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Should game companies hire PROFESSIONAL writers to write their stories?

#1mistermikeymikePosted 2/6/2013 5:34:59 PM(edited)
As an avid jrpg fan sometimes playing a game really bothers me when I read the poor writing. And I don't mean son of a submariner poor (partly because it's hilariously awesome). I mean in regards to plot and writing techniques.

I just finished Persona 4 and I was pretty pissed off when I found out the killer was Adachi. You know why? Because there were no hints that it was him. It felt like he was literally picked at random when 95% of the game was done and anointed the killer. His motive? Because he could. Now tell me, how does a murder mystery have no hints pointing to the perp? (the only thing that people consider evidence is that he always "accidentally" talks too much about the case. except as a police detective he just looks stupid for giving things away).

Or take Final Fantasy 8. Several infamous cases of Deus Ex Machina. Deus Ex Machina is when some miraculous event saves the hero from certain doom. And by miraculous I mean something that isn't hinted at or mentioned at all. Sort of like the ragnarok appearing just out of the blue and suddenly saving Squall and Rinoa.

It's not even just bad storytelling. Some of the characters just frankly are very poorly designed. Like Vaan? Yeah noone likes Vaan cause he's a midget with a stupid haircut.

And it's not just the characters either. There are way too many cliches like the whole end of the world type thing that occurs in every video game since mario. Like in FF7 couldn't cloud have just killed sephiroth because he wanted revenge? does it necessarily have to be a righteous kill so he looks like the good guy? couldn't cloud just kill sephiroth and smile because he just killed the man who took everything from him? Why does he have to be the cliche good guy? Why couldn't Cloud smile as blood dripped form his sword
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#2zyrax2301Posted 2/6/2013 5:40:20 PM
No.
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#3Seifer_usPosted 2/6/2013 6:09:38 PM
It depends, but for heavily story-based games like RPGs I say, "Yes." The problem with Japanese RPGs in particular is the localization process.

Anyone who understands the nuances of Japanese as a language can tell you that literal translations sound very awkward and don't play well in English. Despite that, there was a large movement towards literal translations in the anime industry back in the late 90's / early 2000's brought on by fans who demanded it, and that mentality seeped into the game industry as well.

Some companies are starting to make progress, but in my mind, you need a team of highly skilled translators AND at least two quality, professional writers to make the story flow properly in the target language.

I'm not saying that you should abandon the original intent, but if the intended effect on the audience is hampered by a weak bit of dialogue, you need to rethink how you're relaying the story.

This is a pretty big thing for me personally, as I live in Japan and hope to eventually do translation work; but also, because I used to work as an actor, I pay a lot of attention to line readings and how well dialogue flows in a scene. This is why I'm often overly critical of Japanese to English localizations.

This isn't to say that all Japanese writing is good and it's just the translations that suck though, don't get me wrong. There's plenty of bad writing and acting to go around over here too.
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#4phowell23Posted 2/6/2013 6:11:23 PM
SE does
#5AjescentPosted 2/6/2013 6:13:20 PM
With regards to your P4 example, I say "what's wrong with the 'because I could' motive?" it's very underated imo. Not all killers need some long winded motivation or some lazy arsed back story.
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#6RafedxPosted 2/6/2013 6:16:55 PM
Seifer_us posted...
It depends, but for heavily story-based games like RPGs I say, "Yes." The problem with Japanese RPGs in particular is the localization process.

Anyone who understands the nuances of Japanese as a language can tell you that literal translations sound very awkward and don't play well in English. Despite that, there was a large movement towards literal translations in the anime industry back in the late 90's / early 2000's brought on by fans who demanded it, and that mentality seeped into the game industry as well.

Some companies are starting to make progress, but in my mind, you need a team of highly skilled translators AND at least two quality, professional writers to make the story flow properly in the target language.

I'm not saying that you should abandon the original intent, but if the intended effect on the audience is hampered by a weak bit of dialogue, you need to rethink how you're relaying the story.

This is a pretty big thing for me personally, as I live in Japan and hope to eventually do translation work; but also, because I used to work as an actor, I pay a lot of attention to line readings and how well dialogue flows in a scene. This is why I'm often overly critical of Japanese to English localizations.

This isn't to say that all Japanese writing is good and it's just the translations that suck though, don't get me wrong. There's plenty of bad writing and acting to go around over here too.


Good god this, so much this.

I was going to say something similar just not as well as you did it. Good post!
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#7sicko26usPosted 2/6/2013 6:19:26 PM
Yes, yes, and yes. Using Final Fantasy as an example (you did) 13 and 13-2 needed a better writer than Toriyama.
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#8ZiggletoothPosted 2/6/2013 6:22:43 PM(edited)
mistermikeymike posted...
As an avid jrpg fan sometimes playing a game really bothers me when I read the poor writing. And I don't mean son of a submariner poor (partly because it's hilariously awesome). I mean in regards to plot and writing techniques.

I just finished Persona 4 and I was pretty pissed off when I found out the killer was Adachi. You know why? Because there were no hints that it was him. It felt like he was literally picked at random when 95% of the game was done and anointed the killer. His motive? Because he could. Now tell me, how does a murder mystery have no hints pointing to the perp? (the only thing that people consider evidence is that he always "accidentally" talks too much about the case. except as a police detective he just looks stupid for giving things away).

Or take Final Fantasy 8. Several infamous cases of Deus Ex Machina. Deus Ex Machina is when some miraculous event saves the hero from certain doom. And by miraculous I mean something that isn't hinted at or mentioned at all. Sort of like the ragnarok appearing just out of the blue and suddenly saving Squall and Rinoa.

It's not even just bad storytelling. Some of the characters just frankly are very poorly designed. Like Vaan? Yeah noone likes Vaan cause he's a midget with a stupid haircut.

And it's not just the characters either. There are way too many cliches like the whole end of the world type thing that occurs in every video game since mario. Like in FF7 couldn't cloud have just killed sephiroth because he wanted revenge? does it necessarily have to be a righteous kill so he looks like the good guy? couldn't cloud just kill sephiroth and smile because he just killed the man who took everything from him? Why does he have to be the cliche good guy? Why couldn't Cloud smile as blood dripped form his sword


lol it seems you misunderstood one of the most important parts of the ff7 story. The transition of cloud becoming more human. This is central to the story. Basically you are saying why don't they remove a whole dimention of the story because you like simplicity.

well, because thats not the story. it's like complaining that mario sucks because its about a plumber when it could just be about a jobless person

I dont think you are saying anything meaningful
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#9ShineboxerPosted 2/6/2013 6:24:54 PM
That whole scene with those two people in space in FF 8 was copied from a star trek episode.


Never thought of it like it was something original. I think there is even a scene in FF9 that comfirms the writers were all trekies.


Also those short stories that were in Lost Odyssey were written by an actual writer and were phenomenal.
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#10scph9002sterPosted 2/6/2013 6:26:48 PM
I never understood the stories in jrpgs, or more like I didnt understood wtf they said.

Just just spammed X during dialogues and played for big numbers and crits :P

Whenever I need a good story I watch some good sci fi movie, read a book or play silent hill 2 instead ;)
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