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The Golden Age of BioWare's storytelling
Interview - posted by DarkUnderlord on Tue 16 September 2008, 14:50:14Tags: BioWare; Mass Effect
"Senior writer Mac Walters joins senior cinematic designer Paul Marino on how the Mass Effect maker has evolved its storytelling methods in recent years."
According to the duo, "cinematic design" is one of the biggest changes at the company in the last five years. Simply put, cinematic design is a way for game makers to create interactive stories by using tried-and-true filmic precepts. To better explain this point, the pair launched into an analysis of narrative, saying first that game companies other than BioWare finally seem to be coming around to the fact that narrative can no longer be ignored, as it gives players a compelling reason to play a game.
Breaking down BioWare's process of cinematic design, Walters noted that it is built on six fundamentals. The first is writing, which provides the dialogue as well as narrative in general. Audio--which encompasses voice work and music--then provides another immersive layer, followed by setting, or key locations in a game. Camera, which provides a filter for the scene, is an integral tool in conveying emotion, and digital actors provide yet one more layer of cinematic design, thanks to their ability to express emotion through their faces. A hallmark of BioWare storytelling, player choice rounds out the design philosophy, as it allows players to choose the parts of the narrative they want to pursue as well as how it will unfold.
The Renaissance transitioned into the period which the industry is currently in: The Golden Age. For BioWare, this period is defined by the "push" and "pull" forces, both of which are balanced on the fulcrum of the studio's six basic tenants outlined above. The pull is exerted by players, while designers and writers provide the push, a concept which the duo clarified through a variety of examples.
I want my Renaissance back. And yes, just in case it wasn't clear, the article is a load of wank.
Thanks Topher! Next time, include a link to the article though 'k.