J.E. Sawyer on Real World Knowledge and Game Design

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Tagaziel, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Tagaziel

    Tagaziel Panzerkatze Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Dec 10, 2003
    J.E. Sawyer has recently posted another video, explaining how real world knowledge factors into game design. In short: it does.


    If you can't watch the video, The Vault has prepared a complete transcript. Here's a snippet:<blockquote>Last thing is character interactions. This one's really important to me, I kind of feel like a lot of writers (in many cases a lot of fantasy writers and sci-fi writers), they write characters and they write interactions based on interactions in other fictitious works in that genre. Fair enough, you can do that, a lot of times I think these interactions come across as very unbelievable. I think when character interactions are unbelievable, the characters are hard to sympathize with.
    Sometimes this is the goal, but often I don't think that's the goal, I think if you want to have characters that you believe in, that you can understand and empathize with, and feel something for, I think that understanding character motivations, what really drives people, understanding psychology.</blockquote>
  2. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    While this video was very interesting it was also rather disheartening for me as it shows me how ignorant I am on so many subjects :(

    This probably is going to affect the RPG I am trying to start up in that forum.

    It is not a questioning of not wanting to learn but more how to find the right sources and knowing how much time to put into something before you go on to the next subject.
  3. Proletären

    Proletären Mildly Dipped

    Mar 15, 2012
    J.E. Sawyer is my favorite. He's the best
  4. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008

    I was secretly hoping that the things J.E was talking about were an unwritten rule in the industry - be knowlegable in all kinds of shit, research your shit to have a wide grip on the shit you are making, and that the greedy publishers were forcing them to make up shit games, but this might not be the truth after all. Maybe most game developers are not that good afterall :|. I am, of course, not hoping for a deep layerd classic that can stand with the best of the other arts, from a fledgling "art", but at least some competency... come on now... Not to be all gloom and doom, there are some rays of light shining through, but it's sad that i will probably not live to see the Renaissance of gaming.
  5. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Personally I feel what Sawyer said is an unwritten rule for almost every form of media expression; research a subject before you make something with it.

    It goes double when you are working on a media product that has a rich and long history.
    Next to the real world facts you should also research the history of that product.
  6. Wumbology

    Wumbology Actually a sentient CRT

    Mar 5, 2013
    I'm gonna brag for a second:
    I'm designing a world with a friend, and I was wondering this, so I asked his Tumblr.

    Anyhow, it issss rreeally useful. Incredibly so. Motivated me to start reading about agriculture in the Puget Sound.
  7. Surf Solar

    Surf Solar So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Aug 20, 2009
    The article is kinda redundant, but seeing how lazy most writers/designers in the industry are..

    Then again, I dont understand how one can not Research something he or she writes about, learning new things about stuff I want to design is part of the fun for me.

    Sawyer went too far with real world stuff when it comes to the shitty legion though.
  8. Atomkilla

    Atomkilla Alpharius oTO Orderite

    Dec 26, 2010

    I do not agree.

    Legion was originally brilliantly thought out, and, should that design been implemented properly and fully, we would have a good, playable option for players to side with, which would also be one of the most original factions ever presented in Fallout series.
  9. Izual

    Izual Pipe rifle & chopsticks

    Sep 18, 2009
    Yes, 'if' it was a good faction, it would be a good faction... :]
  10. Lexx

    Lexx Background Radiant
    Moderator Modder

    Apr 24, 2005
    That's not what he wrote.
    Beside this, I also quite like the idea of the Legion and yeah, it is finally something new and not the same old military merc whatever badass evil high-tech faction
  11. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Just look at Bioshlock Infinite, that game writer barely even kwons about Slavery, race and religion beyond superficial details to make it look authentic but beyond that it has the same quality and investment a teenager that wants to be edgy puts into his story about his Totally RAD self insert telling off the people that he disagrees with.
  12. Mr Fish

    Mr Fish ...The pain of being dead...

    Sep 11, 2010
    I haven't played the game and don't plan on purchasing it because I doubt my computer will handle it but this peaked my interest, could you elaborate on this? (Through PM f you don't want to derail the thread.)
  13. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    Also in the camp of liking the Legion, as others already mentioned; they were something different in the setting.

    Doesn't mean that I think future Fallout games should have loads of Legion impersonators (factions based on historical facts, groups, civilizations and so on), because then it would get ridiculous.

