My latest post on PopMatters came from a need to exercise the idea out of me. Nick and I got to talking about a lot of things after the podcast recording this weekend and this was the last topic before calling it a night. I went to twitter and put it out there. Compared to my usual response and retweet traffic this was huge with people.
Of course despite writing and publishing a basic pitch concept for Telltale’s The West Wing, I keep thinking about how to implement it. Part of it is because I used this as an excuse to go back and watch some West Wing episodes. If you are playing as the Chief of Staff then the game might need some additional complexity. For instance, as a player you will not be privy to things that don’t happen around you meaning you’ll be hearing a lot of the goings on second hand. In addition, you could see your decisions work out to some sort of influence system between congressmen and other figures a la Crusader Kings II or the like that your policy decisions will alter.
Additionally, I’ve been thinking about more about how to pull of the Sorkin style walk-and-talk. It would require a lot more dialogue. Since the player doesn’t have to respond the other character can keep going until the timer runs out and they run out of things to say on the topic. But if the player wants to have a back and forth that may include switching gears that requires more writing to handle. The easy solution is to have two timers. One for the whole conversation and one for each response. Alternatively the player could then adjust the full timer by choosing a destination at the start of a conversation that would in turn dictate where and what the next action of the story would take place.
There’s a lot of potential in the basic formula that could lead to a lot of interesting outcomes if Telltale did break out of the genre fiction constraints. It’s like video games have to opposite problem of books. Books of fantasy or sci-fi are relegated to second class citizens in the literary world and games that don’t deal with traditionally “genre” subject matter are likewise shoved to the side or wont even be considered for creation in the first place. It’s a lot rarer in any case.
Go take a look at my basic idea and see what you think.