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Interview Robert Kurvitz talks about writing Disco Elysium on GameSpot Audio Logs

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Disco Elysium; Robert Kurvitz; ZA/UM

    GameSpot launched a new interview series back in April called Audio Logs, which seems to be focused on in-depth game design discussions with developers. Yesterday they published their first Codex-relevant episode featuring Disco Elysium lead writer & designer Robert Kurvitz. It's actually the most interesting interview with Robert that I've seen, especially the first half where he talks about the things ZA/UM did to make the game's writing as engaging as possible. That includes the design of the dialogue UI itself, which is inspired by Twitter. To keep the player's attention, dialogue is written to be aggressive and personal, with critical information repeated multiple times by the protagonists's various skills during key moments.


    In the second half of the interview, Robert talks about the creation of the Thought Cabinet. Since the game has been a success, he already has ideas about the next iteration of the Thought Cabinet concept, such as having thoughts have an impact on their neighbors in adjacent slots in the cabinet. He'd like ZA/UM's next game to like what Baldur's Gate 2 was to Baldur's Gate - bigger and more action-packed, with more combat and other physical sequences (still implemented via dialogue, of course). It's a very cool interview and only 17 minutes long, so check it out. Hopefully GameSpot will have more of these that are relevant to our interests.
     
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  2. vortex Fabulous Optimist

    vortex
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    More combat ! Yes!
     
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  3. Tito Anic Magister Shitposter

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    Second!
     
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  4. Prime Junta Arcane Patron

    Prime Junta
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    Sex. He means sex.

    -- It's interesting to contrast his writing approach with that of a certain other extremely text-heavy RPG. He has a very clear idea of how people read: namely, they don't like to do it, instead they scan -- but at the same time social media has taught them to read bite-sized, snappy, confrontational bits of text all the fucking time. He also says that he had a dictatorial role as an editor: he edited everything, to make the stuff the big writing team wrote stay coherent.

    This is strikingly different to the way T:ToN was written. There we had a bunch of different writers doing their own thing -- Chris writing Erritis here, Rothfuss writing another character there, MRY writing a quest sequence, CMcC writing a CYOA, and so on. There appears to have been no attempt to keep it together to make a coherent whole, nor any consideration about what the players actually want to read; instead, all the authors were writing whatever they wanted to write.

    I also thought Kasparov's comments on the creative process in the video he posted were interesting: how the artists riffed off each other under the benign dictatorship of Rostov, then the writers riffed off their concepts, which fed back into the art.

    ZA/UM's organisation seems quite different from the traditional studio: a hub-and-spoke system with creative leads at the hubs, shepherding secondary writers and artists, with everybody continuously riffing off each other.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    That ties into his characterization of Disco Elysium as essentially populist art, written for mass appeal and not intended to be elitist. Similar to Shakespeare's plays in that respect.
     
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  6. Alpan Savant Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    That was a very interesting video and something I would have overlooked if not for the Codex recommendation. I wonder if Robert Kurvitz is familiar with James Ellroy's writing -- while certainly not in the same staccato style as that writer, I feel certain aspects of Disco Elysium's writing does resemble his style, and his use of the word "aggressive" suggests to me that there may be some influence.
     
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  7. Pearass Literate

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    Extremely interesting interview. I think that it pretty clearly demonstrates the attention to detail that exists in excellent craftsmanship. The UI design is something that a player will be looking at for an entire game, but rarely do we hear about it - probably because it's usually not very glamorous. However, Disco Elysium makes it a centerpiece without it being obnoxious or in the way, which adds a lot of potential value to every experience the player will have. Just my opinion, of course!

    Thanks Infinitron for your continued great work!
     
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  8. Cleveland Mark Blakemore Golden Era Games Übermensch Developer

    Cleveland Mark Blakemore
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    ... and that is another thing that is absolutely brilliant about it. Also Raymond Chandler. Great art disguised as populist pulp.
     
