As I move through the process of designing my second game, I have been looking for other game design diaries and retrospectives to use as models. I am, of course, interested in the experiences of other game designers, but I am also interested in how games themselves are narrated.
One of my favorite things to do as a child was to watch my Dad play Gauntlet, both on the arcade machine in the pizza joint in which he worked and on the NES in our home. The game itself had a relatively simple story about finding your way through a labyrinth of monster infected levels while keeping yourself healthy by consuming food and potions.
Remember: Don’t Shoot Food!
However, to five year old me, the more compelling story was the one happening to my father, the player, in his quest to beat this epicly difficult game. Watching him play was, to me, like watching a tiny, local version of Rocky or The Mighty Ducks. Would this rag-tag father-daughter team rise to the challenge and beat the game?
Ever since then, I have always had an affinity for tales of other people’s play. I love listening to role players tell stories about their character’s past exploits as well as the disputes between dungeon masters and players that took place at the table. I love listening to poker players describe their best hands and their worst busts. And I love stories of MMOs past, hearing how the various niches and exploits of worlds now long gone were exploited or endured.
Someday I will share some of my husband J’s tales of Ultima Online and EverQuest.
But for now, I strongly recommend that you check out Raph Koster’s blog series about the development, rise, and fall of Star Wars Galaxies. He is a great games storyteller, and I love reading his descriptions of both the game world he created and the behind-the-scenes madness that went into its creation.