I figure that before I start armchair-devving and exposing the internet to my oftentimes bizarre behavior, I should probably say something. So… something!
Wow, that was a really bad joke. I am ashamed.
Anyway, I mentioned armchair-devving, and for those of you wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, I have a tendency to play a game and then, in my mind, sort through the things I didn’t like and figure out how to make them better. I’m not a game developer, so I’m basically talking out of my ass, which is something that I happily admit to, I just find it to be a good mental challenge for myself and a great exercise in thinking outside the box. Not that I need any help in doing that. I don’t so much think outside of the box as I think six zip codes away from the box.
Unlike a lot of people who do this kind of thing, though, I like to try and back up my ideas with solid evidence. I don’t just say “oh, this feature blows, you should change it,” I say “This feature really gave me a lot of trouble and I wonder if other gamers may have experienced the same thing? Here’s how I’d change it while still trying to keep the overall feel and what the designers were trying to say with it intact.” Truth is, game developers, quest designers, Hell, the entire team behind a game all work really hard. This may come as a surprise, but I am a creative person — I’ve been writing regularly since I was four — so I understand how much of one’s self goes into a creative project… and how much of a sting it can have, no matter how thick your skin is, when somebody comes along and just shits all over it. I constantly find myself defending these people (unless it’s EA who I still have not forgiven for Dragon Age II) to the gaming community because these vocal detractors don’t stop and think about the pressure of deadlines, the tons of drafts and revisions, the all-nighters spent trying to get things just right before the product ships… it’s a fun job, but it’s a difficult one.
To which I say, “challenge accepted.”
Rather than sticking to theory, it’s my dream to actually be able to put this all into practice. When I was younger, I never understood what people meant when they talked about their “dream job” or anything of that nature. Nothing called to me. Then, a couple of months after its release, I started playing World of Warcraft, and ten levels later I was already saying to myself “Oh my God. I want to make these things.”
When I do something in a game, ANY game, the first thing I notice is the storyline. Graphics I can forgive, even sound, but nothing makes me cringe more than a game with a bad storyline, or worse, lack thereof. A prime example of this is the Tera MMO. The Boyfriend, who does 3D modelling, was drawn to it because of the admittedly impressive graphics. I played it for a very short time before sadly giving up because of the lack of any lore or reason behind the quests. “Kill 10 of random mob? But why? What good does this do? What is this world I’m questing in? Who is this questgiver and how does he tie into things?” None of those questions were answered for me, and so I lost interest. If I want a mindless grind-fest, I’ll get exalted with the Timbermaw, thank you very much.
In cases like this, I find myself trying to sketch out a “new” version of the material that I don’t feel is up to speed. I do the same thing with movies; it can be the trashiest, most awful B-movie in existence, but if there’s even a spark of potential to be found in it, I’m immediately writing down ideas with how I could make it better. It’s never done in an “I’m smarter and better and more talented, and you’re all jerks” kind of way, more in a manner intended to be helpful, like “Hey guys, I see what you were trying to do, but what about this?” I’ve also gone so far as to write sequels and additional content for games that I really like. Obviously I’m useless with regards to the coding aspect, but I know what I see in my head, I know what I want it to look like, and if it’s not doable, well, I’ll figure out something else that is.
So my ultimate dream? To get a spot on the World of Warcraft quest design or development team at Blizzard. A lot of people have accused me of wanting it just because I’m a fangirl, but in fact, I want World of Warcraft specifically because I’m so versed in the lore. Sure, I’d take a spot on D3 or Starcraft, but I know next to nothing about them, so it would be a much harder start for me. But why Blizzard, and why not a more general scope? Two reasons:
- I can troll Skinny British Stepdad by slooooooowly rolling myself in a wheelie-chair past his doorway while staring at him in the creepiest manner possible
- It’s legit a good company that treats its employees well, and with three major IPs to its name, it’s a lot more stable than most game companies — something very important right now with so many studios closing their doors.
- Special Extra Bonus Stage Because I Thought of a Third Reason and Am Too Lazy To Edit the Previous Paragraph: I actually like their games. They’re quality stuff, and in the case of World of Warcraft, ones that I feel extremely passionately about. I could happily immerse myself in their storylines on a daily basis and, in fact, I do that just by playing. But I want to do more. I want to be at least partly responsible for creating the things that make me (and, of course, other gamers) go “wow.”
Will it ever happen? I really hope so. When you find a tough part in a dungeon, I want it to be MY name that the masses curse. I can hear them now: “DAMN YOU, OVERLORD BUNNY!”
It’s a good feeling.