This blog will not only serve to disseminate my opinions to whoever might be interested in them, but also as a repository for a series of Short Scripts on games. Some of you may be familiar with Rod Hilton's Editing Room
, where he periodically posts abridged movie scripts which poke fun at recurrent flaws in their stories and presentation. I applied this idea to games and used Hilton's approach to write up a quick script on one of my favorite games: Deus Ex. Because it was so fun to do, I plan to write more of these and post them here on an irregular basis. The Deus Ex script has been made available and can be viewed by clicking the link at the top of this post. I will also be using each accompanying post to briefly elaborate on (the story of) the game in question, beyond what the script itself touches on.
I first played Deus Ex when I was 15 years old, and as I matured (or tried to), I acquired a deep-seeded appreciation for it, more so than my initial substantial one. The fact that I can play it today and still come across things that I hadn't encountered before is a clear demonstration of the depth of its experience. This might sound like I'm talking about game mechanics and exploration, and in a way I am, but its narrative fits the bill just the same. Because the way you approach the game has a direct influence on the story. The broad strokes of the story may be set in stone, but the minutiae are left up to the player. I found myself genuinly affected when I had killed every last NSF terrorist on Liberty Island (because I approached the game like I did every shooter before it) and my brother Paul suddenly told me I was a jackass. And rather than reloading a save game and trying again, I went with it, determined to do right by my brother on my next mission. The game managed to influence my playstyle.
Deus Ex perfectly embodies a tenet that I embrace fully, namely a narrative as deep as the player chooses it to be (a point I made in my previous post
). While playing Deus Ex, I found myself compelled to seek out every datacube, bulletin board, newspaper and terminal to soak up every piece of information on the game world I could. I'd even hunt for logins so that I could read all the mails stored on every computer. And if I couldn't find one, I'd hack it and read as quick as I could before time ran out and my bioelectric reserve was tapped. The fact that all this content is optional, that a run-and-gun player can speed past it to go shoot the next guy, is very telling. Because putting in content that the average player will never experience just goes to show the amount of dedication and detail the game developers poured into it.
I love a game which has crafted a well-defined universe of its own, complete with its own nomenclature, factions and atmosphere. And in Deus Ex, we have UNATCO, the NSF, the Gray Death and Silhouette (among many others). It of course helps that I'm an avid science-fiction fan. I encourage everyone who is a fan of Deus Ex to go here
and read Warren Spector's first proposal for Deus Ex as well as his post-mortem. Scratch that, read the whole page and see the quality of the writing and how it contributes to a comprehensive and engaging game world. If I can make a game one day that is half of what Deus Ex is, I will die a happy Narrative Designer.