I see it’s been almost a month since my last post, so in an attempt not to sound like one of those people who only blogs about never updating their blog, I’ll instead share with you a few tidbits that have been preoccupying me for this past little while.
First off, I’ve been reading a bit. Recently, I’ve finished Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost, which was not only an interesting read, but also very useful in providing me with practical knowledge to inspire me in my own work. As well, I picked up Good Girls And Wicked Witches: Women in Disney’s Feature Animation, which appears to be a feminist critique of Disney movies. I’ve only just started, but so far, I’m very intrigued.
As for games, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my DS lately, as I managed to finally get around to playing the third installment of Phoenix Wright, as well as Hotel Dusk. Neither are particularly epic in scope, but both are very charming, engrossing, lovable, and just plain fun, and that’s more than good enough for me.
As for games I’m working on, I’ve got a thing or two in the works at the moment, but nothing I’m particularly ready to divulge as of yet. In the meantime, did you know that Chivalry recently got mentioned on Play This Thing! and Rock, Paper, Shotgun? I think this bodes well, as it signifies that the game is finally starting to get itself exposed to gamers at large, rather than just the adventure gaming community. Now, I only hope that said gamers will find something to like in it…
Well, they should! (find something to like, I mean). Chivalry is wonderful game I go back to repeatedly to see if I can work out some things from a different moral stance. And I’m still looking for that fairytale ending. I’m SO indoctrinated. Which brings me to thanking you for posting about the Feminist/Disney book. Sounds like one I’d appreciate. Yay! You’re working on something new! Yippee!
I played Chivalry several times. Very well done. I have often thought about how to make characters in adventure games feel more like characters, and I believe you’ve done a very good job with Chivalry.
One thing that we as adventure gamers are conditioned on is that there is a 1-to-1 relationship between the dialog choices we are presented and the resulting response from the NPC.
1. Snarky response -> NPC gets annoyed but still talks to you.
2. Nice response -> NPC gives more details about some side quest.
3. Small talk -> NPC tells you something that every other NPC always tells you.
Regardless of the order in which you ask choose the questions, the answers are always the same.
I believe that one potential innovation here is to provide the same response tree, but different NPC dialog depending on the NPC’s feelings towards you. The reason people tend to fly through the dialog in adventure games is because there are no consequences to your choices. Only combat choices seem to matter in the game. This is probably because there is only one way through the quest, and by losing that thread through a bad dialog choice would derail the adventure.
By providing multiple avenues to solve various puzzles, you can present dialog choices. Sure, you can alienate NPCs with your dialog choices, but that just means you are left with only violent or sneaky solutions to your problems rather than help from your NPC friends. Those options must always be available in order for a player to power through difficult parts in which their subtlety didn’t work.
However, I would have liked to have seen more options available due to certain actions that were difficult to achieve. For example, I purposefully set up some tension by creating a good relationship with the queen and also giving Leslie the love potion to help him get the queen to love him.
This is a nice story arc, since not only do you *follow* the prophecy, but you defeat the myth of the powerful love potion at the end. This answers the debate about free will and love in a very powerful way. However, I didn’t see any extra dialogue to that effect. I expected a confrontation between the queen and our character when our character was surprised that the love potion that he gave Leslie didn’t work! There is lots of room for an interesting dialogue there, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t there because I expected some sort of reward for taking the “difficult road” as it were.
Anyway, it’s a lovely little game, and I would like to see more games like these and to really explore interactive story telling in this way.
PS – I make games, too.
The game is alos mentioned in this list of 100 excellent free games: