The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello. Welcome to Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things interesting to screenwriters. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: Craig, this is my favorite time of the year. Do you know why it’s my favorite time of the year?

Craig: It’s the Jewish New Year, of course.

John: Well, it is the Jewish New Year and it’s autumn. But autumn for me was never about the changing of the leaves because I grew up in Colorado and so we don’t have the yellow Aspen leaves. Autumn for me is entirely about the fall television series.

Craig: Ah, yes.

John: The new fall season. And I would see those promos for all the shows together. I loved when a network would do the special things where they get all the network stars from the different things and they’re crossing over. It’s like, “Wait — real people!” And I see Sarah Purcell and Gary Coleman in the same promo spot and it was just magical to me.

Craig: Yeah. I used to do that. My first job in Hollywood was promos for CBS. And this was 1992. It was the tail end of that era when they still did a fall campaign and they would have a theme like “Be there.” [laughs]

John: I love the campaigns. That idea of a theme, that you’re unifying so many disparate programs. From news programs to sports to the comedies to the dramas, all under one giant umbrella, this whole network is in it together, we are a team. Battle of the Network Stars was of course the ultimate expression of the team concept. But just packaging the whole network’s product together.

And the idea of an identity of what CBS was versus what NBC was versus ABC, it was very, very exciting. It was my version of fall football, the fall television season.

Craig: You know, my fall football was fall football.

John: Yeah. That’s a crucial difference between you and me.

[laughter]

Craig: Among many.

John: It’s probably among several other important distinctions and preferences. But are you watching the new fall shows? That’s the crucial point here.

Craig: I must admit that I have become the cable watcher. So I’ve got my TiVo set for Dexter, I’m excited for that. But in terms of network stuff I’m a total zero. I don’t watch any network stuff.

John: This year I was considering pitching a show. And because of that I read a lot more of the pilot scripts and I’ve watched some of the pilots and I’ve been watching the shows as they’ve come on the air. Which is always just great and fascinating to see what happens and what makes it to the air and what doesn’t make it to the air.

I was very intrigued by Once Upon a Time, which is an expensive ABC show. It’s a fantasy with fairytales crossing into the real world, with an amazingly good cast. So I guess it hasn’t aired yet but I watched the pilot for it and it’s really, really well produced. And you watch this hour of quality entertainment and you’re like, “I’m really curious how that can sustain a series.” It was like the very premise-y pilots are challenging.

Craig: I was just reading this interview with Damon Lindelof where he finally confessed that they were making Lost up as they went along. It was actually great. Did you see that interview?

John: I have spoken with Damon a lot about it. Yes.

Craig: It was great. Look, I think it was apparent to everybody that at some point they had kind of boxed themselves into a strange corner. But I love that really the genesis of the Lost mythos and the early conglomeration of mysteries centered around their heartfelt belief that the show was not going to make it. [laughs] So they would never be accountable for what they were doing. I loved it.

John: 30 Rock is largely the same situation where Tina Fey quite early on was convinced, like, “Well, this show can’t possibly sustain.” So they could go nuts, and “nuts” was successful. And suddenly they were riding the back end of their first season and they were riding into the second season. And they were having to figure out what show was after that point.

Craig: Yeah. It’s an interesting thing. You really have to believe in this thing and imagine that it’s going to be around for six or seven years. But Lost pulled it off, I guess.

My wife watched Lost and she was destroyed by that last episode. Not in a bad way — she was crying and it really affected her. And anything that makes her cry that’s not me I’m happy about it. I just feel like I got away with something.

John: There are a lot of Lost veterans who are working on Once Upon a Time. So that speaks well for it. Hopefully that will work out well.

On the other extreme of the shows with franchises I watched Grimm, which is also set in a fairytale world but it’s a procedural. And it was so interesting to see fairytale mythology just bolted on, very mechanically bolted on to a crime procedural.

So they were trying to make it feel like, “This is what the franchise is week to week.” I have a very good idea what would happen in episode 10 of that show.

Craig: Does it work?

John: I don’t know that it entirely works. There were things I liked about it but it felt very…you could sort of smell the whiteboard markers to a degree. And you could see these are the beats and we’re going to hit these beats at this time. I hope it works, I hope everything works. I’m never rooting against a show.

Craig: Yeah. No, I’m with you on that. So it’s kind of like Little Red Riding Hood meets Dun-Dun [Law & Order sound], is that the idea?

John: It’s exactly what the idea is. And literally the pilot is Little Red Riding Hood meets Dun-Dun. And I see Little Red Riding Hood, a girl with the red cape, get killed in the pilot, except it’s a red hooded sweatshirt.

Craig: That’s a good idea, I like that idea. That’s cool.

John: Yeah.

So you can what the kind of thing that could happen week to week is, but you’re worried that it’s going to become too mechanical. That’s the challenge.

Craig: Oh, yeah. They’re going to have to figure out a way to get around the cutesiness of all of it at some point. That’s a great idea. If you’re doing CSI and then you have a special episode that’s like that that will be awesome.

How do you, on season three it’s sort of like, “Okay, apparently this wolf destroyed a home where a pig lived.” And you’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” [laughs] Is it going to get tiresome at some point?

John: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a monster-of-the-week, so was Angel. But those were very character driven shows, where there was always the franchise element of it, like, “This is what we have to do with this week.” But it’s more about the ongoing arc of the season.

Craig: Right. Those were soap operas basically.

John: And speaking of soap operas, Ringer, which is a CW show, I was fascinated to watch because it stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, was again a very premise-y pilot where you’re setting up that she is twins and one of the twins is done this and one of the twins is doing this and you’re rooting for one and you think you’re rooting against the other one and it’s very complicated.

Largely very well done. It has one of the most egregious green-screen-on-a-boat shots.

Craig: I saw that on The Soup. It was awesome.

John: It’s pretty amazing. And the show though isn’t going for that sort of crazy to amazing, it’s not going for arching over the top of things.

Craig: That was just a mistake.

John: That was the best, I think, they could do in the situation. It’s very hard to make that stuff.

Craig: Right. It’s very funny, you go through these arguments sometimes, and you think, “I don’t know, my being’s so precious because we’re making a genre television show and I’m sitting here throwing a tantrum of the quality of the green screen.” No, it actually makes a difference. It does. When it pulls you out of the show and that did look absurd.

John: Yeah. If you don’t believe that they’re on a boat, that’s a problem.

Craig: Yeah.

John: A favorite of the things I’ve watched so far, and I haven’t really seen everything, is probably The New Girl. Liz Meriwether’s show, with Zooey Deschanel.

Craig: Right. I hear that’s good.

John: It’s really good. And it’s odd watching it because Liz is friends of friends. She is good friends with Dana Fox, who I think we’ve mentioned before, there’s this girl posse of really talented female writers.

Craig: The Fempire.

John: The Fempire. And Liz is one of those writers and she wrote this. And I read the script and the script was great. And the pilot turned out great. Jake Kasdan shot it and it’s really, really good.

I was fascinated going into watching this because I knew they were going to hit something that I had noticed a lot this pilot season. Do you know what second position is?

Craig: Second position in dance?

John: No, second position in casting.

Craig: No, what’s second position?

John: So, when you’re casting a TV show, casting a pilot, you want the best actors you possibly can get. And particularly in comedy but also sometimes in drama, maybe the actor you want is on a show already.

Craig: Oh, you mean second position, like, availability.

John: Exactly.

Craig: Yes.

John: Sometimes you roll the dice, it’s like, “I think that actor is the right person for the role and I don’t think their current show is going to get picked up for another season. So great, we’ll shoot the pilot with this person in it. And if that person doesn’t work out, well, they’ll have to eat the pilot or reshoot all their scenes.” And it’s a really risky move. And so that’s why networks and studios are typically loathed to do it.

For The New Girl they decided to cast Damon Wayans, Jr. as one of the three guys that Zooey Deschanel moves in with. And he was great in the pilot, so I can totally see why they cast him in this. But the show that he is on on ABC, Happy Endings, which is also a really good show got picked up for second season. Which is wonderful for him because he’s in two shows but he can’t be in The New Girl.

So when you’re in that situation you have to decide as a producer, like, “Crap, do we go back and shoot the pilot and all the scenes that he’s in,” and he’s in a lot of scenes, “or do we somehow explain why he’s not there in episode two.”

And so I watched episode two and they basically just explained why he’s not there and there’s another guy who’s the third roommate. It was ballsy and challenging to do that.

Craig: Well, the good news is they do it once hopefully and then that’s it. They never have to worry.

John: Yeah.

Craig: By the way, is there a second position in dance?

John: There is, I’m sure. I feel like there is second position. I think it’s with your heels are kind of together and you’re toes are out a little bit. That feels right to me.

Craig: I’m not going to commit to knowing what that is.

