開發者談遊戲中過多的文字內容是否會淪爲雞肋

原作者:Jeff Vogel 譯者ciel chen

“字太多了。減半。”

“減哪一半?”

“不用的那一半”

——詳情可以參看Their Finest《他們最好的(Their Finest)》(電影介紹)

我的終身事業都致力於撰寫重故事情節類的遊戲,寫了非常多的文字。我們的Spiderweb軟件公司很小,所以我們做不起大型精緻的圖像效果,於是想要出彩,我們只能倚靠文字,有趣又有品的文字。

目前,我們想用最美妙的文字去重製我們最喜愛的故事。同樣地我們還完成了一系列新的故事遊戲,裏面同樣包含了許許多多的文字,然而我覺得這些文字應該不夠好不然也不會賣不出去了。現在我們打算製作一系列全新的故事,這需要我們知道需要多少文字以及怎樣的文字才能填滿這裏的空白。

我們要做很多決策,所以我要思考很多有關遊戲中的文字,爲此我做了許多觀察,得出了一些見解。

以下供參考:

一篇篇幅適中的小說包含大約10萬單詞。《聖經》包含大概100萬單詞。

我字數最多,最流行的遊戲——《Avernum 3》(目前我正在重製的遊戲)有大概20萬單詞。在它發行的那時候,人們對它的詞量之多有過熱烈的討論;然而,按照現在改過的標準看來,它變得十分簡練。

對比之下,一款最近新出的具有出衆的故事情節的RPG遊戲《巫師3(The Witcher3)》涵蓋了大概45萬詞。這裏所謂的“出衆故事情節”指的是“其中一個真正出衆的情節加上其他很多很多基本還算OK的情節。”(說句公道話,我覺得它的《石之心》DLC的情節是真的不錯。)

詞量的膨脹仍在繼續——當《神界3:原罪(DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN)》詞量達35萬時,《暴君(Tyranny)》則花60萬詞描述了一個告訴你如何變成世界上最邪惡的中層管理者的故事,由大膽的提問將遊戲分成了73個派系。

Game Dev Story(from appannie.com)

Game Dev Story(from appannie.com)

這些跟《折磨:扭蒙拉之潮(Torment: Tides of Numenera)》的120萬詞相比都是小巫見大巫了。我承認我很好奇,到底是什麼樣的史詩般鉅作需要《THE LORD OF THE RINGS》的三倍詞量來敘述。反正我不會明白,因爲我不可能去玩一個內容情節字數是聖經1.2倍的遊戲。

這是我在玩你的RPG遊戲時候的樣子哈哈哈

Vogel總結的電子遊戲的情節敘述規律

只要你給玩家機會忽略情節,玩家會忘記你遊戲裏面的精彩故事。

當人們評論一款遊戲有個“精彩故事”的時候,他們的意思是——這個遊戲是有故事的。

大部分的電子遊戲故事都是走這個路線的——“看到那邊的那個傢伙了沒,對就是它,它是壞蛋,打死它。”這可不是什麼好故事的走向。

供參考,這是讓我讀你RPG裏的文字的辦法

對電子遊戲的一些觀察

有一段時間,遊戲市場對於像《博德之門》和《異域鎮魂曲:折磨(Planescape: Torment)》這樣的遊戲有較大的需求,不過那些都是些老派的基於立繪的RPG遊戲,擁有宏大的故事背景,以及大量的文字敘述。但根據《暴君(Tyranny)》和《折磨:扭蒙拉之潮(Torment: Tides of Numenera)》的銷量來看,可以知道這種壓抑的需求已經從很大的程度上得到了滿足。

湊字數真的超簡單的,超級超級簡單。任何有兩把刷子的作家隨隨便便都能編出50萬詞的文章就跟玩似的。如果這個作家手寫累了,那一個有志成爲作家的實習生能添上個10萬詞。然後等那個實習生榨乾了,你還可以讓你的Kickstarter支持者爲你的遊戲撰寫內容,他們還會私下爲有次殊榮而捐資。

是真的,人們會爲能給你的遊戲撰寫內容而付錢的!也就是說給你的遊戲添詞量可以有負成本效果!所以下次有人如果想以字數爲賣點向你銷售遊戲,好好考慮下這點。

偉大的寫作作品背後的祕密並不詞量的添加——而是消減。大多時候你可以靠刪減一大段內容以及精煉剩下的文字來改進遊戲的情節內容。然而,因爲遊戲開發已經完成了,並且開發遊戲預算有限,時間有限,這個重新編輯內容的程序基本沒法達成了。

