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Development Info Patrick McLean, Liz Danforth and Colin McComb on Wasteland 2's writing

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Liz Danforth; Patrick McClean; Wasteland 2

As you may know, Wasteland 2's pre-production phase concluded in November, and most of the writing team went on their merry ways. One of the writers, Patrick McLean, wrote about the experience of writing for Wasteland 2 on his blog:

Two weeks ago, I flew to Newport Beach and locked myself in a room with the rest of the Wasteland 2 design team. In this room was a three foot high copy of the complete game script, parts of which each person in the room had been writing for the last three months. To give you an idea of how much material this really is, a movie script is an inch, maybe two at the most. To say that Wasteland 2 is going to be deep and interactive is an understatement.​

We sat there for four days as all of the designers read through their levels. I have to tell you, these long days in the conference room at the Newport Beach Radisson – a room that looks and feels like the official corporate headquarters of the year 1984 – were absolutely magnificent. It was the creative process at it’s best. Good ideas got better. Bad ideas got reworked. And through it all the excitement in the room never flagged.​

So here are my thoughts on a few of the elements that made it such a good experience.​

1 – Everybody Listened

This is incredibly important. You can’t help make an idea better if you don’t understand it. And any feedback you might give without understanding is worthless.​

2 – Everyone was Generous

Coming up with ideas is hard work. So when someone else takes their brain and helps you with your problem (not merely trying to make it there own) it’s very generous. And very magical. And you know when you are in this environment when the work gets better, but you can’t remember who’s idea it was.​

3 – Everybody was Good

Sadly, this is not always the case. One of the primary reasons there’s not more great books or movies is that there is a shortage of talent in the world. People who are both talented, hardworking and play well with others aren’t as readily available as you might think. How wonderful it was then, that everybody involved had real talent, regardless of what they had or hadn’t done.​

4 – Everybody took it seriously

I’m not going to say that we didn’t have fun. We did. In fact, we laughed our asses off. But throughout all of it, everybody had the sense that we engaged in the making of something that is going to be both good and (in the sense that this word can be applied to an entertainment product) important. The nature of the game and the kickstarter funding gives a tremendous freedom from corporate bullshit and a tremendous responsibility to the fans themselves. The people who funded this effort are the smartest, best, most demanding audience for this kind of game there is. To his credit, Brian Fargo takes this responsibility very seriously. And so did everybody else.​

I don’t believe in magic. I believe in process. If you’ve got a good process, you are going to have a good product. And I can report with full faith, that this process has been awesome. My only regret is that I’m not going to get to discover this game by playing it for the first time in perfect, child-like wonder and ignorance. But you will. Lucky you.​

Liz Danforth, who worked on the original Wasteland, also had a few things to say about her work on Wasteland 2. While she was only assigned a "tiny corner" of the game, it turns out she completely outdid herself:

My deadline for the Wasteland work is next Monday, October 15th. After that, everything is in the hands of the InXile folks. What I’ve been writing is far deeper than they asked for (or even wanted, I have to say). I put 4-5 maps worth of work into one single zone — by analogy, writing half a novel instead of 4-5 short stories. That’s been both a good and a bad thing for me, but in the end it is my hope that players enjoy the hell out of it when it eventually reaches their hands.​

More recently, Colin McComb, in response to a question on his Formspring account, passed on this description of Wasteland 2's writing from inXile president Matt Findley:

We are really going for a literary feel for Wasteland, but it goes a lot further than the dialogs. Our keyword system means that every NPC that you converse with has significantly more text than they might in a normal dialog tree system. Our people need to know a lot of information about a lot of things to make their dialogs work and be meaningful. In addition to that we are really trying to paint a picture with words with all of the description text and the examine object text. The sum of all of this writing is an old school literary feel to the game that is our primary point of difference from other products. We also have the other things you mentioned, but the style and depth of the writing is our primary unique selling point.​

It is also safe to say that those of us writing Wasteland have been heavily influenced by the original Torment as much as the original Wasteland. The depth of our Wasteland writing is really a nod to both products.​

In summary: OH GAWD ITZ GONNA BE TEXT HEAVAN
 

Kz3r0

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It was the creative process at it’s best.​

(not merely trying to make it there own) it’s very generous. And very magical. And you know when you are in this environment when the work gets better, but you can’t remember who’s idea it was.​
:hmmm:
 

Kirtai

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It was the creative process at it’s best.​

(not merely trying to make it there own) it’s very generous. And very magical. And you know when you are in this environment when the work gets better, but you can’t remember who’s idea it was.​

:hmmm:
That's why writers have editors, to prevent such atrocities seeing the light of day.
 

hiver

Guest
Seems great. Makes me cautiously very optimistic about the writing of the game and wouldnt be at all surprised if it turns out to be quite good and even truly awesome.

