I’m currently reading a book – a gift from a reader – and I’d like to share a quote with you:
Creating art is hard, even painful. Writing, in particular can require days, if not months, of solitude, doubt, and struggle against your better judgement. To be good, you have to put in the time and effort. You have to consume the work of others, both good and bad. You have to write, then revise and revise and revise and revise until you can accept it is time to let go. Most importantly, you have to sit down every day and punch yourself in the face repeatedly, hoping in the end you will come out the winner in a fight against no one but yourself. You can teach yourself to live this way, but it does not come naturally.
That quote is from Walt Williams in his book Significant Zero, an autobiographical journey through the videogame industry. Walt here wrote Spec Ops: The Line, and this quote gives a pretty good clue as to why it felt like: PTSD: The Game. If this is his creative process, then it’s no wonder the game was a descent into madness.
I’m about halfway through the book at this point, and it’s pretty amazing. On this site I’m usually raging against the dysfunction among the leadership of the major publishers, but this book is more focused on the dysfunction at the level of middle management.
Another fun fact? Spec Ops starts off with a rail shooter-style helicopter battle with confusing dialog and it doesn’t totally fit with the rest of the game. I always wondered what the deal was with that. According to the book, late in development some ninny in management decided that the game needed to open with the helicopter section, even though that works directly against the slow-burn opening the game is designed around. The strange dialog in this section was the author’s protest against this decision. Williams deliberately made it so this bit couldn’t fit into the continuity of the rest of the story. It was a middle finger to the dumbass that decided to destroy the intended pacing and tone because they thought gamers are too dumb to appreciate a slow opening.
For the record, I’ve never found punching myself in the face to be at all conducive to writing. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I find the process to be enjoyable and sometimes even cathartic.
Editing, on the other hand… editing sucks.
Joker's Last Laugh
Did you anticipate the big plot twist of Batman: Arkham City? Here's all the ways the game hid that secret from you while also rubbing your nose in it.
Good to be the King?
Which would you rather be: A king in the middle ages, or a lower-income laborer in the 21st century?
Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis
A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.
Juvenile and Proud
Yes, this game is loud, crude, childish, and stupid. But it it knows what it wants to be and nails it. And that's admirable.
Spec Ops: The Line
A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?