John: Yeah, see, just the way you should know more about football, I should know more about ballet, but I can’t.

Craig: Yeah. I’m kind of feeling a strange, quasi failure-as-a-straight-guy shame right now.

John: Yeah. Don’t worry about it.

Craig: Thanks.

John: I thought what we might talk about today is how people become screenwriters. And I don’t mean “how to become a screenwriter” because there’s countless books you can buy on any shelf in a Borders to tell you how to…

Craig: And I would take my microphone off and leave this podcast. [laughs]

John: Another podcast we’ll about the so-called experts and our fury about some of the screenwriting books out there. But rather than talking about how to become a screenwriter I want to talk about how a person becomes a screenwriter, and the paths to that.

Because if you talk to a professional tennis player and say like, “Hey, how did you become a professional tennis player?” They’ll say something like, “Oh, when I was eight I started playing tennis. And I just played tennis for forever and now I’m a professional tennis player.”

It’s not that they were 21 and like picked up a racket for the first time and became a professional tennis player. That just doesn’t happen. Or if you talk to a doctor and say like, “Hey, how did you become a doctor?” Maybe they were interested in medicine growing up or maybe they thought like, “I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up.”

But they didn’t really do anything serious about becoming a doctor until they went to college and really until they went to medical school. They might have studied the sciences they needed, they got prerequisites they needed, but they didn’t do anything serious to become a doctor until quite late in the game.

Screenwriting is not really either one of those paths. There’s not a thing you can point to where you say like, “I’m an eight year old who wants to become a screenwriter.” Not only does that not really happen, there’s not even a meaningful way to think about that.

Craig: True, true. Yeah, it’s kind of the difference between the word “career” and the word “vocation.” Vocation, the root, the “voc” root is designed to imply a calling. That you’re called to this somehow.

John: An evocation.

Craig: Yeah, exactly. And screenwriting kind of falls into that area. You have this sort of innate desire to tell stories. But when does that come? Where does that come from? And how do you know you have it and all that?

John: Malcolm Gladwell famously has been trumpeting this idea of 10,000 hours. That if you look at people who are very successful in any field you can track back and they’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice to get to that point. It applies particularly well to sports figures, but even other professions like musicians and other artists.

You can really see that they’ve put in like the 10,000 hours time to get up to their mastery of something. No screenwriter I know, at least no screenwriter I know as they were getting started, has put in the 10,000 hours of writing screenplays. That just doesn’t happen.

Craig: Right.

John: You don’t start writing screenplays, you know, when you’re six.

Craig: That’s right. If you’ve put in 10,000 hours of screenwriting and you’re still not a professional screenwriter, you suck.

John: That is true. If you, I mean, well you’re sad. And you probably suck.

[laughter]

Craig: You’re sad and you suck.

John: I mean it’s just kind of a tragedy. That has to be. Because 10,000 hours is a lot of time.

Craig: It’s a huge chunk of your life.

John: I’m not going to open my little solver program and tell you exactly how many days and weeks and moments of seasons of love that is. But it’s a lot of seasons of love to get to 10,000 hours.

Craig: Yeah. Yeah.

John: But, as I’ve thought more about like, well how did I become a screenwriter? Like where did I get that experience? Because the first thing I wrote wasn’t great, but it wasn’t like I said I put 10,000 hours in between my first screenplay and Go. And Go was a pretty good screenplay. It’s that I actually, I think I can make up a good argument that I actually had my 10,000 hours worth of experience and exposure in there. I just… It wasn’t all writing. And it certainly didn’t look like screenwriting.

My first memory of this story telling kind of stuff that I do now is as a boy I would often… First off, I always woke up really early and my parents wouldn’t let me come out of my room. So I stayed in my room and like played with all my toys.

And so I would always like line up my little toys and they’d be two like rival faction armies. Actually not really armies, they were sort of like Battle of the Network Stars. There was a …

[laughter]

They’d be on the other side of the river and they’d have sort of like competitions and things. And I’d always have sort of my favorites, but like my favorites wouldn’t always win. Because that’s the way the narrative should play. And so I’d always have like this sort of ongoing narrative of the Battle of the Network Toys.

That later progressed once I was allowed to stay up to watch the James Bond movies on Monday nights right before school started in the fall. So again, James Bond and new fall TV shows coinciding in the fall. That was an important season for me.

Once I was allowed to watch the James Bond movies on ABC, a lot of my sort of imagination play became James Bond. So, I was like on the speedboat, it was really my bed and I would build myself a grappling hook out of a hanger and some string. And do like James Bond-y kind of things.

