Thursday, July 3, 2014

Games without Combat

As a professional deadbeat, I don't usually apply for jobs.  However, one listing caught my eye last year.  It was an attempt to recruit writers for a game company.  The application process involved writing about a game story that could be told without combat.  It also (quite sternly) warned applicants not to reference Journey or The Walking Dead.

After a few minutes, I realized I'd love to spend a few minutes applying for the job.  Here's what I wrote:

I don't normally apply for work in the games industry, as my writing career (my latest novel: http://www.amazon.com/Pinhole-ebook/dp/B00BVFLY6W/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) and teaching game design keeps me fulfilled, but your posting was intriguing.

What stories could I tell without combat? All of them! Action is fun but it completely destroys a plot (except for the "who kills whom part"). Here's six I came up with just sitting here filling out this form:

1. The player must dig out people trapped in a burning building while dealing with the collapsing superstructure and his or her own claustrophobia.

2. The player's planet is being consumed by a plague and has to develop a virus to combat the plague. Meanwhile, the player's spouse and children are being held hostage by an extremist group to ensure the cure is never found.

3. The player has fifteen minutes to live (or however long a play-session is) and must discover who poisoned his or her food.

4. The player is a spirit and wants to be reincarnated, but must cause the death of someone else to be reborn.

5. The player applied for a cool job. Just after he sends his resume and cover letter, he realizes he has forgotten to remove all references to Journey or the Walking Dead. He now has to break into the offices of his recruiter and change the file before it is sent on.

6. The player is a sentient pile of goop with only vague memories of being human. As he or she masters forming different shapes, more bits of memories come back (and they're different memories, depending on what shapes are made).

See, much more fun than making a combat-based story:
1. Player must kill bad guy.
2. Player must kill good guy.
3. Player must kill aliens.
4. Player must kill zombies.
5. Player must kill demons.
6. Player must kill ghosts.

Hey, this was fun! Thanks for the diversion. 
They responded saying that they liked my submission, but were hoping for someone with more experience.  Then they stole all my ideas and didn't give me credit.

Ha ha!  Just kidding.  That was Oni (no seriously, I submitted a weapon called a Van DeGraff as part of interviewing).

Sorry about the strange reference to an email I got last week.  After some thought, I decided I'll post it next week.

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