Senior Writer for ZeniMax Online Studios
Randy Begel is a senior writer and narrative designer for ZeniMax Online Studios, where he is currently expanding the vast world of the Elder Scrolls Online. Randy has spent ten years on the forefront of online multiplayer game development, helping shape the way story is experienced in non-linear group environments. His previous titles include Star Wars: the Old Republic, League of Legends, and Star Trek: Timelines. When he’s not neglecting his Twitter or petting cats, he’s advocating more dialogue options that involve punching jerks in the face.
Hey, Listen! Avoiding Noise Pollution in Games
In his book “A Theory of Fun,” Raph Koster explains flow as a desired player state, which can lead to greater immersion and overall engagement. Noise, such as repetitive VO and ambient elements, has a tendency to break a player’s state of flow, reducing not just a player’s overall enjoyment of a game, but sometimes even their ability to play it. So, what can writers, designers, and audio engineers do to reduce noise and spare their players from the frustration and irritation that comes with it?
Join industry veteran and Narrative Designer Randy Begel, who has worked on such titles as Star Wars: The Old Republic, League of Legends, and Elder Scrolls Online as he explains:
The concept of flow according to Raph Koster, why it’s important to design for, and what can result from players being in a positive state of flow.
The cognitive psychology concepts of load and interference, their role in noise, as well as supporting research on the impacts of noise on flow.
Practical examples of how noise impacts players in modern games.
Tips for writers, audio engineers, and designers to avoid this kind of noise pollution.
More resources on the concept of flow and how it relates to greater well-being from the perspective of psychology.
Examples of the tips shared include:
How to better collaborate between disciplines to design your Audio/VO experience.
Tips for using scripting to adjust the triggers, timing, and volume of ambient elements.
Planning the scope of VO to minimize repetitious dialogue.
Sometimes when you work in game writing, you get to make up your own characters because you are working on a studio-owned IP. Often, though, you are tasked with writing for a world with canon that already exists, which presents its own specific set of challenges. Heidi McDonald moderates a panel of industry all-star narrative designers with experience in game writing using existing licenses. There will also be a Q&A period for other writers about writing with existing licenses.
Sample questions for panelists:
–The balance between fan service, game writing conventions, and the existing material.
–How to keep stories and characters original yet within established constraints.
–Working with clients who have oversight, or content bibles.