How to create playable stories
Making the writer-designer relationship work
Coronavirus continues to turn life upside down. Most of the changes have been awful, but one of the surprising perks has been virtual conferences. I'm here for it, and here's why.
The Game Developers Conference is a great event. It is also a big, expensive production - for organizers and attendees alike. Most years, GDC involves flights, hotel rooms, boozy dinners, and a week out of the office.
This year, it involved talking into a camera for an hour - while wearing pajamas. Awesome! And they were kind enough to record the event.
So welcome to my talk!
Designers want to make a great game. Writers want to tell a great story. They both want to create something magical for the player. So why are these collaborations so tricky? Some days, it can seem like they’re speaking two different languages. What gets in the way, and how can we make things better? After working on over 25 games, from indie to AAA, Susan O’Connor has learned a set of best practices that any team can use to get writers and designers moving in the same direction.
Attendees will learn why the most useful question to ask about the game’s story isn’t about the story at all. They will learn how to read the player's (storytelling) mind. And they’ll learn how to identify which character couldn't care less about the story - and which character thinks the story is a matter of life and death.
Game writers and designers who have shipped at least one title - and lived to tell the tale.
If you were attending this talk in real life, you could approach the stage afterwards to chat with me. It's one of the perks of a conference - the opportunity to meet fellow colleagues and talk shop.
These chats are great but also can be exhausting because a) the speaker has just finished a performance and would frankly like to just lay on a couch for a minute and b) all the attendees approach the speaker at once - it's too much.
But guess what? This is a virtual conference, which makes after-talk chats much easier to manage!
At the end of the ^^^ talk I mention a URL where attendees can sign up for a quick Zoom chat with me. That link is still active. If you watched the talk, consider yourself an attendee. :) I'd be happy to chat with you. Go to the link and sign up! Available for a limited time.
Susan’s first job as a game writer was for “a slumber party game - for girls!” She’s gone on to work on over 25 projects, including award-winning titles in the BioShock, Far Cry and Tomb Raider franchises. Titles in her portfolio have sold over 30 million copies and generated over $500 million in sales. She is an adjunct professor at UT Austin, where she teaches a course on writing for games. A long time ago, she founded the Game Narrative Summit at GDC. Now, she partners with studios, publishers, and writers to help teams ship great games with great stories. She is dedicated to supporting creatives in the games industry so that they can do their best work.
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