Posts Tagged ‘Review’

This book is phenomenally useful. Offering ways to create characters, their enemies, their friends, even the world around them through lists, tips and tricks and examples. This book offers everything that a budding designer needs.

David Perry really knows his stuff and even though this wasn’t on the list of recommended reading, I bought a copy anyway and can safely say that I am not regretting the decision one bit. I have learnt more about how to create characters, using the lists within the book to create stronger characters and how to write about them, as well as giving them contrasting traits between the main characters and their counterparts, along with dynamic enemies and monsters for them to work with and combat.

It offers a lot in terms of information for starter designers and is worth the buy, for it will come in useful for many years to come.

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Ok so I recently finished reading this. It was interesting if not a little disappointing. I definitely learnt plenty about creating strong characters, picking up such things as location, archetypes and personality traits that could all work towards the creation of an unforgettable character, one that would stick in the minds of players for years to come.

However, I also came to the conclusion that while it is full of useful information, the writer was also trying to stroke her ego. I know that in books such as this, scenarios are often needed in order to bring context to the explanation, but more than once it just seemed like the author wanted to highlight a part of her own very successful career, instead of just giving an example scenario that the reader could use to learn something useful and I found this frustrating after a while, because writers and designers read this book in order to learn how they can create stronger characters for their projects, instead of reading the highlights of someones career.

I did find this book useful overall, learning some new things about character design and creation, which is what I started reading the book for in the first place, but I feel that the author could have done to keep the examples to something generic instead of using her own work as examples. I know each writer has their own particular way of putting information across but still, it was a little too much and felt a little egotistical.

So recently I finished reading this book by Steven Ince. The author has been in the business for a number of years and is well versed in the development process of the gaming industry and how the writer fits within that realm. He breaks the book down into sections that describe how the development process works, the role of the writer, how the writer fits into the development process of a game and how a freelance writer can advertise themselves to companies to gain jobs. I enjoyed reading this book, while sometimes the information presented seemed to be a little bit confusing at first, after a couple of re-reads of the passage I found that I understood what was being talked about and I was able to move on. I found it interesting and informative, covering many topics and giving an insight into the development of games from the role of writer instead of a designer.

The Role of the Writer

The writer helps with the backbone of a game, covering the back stories of characters, locations and the story line as well as writing the script for the scenes within the game. They can either be brought in on the game from the beginning, or at a later date when their skills are most needed, depending on the type of game that they will be working on. If they are working on a racing game, there may be very little work for them to do, whereas if they are working on an RPG then they may find themselves brought in from the very beginning as RPGs can be very story extensive and the writer may have a lot of content to cover over the course of the development of the game.

One misconception that the book addresses is the idea that some people have of the writer creating the idea of the game, writing the High Concept document of the game to the developer and then pitching their idea to the company in the hopes that this will get them a job and that their game will be made. This is not what happens at all. The writer is brought in to help the developers work on their existing ideas and help to create a dynamic and immersible story that the player will enjoy.

The Development Process

The writer has to be aware of the development process of the game developer that they are working for. Each company will have their own model to work from and the writer needs to be aware of this. They need to also be aware of the type of game being made, if there is a driving game that they are working on, then the writer will only need to do a small amount of work, possibly writing tutorial script, character scripts and any tips and suggestions that need to be written for the game for when the player is looking for some extra information that will help them. If the game were an RPG then they would need to have an extensive model, especially if there is going to be multiple endings for the game. There are examples of pathways that can be taken when it comes to writing for an RPG, the more complex ones being used when the game has many options and choices that can lead to many different endings, of course there can only be a limited number of choices that can be made along with a limited number of endings and so the writer needs to stick to one model only instead of going off on one and coming up with hundreds of endings and millions of choices for the player that could bring about one of these endings per play through.

They also need to be aware of the target audience of the game that is being created so that they know how far they can push the boundaries or how careful they need to be with what they write. Of course the writer will have to make changes to their work as the mechanics and needs of the game come along and they need to work to deadlines so as to keep the game development moving smoothly, if they fall behind on a deadline that could turn out to be crucial due to pending changes to a mechanic, it can set the entire game back, putting that much more strain on the team to get the game finished on time.

Selling Yourself as a Writer

The book covers how you can sell yourself to companies as a games writer, having a massive online presence and plenty of experience certainly helps. Having an online blog showing your work, previous and current along with any references from previous companies you have worked for is a big help and can tip the scales when it comes to landing that much needed job.

For those of us that are starting out, it is recommended that you work on your writing skills, familiarizing ourselves with the development process and the models that companies could use along as building up our portfolio along the way with works that may be personal projects, ideas for games that you have developed into a document for representative purposes and things like that. Word of mouth is also a good way of gaining work that can help build up some experience. If there are independent developers that need writers, you could maybe end up working with them, gaining that much needed experience while helping a small team of people or maybe even an individual get their ideas out into the world while furthering your own career. There are plenty of ways to get into the video game writing industry, it’s just a matter of applying yourself and pushing yourself along in that role.

