Game Development Reference
3.2 Writer as Designer
All video games have unique requirements. Hence this topic. However, an adventure
game, more than any other type of video game, demands that writing and design be
inexorably intertwined. In context, puzzles become dramatic obstacles, whether they
take the form of physical impediments or of non-player characters with agendas of
their own. Only in my recent work in alternate reality games have I found the same
necessary symbiosis. So let's keep this in mind as we explore some of the challenges
of adventure game writing.
3.3 Player Character
Beforewecanhavestory,wemusthavecharacter. Character exposes our theme, pro-
duces the drama and comedy, and creates the conflict that drives the story. Choosing
the character the player gets to play in an adventure determines the structure of the
story and the design.
If you are adapting from another medium, some choices become simpler, others
more difficult. In The Riddle of Master Lu , the player character was a real person,
Robert Ripley, supposedly one of the main inspirations for Indiana Jones. Here was
a man who in his heyday was known as an adventurer who sought out bizarre relics
from the far corners of the planet. Yet he also had a widely publicized, unconven-
tional private life involving relationships with numerous women. Since the game
was intended to be an adventure game and not Ripley's Playboy Mansion , his spirit,
his boyish enthusiasm, his fascination with the fantastic, and his love of adventure
were the traits to focus on.
Figure 3.1. Ripley's Believe It or Not!: The Riddle of Master Lu , Sanctuary Woods, Inc., 1995.