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Trinity34
31st May 2005, 03:53
E3 Report: Developing Better Characters, Better Stories
By Frank Cifaldi
Gamasutra
May 26, 2005


The power may have been out in many of the conference rooms on the first day of the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, but just shy of 9:30 in the morning in room 404, the projector glowed strong and the faint sounds of a Red Hot Chili Peppers “Greatest Hits” disc eased its way across the floor, the opening act for an assembly of industry rock stars. The panel was called “Developing better characters, better stories: How a game character's emotion, passion, and intelligence makes the game experience real.” Moderator Ian Davis, CEO of Mad Doc Software, responsible for Empire Earth II and Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna, chatted casually with his fellow panel members before starting the show.

Among the cast were Toby Gard, Game Designer for Crystal Dynamics and creator of Lara Croft; John Milius, the Hollywood screenwriter responsible for Apocalypse Now and Conan the Barbarian, who just had his first experience in games with the script for EA's Medal of Honor: European Assault; Joe Staten, Bungie Studios' Cinematics Director for both Halo and Halo 2, and Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine, creator of Psychonauts and former LucasArts designer, who graced us with Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, and a good portion of the script for the original two Monkey Island games.

The subject of the panel was character design, and with Lara Croft, one of the most famous video game characters around, Gard started by explaining his reasoning. “I had the idea of trying to make a cinematic game,” said Gard early on, referring to his Tomb Raider creation. “Lara didn't have much of a personality,” Gard continued, stating that she was left empty in order to allow the player to project his or her image into the character.

“I think Lara does have a personality,” argued Schafer, “in that she solves challenges differently than, say, James Bond.” “In some ways,” he continued, “all games are like Mechwarrior in that you're strapping on a suit that lets you do things you normally can't."

In creating the most appealing character for a player, Schafer says he likes to create a game's world, and then “find the coolest character in it.” Full Throttle, he said, as an example, was a world full of bikers, so it seemed obvious that the player should be at the helm of the leader of a biker game.


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susan
31st May 2005, 07:55
Thanks Trinity, interesting stuff.


“Our main regret with Halo 2 is that we didn't let our players breathe,” said Staten, explaining that the original Halo had moments where the player might calmly look at the serene atmosphere, with no action, whereas in the sequel, such moments didn't exist.
“Mood is the most powerful tool you have as a dramatist,” he said, “and I don't think games are focusing on that. Publishers are going to continue pushing games with nothing but action, but someday someone's going to do it differently, and people will notice.”These are my concerns whenever I hear about how Legend is going to be more "action-y". It's like developers know that there's more to games than putting in more and more action but for whatever reasons, they churn it out anyway.

LaraAngelOfDarkness
31st May 2005, 12:33
Thanks Trinity, interesting stuff.

These are my concerns whenever I hear about how Legend is going to be more "action-y". It's like developers know that there's more to games than putting in more and more action but for whatever reasons, they churn it out anyway.

I wouldn't worry too much about Legend's amount of action, of course this assumption is based off the demo they had at E3. If you saw it, you know there were moments where you could just look around at the environment in awe(at least I did when I saw the video).