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Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering™

Book Description

David Freeman brings you the inside scoop on how to apply the Emotioneering™ techniques he's so well known for. These powerful techniques create a breadth and depth of emotion in a game, and induce a player to identify with the role he or she is playing. Mr. Freeman's techniques are so highly sought after because they're the key to mass market success in today's competitive game market. The over 300 distinct Emotioneering techniques in this book include (to name but a few): ways to give emotional depth to an NPC (non-player character), even if the NPC has just one line of dialogue; techniques to bond a player to a game's NPCs; and techniques to transform a game into an intense emotional journey. In a warm and crystal-clear style, Mr. Freeman provides examples which demonstrate exactly how to apply the techniques. He also shows how some of these techniques were utilized in, and contributed greatly to the success of such games as "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City"; "Deus Ex"; and "Thief" I & II, among others. The book is packed with striking art by some of today's top concept artists and illustrators, including an eight-page color section and a four-color, fold-out cover. When you've finished this book, you'll be equipped to apply Mr. Freeman's powerful Emotioneering techniques to artfully create emotion in the games you design, build, or produce.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
    1. About the Technical Reviewer
    2. Tell Us What You Think
  4. Foreword
  5. Gallery
  6. I. Introduction
    1. 1.1. Communicate… Explore… Help… Words… Edge…
      1. Communicate
      2. Explore
      3. Help
      4. Words
      5. Edge
    2. 1.2. An Introduction to Emotioneering
    3. 1.3. Why Put Emotion into Games?
      1. Reason #1: Expanded Demographics
      2. Reason #2: Better Buzz
      3. Reason #3: Better Press
      4. Reason #4: So Games Don't Seem Amateurish
      5. Reason #5: An Inspired and Dedicated Creative Team
      6. Reason #6: Consumer Loyalty to the Brand, Which Is Worth a Fortune
      7. Reason #7: So You Don't Burn Millions of Dollars of Potential Profit
      8. Reason #8: Competitive Advantage
      9. Reason #9: So You Don't Come in Last
      10. Summary
    4. 1.4. 17 Things Screenwriters Don't Know About Games
      1. What Screenwriters Need to Learn About Games
        1. The Shortest Distance May Be a Straight Line—But Who Wants a Straight Line?
        2. Creating Playable Roles
        3. Dialogue in Films Versus Games
        4. Well, at Least They Can Write the Cinematics
        5. A Different Kind of Process
        6. Hello, Hollywood
        7. And It Doesn't End There
      2. Putting It in Focus
      3. Facing the Challenge: A Guide to Hiring a Screenwriter
      4. Final Thoughts
    5. 1.5. Why Game Designers Often Find Writing to Be So Challenging
      1. The Same Problem Often Besets Game Designers
      2. Yes, But Games Aren't Movies, so That Isn't Relevant
      3. Final Thoughts
    6. 1.6. Why “Writing” Is a Bad Word and “Emotioneering” Is a Better One
    7. 1.7. How to Hopefully Be Unappreciated
    8. 1.8. Where Screenwriting Leaves Off and Emotioneering Begins
      1. Deep Isn't Necessarily Interesting
      2. From Screenwriting to Emotioneering
  7. II. The 32 Categories of Emotioneering Techniques
    1. 2.1. Emotioneering Techniques Category #1: NPC Interesting Techniques
      1. Major NPCs (NPCs Who Recur Throughout the Game)
      2. More About Traits
      3. The Hypothetical Game
      4. The Hypothetical Game
        1. Clearing Up Some Possible Misunderstandings
        2. Artful or Arbitrary?
        3. “Traits” Versus “Quirks”
        4. Minor NPCs
        5. “But Game Players Like Cliché Characters.”
