How to make video games like movies!

It was a long time that I did not write any thing in this blog. Now, I decided to write a topic about “video games” (as I wrote in my Persian blog). I was member of a game development team for about three months and I learned a lot. At least, I know the way they were doing the job was “How to not make a video game”. So, When I left the team, I decided to research about game development process. In this topic, I explain everything I found (experience and research result!)

When I was in the team…

It was in October (2017), a person sent me a message in Telegram, and the message was like this :

Mr. Haghiri, we need a musical composer for our game, we did a search and we found you. Please come here Wednesday 4:00 PM to talk about the project and your role.

Wednesday, I went to their office. That guy greeted me so nicely and started talking to me, about their project. I found the game is a horror game (horror games are popular in Iran, but there’s no “good” horror game “made in Iran”.) and it made me happy! Because it was the first time I heard about an indie team decided to make such a great game. They let me two weeks to research about “Sound and Music” in Unity Engine and I did it. I composed two pieces and also I tried to learn some tools for mixing and mastering sounds in the game (But it wasn’t actually my role, I just did that as a sample!).

After two and half months, they said “Mr. Haghiri, you don’t do what we wanted you to do”, anyway, they haven’t paid me even a “rial” in those days and expected me do great music composition, and they also wanted me to do what wasn’t my actual role. And this was not a good experience actually. But in those two months, I learned Unity game engine and I also met other “game developers”.  And, I decided to publish my experience on my blog.

Why movies?

Recently, I read a book called Making Short Films : Complete Guide from Script to Screen, by Clifford Thurlow. In the book, I found great names like “Salvador Dali” or “Charlie Chaplin”, and also great movies and books also mentioned in the book, like “One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest”. Everything was perfect, In I think about process of making a video game! It’s so similar to process of making a movie!

But I realize game and movie have lots of differences. The biggest difference is that games are interactive and players interact with the environment or other characters, but movies are not. Anyway, the main procedure – I mean “writing” – is %90 the same! So, I decided to mention some movies I watched, then tell you how I make a video game like them!

Great movies gave me ideas!

An Andalusian Dog

Movie is written by Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. I think these names are enough. But, after I watched the movie (it’s now available on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms, you can easily find and watch it), I discovered “product of a melancholic and depressed mind”. And both “Melancholia” and “Depression” are good subjects for a story or game.

Phantom of The Opera (Musical)

The book is about a musician, in a better word, a “genius” and smart person who hided himself. Andrew Lloyd Webber, just made that sad and creepy story to a romantic story by his music! First time I watched the movie, I could not understand it well. Because it’s not following the book’s story, and I’m not a native English speaker! I watched that movie 4 times. I watched the live performance 2 or 3 times and finally, I got the concept.

It has “Misanthropy” and “Romance” at once. I think these two things are also good for people who want to make video games (Please go and check “INSIDE” by Playdead! It’s the Misanthropy! Pure Misanthropy!)

School of Rock

It’s a bit different, School of Rock is comedy, and it’s also attractive for children. Because the topic is about a guy who teaches a bunch of 4th grade children to ROCK! Yes, he teaches them how to play electric guitars, bass, drums and keys. I think the concept of “Music” can be a good idea, too! Specially if you plan for a game like “Guitar Hero”.

Only Lovers Left Alive

If you like Vampires, please watch this movie. This movie has no “teenager” content, but it still tells stories about two vampires who married for centuries. Movie is directed by Jim Jarmusch and he also made music for his movie, in his rock trio SQRL. This movie has two things for game developers. It’s and independent movie and it can be a good idea bank for indie developers and also, it has “Romance” and “Fear” and “History”. All of these three factors can make a game great!

Ok, I talked a lot about movies! Let’s find “how can I make a game like a movie?”

Finally, let’s make a game like a movie!

The most basic thing you must have for a movie is “plot”. Plot is the main idea, it’s developed and tells people your concept, but it’s not a completed “script”. Writing plot in both games and movies is the same. To write a good plot, you need to study and read books, scripts and other plots. I prefer printed (and Persian) books in this case.

You will need research on the topic you want to write a plot about. For example, if you want to write about a middle eastern civilization (for example : Sassanid Empire or Ottoman Empire), you have to read history of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. If you want to write a plot about Satan, you have to search about Satan’s role in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and find which belief is closer to what you want. So, you need to have a background.

After you wrote the plot, you have to write the script. But, writing script is different here, you have to clarify where and when the scene is interactive and when and where is not. The best example, is “Bioshock Infinite”. You know why? Because when you’re not interacting with the environment, you still can move camera and see what happens around you. I’m not a good script writer (But I try to be!) and I will write a post about how to write script from plot, when I manage to do that.

After you wrote the script, you have to make your basic ideas in the engine. Please! Please! Please! Call an experienced game developer before doing that, because the experienced one can help you find experienced character/concept and environment artist and game-play designer. After that, I can say you’re ready to start making your game! With a good team, you can make a good game!

Finally, I wrote this article but it wouldn’t be the last article about games in my English blog. I try to continue this, because I even couldn’t find good articles about being “game script writer” or “game director” even in English! I hope you like my post 🙂