Tricky part being that it must flow with the gameplay, but reading this certainly paints a good picture of one of the main parts of the game.
 

DeepOcean

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Im happy with the possibility of truly great writing, it would be great if the writing involves something more active ( guessing if a character is lying to you, have to pay attention to what the NPCs are saying instead of everything magically explained to you on your journal, being able to guess the NPC emotions and personality) instead of mostly passive expository overload.
 

Surf Solar

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Calling it: Banal Shit Boring.

Too much PR and keyword speak for me.


This. All empty words to me. If Todd Howard or other "beloved" developers would make such PR nonsense they would be ridiculed on the codex, but in this case it's ofcourse the second coming of christ.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Calling it: Banal Shit Boring.

Too much PR and keyword speak for me.


This. All empty words to me. If Todd Howard or other "beloved" developers would make such PR nonsense they would be ridiculed on the codex, but in this case it's ofcourse the second coming of christ.

PR? These are personal blog posts from last year that nobody even noticed until today.

The only thing here close to being PR-speak is Matt Findley's description.
 

IDtenT

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Calling it: Banal Shit Boring.

Too much PR and keyword speak for me.


This. All empty words to me. If Todd Howard or other "beloved" developers would make such PR nonsense they would be ridiculed on the codex, but in this case it's ofcourse the second coming of christ.

PR? These are personal blog posts from last year that nobody even noticed until today.

The only thing here close to being PR-speak is Matt Findley's description.
People are capable of being their own PR agents...
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
People are capable of being their own PR agents...

And what I'm saying is it's not very good PR if nobody is around to even notice it. Public relations does in fact require a "public" to "relate" to.

So it's either really crappy PR...or it's just not PR.
 

IDtenT

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People are capable of being their own PR agents...

And what I'm saying is it's not very good PR if nobody is around to even notice it. Public relations does in fact require a "public" to "relate" to.

So it's either really crappy PR...or it's just not PR.
So the guy was /not/ promoting himself by telling everyone how great his experience was over at InXile? :roll:

I thought you were Jew, bro?

You can't trust someone who's worked on something to put down a realistic evaluation on the project. It just makes no sense. People with a vested interest are never unbiased.
 

eric__s

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Is there anything about the writing process itself? I did a quick skim of the blog but couldn't find anything. How much are they doing in a day? Are there examples of the writing or anything? What were the revision and editing processes like?

Anyway, this is cool and it's always a good sign when writers are pleased with their own work. Looking forward to this. Going to just step back and let them do what they do. I'm really not too concerned, I think they'll do a good job.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut 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 Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
So the guy was /not/ promoting himself by telling everyone how great his experience was over at InXile? :roll:

I thought you were Jew, bro?

You can't trust someone who's worked on something to put down a realistic evaluation on the project. It just makes no sense. People with a vested interest are never unbiased.

Everybody self-promotes. I'm questioning whether that blog post was a calculated marketing move for Wasteland 2.

Check it out: https://twitter.com/PatrickEMcLean/status/273457527637831682

Zero retweets.
 

Giskard

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P. good. I do hope it's an indicative of content and not just every NPC being long-winded as fuck.

I fully agree, and if anyone can create an emersive and cohesive text heavy story, these guys can (and probably will). However, will the Codex world come to an end if they somehow drop the ball on this one.
I Really have to sit down and play the original very soon, although I might wait, and play it just before W2 is released.
 

hiver

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You dont have to defend against every single stupid contention someone stupid makes, Infinitron.
 

IDtenT

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Everybody self-promotes. I'm questioning whether that blog post was a calculated marketing move for Wasteland 2.

Check it out: https://twitter.com/PatrickEMcLean/status/273457527637831682

Zero retweets.
See, I don't know if it's a calculated marketing move. He probably wasn't paid for the blog post, so it wouldn't be.

It doesn't change the fact that he's optimistic about his own product, as all people are. It doesn't change the fact that he headlined each section of his blog post with key words.

It can all be straight from the heart. Who fucking cares. He can never be honest about his own work, just like nobody can. They will always try and see everything in the best light.

Chances are that he even had differences with some writers, but they got over it. That doesn't mean they are best buddies forever, just that they got along. It doesn't mean that their product is good either, even if they think it is - or hope it is.
 

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