A while back I was playing the lauded World of Goo on my just-gifted iPad. Talking about a ~two-year old game isn’t exactly fresh, but it was something that stuck with me. Though not noticed at first, I feel that WoG is a lot more scripted than people may realize. For those that don’t know what it is for a game to be “scripted”, it basically means that the events that happen in the game—the things that you as a player cause—are actually the result of a careful set of conditions set up by a designer, or “scripter.” The things that make you laugh, feel angered or rewarded, perplexed, giddy, surprised, frustrated, etc., are actually carefully crafted most of the time. While there are moments of discovery, or experiences that were unintended, many games tend to be “on rails” in the sense that you’re following a carefully laid-out path, getting from point A to point B. Along that path a lot of things are supposed to happen, otherwise the game would probably not be that fun. Granted, some games, especially some truly compelling ones, are more “open world” in the sense that you can forge a more amorphous path, and thus are less scripted.
For a little backstory, I graduated from college directly into the role of a scripter intern at Treyarch, working on the Playstation 2 & Xbox title Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. I converted into a full-time position, and over the course of four years I worked on, in addition to CoD2:BRO, Call of Duty 3, and Call of Duty: World at War. I left after CoD:Wow to move to a new city, take time off, and explore some other passions. I ended up in Web Development, and am now immersed in one of the most rapidly evolving and important sectors. But lately I’ve been missing the role of game designer/scripter: the experience changed how I approached problem solving, productiveness, paradigms, and user interaction. There is a substantial difference between an ok game designer and a great one. So much of my life, including childhood, was spent immersed in the world of games. Technology puts things in perspective in an increasingly noticeable manner, and the evolution of games, be it their graphics, their interaction model, or their multiplayer capabilities, we are seeing that few things have such a wide arc of change and popularity as games do.
Well, I meant to segue into talking about Portal 2, but I’m going to truncate this post and maybe expand upon it another time.