      5. Final Thoughts
    2. 2.2. Emotioneering Techniques Category #2: NPC Deepening Techniques
      1. Emotional Pain
      2. An Example of Technique Stacking
      3. Regret—and Hiding a Secret
      4. Appreciation—and Wisdom
      5. Cover a Real Emotion with a False Emotion
      6. Combining NPC Deepening Techniques
      7. Having Emotion Relate to Player Actions and Decisions
      8. Final Thoughts
    3. 2.3. Emotioneering Techniques Category #3: Dialogue Interesting Techniques
      1. NPC Dialogue to Add Color
        1. An Example of Weak Dialogue
        2. Better Dialogue
      2. NPC Dialogue to Prompt Action
        1. An Example of Weak Dialogue
        2. Better Dialogue
      3. Splitting Up the Information
      4. Some Common Fallacies and Problems
      5. Final Thoughts
    4. 2.4. Emotioneering Techniques Category #4: Deepening Deepening Techniques
      1. Give Your NPC Some Depth
        1. Worries
        2. Deep Doubts
        3. Regret
        4. Self-Sacrifice
        5. Wisdom or Insight
      2. The Hypothetical Game
      3. Combining Emotioneering Techniques
      4. An Example of Technique Stacking
        1. Worries
        2. An Example of Technique Stacking
      5. The NPC Has Emotions Beneath the Surface
      6. The Hypothetical Game
        1. Deconstructing the Dialogue
      7. Ambivalence
      8. Final Thoughts
    5. 2.5. Emotioneering Techniques Category #5: Group Interesting Techniques
      1. The Basic Idea of Klingons
      2. Relevance for Games
      3. Two Important Considerations
      4. Traits Versus Quirks—Carrying the Analogy into Groups
      5. Hypothetical Game Case Study
        1. Tribe 3: The Blades
        2. Tribe 4: The Tabrene
        3. Tribe 5: The Korimutay
      6. So, All Groups Need a Diamond?
      7. The Diamond of the Group and the Diamond of the Individual
      8. Final Thoughts
    6. 2.6. Emotioneering Techniques Category #6: Group Deepening Techniques
      1. Giving Depth to Groups
      2. The Hypothetical Game
        1. Wisdom
        2. Aesthetics
        3. Nobility
        4. A Deeper Group
      3. Final Thoughts
    7. 2.7. Emotioneering Techniques Category #7: NPC Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques
      1. The Characters Think in the Same Way
      2. Fighting
      3. Person #1 Talks Warmly About Person #2 in Person #2's Absence
      4. Another Example of Technique Stacking
        1. Underkill Is Sometimes Better than Overkill
      5. Person #1 Can Read Person #2's Hidden Feelings
      6. They Have Shared Bits
      7. Final Thoughts
    8. 2.8. Emotioneering Techniques Category #8: NPC Toward NPC Relationship Deepening Techniques
      1. An Analogy to the Character Diamond
      2. More Than One Layer Can Be Present in One Line
      3. There Doesn't Need to Be a Relationship Between the Two Characters' Layer Cakes Toward Each Other—But There Can Be
        1. Some Dangers in the Familiar
      4. Final Thoughts
    9. 2.9. Emotioneering Techniques Category #9: NPC Character Arc Techniques
      1. A Character Arc Doesn't Come Easily to a Character
      2. Relevance for Games
      3. Ins and Outs
        1. One Arc
        2. Rocky Growth
        3. Happy Events Cause Growth Too
        4. Growth in Increments
        5. Darkness Before Growth
        6. A Mask to Hide Limitations
        7. Imply Success, Don't State It
        8. Failed Character Arcs
        9. The Consistency of Villains
      4. Exceptions
      5. Final Thoughts
    10. 2.10. Emotioneering Techniques Category #10: NPC Rooting Interest Techniques
      1. The Sorcerer Among Us Is You
      2. Relationship to the Character Diamond
      3. Put the NPC in Danger
      4. Self-Sacrifice
      5. Undeserved Misfortune
      6. Learn About a Painful Part of Their Past
      7. Bravery
      8. Some Techniques Fall into Two Different Categories
      9. Characters You Invest with Life
      10. Characters for Whom You're Responsible
      11. A Note About Multi-Function Techniques
      12. Using Rooting Interest Techniques and Their Opposites to “Dial Up” or “Dial Down” an NPC's Likability and the Degree to Which We Identify with Him or Her
      13. Final Thoughts
    11. 2.11. Emotioneering Techniques Category #11: Player Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques
      1. The NPC Admires You
      2. The NPC Reads Your Mind
      3. The NPC Has Things in Common with You
      4. The NPC Anticipates Your Needs and Desires
      5. An NPC Makes You Grow to Become a Better Person
        1. Summary of This Example
      6. Final Thoughts
    12. 2.12. Emotioneering Techniques Category #12: NPC Toward Player Relationship Deepening Techniques
      1. Layers of Feeling
      2. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Post-Apocalyptic America Game
      3. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Detectives
      4. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Another Hypothetical Game Example
        1. An Example of Technique Stacking
      5. Final Thoughts
    13. 2.13. Emotioneering Techniques Category #13: Player Toward NPC Relationship Deepening Techniques
      1. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Our Post-Apocalyptic Gunslinger
      2. A Hypothetical Game: Mixed Emotions in WWII
      3. Final Thoughts
    14. 2.14. Emotioneering Techniques Category #14: Group Bonding Techniques
      1. Elements of Shared Appearance
      2. Shared Goals
      3. Shared Rituals
      4. Going Through Shared Ordeals and Adventures
      5. Taking Heroic Actions to Protect Each Other
      6. Complementary Skills
      7. Say Good Things Behind Each Others' Back—Even if They Don't to Their Faces
      8. Bam-Bam Dialogue in Cinematics
      9. Shared References
        1. An Example from a Hypothetical Game
      10. Group Bonding Challenges in Squad-Based First-Person Shooters
      11. Final Thoughts
    15. 2.15. Emotioneering Techniques Category #15: Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Techniques
