How to Go About It

"Ratsurk" from Paladin's Quest for the SNES

“Ratsurk” from Paladin’s Quest for the SNES

Alright, so in each post I’ll look at five world-building elements:
Rules & Goals (what you can do, and what happens when you do stuff)
Controls (how you manually interact with the game)
Visuals (graphics, animations, menus)
Sound (music, sound effects, spoken language)
Text (written language)

What kind of world do these elements create in practice (as opposed to how the game was marketed or what the developers intended)? How do they encourage or discourage belief in the game-world?

I’d like to be as concise and easy to understand as possible, so I may gloss over parts of games to keep posts focused. I’d also like to keep this blog accessible, so I’ll avoid technical jargon and buzzwords as much as possible. Bear with me- and let me know if anything is especially boring or interesting.

Finally, I’ll try to be as broad and fair with my selections of games as possible, but I’m of course limited to the games I’ve played. Among those, I’ll focus on games that do or try to do something interesting with their world. If a game has a generic world and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, for example, it doesn’t give me much to talk about.

There may be some bumps and changes along the way in these early days, but wish me luck and please let me know what you think.

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6 Responses to How to Go About It

  1. François P says:

    My interest is piqued; I love that sort of scholarly examination, video games can use as much of it as they can get, and you seem more than competent at it. I’ll keep up, looking forward to it.

  2. SgtDawkins says:

    Saw your message while transferring some files from 1up and was happy to check this out. Very well written, and succinctly and accurately distills the range of emotions evoked from this title. Very alien and mysterious world. I’d argue (much like you do) that the lack of provided information only adds to the desire to uncover Lennus’ mysteries. I doubt that this was the creator’s intention, but hey, it works.

    This is a game I find myself often defending from the naysayers. Have you played the sequel, Lennus II? It’s missing a lot of Paladin’s Quest’s charms, but it does ramp up nicely at the end, connecting everything in a very PQesque way.

    Finally, I’d recommend NiER if you haven’t already tried it. Another flawed game with atmosphere to spare.

    Again, great read. Always happy to see kind words for one of my favorites. I’m over at Pixlbit if you have any interest in my writing; I’ll check out more of your stuff in the future!

    • wzackw says:

      I’ve played Lennus II and agree that although it’s improved in some ways, it’s missing a lot of PQ’s charms. I think I’ll post about it on here some time soon, actually!

      Thanks for letting me know about NiER! I hadn’t heard of that one before. How can I find your stuff on Pixlbit?

  3. Amazing, Zack! Just read your post on Gamasutra and already added Game Make World on my feed. As a game designer myself, I’m always thirsty for this kind of content, but it seems to me the west has a hard time catching up with japanese creative knowledge.

    All this “living world” building talk is one of the subject matters I don’t find as often as I’d like in english. What Games Are has been a permanent read for me for some time, as Game Make World will certainly be 😀

    On to Lennus and Borderlands, and looking forward for Harvest Moon or whichever game you choose to cover 🙂 Good luck!

    • wzackw says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is great to hear that- I didn’t know if anyone else felt the way I do about gameworlds, and how we need more discussion about them. Apparently a lot of people feel the same way, as I’ve been getting hundreds of visits to the blog just through the article. Great to know, and makes me excited to write more!

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