Friday, February 23, 2007

How To Do Your Job

Suspense is good.

H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Stephen King, Hitchcock, c'mon man, they can't all be wrong.

And the trick with suspense is that you gotta start out with a discomforting and almost threatening title, y'know, like "How to Do Your Job," but then immediately move into a more comfortable setting.

And then you gotta start moving things along really slow.

Yah, really slow.

Heck, if you can figure out how to do it, you probably wanna start out from a complete stop.


Yah, suspense is all about holding your shit back, taking your sweet time, kickin' it, not doing stuff for a while, listening to the birds sing, stopping to smell a rose, keeping folks distracted, establishing a motionless context.

And then a direction is provided, oh look there, what was that.

Not any actual action, just a vector, a hint of mystery, a bit of foreshadowing, a warning, oh shit, here it comes.

And then you crest that first hill on the rollercoaster, and you start to build some steam as you slowly begin to investigate the slippery slope, and your heart starts beating faster, and your blood starts pumping faster.

You're going downhill, accelerating with gravity, faster, and faster.

And suddenly you are crashing along at full steam through the dark woods like a speeding locomotive, without any explanation, your mind is in a panic.

And then its the big shocker, a flash of something graphic.

And smash, the ending.

And then there's the cathartic reaction pay-off.

So, applying this to your game designing shit, since all you have is a handful of these stupid fucking spiders and these cheap ass looking bats and snakes to play with, don't sprinkle them all over like honey and sunshine on the lawn out in front of the gates to the city like its some kinda goddam happy pumpkin patch.

Pick your spiders up off the lawn (goddam lawn looks like shit with those stupid spiders crawling all over it anyways) and put them in a dark cave.

Yah, a dark cave, 'cause then people can't get a good look at yer crappy rubber monsters, all they'll see are some fast moving shadows and glistening eyeballs and mandibles snapping at them and stuff, hopefully the fucking eyeballs on these stupid things glisten a little.

And don't just sprinkle them all over the dark cave, put them in the bottom half of the cave, you don't want to start ambushing the players until they get at least halfway down to the bottom.

Well I'd start at 80% to 90% of the way to the bottom, but of course, I am a veritable Master of Suspense, so you might be better off with a much smaller number.

Now plop down some mildly creepy atmospheric fore-shadowing mystery crap in the top half of the cave, not too much of that cobweb shit, that's too obvious, and no fucking cocoons neither, man, what the hell's wrong with you?

Make it look regular, give 'em a mining foreman's logbook to read, and maybe one little baby spider running around that doesn't even want to fight, but not too much, y'know, 'cause you want a sharp line to cross where you are gonna start ramping things up.

Now as soon they get halfway down to the bottom, make the cobwebs suddenly get super thick, and a few steps later, BLAM, start springing groups of three really huge spiders on them.

Do that a couple times, and then start throwing the bats into the mix, down there in the bottom half of the caves somewhere.

No really, see, bats are especially scary if you have bad clipping in your game and they seem to pop out and run away through the walls and shit, especially when you're already busy fighting spiders in the dark.

Now all we got left is snakes, so fill the bottom of the cave with water and toss at least ten or twenty of them damn snakes in there so you can't even see 'em beneath the surface and they ain't easy to select between.

Yah snake target boxes are totally fucked up half the time in games anyways so who the hell cares.

Just make sure they don't attack until the whole group is out in the water, y'know, you probably have to have a light or something at the very end of the cave, to lure the players past the snakes, and make sure the snakes are all linked so nobody can pull them without bringing the whole thing down on his head.

Yah, that's good.

And then hit 'em with some more shitty rubber bats when they're halfway done with the snakes, we're bleeding all our momentum here like crazy man.

Okay, looking good.

No don't give 'em poison man, there's a whole 'nother joke about that shit.

Okay go ahead and fill that shit up with cocoons now.

Yah, I know snakes don't make cocoons, but who cares, cocoons are spooky.

Yah, okay, now we're at the end of the cave, and everybody knows that Stealing the Gem is gonna trigger some trap or a momma spider ambush or something, so unless you can think of something totally over-the-top like in Descent where you blow up the Reactor Core and it triggers a nuclear explosion that gives everybody sixty seconds to evacuate, and there ain't no way to cheat and just recall out or something, its gonna be a pooper, and you probably shouldn't have bothered trying to make a cave in the first place.

Yah, I'm serious.

Yah, just go back to that newbie yard smack-a-mole lawn fulla crap that you had, that was fine.

Hey, don't get all snippy with me about your fucking deadlines, I was trying to teach you something important!

Well you're the one who couldn't think of anything!

I don't know why those stupid graphics guys keep making all these damn spiders and bat models and shit either!

Oh shit, your boss is coming!

Uh, okay, relax, take a deep breath.

Just tell him you designed the spider fighting game area to appeal to people who hate fighting and spiders.

Yah like women.

Wait, don't say that.

And don't try to tell him about me.

Oh man.

Oh shit.

Oh shit, man.



You okay?


Okay, that was really bad.

That was like, really, really bad.

Yah, he thinks you're fucking nuts, man.

Hope he ain't gonna call the cops.

I told you not to try to tell him about me.

Okay, relax, man, just put yer shit in the box like the guy said and let's get out of here.

Yah, we don't need this fucking place, with all their fucking stupid ass spiders and snakes and shit.

Yah, fuck them!

We're better off without them, trust me.

Here, take your box, let's go, and try to act normal when we go through security.

Yah I stole some office supplies and shit from these snake fuckers.

Its cool, don't worry about it, I put 'em in your box, they won't even look.

Just act normal, here they come.

Act normal.

Everything's cool.

Be cool, man.

Shit man, don't whistle!

What the fuck is wrong with you!

Oh shit, they're looking at you!

Here they come!

Be cool!

Act normal!

Oh shit!

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