Today I am officially shutting down Game Scribe, the blog from whence I came. It was a really cool experiment, and I wish I was independently wealthy so I could spend the time required to keep it running. The problem was that playing with a Game Scribe post in mind and playing normally was diametrically opposed.
The idea for Game Scribe came from the repeatable story content in Guild Wars and the then-forthcoming repeatable public quests in Warhammer Online. I figured that with instantly repeatable story-involved content I could pull a character narrative with pictures out of the mission or public quest. The reason, I felt, that I needed the instant repeatability was to make sure that the actual story could be translated to a reader. In other words, the pictures and narrative had to be consistent with the actual story experienced by the players. New single-shot content would not give me that flexibility.
I couldn’t bring myself to take the necessary time involved for the Guild Wars missions I had already experienced multiple times, and Warhammer Online was delayed nearly a year since my idea sprang from the ether. However, with a new lifetime subscription from my good friend I did bend the idea to work with Lord of the Rings Online, and I, LOTRO was created.
It was a departure from what I wanted because Lord of the Rings Online story content was not always repeatable and definitely not as accessible as Guild Wars missions or Warhammer Online public quests. So, gameplay was slow. I had to take a million screenshots each session, and I had to constantly spoil myself on many quests to make sure that I would not miss any crucial moments. I used FRAPS to take constant screenshots every 6-10 seconds in addition to the in-game screenshot button. I got some really, really beautiful shots from Lord of the Rings Online included in my post (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
I outgrew the buggy Blogspot interface, and headed to WordPress, where I created Game Scribe. I decided that instead of focusing just on Lord of the Rings Online (or one game), my new blog would open up to a multitude of games. Game Scribe had Audiosurf, Deus Ex, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Team Fortress 2, and Warhammer Online posts. The only “rule” was that the post generally had to be about an actual play session, but in-character narrative was not required.
The problem was always time. Normal people usually play until it’s bed time, TV show time, time to go, etc. I had to make sure to log off 15-30 minutes earlier in order to go through hundreds of screenshots every session. I often would accidentally turn FRAPS off, or just forget to load the screenshot program during a fantastic session. Plus my MMO playstyle was going ultra-slow. Guildies were speeding by me to the “end game.” It was both a blessing and a curse to stop and thoroughly smell all the content nuggets that the writers painstakingly put into the largely ignored quest text. All this weighed on me too heavily. I could not find the balance necessary for my fun, which is why I play games in the first place, and good posts.
I am very proud of some of the pieces I created.
Ravric, my Captain from Lord of the Rings Online had a vanilla heroic voice, but I tried to make him flawed in that he was easily annoyed at the lesser Free Peoples. This was my favorite post because I was able to incorporate random events (a happenstance grouping) in to the post, and I was well along with Ravric’s voice. This is by far my favorite screenshot posted for Ravric.
In Team Fortress 2, I tried to create a style and voice for each character. Unfortunately I only had time to get the Soldier, Sniper, and Pyro. Being a fan of the TV show, The Unit, I tried to add in soldier slang for the Soldier’s posts. It never got to anything I was happy with. However, the Australian slang (some madeup) I did with the Sniper I always thought was fantastic. The Pyro I decided was more of a samurai, unfearful of death, than the suicide bomber most peg him for. I took a lot from one of my favorite books, the Hagakure, and filtered them through the Team Fortress world. My favorite for each voice is probably these three posts, and my favorite Team Fortress 2 post is this one.
By the time Warhammer Online was released, I had my method for creating posts down cold. I needed a voice for my Zealot. I decided to create a faux-bible since there was an overarching story continued through multiple Chapters. The aptly named Book of Crows would be an (un)holy book written by Ravious, the Zealot of the conquest of the Empire lands. This book was in turn being published by an Empire historian well after the Age of Reckoning, and would have commentary on some of the passages. This was my favorite post.
While I considered the Team Fortress 2 posts normally the best, my favorites were the Warhammer Online posts. I felt that the Book of Crows was a great idea, but the playstyle required was brutally hard. Public quests turned out to be a shadow of what they could have been, and my guildmates were flying through the tiers leaving me far behind. I basically had a choice to either play the game for fun, or play the game for Game Scribe.
Since then I have chosen fun, but I still miss it. Luckily, Ethic allowing me to write for Kill Ten Rats mostly filled that hole. Someday, I might return, but only if I can better balance the work with fun. Until then it will just have to remain in my head.
Remember Sammy Jankis.