And so I think that my early kind of narrative development, sense of like figuring out how this action sequence worked was really as a six or seven year old playing James Bond in my room.

Craig: Yeah. I know exactly what you mean. That there’s a way to practice the art of story telling without actually writing. And my experience was sort of around the same time as you, six, seven years old.

Well, first of all, I saw Star Wars, which blew my brain open. And then I have a clear memory that almost every night when I would go to bed I would stay up for about 30 or 40 minutes, with the lights out, in my bed, just — I guess you would call it daydreaming, although it was evening — just imagining scenarios, just imagining, just envisioning little movies in my head.

I would make little sound effects to go along with things and my dad would come in and say, “Stop making rocket noises.” I remember that was the phrase “rocket noises,” because everything was blowing up all the time.

But I would do that every night, I don’t know what it was. I was just compelled to tell stories in my head.

John: Yeah. There’s an assumption that’s all about how much you read as a kid. I was certainly a big reader but I wasn’t a bigger reader than many of my peers, most of whom aren’t involved in any sort of narrative, writing capability.

I read a lot, I read the same kinds of things. I read a lot of the Encyclopedia Browns, and the Three Investigators and the things that people read. But it was the imagining my own stories constantly which were more important.

I did write, I did some creative writing and I probably wrote stories earlier than other kid might have done that. And I was rewarded with teacher praise for doing a good job with it.

But I can’t chart that writing decision, it’s my ability to put some words together with my interest in telling movie-style stories later on.

Craig: Yeah, I’m with you. I remember always having a sense of narrative structure. I read a lot when I was a kid. Although interestingly I would say movies certainly inspired more of my visual sense, that in my mind I would tell stories in a very visual way, but the books that I did love would inspire those things.

The Three Investigators, I remember, the thing about them I loved the most was that Jupiter Jones had his headquarters underneath the dump.

John: Uncle Titus’s dump.

Craig: There you go. Thank you. So that was awesome to me and I desperately wanted my own headquarters under a dump, because it was so visual and so cool.

John: I tried to put on weight in third grade so I could look more like Jupiter Jones.

Craig: [laughs] I was always more of a Pete guy. I felt Pete seemed like the cool one. I think he broke his arm at one point though.

John: Yeah. Therefore he was slightly handicap.

Craig: Yeah. And thus an object of pity.

John: Yeah. Pity slash lost. Yeah. I get it.

Craig: Yeah. You feel me on that one. I remember in fifth grade I had a facility for language, I found reading and writing just came easily to me, words came easily to me. And in fifth grade they asked me to deliver the graduation speech.

And I remember that I wrote a speech that was rather mock-ish and infantile in the way that a fifth grader would. It was a lot of bad metaphors about going through doors, opening doors and closing doors behind you and nonsense like that.

But it had a structure. I remember that I just sort of innately understood that there should be an introduction, where you establish this metaphor of doors opening and closing in your life. And then three examples. And then a final conclusion where the door closes behind you and you step out and you begin again.

John: That sounds very Toastmasters.

Craig: Oh, yeah. It was as paint-by-numbers as you can be, but the interesting thing was there was no numbers. I just had that — I was born with formula. And, I don’t know, maybe you need to start there. It’s a weird thing: instead of you having to learn it it’s already in your DNA or something.

John: I think what I can also chart is probably the biggest, profound, biggest influence on my development that way and where I logged a lot of my 10,000 hours, was in Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D and one of those things where on the surface of it it just seems like, “Oh, you’re pretending to play with swords. And it’s a bunch of people rolling dice and sitting around a table and drinking too much Coke.”

But ultimately when you’re playing a lot of D&D, and especially when you’re playing at that age, you recognize that there are two very distinct phases to Dungeons and Dragons.

There is this social aspect, where you and your friends are sitting around your parents’ card table, and you’re playing the game. And one of you is the dungeon master, the other two or three of you are playing, like, “He’s the fighter, he’s the thief, and that’s the wizard over there, the magic is over there.”

And you’re trying to get into this dungeon and it’s very graph-papery and you’re looking at a bunch of charts. And that’s the part where it feels sort baseball-statistics-y. Where there’s math involved and you’re trying to win a game.

As you play more of it and you get a little bit more sophisticated you start to really focus on the story and the role playing aspect of it, where you’re pretending to be, like, you’re this character in this situation, what does this character want?

And you start to think about your characters independent of this dungeon that you’re going through.