當一個作家出名了以後,他們就不再編輯文本了。這就是爲什麼《哈利波特》第五部書有900頁卻只講述了兩件事;這也是一款2017年由知名人士編寫的大量詞量的草稿,字裏行間都充斥着無聊的原因。

這些遊戲的故事都是寫的不錯的——《輻射:新維加斯》和《巫師3:狂獵(The Witcher 3:Wild Hunt)》。我還記得《博德之門2》和《異域鎮魂曲:折磨(Planescape: Torment)》也還可以,不過那是20年前的遊戲了,裏面應該有很多懷舊的內容。(對於我還有大多數人來說都是如此。)《異域鎮魂曲》很酷沒錯,不過我還非常清楚地記得,我要通過閱讀大量的文本才能通關它。

“史特金定律”可以在這裏用上:“90%的東西都是沒用的垃圾。”對於《異域鎮魂曲》每個系列來說,它們都用了很酷的背景設定、故事大意,並投入了很好的情節內容,並讓這些情節和遊戲玩法很好地結合在了一起,同時另外九款遊戲有着大量Tolkein式的“殺死那個混球”類的故事,希望能吸引到玩家——然而不行。

在遊戲里加入很多知識點是可以的。有一些玩家對這些知識愛得不行。然而——有很多玩家並不喜歡它們。我覺得如果你能把這些知識點和主要的遊戲文本情節分開來是最好不過的了,就像《上古卷軸5:天際(The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)》裏面做的那樣——把知識點放到書裏,你可以放在一邊不需要管它。《魔獸世界(World of Warcraft)》的任務窗口就在這點做得很好。所有的知識成爲一個整體(“你的意思是矮人都喜歡挖礦嗎?哇!”),而實際的任務文本(“殺死10只小哥林布”)被單獨列出來了,所以你可以很容易就吸收這些知識點。

要把文本寫的幽默挺難的,然而這部分卻是最有趣的內容之一。如果你可以讓你的遊戲變得真正去,人們會永遠愛着它的。(《瘋狂世界》的實際遊戲可玩性只能得B-,但是人們真心愛這款遊戲,因爲它真的特別有趣。)

遊戲中的文本內容的最終目標是:讓故事情節好到可以讓玩家能爲了它而好好地玩遊戲。你的寫作敘述要成爲一種“獎勵”。如果你的寫作敘述讓玩家覺得遊戲玩起來好吃力,那說明你的敘述內容太累贅了。

這樣你就讓我集中了所有的注意力

自我搶救

我寫的每一款遊戲情節都有好多詞量。我的粉絲對這裏一部分的遊戲文字特別喜歡,而對另外一些則沒那麼喜歡。

我對我下個文本的目標是儘可能用更少的詞量讓我的粉絲們能夠得到愉悅、好玩且風趣的遊戲情節體驗。我希望我的文字成爲一種“獎勵”,讓玩家能夠更好地遊戲。我對此表示擔憂,因爲要寫出一些有趣而簡短的東西比些那些冗長無趣的東西要難得多了。

同時,我還在重製我的老遊戲《Avernum 3》,這裏有這20小萬的詞量——這意味着我要把這些文字重新瀏覽編輯過一遍。我把很多時間都花在了削減多餘的文字以及對剩下的內容進行修改,使其變得更流暢、更好讀、還要儘可能地更有趣。如果新版本的內容反而詞量變多了,那我肯定哪裏出錯了。

有很長一段時間,我都是以賣文字篇幅長的遊戲爲主。現在,這個領域有了更多的競爭,文字量則變得超級廉價。現在我需要以好的文筆來作爲賣點。儘管我有可能永遠無法在這個擁擠的遊戲市場上做出一個出色的模因,但我要儘可能地抓住每個有利的條件寫出好的文字。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

“Too long. Lose half.”

“Which half?”

“The half that you don’t need.”

– Their Finest

My whole career has been based on writing very story-heavy games, with lots of words. Our company, Spiderweb Software, is small. We can’t afford fancy graphics, so we have to rely on words. Interesting, quality words.

We’re currently remastering the series with our most loved story and our bestest words. We also finished a new series, which had a lot of words which I suspect weren’t as good because it didn’t sell as well. Now we’re planning a whole new series, and we need to figure out how many and what sort of words to cram into that.

We have a lot of decisions to make, so I’ve been thinking a lot about words in games. I have made a number of observations.

For Reference

A decently sized novel contains about 100,000 words. The Bible contains about a million words.

My wordiest and most popular game, Avernum 3, which I am now remastering, had about 200,000 words. At its release, people talked about how very, very, many words it had. Yet, by current standards, it is very terse.

In comparison, one of the best-written RPGs in recent times, The Witcher 3, had about 450,000 words. For The Witcher 3, “best-written” means “One really good storyline and many, many other storylines that were basically OK.” (To be fair, I think the Heart of Stone DLC was really well-written.)

