There’s been a lot of talk over the past 48 hours about the size of David Cage’s script for Beyond: Two Souls. While a gargantuan script might seem like a great thing, there’s just as much reason for concern as for hope.
Beyond: Two Souls Story More Than 2000 pages. . . who cares?!
Okay, as a writer myself let me say that I am very excited about the fact that so much attention is being given to the story of Beyond: Two Souls. I’m also excited that decent actors are being cast in games, like Ellen Page, who stars in Beyond: Two Souls. But someone has to point out the fact that having a giant story means. . . .well, absolutely nothing.
The vast majority of stories that are particularly long are long for a reason: because the writer refuses to properly edit them.
Writers can be very very protective of their babies. That’s why an editor’s job is often a nightmare. Editors have to tell writers to cut out a load of content that to the writer themselves seems terribly important, but which to the reader is actually just fat spoiling what should be a lean cuisine of a plot.
A big story does not a good story make. Just because the Beyond: Two Souls story is 2000 pages long, doesn’t mean 1800 of those pages won’t be garbage.
David Cage Wrote the Whole Story Himself
The next important fact about the Beyond: Two Souls story is that it was written entirely by David Cage himself. Now, this could be a good thing as it does show that he cares about his baby and that he’s dedicated to it. Then again, it would be folly to ignore the fact that many writers (and artists in general) become too absorbed in their own work.
Writing is like stepping into a fantasy world. As you write a game, film or book, you feel as though you are living there, watching the characters lives grow. And it can be very hard to step away from that fictional world. The problem with this is that it blind sides the writer. The writer becomes more interested in staying in the fictional world and writing on and on and on instead of taking that fictional world and turning it into an entertaining story with a focussed plot.
The reason why having more than writer is such a great benefit is that the first writer can hand the fictional world over to a new writer with a fresh set of eyes. That writer than cuts away superfluous matter before handing it on themselves. In theory, the more writers the more focussed the plot will be (in theory).
Just as size is not overly important, nor is the fact that a story has been written by one person. Both these facts are largely redundant and neither gives reason to be excited about Beyond: Two Souls.
That’s not to say there aren’t many great points about Beyond: Two Souls, it’s simply that size and number of writers are not important.
So, what DOES Matter about Beyond: Two Souls
There are two extremely important factors about Beyond: Two Souls that, unlike the size of the story and the number of writers, actually do matter. The first is that the story is so important to the game. While the size of the story is irrelevant, the fact that story itself is a central pat of the game is important for Beyond: Two Souls and, I fell, important for gaming as a whole, because decent story equates to immersion which gives a sense of importance to gameplay.
The second important part of Beyond: Two Souls is the actors’ performances. It was recently announced that rather than simply taking place in a recording studio, the actors are having their body language recorded. Now, being both an actor and a specialist in body language, naturally, I view this as a huge plus. Normally, actors have their voice recorded and then their movement done separately. By having them both recorded at the same time, you get the authentic take. You capture the very subtle, very detailed and very important movement of the body while speaking. As you will hopefully see when Beyond: Two Souls is released, this technique is far more natural and results in significantly more believable performances. That realism then gives the gamer more belief in the characters of the game, which creates immersion, ultimately putting you, the gamer closer to the action.
Beyond: Two souls is a hugely exciting game, but as in life, it’s not quantity but quality that counts.