Let’s talk for a minute about guilty pleasures. I have firm ideas of what I do and do not consider a “guilty pleasure.” I like the movie Speed Racer, but don’t consider it a guilty pleasure, because to my sensibilities, it’s a good movie. I understand that this isn’t a popular conception, but who cares – I have a high opinion of the film, I can articulate it when called upon, I am not ashamed of having seen it several times and owning it on Blu-Ray.
Back in 2007, the people at Infinity Ward laid the groundwork for all military shooters since with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now we have Titanfall 2, a game put together by a lot of the same developers. That shared DNA is apparent in how understated both games are in their accomplishments. The main difference is that, in contrast to the first Modern Warfare, Titanfall 2 never ruminates on how war is a terrible thing that only leaves spent lives in its wake. The story helps in that regard by painting a very black-and-white world in which there are only clear good guys and cartoonish bad guys. Nothing deeper is required.
My first attempt at actually writing a game instead of making fun of them resulted in Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, which was released back in 2013. Not a lot of my work ended up in the final product, since the team went in a different direction late in the process. Then, at the end of last year, I was offered another chance to write a game by my former compatriots over at BeefJack. The work ended up ballooning from two months to nearly a year, but that gave me more time to work with some amazing people, not in the least Nina, a close friend I managed to bring in as a writing partner.
Now the game has been released on Steam! If you want to give it a play and then write a scathing satirical script on it, please do. I deserve no less. Below the jump you'll find the latest trailer and a look back at the project.
The Deus Ex script was the first I ever wrote for Playthroughline, so I was really looking forward to tackling Mankind Divided, the next entry in the franchise. I won't use this space to dig into the game's misappropriation of social issues for its science fiction allegory, since the script already does that. I do want to look at how a more general failing of its storyline is connected to the first Deus Ex.
It's such a rare idea, to actually end a game franchise. Videogames come second only to comic books in their tendency to be perpetual – while movies, books, plays, albums and so forth are more often than not standalone (even in this day and age), and even TV shows are expected to eventually end, it’s exceedingly rare to see a video game created without any chance of a followup, and also very rare for a successful series of games to be deliberately brought to a permanent conclusion.
How did it ever become a conversation? And why, after such a long time, does it persist? You can't have a story – a nine hour story – fronted by a character who doesn't ever speak. That's basic. That's the first rule. I can definitely imagine the meeting where someone boasted it would allow videogame players to more easily identify with their avatar. But I can't imagine why nobody in the same meeting stood up and said “No. That's stupid. That's anti-narrative.”
Note: To capitalise on the latest videogame craze, Ed Smith wrote out a short but sweet script on Pokémon GO. Click the link above to give it a read. Think of it as a look at the wider world of Pokémon games through the lens of This is England. Yes.
Leon Kennedy is one of my favourite videogame characters of all time. He's stupid, jocular, ludicrously good-looking and cracks some of the best/worst oneliners in history. “I need a report on your situation,” inquires Hunnigan at the start of Resident Evil 6. “I just shot the President,” Leon replies, his perfectly designed fringe hanging gracefully across one eye. He's a guy that you just want to be around. Whether macho, funny or trying it on with one of the many, many ladies that he meets, every word out of Leon's mouth is pure gold. In a world of try-hard heroes, all with gritty “back stories,” he's an unadulterated, absolute joy.
Welcome to Playthroughline, the online home of writer/narrative designer Joannes Truyens. Together with a bunch of cool people, I made Neurocracy, a hypertext game that invites you to solve a murder in a near-future world by diving into the Wikipedia of that world.