Script: Syndicate

Another Short Script has popped up on BeefJack. This time it's for Starbreeze's reboot of the 1993 isometric game Syndicate, which is ludicrously titled exactly the same. It's a cyberpunk game set in the future where corporations are immensely powerful and openly duke it out with each other by deploying agents with enhanced abilities, all in a bid for control. If that sounds anything like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it's because it totally is.

Short Script: Battlefield 3

Whew, been a while, hasn't it? The reason for the lack of updates here is my recent work on BeefJack, which has agreed to host my Short Scripts as a regular feature. Battlefield 3 takes the dubious honour of being the first, so if you want to read it, click on the link above. The script will be added to the archive here in due time. But on BeefJack, it has pictures!

Short Script: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 does what it does best: it offers undeniable fun. It is a tightly scripted roller coaster ride that dials the blockbuster spectacle up to eleven and goes out of its way to keep it there. It's breaking sales records as we speak, it's engendering controversy with scenes partly designed to do just that, and it'll be played online long after the single player campaign has been forgotten by all those who didn't have to review it. It's 2009 all over again. So what's left to say?

BAFTA Games Writing Panel

Fine, you try captioning this one.
Fine, you try captioning this one.
On October 26th, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) invited four games writers and narrative designers for a small panel on the theory and practicality of writing for games. Since I was visiting a friend in Wales at the time, I was unable to attend myself. Fortunately, I managed to sneak a recorder on an unwitting attendee, and she captured the entire panel for me. If this unwitting attendee whose name may or may not be Nina is reading this, you have my eternal gratitude. So while this is an indirect account of the panel, I hope to offer a short but thorough recap here. Read on to find out about the improper use of cutscenes, the challenges presented by a silent protagonist, and why a games writer is like a feng shui guy.

Script: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Note: I've also made another contribution to The Editing Room. My thoughts on Rise of the Planet of the Apes can be read here. Also, next week the annual Eurogamer Expo will commence, and I'm going to be there in three different capacities: a journalist, a visitor, and a volunteer. These may overlap at times.

The Deus Ex: Human Revolution Short Script (and I have to use the qualifier "short" lightly here) is one of the toughest and most gratifying scripts I've written. I consider it to be a wonderful game that comes down to the best kind of fan fiction Deus Ex could ever hope to get. I'm not sure whether it would have fared as well had it been a new IP, as the countless references to its progenitor add a flavour that immensely intensifies the overall experience. As a result, I find it nearly impossible to look at Human Revolution without Deus Ex as a touchstone. This post will therefore make a lot of comparisons between all games in the Deus Ex series. And just like the Short Script, it's quite lengthy, which is why I'm going to have to subdivide it.

Short Script: Mirror's Edge

Note: I've been quite busy in the last two months. I nonetheless managed to contribute something to The Editing Room, the site that single-handedly influenced Playthroughline's style. Read my take on The Adjustment Bureau here. Also, the next Short Script to go up will be that of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I feel as if this entire blog has been leading up to that one. I share both Tom Francis' affinity for and frustration with Mirror's Edge. It's a beautiful but flawed game; its potential is marred by what seems like a series of last-minute cop-outs. "Wait, are consumers really going to go for a game where all you do is run and jump around? Better add some weapons to even that out!". The loose approach to the game's mechanics can also be seen when looking at its story. Mirror's Edge is a game where the disconnect between story and gameplay manifests itself visually.

Short Script: Doom 3

In my previous post, I mentioned that certain games try to instill fear in the player. This is the cornerstone of Doom 3's gameplay experience, which pulls out all the stops. By far the most common technique used is that of the monster closet. In fact, Doom 3 has so many of them, you can't help but wonder about those the player didn't trigger. Picture a demon, anxiously waiting in a cramped, 5x3 storage space. It knows it's supposed to jump out at whoever opens the panel that traps it in there. It never happens. "Is that gunfire I hear outside?", it wonders. But then, silence. "Have they -- forgotten about me?".

Short Script: F.E.A.R.

In this post, I used Condemned: Criminal Origins as a fitting case study for (the impact of) weapons in games. Condemned features a dedicated melee system and only occasionally offers a firearm to the player, which makes them stand out more. Monolith Productions went completely the other way with F.E.A.R., a shooter that focuses its entire gameplay experience on smooth and stylised combat. With guns. Lots of guns.

Short Script: Portal 2

Portal 2 isn't merely a sequel, it's a viable application of what was essentially a trial run. Valve Software has stated that it never expected Portal to gain the extended following it has, which is why The Orange Box acted as a safety net. A most unnecessary safety net, since Portal managed to eclipse both Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 in popularity. And now Portal 2 has evolved into a standalone title that does just that: standing alone.

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