Saturday, December 11, 2010


I'm pondering changing my research-and-writing methods for my book on game history. So far, I've been going chapter-by-chapter. I decide to write on a genre (and time, if I break it in half), put together an outline, and try to play (if necessary - most of them are pretty firmly ensconced in my memory) and write on the games in order. However, my current chapter on real-time strategy game has exposed some flaws in this process, namely, that if I don't really like the games to begin with, it takes a lot longer. I'm pretty ambivalent about RTS games, so this chapter is in around its fourth month of work. At that rate, I might finish my first draft in three or four years, which seems a little much for me.

So I'm pondering switching writing about each game individually, and putting the segues in later. I've already kind of done this, having played and written about Half-Life while in the midst of my RTS binge. I see two major problems with this: first, it'll be harder to feel a sense of accomplishment like finishing a chapter. Second, it may just be an attempt to satiate my gaming ADD, and may make it harder for me to force myself to write instead of just play. I suppose I'll find out.

After I posted my excerpt on FF6, I had someone ask me on Twitter if I was also going to include Chrono Trigger. Ideally, the book will be mostly comprehensive, at least mentioning if not analyzing most of the influential games, massive hits, games representative of trends, cult classics, and major disasters. Here's an example of the preliminary games list for the first-person shooter chapter:

Catacomb 3-D
Ultima Underworld
Wolfenstein 3-D
System Shock
Doom 2
Rise of the Triad
Dark Forces
Duke Nukem 3D
Team Fortress
Jedi Knight
Quake II
Rainbow Six
System Shock 2
Unreal Tournament/Quake III
Perfect Dark
Serious Sam
Deus Ex
Elite Force
Red Faction

Some of these games may just get a mention (Dark Forces) or a reference to a different chapter they fit in better (the RPGs, Thief), some a paragraph (Serious Sam). Many of the bigger will get a page (Wolfenstein, NOLF) while others may get multiple pages of analysis on different levels (Doom, Halo). One of them will get a particular in-depth analysis using lots of screenshots. In this case, that's Half-Life and its storytelling-without-conventional-plot.

In other words, there's no way Chrono Trigger wouldn't make the book - and I hope I manage to get all the important games even when I get into genres I'm not really an expert on.

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