Gareth Rees, May 1995
A technique I've found useful when writing games is to compose short scripts from the game. I sit down at the keyboard and type up a short dialogue that I might expect to occur during the game. For example (not from a real game):
This cavernous building owes a lot to Richard Rodgers: sweeping curves of metal and vast panes of glass give it an airy but rather desolate feel. To the north there's a customs desk and to the south electric doors lead out to the car park. Near one wall there's a solitary bench.
A young woman is sitting on the bench.
> examine bench
The bench is made of moulded red plastic and looks designed to be uncomfortable. There is a gap of about a foot between the bench and the wall.
A man carrying a briefcase enters the airport from the south.
> examine man
He's tall and angular, dressed expensively and wearing sunglasses.
> man, hello
"Push off!" he says, shoving past you.
The man goes over to the bench and sits down next to the young woman. They start talking to each other in low voices.
> hide behind bench
You creep along the wall as silently as you can. Luckily for you the two people on the bench are paying attention only to each other.
The man is saying, "Could you do a big favour for me? It's my brother Jeremy, he's flying to America for our mother's birthday, and he's forgotten to take her present. I tried to get here in time, but I can't find him anywhere. If you see him, could you give this to him? You'll know him because he looks like me and he's wearing dark glasses like I am."
He hands her a small parcel wrapped in brightly coloured paper, then gets up and walks out of the airport to the south.
You are carrying a pair of glasses.
and so on. I've found this helpful because:
It may be tough to code but it'll appear natural in the game and that's worth it.I also find it hard to get into the habit of providing interesting responses to failed actions, and the script helps with this.
If there's a drawback it's that it becomes very tempting to code the game so that the player is forced to follow the script, which doesn't make for much of an interesting game.