      1. You Are Forced to Do Potential Evil
      2. You Are Forced to See Through the Eyes of Someone You Don't Like or Are Ambivalent About
      3. Ambivalence Toward a “Friend”
      4. Ambivalence Toward an “Enemy”
        1. Another Way You Could Employ This Technique
      5. Ambivalence Toward a Situation
      6. You Discover You've Been Tricked
        1. Further Thoughts
      7. Helpless to Aid Someone You Love
      8. What's Good and What's Evil Is Not Black and White
        1. Other Techniques at Work in This Scenario (An Example of Technique Stacking)
      9. Forced to Violate Your Own Integrity
      10. Creating Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Through Incongruence
      11. Final Thoughts
    16. 2.16. Emotioneering Techniques Category #16: Plot Interesting Techniques
      1. You Call This a Story?
      2. Breaking These Different Structures into Elements
      3. Creative Toolbox or Wellspring of Psychosis?
      4. Structure Twists
      5. Hypothetical Game Case Study
        1. A Revelation Changes Everything
        2. Innocent People Are in the Way
        3. A Key Piece of Equipment Breaks Down
        4. A Character Changes Sides
        5. You Fall into a Trap
        6. A Hostage Is Taken
        7. Forced to Carry Out Another's Agenda
        8. Mini-Goals
        9. Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire
        10. A Problem with No Obvious Solution
      6. Pancaking Scripted Sequences
      7. Meaningful Nonlinear Re-Sequencing (MNR)
        1. The Problem with Past Efforts
        2. A Fatalistic Argument
        3. Applying Meaningful Nonlinear Re-Sequencing to Games
        4. Summary
      8. Final ThoughtsMan Cannot Live by Twists Alone
    17. 2.17. Emotioneering Techniques Category #17: Plot Deepening Techniques
      1. Two Key Characters Trade Places
      2. The Story Makes a Spiritual Power Palpable
      3. A Symbol Takes on More and More Emotional Associations
      4. A Character We Like Dies
      5. A Bittersweet Ending
      6. An Ending That's a Little Uncertain
      7. Greetings from a Land Outside Your Awareness
      8. Relevance of Crouching Tiger for Games
      9. A Downside to Victory
      10. Emotion Mapping
      11. Idea Mapping
        1. Idea Mapping Is Often Synonymous with “Theme,” But Doesn't Have to Be
        2. An Important Note: Ideas Are Not Enough
        3. Better Late Than Never, But Better Early Than Late
      12. Final Thoughts
    18. 2.18. Emotioneering Techniques Category #18: World Induction Techniques
      1. Creating a Rich World
        1. What Can You Be?
        2. Choice of Actions
        3. Choice of Possessions
        4. Adding History
        5. Level of Detail
        6. Unique Cultural Art Forms
      2. Creating a Rich World Through Visual Incongruence Using Emotionally Resonant Items
        1. Having the Visual Incongruence Relate to Gameplay
      3. A World That Takes A While to Figure Out
      4. Friendship or Responsibility Toward NPCs You Care About
      5. Revenge
      6. Don't Hold Back on Cool Weapons or Cool Things to Do
      7. Don't Change All the Rules at the End
      8. World Induction Techniques Commonly Used in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs—Sometimes Called MMOs)
      9. Final Thoughts
    19. 2.19. Emotioneering Techniques Category #19: Role Induction Techniques
      1. Skill Sets
      2. Rewards for Playing the Role
      3. Against All Odds
      4. Accomplishment
      5. Leadership Attitudes and Abilities
      6. A Valuable and Appreciated Role
        1. A Story About Bread
