Extra Credits: Word Choice

Video is in the thread this week.


Show Notes:

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Recent Comments:

  • Weird. I saw the episode and the in-site image was just the words "No Image Available," which I thought was a clever reference to the subject matter of word choice. I opened the video's own page to realise this isn't intentional and the video is actually not redirecting at all, meaning I can't watch it. Bummer... All the others seem to work.

    I missed the video linked in the forum, but I did find it on Penny Arcade... Ah, well :)

    I have to say that this video offers a lot of good advice, but sadly... It actually offers a lot of bad advice, as well. The technique of booting your player in the back of the head is just about the worst thing you can do, because right there, you break the fourth wall.

    ...How? It doesn't directly address the fact the audience exists, or the fact the game is being played by someone, or that this is all only a game, afterall. It's just a way of writing that pays attention to the fact it's going to be experienced by an audience, and, well, pretty much all writing does, picking words that not only but carry the correct connotations, not having a fairly minor character be stashing away money but instead illicit baked goods if in the narrative the reason the character died in a drain pipe is unimportant, so that the audience doesn't pay so much attention to it that the money/baked goods not coming up again doesn't bother them, etc. It's not just games that have testers, and adjusting to test readers/watchers/whatever isn't always a creative compromise.

    And even if constructing the writing with the idea that you're making a work that will be consumed by an actual audience were breaking the fourth wall... So?

    Psycho Mantis telekinetically moving your control pad across the floor was emersion enhancing rather than breaking, as was the His Dark Materials stage adaptation no less than twice casting the audience as hundreds (thousands the second time) of extras, once as the audience a character was making a speach to, and the second time as the countless dead souls int he land of the dead (With mirrors and actors coming out of the audience to enhance the effect of the last one).

    Breaking the fourth wall? Not emersion breaking in itself. There are ways of doing it that are emersion breaking, but there are tons of ways of doing other things that are too, and what will and won't prevent someone from setting aside the fact they know full well this is a work of fiction varies from person to person.

    ...I'm also rejecting your hypothesis that one needs to be suspending one's disbelief to enjoy a work of fiction, there are fictional works I've enjoyed without once suspending it, incidentally, but with non-comedies it's a vastly different sort of enjoyment.

  • There is a technique that I favor when writing dialogue. Not doing it before doing it.

    There are plenty of movies out there without voice acting and they convey a lot of powerful emotions regardless. For example, the section of 'Up' by Pixar in the second half of the introduction.

    The dialogue of a character will seek to convey how the character feels and what motivates him. When you start with words rather than motivations, then you will quickly end up with witty one-liners. So, instead, mute the characters and have them virtually pantomime their way through the story with each reaction outlined with the characters' emotional and rational condition. It's alright if you describe verbal actions such as "Character A insults character B", as long as you don't spell out what the insult was. The reaction to it gives it context. Imagine a man says gibberish to a boy and the boy then bursts into tears.

    When you've done this, you've firstly gained insight in the characters' place in the story and have a ready made context for each word. With that knowledge, the dialogue you write will fit with what you imagined it ought to be.

  • Thinking about it, characters who speak in a different pattern or with different phrases than everyone are a great way to give them character or make them stand out. Examples of this are Yoda or Tsukiumi from sekirei. You probably shouldn't have more than one character that does that, but that one is more than enough.

    On the other hand, Scott Adams (of dilbert fame) often contents there is a list of things a good character needs and being someone you can relate to. Talking "weird" is one of the hardest things to relate to. By weird I mean tone, accent, phraseology, or anything that makes you sound different than most people you hear. Take Obama when he was campaigning, he slipped into a more "black" accent when he went into a black church for a campaign event rather than his usual speaking habits. Hillary did it too once or twice. Sounding like one of us makes people think you are one of us, and they like you more. It creates a better first impression.

    You can still have a good or great character that talks weird, but he needs other things to make you interested in him.

  • I was thinking back about how the importance of words are usually reinforced by repetition. The game that came to mind was Super Mario Bros. with it's (in)famous line "I'm sorry Mario, but our princess is in another castle!" when you look at it from an outside perspective, many people found it annoying and actually used that as a basis for the dislike of Toad. but then when you look at the ol'manual.....


    ...you realize that the reason why they possibly say this is because without her,the realm is cursed to damnation. So are they in fact saying that hey have been pushed to the point of desperation and have no choice but to turn to anyone who has a chance of liberating them from their fate?

  • You know, words are a lot more valuable then we give them credit for... The right choice of words can have a huge impact on a lot of people, yet rarely do we see people giving words the respect they deserve... I've probably made a lot of bad word choices myself, and for that I'm regretful...

    OH, when Dan said characterizations, I immediately paused the video to see how many characters I could identify! Here's what I got!

    Top row, left to right

    Mickey Mouse
    Daffy Duck
    Fred Flintstone
    Ren & Stimpy
    Bart Simpson
    Spongebob Squarepants
    Felix the Cat
    The Roadrunner

    Row 2, left to right

    Marge Simpson
    Yogi Bear
    Stewie Griffin
    Popeye the Sailorman
    Mr. Krabs
    Charlie Brown
    Bugs Bunny
    Wilma Flintstone
    Mighty Mouse

    Row 3, left to right

    Bullwinkle J. Moose
    Squidward Tentacles
    Dexter (from Dexter's Laboratory)
    Mojo Jojo
    Olive Oyl
    The Pink Panther

    Bottom Row, left to right

    Betty Boop
    Arnold (from Hey, Arnold!)
    Casper the Friendly Ghost
    Mr. Peabody and Sherman
    The Tasmanian Devil
    Bobby (from Bobby's World, now that's obscure!)
    Pinky and the Brain
    Marvin the Martian

    ...Sorry if someone already pointed all this out, I just couldn't help myself!

    You know, I feel like Quantum Conundrum should have been better than it was... It had JOHN DE LANCIE as the voice of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle! That SHOULD make the game made-of-win!

    ...Wait, that line... It sounded so... Eh... I loved listening to it because I flipping love hearind John de Lancie's voice, but when GLADoS talks... It's so... distinctive... and memorable! Every line she says!

    Actually, all this talk about characters reminds me of these videos about the various characters of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and why so many people grow attached to some characters, despite having little depth or development, or sometimes no dialogue at all:




    Even if you don't like/watch the show, these videos are definitely worth watching, if you want to know more about why people love certain characters.

    Also, when he brought up how certain words have similar literal definitions but different in the relationship of other words feels EXACTLY like what I try to explain about when I talk about swearing. Like, yeah, maybe certain swear words have the same meaning as other words, but you don't say them because they invoke a bad reaction out of people, so you don't say them. Why that is doesn't matter, at least to me anyway. This is why I always think about how I sound when I talk, and wonder if I'm going too far if I throw in a swear.

    That comparison was so brilliant, I'm literally speechless.

    Oh man, I LOVE hearing all these quotes taken from games... And seeing the cute animations put to them!

    That's a good idea, read out loud what you right, see if it sounds right... Did this sound right? I think it might... sound right. :P

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