 

As can be deduced from the magazine title alone, the magazine has a target audience of people that play on the Xbox 360. This is good because it can cover content and topics that pertain to the console and will interest the readers; however it is also a bad thing because it means that they are sticking with one target audience instead of offering content that could bring in more readers by diversifying their content within the magazine.

The front cover is typically what a gaming magazine uses for a cover, lots of images with text sprawled round the edges, throwing game titles of up and coming games that are going to be released within the next month or so, drawing potential readers in so that they can see what is being discussed about these new games. The price is also plastered in the top right corner of the magazine cover so that the reader

Within the pages of the magazine itself, the reader will find a collection of reviews for games that have been released along with discussions about the happenings with games that are to be coming out and the publisher’s efforts to make the games stand out and have that extra bit of appeal to players. The type of writing within the magazine is more laid back than in Edge magazine, which was quite formal, the writers within Xbox 360 Gamer try to relate to the readers by using slang that would only be known to the readers, they also put across their own opinions a lot more than they do try to be objective about the games, this can be bad as it can put readers off games because they would be looking for a review and instead they are reading someone opinion on what a game is going to be like or what the game should be like along with the good and bad points that the writer thinks the game has.

The magazine is well laid out inside because it has the game reviews, a couple of interviews with people working in the industry along with some topics for discussion about things that have been happening within the industry, along with a lot of advertising for games that are coming out. Flicking through the magazine it looks like there is actually more advertising than there is actual content, which could explain the magazines average cost of £3.49 instead of something higher because they spend some time talking about games and the rest advertising them.

Overall the magazine is being rated 3/5 because it secludes a large part of the gaming community by being solely for Xbox gamers instead of being a magazine with a little bit for everyone. They also tend to go off on their own opinions a lot more instead of offering a non-biased review so that readers can make an informed decision about the games they are reading, instead they will be going off of the writers views on the game that tend towards either the good or the bad of the game instead of it being balanced. The main reason for the magazine receiving 3/5 though is because of the large amount of advertising within the pages of the magazine, they could pack more information and content in the pages instead of splattering advertisements everywhere to act as filler.

Edge magazine is a success and a good all round magazine for several reasons. First is its front cover, it is simplistic in its layout, with an enlarged in the centre, it stands out instantly from the myriad of other magazines because it is focusing on one image in the centre of the page with a simple grey background with text around it instead of having a collage of images of different games with the titles and sub headings splashed all over in a jumble that could very easily get a magazine ignored. With the name of the magazine at the top, the website address underneath it, the main topic plastered all over the front cover to emphasise that this is the magazine the person wants to read for that one topic on top of everything else that is being discussed or reviewed within the contents. It keeps the look basic and yet it stands out on a shelf among the various other magazines that are all battling for attention using overloaded covers with images of games, catchy headings and dazzling bits of information that they claim cannot be found anywhere except inside their own magazine. Edge magazine is straight to the point with its topics and it doesn’t try to overload the reader with information before they have peeled the pages open. Even the size of the magazine is brilliant, while other magazines are generally quite big and can be a pain to fit into a back pack or a small shoulder bag, Edge manages to be small enough to fit into small bags without losing its readability.

The main target audience for the magazine would have to be anyone that is interested in what is happening within the gaming industry because it doesn’t just review games, it opens up discussions about topics that are being taken into consideration within the gaming industry in today’s world, an example of which would be the topic of the decline in female game designers within the industry and what can be done to bring the numbers up again. One of the most important reasons for the success of the magazine is that its contents have something for everyone, reviews for teenagers and adults that want the reviews of games that are coming out or have just been released, game designers that want to brush up on the hot topics of the industry and discuss them in the work place or even young and fresh designers and developers that want to learn the secrets of the industry by reading the interviews with current designers that are bringing about new ages within the gaming industry and changing it in ways never before thought possible.

The contents of the magazine are also broken up quite nicely throughout the pages as well in order to keep the information interesting. Instead of having review after review and interview following interview, the contents are broken up nicely between topics, reviews and interviews with advertisements for other products spread throughout the pages as well so that the reader is always kept interested and their curiosity is constantly fed, making them read on until they have become hooked to the magazine.

I’m going to score this magazine a 4/5. There are two small problems I find with the magazine. The price, because even though it offers such superb information, I think it is a little expensive for a magazine at £5. The other problem I do have with the magazine is that even though the writing is readable, it still tends to be on the small side and that could seclude and alienate potential readers that have sight impairments.