      7. License to Break the Rules
      8. Beguiling New Identities
      9. Abilities Beyond the Norm
        1. Character Diamonds
      10. The Character Has Emotional Responses We Recognize and Can Identify With
      11. Self Auto-Talk and Self Auto-Thought
      12. Fewer Words Usually Invites the Player to Identify with the Character
      13. Character Silence (No Self Auto-Talk and No Self-Auto Talk)
      14. Generalizing a Problem
      15. Tradeoffs When Using Role Induction Techniques
      16. A Case Study in Role Induction: Thief
      17. Final Thoughts
    20. 2.20. Emotioneering Techniques Category #20: First-Person Character Arc Techniques
      1. Defining the Problem
      2. Past Attempts to Create a First-Person Character Arc
        1. Problems with Past Efforts
      3. Emulating Life Itself
        1. Applying This to a Hypothetical Game Case Study
        2. Another Hypothetical Game Case Study
        3. The Role of Punishments
        4. Would This Character Arc Be Real?
      4. Should Going Through a First-Person Character Arc Be Essential to Winning a Game?
      5. Various Types of Rewards and Punishments
        1. Rewards Type 1
        2. Rewards Type 2
      6. Where a First-Person Character Arc Begins
      7. Alternative Character Arcs
        1. To Become a Leader
        2. To Learn You Are Worthy of Love
        3. To Achieve a Spiritual Connection to the World
        4. To Learn Ethics
      8. Final Thoughts
    21. 2.21. Emotioneering Techniques Category #21: First-Person Deepening Techniques
      1. Emotionally and/or Morally Difficult Decisions
      2. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Woman from the Future
        1. Another Example of Technique Stacking
          1. Problem #1: One Choice Seems Better than the Other
          2. Problem #2: Save Points Mitigate the Emotion of Making a Tough Choice
          3. Problem #3: This Scenario Means You Need to Build Assets for Two Different Paths
          4. Problem #4: There Are No Long-Term Consequences in the Game
          5. Case Study Summary
      3. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Choice of Player Character
        1. A Problem with This Idea—and a Solution
      4. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Kidnapped Teenager
        1. Technique Summary
      5. Responsibility
      6. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Terrellens
        1. Giving a Face to a Group
      7. Multiple and Sometimes Even Conflicting Viewpoints (Learning from Mr. Bill)
      8. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Return to the Terrellens
        1. Getting Even Fancier with This Technique
        2. Another Way of Using Different Ways of Using Multiple Viewpoints to Create First-Person Deepening
      9. Certain First-Person Character Arcs
      10. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Returning to the City
      11. Seeing Situations That Aren't Black and White
      12. Final Thoughts
    22. 2.22. Emotioneering Techniques Category #22: Revealing Complex Characters Through Their Actions
      1. A Real Game Case Study
      2. Khensa
        1. Khensa's Character Diamond
        2. Depth Communicated Nonverbally
      3. Final Thoughts
    23. 2.23. Emotioneering Techniques Category #23: Enhancing Emotional Depth Through Symbols
      1. Usable Symbols
      2. Symbol of a Character's Condition or Change in Condition—Visual or Verbal
        1. Visual Example from TV
        2. Visual Example from Film
        3. Verbal Example from Film
        4. Verbal Example from TV
