Game Development Reference
Environment. Televisions, billboards, video kiosks, paintings, or just prop
and environmental details. Bioshock told much of its story through the use of
brilliant art direction and design elements.
Loading screens. A good use of time otherwise wasted as the player waits for
the game to begin. Often only text is used, but some games use music as well.
Call of Juarez used voiceovers from the major characters to help tell the story
while the levels loaded.
Mission briefings. Often used in military games like Medal of Honor and the
Clancy games ( Ghost Recon , Rainbow Six , Splinter Cell ).
6.6 Early Classics and How They Told Their Stories
Anyone who wants to become a novelist must read all the great novels. If someone
wants to be a screenwriter, they need to read screenplays and watch the classic movies.
Before pursuing any artistic endeavor, it's essential to study the masters. At least that's
what I tell my wife when she wakes up to find me in the living room, playing a video
game at 3:00 a.m.
Outlaws (LucasArts, 1997). Written by Stephen R. Shaw and Matthew Ja-
cobs. An iconic western tale about retired town marshal James Anderson,
whose wife is murdered and daughter is kidnapped by a ruthless railroad baron
who wants his land. The storyline is linear, and the story is told through text,
cell-animated cutscenes, and NPC dialogue. The emotional resonance and
complexity of Outlaws raised FPS stories to a whole new level.
Half-Life (Valve, 1998). Written by Marc Laidlaw, Randall Pitchford, and
Brian Hess. A teleportation experiment has gone disastrously wrong, allowing
the invasion of aliens from another world. Physicist Gordon Freeman is caught
between the alien invaders, Marine Special Forces, and a mysterious character
known as the G-Man. Half-Life tells its story entirely in-game in real time
with triggered scripted sequences and no cutscenes. A major FPS storytelling
breakthrough. Though the voice acting is well done, the player's character has
no voice at all. The idea was to make the player the protagonist.
Deus Ex (Ion Storm, 2000). Written by Austin Grossman, Sheldon Pacotti,
and Chris Todd. Set in a grim cyberpunk future, the story follows United
Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent JC Denton as he uncovers an ancient
conspiracy. The story is told with scripted events, cutscenes, and NPC inter-
action where, in RPG fashion, the player can converse by choosing from a list
of dialogue options. Part of the story is told through a text-reading system,
where players can access terminals and notes, excerpts from newspapers, and
even real-world books. A giant step forward in the evolution of FPS story-