The word bloat continues. While Divinity: Original Sin had a mere 350,000 words, Tyranny spent 600,000 words telling the story of how you became the word’s most evil middle manager, on a bold quest to try to tell apart the game’s 73 factions.

And this is positively tongue-tied next to Torment: Tides of Numenara’s 1,200,000 words. I admit I am curious about what story is so gigantic and epic that it requires 3 times more words than The Lord of the Rings. I will never find out, as there is nothing that will tempt me to play a game with 1.2 Bibles worth of text.

This is me playing your RPG lol.

Vogel’s Laws of Video Game Storytelling

1. Players will forgive your game for having a good story, as long as you allow them to ignore it.

2. When people say a video game has a “good story,” what they mean is that it has a story.

3. The story of almost all video games is, “See that guy over there? That guy is bad. Kill that guy.” This almost never leads to a good story.
For reference, this is how to get me to read the text in your RPG.

Observations About Words In Video Games

1. For a while, there was a big demand for games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment. That is, old-school icon-based RPGs with big stories, told in lots and lots of words. Early hits, like Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity made a lot of money off this demand. Sales of later games in this style, like Tyranny and Torment: Tides of Numenara suggest that this pent up demand has largely been satisfied.

2. It’s really easy to make words. Really, really, really easy. Any writer with half a grain of skill can spew out 500,000 like it is nothing. And if that writer’s fingers get tired, an intern with aspirations of authorhood will chip in 100,000 more. And when that intern passes out, you can let your Kickstarter backers add words to your game and they’ll pay you for the privilege.

3. No, really, think about that last point. People will pay you to be able to write for your game! Adding words to your game has negative cost! Think about this the next time someone tries to use a giant word count to sell you a game.

4. The secret of great writing is not adding words. It’s cutting them. You can almost always improve your writing by slashing chunks out of it and refining the rest. However, as game development is done with limited budgets and limited time, this editing process almost never takes place.

5. When a writer gets famous, they stop being edited. This is why the fifth Harry Potter book is 900 pages in which only like two things happen. This is also why, when a game in 2017 is written by a Big Name and has a script with one bajillion words, most of those words are going to be pretty boring.

6. There are well-written games. Fallout: New Vegas and Witcher 3 are solid. I remember Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment were all right, but I played those 20 years ago, and there may be a lot of nostalgia in play there. (For me and almost everyone else.) Planescape was cool, but I definitely remember blasting past a lot of text just to get through it.

7. Sturgeon’s Law is in play here: “90% of everything is crap.” For every Planescape: Torment, where they had a cool setting and story idea and really put the time in to write good text and have it interface with the gameplay well, there have been nine other games where they just threw up a bunch of Tolkein-light Kill-that-Bad-Guy stuff and hoped it stuck. It didn’t.

8. Having lots of lore in your game is OK. Some players really love lore. But then, a lot of players really don’t. I think it’s best if you try to keep your lore separated a bit from the significant game text, like Skyrim putting the stuff in books you could easily ignore. World of Warcraft quest windows did this perfectly. All of the lore was in one lump (“You mean dwarves like to dig mines? WOAH!”), and the actual text of the quest (“Kill 10 goblin toddlers.”) was broken out of it so you could digest it quickly.

9. Humor is very hard to write well. It is also one of the most enjoyable things to read. If you can make your game genuinely funny, people will love it forever. (The actual gameplay of Psychonauts was only B-, but people LOVE that game because of how funny it is.)

10. The ultimate goal of writing in a game: Have it be good enough that getting past the gameplay to reach the writing is your goal. Your writing should be the REWARD. If your writing is something the player has to slog through to get to the game play, there is too much writing.

Physician, Heal Thyself

Every game I’ve ever written has had a lot of words. Some of those games, my fans really loved the words. Some of them, not so much.

My goal for my next series is to use fewer words, but to make them as light and interesting and funny as I can. I want words to be the reward, the thing that pulls people through the story. I am dreading this, because, again, writing something good and short is way more work than writing something dull and long.

In the meantime, I am remastering my old Avernum 3, with its pokey little 200,000 words. This means giving those words an editing pass. A lot of my time is spent chopping out extraneous words and revamping what is left to make it smoother, easier to read, and, whenever possible, funnier. If the new version has more words than the old version, I’ve done something wrong.

For a long time, I sold games with a lot of words. Now there is a lot more competition in that space, and words are super-cheap. I need to try to sell good words. Even if I never make a nice, dank meme, in this crowded market, you need to get every little advantage you can.(source:gamasutra.com  )