Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
tell you, some of the best devices are empty mysteries, filled in endlessly by the
subjective mind of the viewer. The system relies on a player's own cognitive ability
to create meaning and purpose within moments, each piece then woven together by
the human mind in a consistent narrative. That is not to say this is an easy task,
but that if a well-crafted montage of cinematics and gameplay is presented, the mind
lends itself to the creation of story. This is an act every living person can understand;
one's life is in fact a database narrative. In this day and age, people digest a lot of
media, be it on the TV, computer, or handheld devices. Consumers of digital media
constantly move in and out of moments with varying perceived limits to agency. This
symphony of seemingly random events is compiled together in one's mind, creating
a linear experience through which modern man seeks meaning and purpose.
7.4 The Primary Storyline: Single-Player Campaigns
RTS single-player campaign writing has more to do with tightly interweaving a story
with the gameplay content than with voices for the particular units. It's here that the
epic story arcs commonly associated with the RTS game type are created. The rise
and fall of nations, races, worlds, and empires seem to be the focus for RTS, not to
say that more couldn't be done. The sky is the limit. In the broadest sense, RTS is
about simulation, tactics, and eye candy; many stories could be applied.
The single-player format is more akin to traditional screenplay writing due to its
more linear nature. Traditional screenwriting formats and related supporting soft-
ware should suffice. The script usually exists in two parts, non-interactive sequences
(NIS) like cinematics, and gameplay. Non-interactive sequences act as traditional
linear story moments that return the player to third person. In Company of Heroes:
Opposing Fronts , we began with two such scenes (see Figures 7.4 a nd 7-rts-5 ), which
carry the player from observer in the cinematic mode to commander in gameplay.
The convention is also used at key moments during, and book-ending, single-player
missions as a way to carry the stories of NPCs forward throughout the campaign. In
these cinematic sequences, the player is rarely addressed, though some RTS games
do suggest the player is a commander of sorts, either ascribing some avatar character
to the player, as Prince Arthas of Warcraft III , or using the second person, as the
video-driven sequences of Command & Conquer .
Cutscenes must then in some way transition the player to a particular perspective
for interactive sequences, or gameplay. The question is, what perspective is appropri-
ate for the game design? Is this a moment in the game for third-person omnipotent
god-like powers or a limited second-person control? In some cases, the player is
corralled into a smaller perspective by design, letting him control individual hero
characters for effect during particular missions, like Frodo in The Battle for Middle
Earth ,orsquadssuchas“TheRoyalScotsEngineers”in Company of Heroes: Opposing
Fronts . The writing must facilitate this transition in voice and tone. Non-interactive
sequences are meant to connect both story and gameplay in a meaningful moment
before, or after, the player is called to tactical or strategic action. While they might
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