    For example, after FNV introduced the Kings, someone came up in the Fallout Fan wiki with 'The Rockers' who are based on Buddy Holly, or a group that was based on King Arthur and the Round Table (the romanticized version).
    I don't think the wasteland should be completely populated with such groups but taking inspiration from history and trying something different that what we have seen before isn't bad.
  14. aenemic

    aenemic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Jun 4, 2008
    I'm kind of in the same situation, I want to write and create worlds. but I wouldn't be too worried. As long as you understand the importance of research and where to draw the line between fiction and reality (and how to draw that line), you'll be fine. But having a lot of knowledge about different things certainly helps creativity. If you, for example, know absolutely nothing about a certain historical era you're not likely to come up with a story set in that historical era. I admire Sawyer for taking courses and studying things out of pure interest and curiosity.

    Also, this video only goes to show why I love Obsidian's writing so much. I think all of what he says really shows in their games. And I'm especially glad he brought up the human interaction part, because that is one of my pet peeves in both computer games and in movies/television. I absolutely despise unrealistic human interaction and I think a lot of movies, games and series today are completely ruined by lazy writing in that area.
  15. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Well the game takes the approach of making everyone evil because it can't handle the concept of grey morality, everyone is evil except the main character (no matter the amount of peaceful static NPCs you make him kill) and Marketing Construct Elizabeth.

    Characters that are supposed to live completely sheltered away from any human interaction act very socialy adapted. Every religious character is mustache twirling evil (I am an atheist btw, I am not getting offended, but I find the whole thing a very naive thing).
    Characters use slang from the time, but also go and use modern words that didn't have the same meaning back then with the intentions of today. And despite being situated in a Racist dystopia no character ever uses any Slur.
    To go with all of this they try to make their technobabble sound smart by adding "quantum Physics" but their explanation of things is basically "it does this thing because we made this thing o this with science, science is magic right?" And use the quantum physics thing as a blanket explanation for EVERYTHING.
  16. ramessesjones

    ramessesjones It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 27, 2010
    Around the time I played Fallout 3, my wife and I had gone to Washington DC and went on tour where they told us about how the Washington Monument was the largest free standing masonry structure in world, so of course every time I played Fallout 3 after that it pissed us off to end to see it with interior metal frame.
  17. AnchorsAweigh

    AnchorsAweigh First time out of the vault

    Oct 7, 2012
    What is most important to me, is that a piece of fiction follows an internal logic within the established framework, no matter how fantastical, unbelievable or nonsensical this is. Otherwise there can never be any suspension of belief. For example, I'm fine with fire magic being common in the Warhammer universe, but it seems strange that gunpowder technology would develop and become important when fireballs are liberally tossed about whenever push comes to shove.

    The same deal with FO3. If the Capital wasteland is so irradiated that nothing grows there, and even all the water is radioactive, why are TONS of humans making it their home? Ghouls and Super Mutants like radioactivity, while ordinary humans don't. It doesn't make any sense.

    In my opinion, research together with a more in-depth analysis on how the non-mundane aspects of any sci-fi or fantasy setting actually would impact the world and its history, is what sets a good writer apart from a bad.

    And the less said about Tolkien and his eagles, the better.
  18. Kyuu

    Kyuu Insert Awesome Title Here

    Jul 19, 2007
    Uh, what about them? I very much hope you're not referring to the utterly fail line of reasoning that the existence of the giant eagles made Frodo's journey into Mordor pointless.
  19. Tagaziel

    Tagaziel Panzerkatze Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Dec 10, 2003
    Why is it fail? You have an airborne carrier that's out of reach of Sauron's forces and can easily be used to get to Mount Doom and drop the ring there. You aren't even running any real risk here.

    Tolkien fucked up with his deus ex machinas.
  20. AnchorsAweigh

    AnchorsAweigh First time out of the vault

    Oct 7, 2012
    Yeah. They show up and do their thing five times between The Hobbit and LotR, including taking part in a full-blown set piece battle. They can fly to Mordor and pick Frodo and Sam up, so why couldn't they simply fly them, or just the ring, there in the first place? Since Sauron's power was weaker at the beginning of LotR than at the end of it, and the Nâzgul didn't even have flying mounts until later, it's very hard to see why it would have been difficult. And Mount Doom is conveniently open at the top, so they wouldn't even have to land to dispose of the ring!