Last summer, I did an interview with the inhumanly talented writer Dan Jolley. It turned out he was doing a day job as a storyline developer for a local video game company.
This impressed me muchly. Dig: From roughly 1988 to 1992, I was mad into video games. I knew pretty much everything that was coming out for the NES, Genesis, GameBoy and even the TurboGrafix (Bonk forever!). I saw Fred Savage in THE WIZARD at least three times. Nintendo Power, GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly were my main reads, along with Jeff Rovin's HOW TO WIN AT NINTENDO guides. I knew every cheat, and every obscure little game coming out.
Mind you, I was more of an observer than a player. I have a coordination disability that makes handling a game controller almost impossible. But I would sit with my brother and his friends for hours, going through games. I was their strategy guy.
Well, middle school hit and game controllers got a LOT more buttons, making my game play...even more difficult. So I faded out. I knew of great computer games like MYST, but...we had a Mac, and they were all on Windows, and besides, we didn't have a CD-ROM drive. So I had nothing to do but watch my brother play MORTAL KOMBAT.
In grad school, I got back into games a little...in the sense that I wasted thesis-writing time playing emulators of every old game I used to love. And a few old-school computer ones I always WANTED to play, such as SAM & MAX, BAD MOJO and PLANESCAPE: TORMENT. Later, I bought a game controller that came with SONIC, ALTERED BEAST and GOLDEN AXE. Good times!
The thing with Jolley awakened my interest in video games, particularly in the fact that a lot of local comics guys were involved with them. I live in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which has something like two dozen video game companies. Besides Jolley, there's guys like Richard Case from Grant Morrison's DOOM PATROL working on games.
So I'm really fascinated by this creative outlet. I recently attended a seminar about game writing from a RedStorm guy, and watched several cable documentaries about the history of games, and read a lot of online summaries of games, and watched YouTube speed runs and my friends play. I am getting more familiar with things like HALO and BIOSHOCK and some others, but I am obviously still far behind.
This is a long-winded way of asking about:
1) What are some of the best-written games, and why?
2) What are some of the WORST-written games, and why?
3) What are good common aspects to gameplay storytelling?
4) What are some of the best CURRENT games?
5) How do most gameplay stories unfold, in terms of interaction vs. information given?
6) What are some ways to learn about writing game narrative?
Speak! And feel free to go on (much like I do...)