Game Development Reference
An interesting way to keep the player around is to have his companions do a lot
of talking. The companions stick to the player like glue, so the player can't get away
from the conversation. However, the state of companion AI being what it is, this can
make things very hard on the game's programmers.
One of the best uses of this is in the Jak and Daxter series of platformers. Jak is
silent, but Daxter is a motor-mouth who comments on anything and everything the
player sees. Companion AI is cleverly avoided by making Daxter into what amounts
to a second head for Jak, as the funny critter spends the entire game riding on Jak's
The Villain: The Most Important Character in the Game
The most important NPCs you will write for are the villains. Villains should be
interesting and believable and give the player a good reason to want to defeat them.
Action-adventure games, being very story-oriented, require that the villains be the
primary drivers of the action. Generally, the main character is reactive, rather than
proactive. The villain's plans are driving the main character from place to place,
sending him to fight fires more than requiring him to prevent the fires in the first
The villains of the game should have their presence felt at all times. Even if
the main character doesn't know the identity of the villain, all the events that the
player is reacting to should have some element that reflects the villain's hand behind
them. While the old Batman villains seem campy now, they are an excellent (if
overly blatant) example of how a villain's style and methodology can be just as central
to their character as their dialogue.
Action-adventure games are generally divided into distinctive locations, or levels.
The player journeys from location to location, sometimes returning over the same
terrain, sometimes not. These locations are the setting for your story and, as in any
storytelling vehicle, should reinforce your narrative and characters.
A Location Is Worth a Thousand Words
No part of the game promotes and reinforces immersion more than the locations
that the player travels through. As the writer, you use that setting to reinforce your
narrative to make the game even more immersive.
Game environments tend to rely heavily on cliche. Western fantasy settings usu-
ally root themselves in a Dungeons & Dragons -like mishmash of western medieval
culture and mythologies. Science fiction settings have advanced weaponry, cars, and
are generally either very shiny or very rusty. Modern action games take their set-
tings straight from Bond, Bourne, or whatever recent action film has captured the
development team's imagination.