      3. Game Case Study: Ico
      4. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Symbols of Sadness and Achievement
      5. Symbolic Subplot
        1. Operating Outside of Conscious Awareness
        2. Using This Technique in Games
        3. Turning These into Usable Symbols in Gameplay
      6. Game Case Study: Aidyn Chronicles
      7. Symbols Used in Foreshadowing
      8. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Samurai
      9. A Symbol That Takes on Increasing Emotional Associations—Visual or Verbal
        1. Visual Example from Film
      10. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Pendant
      11. Game Case Study: Max Payne
      12. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Hood Ornament
      13. Final Thoughts
    24. 2.24. Emotioneering Techniques Category #24: Self-Created Story Techniques (a.k.a. Agency Techniques)
      1. A Spectrum of Impact
      2. Mixing Impact Modes
      3. Different Ways of Fulfilling the Mission
      4. Other Ways to Create Self-Created Stories
      5. Final Thoughts
    25. 2.25. Emotioneering Techniques Category #25: Motivation Techniques
      1. Don't Interrupt Gameplay
      2. If Possible, Try Not to Let the Way the Player Receives Information Interrupt the Game
      3. Don't Hold Back Too Long on the Carrots
      4. Avoid the Feeling of Repetitive Gameplay…Sometimes
      5. Keep Those Plot Twists Coming
      6. Sometimes Provide Unexpected Consequences to the Player's Actions
      7. Action Puzzles
      8. A Mysterious or Interesting World That Takes A While to Sort Out
        1. An Example
      9. An Interesting Plot That Unfolds in an Interesting Way
      10. A Higher Score
      11. Final Thoughts
    26. 2.26. Emotioneering Techniques Category #26: Cohesiveness Techniques
      1. Your Character Gets a Reputation
      2. Karma
      3. NPCs in One Part of the Game Refer to NPCs in Other Parts of the Game
      4. Give Your Game a Theme
      5. Relationships Between People or Groups That Take A While to Decipher, But Eventually Form Their Own Coherent World
      6. Abilities You Learn in One Part of the Game Are Useful Later in the Game
      7. Remind Us of the Stakes
      8. Final Thoughts
    27. 2.27. Emotioneering Techniques Category #27: “True-to-Life” Techniques
      1. Final Thoughts
    28. 2.28. Emotioneering Techniques Category #28: Cross-Demographic Techniques
      1. Cross-Demographic Techniques
      2. The General Idea
      3. Self-Deconstructing Humor
      4. Giving NPCs Character Arcs
      5. Trendy Comedy
      6. A Game That Takes Place in a Rich World
      7. Have Characters Who Undergo Either Adult or Complicated Emotions
      8. The Use of Deepening Techniques
      9. Final Thoughts
    29. 2.29. Emotioneering Techniques Category #29: Injecting Emotion into a Game's Story Elements
      1. Dissecting a Story
      2. Story Elements in Types of Games That We Normally Don't Think of as Possessing “Stories”
      3. Simple and Complex Emotion
      4. Using Story Elements to Brainstorm Emotional Complexity
        1. An Enemy
        2. Danger
        3. Racing
        4. A Mystery
        5. Tension
        6. Spying
        7. Good Guys and Bad Guys (or Good and Evil)
      5. Final Thoughts
    30. 2.30. Emotioneering Techniques Category #30: Tying Story to Gameplay and Mechanics
      1. Contrasting Examples
        1. The Obvious Example
        2. The Not-So-Obvious Example
      2. Just the Other Day
      3. Final Thoughts
    31. 2.31. Emotioneering Techniques Category #31: Writing Powerful Pre-Rendered and In-Game Cinematics
