Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Modding A Game To Tell A Story

Lately I have started trying to teach myself how to mod Skyrim. I picked that game because I already own it, the toolkit has been out long enough to have most of the bugs either worked out or worked around, and there is an encyclopedia of information floating around about how to do things with it.

The reason why I am doing it is a bit more complicated. I used to do a little game modding back in the days when Doom and Heretic first came out for DOS. In those days it was a lot simpler, because you couldn't really do much besides make a small level and drop in a few items. Scripting was a non-starter back then. Modern game systems are a bit more complex and flexible.

For one thing, I want to continue learning for as long as I continue breathing. Just as a matter of principle. For another, I suspect that the next level of storytelling will eventually include the integration of text and visual art. Much like paper books routinely include illustrations, I anticipate that ebooks might someday start to incorporate video supplements. I have seen things like that attempted before, but in the past the available tech was simply too crude to make it look good. That is changing, rapidly. People are already posting YouTube trailers for their ebooks. How far is it to go from that to embedding video in the book itself?

For another thing, it stimulates my muse. Looking at a story in my mind is different than looking at it in 3D. Framing a series of "what if?" questions when developing a plot line in a book becomes a different order of business when the book has an AI and starts to answer you back, independently of your own subconscious. And modern scripting languages are not really that much more complicated that the Basic or DOS batch files that I first learned to use back in the dawn of electronic civilization.

I may never get good enough to let the public see any of it. But I really think it will be an excellent exercise for stretching my ability to think in four dimensions while tracking multiple plot lines simultaneously. At least I hope so. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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