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  9. Cleveland Mark Blakemore Golden Era Games Übermensch Developer

    Cleveland Mark Blakemore
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    I felt that after ten years of hearing that the indies would provide an alternative to the mass market pap, this is an example of a game that would never be published by big software cartels and in fact is better than anything they have ever produced. The game is genuinely innovative and unique. Even games like Grimoire are piggybacked on the greatness that came before but in this game you see a glimpse of how much better games could be if they were produced by real craftspeople who were looking to exceed their predecessors. Many have promised as much but this game delivers. Any RPG of the year 2019 list that doesn't have this in the top 3 is run by SJW sellouts.
     
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  10. The Bootymancer Learned

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    it's a pity he failed to design an actual game around the admittedly good writing in his visual novel. Dildo E-lame-eon is an "RPG" for people who think Princess Maker 2 has too much gameplay. r00fles!
     
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  11. Maxie Der Einzige Patron

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    OK Blakemore you're fuckin out
     
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  12. Viata Arcane

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    The irony in this post is too much.
     
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  13. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

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    It was funded by an oligarch who sank millions into it. :M
     
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  14. The Bootymancer Learned

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    who was this? s0r0s?? Bra1n Farg0??
     
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  15. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

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  16. The Bootymancer Learned

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  17. Strange Fellow Arcane Patron

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  18. Politician Lurker King

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    Jenkem, Goral, pretty cool, don't you think?

    bataille, according to Kurvitz clarity is the benchmark. Take note.

    Roguey, please, control your gay impulses towards Kurvitz.

    The main criticism from combatfags is that skill-based combat is a pale substitute for traditional systems. Inserting more skill-based combat won't change a thing.

    The main criticism from storyfags is that the game is extremely linear. What is the point of having an innovative skill/stat system if you can't take multiple paths? Adding even more special effects on the stuff will not address the issue.

    Edit: batailler said no; clarity is not the benchmark. LOL
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020 at 2:44 PM
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  19. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

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  20. HarveyBirdman Savant

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    :prosper:
     
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  21. aweigh Arcane

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    You do know DE is an SJW propaganda product, right? It was even funded by a communist oligarch for this specifically.
     
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  22. Life Coach beer can Patron

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    Nothing wrong with being a visual novel, or adventure game.
     
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  23. aweigh Arcane

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    It is wrong to market the game as an RPG when it isn't, tho. Oh well :/
     
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  24. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    That's not really accurate at all. There were many designed to achieve coherence (all sorts of standards you had to consult, general concept came down from one high, outline then had to be run back to high command), and the individual writers were certainly not just writing about whatever they wanted, as far as I know. Doesn't change the objective output of the game, but there's no need to attribute it to more silliness than actually went on. That said, though, the sheer number of writers is a recipe for incoherence no matter what.

    DE does seem to have a unique level of thought put into making it readable for players. DE is probably the first RPG to actually show any consideration to the presentation of text. To give one example, essentially every Western RPG has put its text in very long, squat horizontal windows. No one reads text like this normally, and it is proven to actually impair readability: https://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability In many RPGs, it leads to literally insane scenarios where the super stretched horizontal text ends up nevertheless exceeding the vertical space of the window, so you have to scroll back up to read the start of the text that was just displayed (that happened in TTON when I was testing it early on, not sure if they ever fixed it; definitely happened in PST). It's madness. DE actually has the text in a way that is pleasant to read. DE generally controls the nonsense words a bit better than TTON, too -- generally, it's written in vernacular English, not too hard to read. TTON's text, just on a vocab level (and often syntax) level is much less approachable.
     
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  25. Alpan Savant Patron

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    It's particularly hard to believe given that the column-based presentation used by DE is something newspapers, and to a lesser extent academic publications, have been doing for more than a century. It's not innovation; it's common sense that RPG developers have managed to ignore for far too long. Much has been made of games having their own grammar and whatnot; the horizontally stretching text box is definitely a good example of gaming's self-absorption.
     
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