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Video Game Storytelling (Book) Review

 
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Page Count: 202
 
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4.5/ 5


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An easy to follow guide for creating a great story for your game.

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Definitely created for a niche audience, but perfect for those working in game development.


Final Fiendish Findings?

  “What every developer needs to know about narrative techniques” Creating a great video game involves a whole lot more than a story idea and a nice computer, and getting it right is often an involved process that mixes a whole lot of hard work and good leadership with a little bit of luck thrown […]

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Posted January 5, 2015 by

 
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“What every developer needs to know about narrative techniques”

Creating a great video game involves a whole lot more than a story idea and a nice computer, and getting it right is often an involved process that mixes a whole lot of hard work and good leadership with a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure. Even with all that, though, a lot of games fail – and oftentimes a poorly developed story line is at least partially to blame.

In Video Game Storytelling, experienced developer Evan Skolnick shares the tricks and tips he’s developed in his over twenty five years in the business. Having worked extensively on both development and story telling, Skolnick has a unique perspective that allows him to look at the issue of narrating games from a completely different angle. Using that perspective, he’s put together a sort of how-to that is easy to follow and understand, making the process of getting the story just right a little bit easier.

The book itself is broken into two different sections. In the first, Basic Training, Skolnick breaks down the basics of writing a story: conflict, the three act structure, the monomyth, characters and arcs, exposition, believability, and dialogue. Each of these topics gets its own chapter, where it is broken down and explained in a clear and concise way – both why it’s important and how to use it properly.

All of that may sound a little an difficult to read, but it really isn’t, and that’s mainly due to the way Skolnick chooses to illustrate his points – with movies. As he explains early in the book, he uses movie stories because most everyone finishes a movie, but not all that many people actually reach the credits on video games. Therefore, by using famous movies that most people have seen, his examples are easy to follow for just about anybody. While there are several movies used (and even a few examples from games as well), the majority of his examples come from Star Wars. You’d be hard pressed to find too many people who haven’t seen those iconic films, and it’s a really effective way to illustrate the points made.

The second section of the book deals with the people making of the game, and how their roles relate to story telling in the game. Though this section, In the Trenches, is divided into chapters for each area of development (team leadership, overall game design, game character development, level and mission development, environments, engineering the story, audio, and quality assurance), the author suggests that you read all of them, regardless of where you’re actually working, in order to understand how all areas can work together for optimum effect.

Regardless of your place in the development of video games, Video Game Storytelling can be an invaluable tool for helping your game be the best it can be. You can have well thought out mechanics and stunning graphics, but if your story is no good your game will likely fail. Story is an integral part of the gaming experience for most players, and getting it just right can mean the difference between a new favorite and a flop. Video Game Storytelling offers an interesting and easy to follow plan to get your narrative in top shape, paving the way to a better game all around.


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)