in a game trailer, game rhythms, owing players closure, and more!

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    Ep 20: Thomas Grip & JT Petty

    Thomas and JT join us to discuss the Four Layers of Narrative Design, mistaking plot for story, how controllers affect the narrative, goals of storytelling, VR skepticism, the relation between narrative systems and emotional impact, Silent Hill, what a lack of combat can do for you, the lessons developers can learn from horror, and much more!

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    Ep 19: Josh Scherr & Sarah Elmaleh

    Uncharted 4 spoilers abound as we've got Josh and Sarah in to talk performance, can you know too much about a character, the writing process at Naughty Dog, what you accomplish in level dialogue vs cutscene dialogue, why there isn’t an open world Uncharted, was Sam ever Samantha, structure, taking the time to develop characters in-game and spend time with them, where do you start when creating mysteries/puzzles, serious pirate history, making the main character an asshole, ghost pirates, and can you enjoy the games you’ve worked on.

    Again, SPOILERS FOR UNCHARTED 4 IN THIS EPISODE.

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    Ep 18: Laura E. Hall & Ian Thomas

    The wait is over! Laura and Ian join us this week to talk about moment-driven story design, designing escape rooms and narrative live action experiences, relying on people's subconscious' to do the heavy lifting, Punchdrunk's immersive theatre, environmental storytelling, breaking games, how to write for experiences where you can't control what the player will do, puzzle design, VR shorthands, and much more!

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    Ep 17: Jolie Menzel & Teddy Diefenbach

    Talking all about design this week with Jolie and Teddy! We also chat about the story and lack of text in Hyper Light Drifter, games being different based on what department heads the studio, breaking design down into systems/levels/narratives, narrative puzzle design, iteration, having intimate conversations with developers by playing their game, giving players choice when they don’t expect it, the balance of showing how much a game is listening to players, subtlety in design, storytelling through level design, games withholding their payoffs for too long, and the need to not be precious with your work.

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    Ep 16: Drew McGee & Greg Kasavin

    Drew and Greg call in to talk with us about the importance of being involved with the development process when you're a writer, worldbuilding, the writing process on Banner Saga 1 & 2, subtlety in games, how Supergiant decides on which game they're gonna make, writing as the most disposable of the creative disciplines, the divide between thinking something is good and what ends up shipping, storytelling structures, revising and never being comfortable in knowing how close you are from the finish line, the phrase 'We made the game we wanna play,' dealing with branching narratives, and the storytelling potential in fighting games.

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    Ep 15: Rob Morgan & Emily Short

    NPCs! VR! AR! Rob and Emily are here to talk about the importance of streamlining the implementation of your script, looting silos of information and the problem of them not being widely accessible, the value of knowing programming, the storytelling possibilities of VR and who you “are,” disempowered experiences in VR, interactive theater’s influence on games, different solutions for offering branching narratives to players, writing for augmented reality, and the lack of games about maintaining relationships.

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    Ep 14: Ian Gil & Anna Kipnis

    Ian and Anna join us to discuss falling into the industry, the benefits of an education that doesn't just focus on programming/computer science, the work involved with implementing dialogue, planning for localization, Never Alone's development, cultural expression in games, dialogue systems, why text to speech isn't the future (for now), the costs of voiced dynamic dialogue, authored vs simulationist vs player-centric approaches to story in games, and a couple of other rad topics!

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    Ep 13: Matthew Burns & Carrie Patel

    Matthew and Carrie join us this week to talk about maintaining your writing momentum, outlining, the writing process at Obsidian, Large Teams and the Problems they Cause, creating a Total Work of Art in video games, offering decisions that lead to chokepoints, motivating players with different play styles, the negative space that defines players’ experiences, how The Writer Will Do Something came about, that part of the meeting when everybody turns to look at you, when gameplay doesn't trump story, the linearity of relationship portrayals in games today, and should creators ever be involved in the post-release discussion.

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    Ep 12: Karla Zimonja & Eric Stirpe

    This week's coming in hot with Karla and Eric joining us to talk about writing and editing processes, writing at Telltale and working with design, player trust, gaming literacy, the importance of Minecraft, trying to balance giving the player an experience that feels unique and tailored to them with the desire to tell a coherent story, ludonarrative dissonance, whether there's a place for cutscenes, how to handle pacing, things you can and can't do with a first person narrative, and so much more!

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    Ep 11: Meg Jayanth & Richard Lemarchand

    We're captivated by our guests this week, as Meg and Richard talk about the cultural influences of tabletop, LARPing and interactive theatre on games, the woes of being a freelance writer, finding work-life balance, the importance and need for editors, the propensity for systemic thinking, unfairness in games, following the rules of fiction vs the rules of games, systemizing choice, the structure of 80 Days, research giving safety to the player, whether genres are useful, the generic influences of The Velvet Underground and The Doors, games confident enough to not explode all over your face when you start them up, and taking responsibility for the stories and games we put out into the world.

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    Ep 10: Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris & Jerry Belich

    Social simulations and the storytelling potential of hardware-based games are the main topics in today's discussion with Mitu and Jerry! We talk about the importance of player choice, The Witness and the dialogue that happens between a creator and the player, why freedom in games isn't always a good thing, how controllers and interfaces affect the way we think about games, why Animal Crossing is an amazing social simulator, how fleshing out a game's world can influence the design, the problems with making a social simulation, what happens to our engagement with games as interfaces become more mimetic, slaying Chris Crawford's Dragon, and man, that's just the stuff that's off the top of our heads!

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    Ep 09: Jill Murray & Corey May

    2016 has been put on notice by our guests Jill Murray and Corey May, who are here to talk about how everything is writing even if nobody will believe you, staying creatively refreshed, the brain’s thirst for motor activities during procrastination, how one is never done writing a game even after shipping, the insularity of the games industry vs other mediums, the treatment of making games as software instead of entertainment, why it's so hard to get rid of the cutscene/gameplay/cutscene structure, how games have a lot to learn about nonverbal storytelling from dance, the need to embrace failure, how pressure does NOT make diamonds in game development, working with a nonexistent creative vision, being forced to make decisions and live with them as early as possible, not holding out for a better idea, and more things The Good Wife can teach us about narrative design.

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    Ep 08: Cara Ellison & Jack de Quidt

    Our last episode of the year is here and it's super writing-focused! Cara and Jack join us to talk about their writing processes, working on a narrative when it's fractured across an entire team, why fetch quests occur even though everyone HATES them, the narrative design in The Witcher and Kentucky Route Zero, why a lot of studios are afraid of trusting the player, narrative problem-solving, the verbs that happen in games, navigating breaking the fourth wall, the portrayal of relationships in games, the importance of humor, how to handle pacing, required reading for people working in the industry that isn't about making games, and much, much more.

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    Ep 07: Graham & Malena Annable

    LucasArts is in the house with our guests Graham and Malena! We cover RTX: Red Rock, wearing many hats as a producer and creative director, Telltale’s first year, course correcting your game, localization vs translating, how writers can make producers’ lives easier, similarities between miniature set design and game development, and the unnerving speed of technological change in games.

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    Ep 06: C.J. Kershner & Liz Albl

    Come for the discussions about writing on an open world game with C.J. and Liz, stay for the talks on how to write a good bark, working with localization, pickled toes, writing Far Cry 4, exposition, maintaining urgency in an open word, catching players back up with the story, the importance of asking why manhole covers are round, and GTA 5 role-playing.

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    Ep 05: Khris Brown & Brad Muir

    Two of the happiest people in games, Khris and Brad talk to us about pitching games to studios, working with the story for MASSIVE CHALICE, voice over directing, working with actors, how to deal with differences of opinion, the importance of staying positive, creating stories in games when you're not a "story person", narrative and gameplay dissonance, linearity of AAA game stories, the future of performances in games, and how we've evolved for hugging.

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    Ep 04: Robin Hunicke

    We dive deep into empathy with Robin this week, along with her pitch for a Street Angel game, games being systems that run on the software of us, what producers actually do, how to design for and instill empathy in players, fostering a genuine non-adversarial connection between players, how to reward contemplative play, games that celebrate mistakes, why aren’t we making games about being loved, the future of AI and storytelling, and how to stave off creative starvation.

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    Ep 03: Tanya X. Short & Rob Auten

    We're all about ARGs and procedural generation on this week's discussion with Tanya and Rob. Our sprawling conversation includes chatbots, transmedia narratives, creating mythologies, binary morality systems, pacing in a procedurally generated game, why haven't we moved past cutscenes in games, how procedural and systemic gameplay affects development and writing, and games based on information retrieval.

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    Ep 02: Brian Kindregan & Diandra Lasrado

    We've brought in Brian and Diandra for discussions on Boogerman, working at Bioware, what being an editor in games is like, application processes for writers, writing born from constraint, why we haven't seen The Wire: The Game yet, and what RTS' can do with storytelling that no other genre can do.

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    Ep 01: Brendon Chung & Brie Code

    Brendon and Brie join us on our very first episode to discuss narrative systems, whether or not cutscenes are evil, the systemic possibilities of a game based on The Good Wife, procedurally generated stories and level design, what an open world game without a main quest would be like, silent protagonists, if narrative is a game mechanic, and much more!

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