      1. Learning from Film
        1. Few or No “Blocks”
        2. Give Major Characters Interesting Diamonds
        3. Ambivalence Between Characters Can Make a Cinematic More Interesting
        4. Use Layer Cakes Between Characters to Give Their Relationships Complexity Beyond Simple Ambivalence
        5. Watch Out for the Clichè and Bland Lines
        6. Can It Be Said or Told Better with Actions Rather Than Words?
        7. Time Permitting, It's Okay to Briefly Stray from the Topic at Hand
        8. No Predictabilty
        9. Obstacles and Interruptions Can Make a Cinematic More Interesting
        10. Use Dialogue Devices to Make the Dialogue Sound Natural
        11. Summary
      2. The Example
        1. The Student's Scene
        2. David's Scene
        3. Deconstructed Scene
      3. Final Thoughts
      4. Glossary for This Chapter
    32. 2.32. Emotioneering Techniques Category #32: Opening Cinematic Techniques
      1. Begin with a “Fakeout Scene” (Faking Out the Player)
      2. Begin with a Mystery
      3. Begin by Introducing Us to a Unique Character
      4. Begin by Throwing Us into a Suspenseful Piece of the Plot
      5. Begin by Entering into a Unique World
      6. Final Thoughts
      7. Looking Back
  8. III. An Emotioneering Gallery
    1. 3.1. Introduction
      1. Emotioneering in Reality-Based Games Versus Fantasy and Sci-Fi Games
    2. 3.2. Chasm
      1. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Boston Physicist
        1. The First Group of Missions
        2. The Next Group of Missions
      2. NPC Interesting Techniques (Chapter 2.1)
      3. Player Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques (Chapter 2.11)
      4. World Induction Techniques (Chapter 2.18)
      5. First-Person Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.21)
      6. Player Toward NPC Relationship Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.13)
      7. Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Techniques (Chapter 2.15)
      8. Plot Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.17)
      9. Adding Emotional Depth to a Game Through Symbols (Chapter 2.23)
      10. Final Thoughts
    3. 3.3. Styx
      1. Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Roman Empire
      2. Emotionally Complex Moments and Situations Techniques (Chapter 2.15)
      3. NPC Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.2)
      4. NPC Toward Player Relationship Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.12)
      5. First-Person Character Arc and First-Person Deepening Techniques (Chapters 2.20 and 2.21)
        1. Your First-Person Character Arc After Escaping the Realm
      6. Plot Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.17)
        1. Two More Doubling Backs
      7. Final Thoughts
    4. 3.4. Rough Trade
      1. Hypothetical Game Case Study: Cyberpunk Novelist
      2. NPC Interesting Techniques (Chapter 2.1)
      3. NPC Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.2)
      4. Player Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques (Chapter 2.11)
      5. Player Toward NPC Relationship Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.13)
      6. Role Induction Techniques (Chapter 2.19)
      7. First-Person Character Arc Techniques (Chapter 2.20)
      8. First-Person Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.21)
      9. Motivation Techniques (Chapter 2.25)
      10. Plot Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.17)
      11. Final Thoughts
  9. IV. Magic
    1. 4. Magic
      1. Let's Get Real—But in Whose Reality?
      2. A Secret Land Where Smiles Are Born
      3. Creating Life Out of Nothing: Hard for Scientists, a Cakewalk for You
      4. The Ultimate Gift
      5. Final Thoughts
  10. V. Addenda
    1. 5.1. Introduction
    2. 5.2. Techniques for Creating Fun
      1. Types of Fun
      2. Incongruence
        1. What's Wrong with This Approach
        2. What's Right with This Approach
      3. The Exercise
        1. Example #1: A Racing Game with Building, Combat, and Sneaking
        2. Example #2: A Fighting Game with Sneaking, Resource Management, and Training of NPCs
        3. Example #3: An Online Combat Game with Superhuman Abilities and with Making and Breaking Alliances (Betrayal)
        4. Exercise Summary
      4. Final Thoughts
    3. 5.3. Gatherings
    4. Art Credits
      1. Cover
      2. Color Section
      3. Interior
    5. Artists' Bios and Contact Information
    6. Glossary