I’ve referred to the video game Dark Souls in a few different art posts. I want to talk about one of the ways it’s influencing my writing process.
If you read any of the reviews for the game, you’ll no doubt come across someone mentioning its lack of story. But, what the game developers have actually done is hint at a story and world-history through item descriptions, set pieces, and short dialogs. Some will say that this is a bad thing for a role-playing game, but I think it’s good game design. From a sales standpoint, it actually allows the game to appeal to a larger audience. The role-playing gamers can really get into the details, and the action gamers can choose to ignore it and just kill stuff.
I fit into that first group of those that like to dive into the lore. For me, it makes the gaming experience better. Almost every time I play Dark Souls, I see something new. And that aspect of discovering things I hadn’t noticed before, is why I’ve done multiple play-throughs. Also, this feature of the game really brought the community of players together; there were some great speculative discussions going around online.
So how does this method of storytelling inspire my writing for comics? I like to include little things in the illustrations or dialogs that reveal something about the world or how things connect to each other… and not bring obvious attention to it. For example, a character (with no explained background) could be wearing a necklace that ties them to a specific culture. …Were they raised in that culture? …Have they once traveled to that land? …Did they murder someone, and steal the necklace? …etc. Or maybe a character can use some slang terminology that clues you in to a gang they used to run with. There are lots of possible of ways to sneak things in and deepen the experience – for those that want to look for it.
I really like this idea of leaving a fair amount of mystery for the reader. This method lets the reader piece together a series of clues, or to gives them a chance to fill things in with their own creativity. Unlike book readers, comic readers are given visuals… so I like to have a little something extra for them to use their own imagination on. I did it a ton with Vestigia, and plan to continue with Neon Cell.
I think it’s also a great way to get fans talking.