Storytelling and Backfill
Starsiege 2845 Developer Diary #1
First off, I know this is terrible of me but you guys just have to know how impressed I am with our art department. All the things youve seen in the updates? You havent seen anything yet. I dont want to spoil anything for you, but Ill just say that this week Ive seen some of the most impressive work yet come out of our art department, and that is saying something. Im actually starting to worry that we might loose some of our guys to real dev houses. Its happened to other mods before. professional essay writer
This past week Ive spent a fair portion of my time working up unit names and histories for some of the more notable Colonial and Imperial forces that may make cameos in the story. Even if they dont its still good backfill work that will hopefully make it into accessory material. Ive also been focusing on character overviews for a few Cybrid luminaries. The tough thing about these pieces of detail work is that some of them may never see the light of day, but we need to know who they are for development purposes anyway.
Even if we dont get the green light to make these details official we still have to know they happened, or that these individuals existed to drive the events that DO officially happen in the course of the story. If there is an order given to go somewhere and destroy this or that, someone gave that order for a reason. Sometimes those characters and those reasons are exceptionally important to the believability of the story even if you, the player, never get to actually see them. There is a degree of authenticity that is transmitted to the plot by their unseen presence, which cannot be fabricated
As an example take the Lord of the Rings. I use it not just because Im a fanboy (which I admittedly am) but also because its finale is in theatres shortly and so the reference should be fairly obvious to most folks. There are a plethora of details in this epic story that exist because they were created in Tolkiens Silmarillion; A title that most folks have never, and probably will never, read. We know through the course of the Lord of the Rings trilogy itself that the Kingdom of Gondor has waned, and that its rulers have died off, leaving a line of Stewards in charge. There are pages worth of history however, detailing the succession of the Kings of Gondor, which are not revealed in the work itself that nonetheless lend an incredible amount of credulity and internal consistency to the work. Thus we are sucked in and captivated by a world which we feel is real. That feeling is conveyed in large part by details we are unaware of, but which impact the narrative to which we are party.
So as authors we try to create as much backfill as we can, and hope that as much of it as is possible actually makes it from our pens to your eyes. All the time knowing that due to time constraints, development needs, and other concerns (in our case IP concerns) much of those details may never see the light of day. They will still have impact on the experience the player has though, and so we invest ourselves willingly in that craft.
There are a lot of developers who would consider this sort of thing wasted effort. Very talented and intelligent professionals at the top of their craft in fact would argue as much. I could not disagree more though. The issue of whether electronic games are a new storytelling medium is an argument for another time. Suffice to say I am of the opinion that all art forms are storytelling mediums. Therefore I believe that there is no such thing as wasted effort when that effort goes to immersing the player, viewer, listener or reader in the experience which the work in question is attempting to provide. Hopefully our dedication as a writing department to that ideal will pay off in a single player campaign that is better than most. I believe we have the framework, the talent, and the right framework within which to achieve that goal. All that remains is for us to execute well.