An Attempt At Game Stories

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An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby GoatBot on Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:56 am

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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby Bloggorus on Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:16 am

My two cents:

The writing in DD is good, especially in it's tone: a hilarious mix of one liners and caricatures. However, (maybe its the small font) it always struck me as heavy in places. Toasts and other visual indicators have helped, but the density of descriptions, trying to cram basic concepts along with witty writing, makes connections hard to make.

I've always felt that the best writers of this style like Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Ben Elton, etc (all British...?) have an excellent sense of pacing; slowing the narrative down with inventive exposition then speeding it up with solid dialogue and very direct, basic action. The characters act and speak quickly and clearly, leaving time and space to fill in the gap with off-the-wall humour and inventive language. THen again, they had a whole novel to do it in, so I hate to think what you were forced to cut for a streamlined experience like DD. Nothing worse than killing your darlings.

It's been a while since i started a new profile, but on my runs the writing threw me in the deep end from the beginning, and without any simple, solid foundations the interesting writing really ever got in the way. After repeated exposure the context sunk in, but i still feel like i've missed 50% of the content because I had no idea of the previous narrative threads.

It also didn't help that there was very little visual connections, which can be worth a thousand words of context without having to spell it out. Those hand drawn vignettes at the start of lots of indie games these days are cheezy and cheap, but they are still very useful, and pave the way for players forgiving textwalls later on.

I would probably do this too if i wrote a game; I hate the simplistic approach to everything in AAA game writing, so my immediate reaction would be to do the opposite of simple. But those games still cover the basics very well, and you don't know what you've got till its gone.

Shadowlands could be a good example of complex game writing: although lots of the concepts, dialogue and descriptive language are complicated and cerebral, the writers still take the time to spell it out simply when the need arises. With context under your belt you can handle all the batshit crazy stuff that happens after.

Hope this didn't come as a critique: the references to the writers above was an equal comparison, not something to strive for. Keep up the good work guys!
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby Sidestepper on Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:48 am

For what it's worth, I've always enjoyed the semi-implict storytelling of DTD. I almost made a thread about it once, but I found that the lore loses some of its charm when laid out flat and bare.

SPOILERS:

At this point I think I know most of what there is to know. I've figured out the relationship between the druids, the old northern empire, and the people comprising the player's kingdom. I know who Namtar is and how he was part of three different magical traditions.

Here are a few things I don't know:

1) When did the eastern land become frozen? I had always assumed that was Namtar's doing, but I swear I saw a sign indicating that the dragon's sapphire was what was containing the cold, and that was destroyed long before Namtar got corrupted. I've never been able to find that sign again, so maybe I'm just misremembering?

2) Why did the Spiders desecrate the Dragon's temple? My guess is "because of Horatio," but the evidence for that is purely circumstantial and highly speculative. I kind of wish there was a Spider boss, like maybe an ancient surviving sorceror or undead abomination or somesuch so that the player could more directly connect with the history.

3) What IS Horatio anyway? He's kind of a fourth wall creature, and there can never be a real ingame explanation for him, but his speech makes me think that he was a character in some previous, possibly unreleased game made by one of the devs a long time ago.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby dislekcia on Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:53 am

Sidestepper wrote:3) What IS Horatio anyway? He's kind of a fourth wall creature, and there can never be a real ingame explanation for him, but his speech makes me think that he was a character in some previous, possibly unreleased game made by one of the devs a long time ago.


Interesting! No, Horatio isn't from any other games, he's got an origin in the DD world, but I'm not sure how much of that is conveyed in the game itself vs how much I've learned from talking to Nandrew about it all.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby PeaceChaser on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:23 pm

I was just discussing with the wife about the game's writing. Not so much the storytelling - there's a story, but I think it's just the writing style that makes the game.

In all honesty, Desktop Dungeons is the most consistently amusing serial I have ever had the pleasure of involving myself with. Just about ever line gets at least a smirk, if not a laugh. Even my favorite web comics don't always produce that. Everything about the game is clever and fun.

Also, I want to take time to say thanks for coming through with a great game. I hadn't played the beta in close to a year, and my-oh-my has it filled out.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby Nandrew on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:10 pm

Hah, nice!

We've tried making the writing more succinct in recent versions -- particularly with regards to what Bloggorus mentions about the start being overwhelming. I think that chunks of text are possible (and even forgivable) but they really need to be at a point in the game where you're *already* invested in characters or events. There's a lot of semi-story-based indie games I see which make the mistake of loading up a small novel on the opening screen, before letting players do interactive stuff.

I find that sort of thing inappropriate and cumbersome outside Interactive Fiction. Sadly, it means cutting a lot of flavoursome one-liners -- but I feel that the strongest ones will always remain, anyway.

---

With regards to the more speculative parts of the game's lore, I've technically tried to provide players with most -- but not quite all -- of the information needed for them to properly "figure out" the game world. I think direct information on Horatio is the most difficult to find and I'm trying to provide enough of a playground for theories without stating the whole crazy idea.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby The Avatar on Thu Aug 22, 2013 2:52 pm

Great post Devs. While a bit text heavy, I like the writing for this game. It may be large, but it is enjoyable. Also, Bloggorus reminded me I need to piece together a lore timeline on the wiki. Would you do the honors bloggorus?
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby Sidestepper on Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:10 am

Nandrew wrote:Hah, nice!

We've tried making the writing more succinct in recent versions -- particularly with regards to what Bloggorus mentions about the start being overwhelming. I think that chunks of text are possible (and even forgivable) but they really need to be at a point in the game where you're *already* invested in characters or events. There's a lot of semi-story-based indie games I see which make the mistake of loading up a small novel on the opening screen, before letting players do interactive stuff.


Absolutely. I really only care about the lore because I've played the game for so long, and also because of the puzzle-like nature of the presentation. That's partly why I never made a plot speculation thread. What's interesting and exciting when presented as a bunch of scattered clues is cumbersome and boring when presented as a giant block of text.

That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I think you take my meaning. It's the presentation and style that matters, not the story, and you seem to get that.

With regards to the more speculative parts of the game's lore, I've technically tried to provide players with most -- but not quite all -- of the information needed for them to properly "figure out" the game world. I think direct information on Horatio is the most difficult to find and I'm trying to provide enough of a playground for theories without stating the whole crazy idea.


I know for sure that Horatio urged the nagas to war with the northern empire, and that he also urged the northern empire to use infernal magic as a weapon against the naga, and that he also introduced an embittered Hobarix/Namtar to the cult of Dracul. I suspect that he gave the spiders the idea of raiding the temple, and I suspect that he manipulated the dragons into declaring a genocidal war against the spiders in retaliation.

Beyond that, I don't know. I was CONVINCED that Horatio had out-of-universe origins, since he's so weird and because he seems to understand that he's a character in a video game and is aware of all of the expected tropes. So now I'm guessing that the Goats were the first "people" created by the gods, but got supplanted by the newer races and now has serious abandonment issues.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby The Avatar on Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:16 am

Shoot. I meant to say would you, Sidestepper, write the wiki page. Then again, if you don't want to or feel it doesn't belong on the wiki, that's fine.
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Re: An Attempt At Game Stories

Postby Sidestepper on Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:27 am

What I'd really like to have is a listing of all of the signposts, so that the viewer can draw their own conclusions. I've been putting off collecting the things because I had a vague hope that the codex might record them automatically. Still kind of hope that might happen ;)
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