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Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A Player-Centered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories Paperback – March 1, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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  • Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A Player-Centered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories
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  • The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design
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  • Video Game Storytelling: What Every Developer Needs to Know about Narrative Techniques
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Lebowitz and Klug's tag-team approach to the subject makes this an engaging read, even for seasoned interactive storytellers. The combination of Lebowitz's theory and Klug's field experience present both new and experienced game writers with both the promises, and the challnges, of experimenting with game narratives. The use of diverse case studies, which cover everything from the classic Final Fantasy VII to the Japanese visual novel genre, provide readers with the opportunity to engage Lebowitz and Klug's ideas and inspire innovation in their own writing. The exercises and questions both guide readers through the key points, and encourage application and exploration, perfect for a classroom setting.
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Kathleen Dunley, Faculty Chair-English, Rio Salado College

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240817176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240817170
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This does not feel like a computer book. Focal Press has put out many books on video gaming and on film production, and if you are reading this, you might have a background in programming video games. But the book doesn't have a line of code. Instead it is a testament to the evolution and current sophistication of this field. From the start, it focuses on the story telling. Not unlike a traditional book on writing screenplays. We have moved away from the low level details of how to draw and animate a character. Books on those were primarily about the graphics; because that was what you mostly had to master.

What you can do with this book is read it as a good summary of the different popular video games of 2010-11. The authors do a comparative analysis at the plot level. Accompanied by extensive explanations of how to classify games.

But you can see important differences with writing screenplays. In some video games, you can have multiple endings, that depend on how the player does. And of course, a game is an interactive process. Quite unlike watching a play or film. This ability to branch a story into several lines, and perhaps have some merge if the player does certain tasks, can be a fascinating challenge to storyboard and master. The book is quite candid about the potential weaknesses of the approach. Which is one of its strengths. It offers a clear eyed study of the potential and pitfalls of current gaming.

Still, if you are able to follow its advice, you can carve out an intricate mesh of a story to entrance your players.

Yes, you can be the puppet master!
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The video game has come into its own in recent decades and Josiah Lebowitz & Chris Klug have put together a wonderful guide for those who are motivated not just by the gameplay and action but the storyline within the game as well. Some games with great stories go along unappreciated . Unlike writing for film, television or for fiction novels, writing for video games is a different beast and Lebowitz & Klug go over them in great detail. In a film, everything is according to the script. In game development, it's subject to change.

The authors go into open-ended and multiple ending stories and the sstrengths and weakenesses of each as well as the considerations of storylines that are based upon the skill level of the gamer. The authors talk about what it is that gamers want and how to develop effective game stories that companies and players want to see. There are many games that are mentioned and with extensive screenshots of example games. I was rather disappointed that Assasin's Creed, which is probably one of the top games with an incredible amount of detail, gameplay, in depth storyline based in history was not mentioned except in the appendix.

This is a completely new area of writing for me, but coming out of Focal Press, it was definitely a title and a method of storytelling that intrigued me. I think this is a definite not-to-miss if someone is considering writing for the game industry. There are tons of resources of various companies and groups that cater to the need of gamers and game development teams
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Story telling in games wasn't something that's always intrigued me. Like many others, I began my gaming career with games like Super Mario, Doom, and Legend of Zelda; all of which had about a line or two of narrative and that was enough for me (heck, that's even more than Pac-Man and Space Invaders right?). It wasn't until a friend of mine brought over a new sort of game, an RPG called Final Fantasy II (which we know today as IV), that I realized games could very well be a medium to tell great stories. Then Final Fantasy XII and Metal Gear Solid came out and removed any doubt, and I've been fascinated with digital story telling ever since.

Which leads me to this book... I didn't order it so I could began writing my own video-game stories (at least not yet), but rather to get a better understanding of the challenges of writing such things, as well as taking an in depth look at some of the story lines in my favorite games. Not only did this book fulfill all those expectations, but also to my surprise was a really fun read! From the start I knew the author was a GAMER and not just some guy out to make a quick buck. All the examples and points he made were just right on. A great example is how disastrous multiple story arcs can be. It's a great idea in theory, and every now and then a game can pull it off (Heavy Rain), but most of the time it's just frustrating as hell (Final Fantasy X2). Also I thought it was neat how much of it I could apply to other, non-video things. For example, there is an entire break down of "the hero's journey", a story framework that's been used since the dawn of time in many novels, that I'm sure I can bust out on my next English paper in school. And for you tabletop RPG Game Masters out there, almost all the material within this book can be applied to your game.

If you're at all into the stories told into games, or need to write one for that matter, I would seriously give this book a read!
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Interactive Storytelling for Video Games is devoted to depicting storytelling as it relates to video games and interactive entertainment in general. The authors start off the book with a look at the history of interactive storytelling and then move on to a presentation of traditional storytelling techniques which serve as a basis for the main portion of the book. The main part of the book is devoted to the various approaches to interactive storytelling that have been developed in the video game industry so far. The chapter on the history of interactive storytelling filled in a few details about the development of story telling in video games for me and was pretty useful. I also felt that the presentation of traditional storytelling methods, character generation, and development of emotional stories, was more than adequate to prepare me to follow the subsequent chapters on interactive storytelling. These chapters are where the book becomes really interesting. Thus far, video game designers have come up with several approaches to adding interactivity to storytelling namely, multiple-ending stories, branching path stories, open ended stories and fully player-driven stories. For each type of storytelling the authors describe the method then present several case studies of games in which the method was used. I found this combination of description and case study to be very useful. The descriptions of the method lay the groundwork for understanding and the case studies provide concrete examples that I found illuminating. Interspaced throughout the book are asides written by Chris Klug an industry veteran and teacher of interactive story writing. Chris Klug is pretty opinionated, more so than Josiah Lebowitz however, this turns out to be a good counterpoint to the often unbiased presentation of Lebowitz.Read more ›
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