My friend Jason and I, he had a character, Garrett Darkhorse, who was a ranger. But we started to build out these elaborate mythologies for the Darkhorse clan, and who all the people were in the different generations.

And suddenly, it was about your character who would have a kid and that kid would marry the other girl from over there. And you started to look at the death of your character as being just part of the overall arc of the thing.

The sophistication that came only as you sort of got to be more sophisticated, thinking about the narrative beyond this one specific game, this one specific dungeon you were playing.

Craig: Yeah, you know, I didn’t quite get that massively nerdy, although I did play the — Marvel had a role playing game.

John: I remember that.

Craig: And a few of my friends and I played that. And I remember not caring so much for the game, which I thought was just a little odd. I never quite got into the actual game part of it. But I loved making the characters.

And I typed up — everybody had a character and they had a name. And then I typed up back stories for all of them, sort of like what you’re describing, and actually tried to make sense of their — because what happens is, you know, you roll dice. And like, “Okay, he’s really strong and he’s really fast, but he’s stupid. Well, that’s interesting. Now, how can I create a narrative that explains that?” And I remember doing that and typing it up and printing it out on my daisy wheel printer. And handing it out.

John: I’m sorry, I just recognized you said daisy wheel, rather than inkjet. It was a daisy wheel. So, it was the one that actually spun around?

Craig: Correct. And it would go, yeah, but now, we had, so, there’s only one font. It’s the daisy wheel font. But it would spin, and you could get different daisy wheels for different fonts.

John: I think we need to take a little sidebar and explain to younger viewers, because this doesn’t make any sense. Because it was a very brief and very specific and wonderful time in printing technology.

So, a daisy wheel printer works this way: It’s essentially a typewriter, and if you’ve seen an electric typewriter, you’re used to the mechanical ball that’s there. And that ball, like, spins, it hits the paper and the ribbon, and that’s how you make a character on the page.

The daisy wheel’s the same idea, except it’s a plastic disc that has one character on each little spoke. And so, the hammer hits that and that presses against the ink and presses against the paper.

The magical thing about them is that you could get different daisy wheels that you could put in there, so you could have, like, an italic type. You could have different kinds of type. So, rather than having exactly one kind of Courier, you might have a Pica Elite. And that was so novel at the time. And the younger generations have no idea how well they have it now.

Craig: No, you just don’t know what it’s like to watch this wheel spinning at this remarkable speed, going from A to Z, depending on what the word is, and watching your paper slowly emerge from your printer.

And then, you know, the daisy wheel printers, like all printers at the time, needed tracks to move the paper through. So, you would get paper with holes in it, and then you’d have to pull those, you’d have to tear the perforated strips off the side and sometimes it would rip and you would curse god and reprint it.

John: And over time, the perforations got better. They got microperforated, so you could tear it off, and you could just barely tell that it was actually computer paper that fed through it. But an important thing to understand is, unlike an inkjet printer now, it truly is typing. It’s typing one letter at a time.

And so, if you hit print, or you know, made it, went through an elaborate series of arcane rituals to get it to print. It could take a good five minutes to print a page. And it was loud all the time.

Craig: It was really, really loud. It was excruciating. But it was considered the Cadillac of printing at the time when compared to the standard dot matrix, which was a “Nih, nih, nih, nih” which was that thing. And dot matrix was kind of like a forerunner of inkjet, I guess.

John: Yeah, just the dots have gotten so small on inkjet, you don’t see the individual dots anymore. But there really are dots there somewhere.

Craig: And there’s no head going back and forth. Oh, there is a head going back and forth.

John: Yeah. But it’s part of the print cartridge, now, which is —

Craig: Right. And it’s not making that noise, “Nih, nih, nih,” which was fun. And then, the whole printer would kind of shudder as this thing would go back and forth through this. It was an amazing time.

John: It was a great time. So, you would print out these characters’ back stories for the people who were playing your marvel role playing game.

Craig: And it was interesting, because they wouldn’t, you know, what they had were, well, like, “He’s got a power and he’s this old and he’s blond.” And then I would, kind of, try and explain where he was from. And is he a human and how did he get this way? And is he related to anybody? And what does he fear? And you know, come up with…

The idea, I guess, was that there was a narrative puzzle presented, and I always think of screenwriting as just endless puzzle solving. And the puzzle is, “How do you make logical sense of this?” Some sort of dramatic, compelling theory that makes sense of the character you just created with dice. And that was fun.

And it’s not — I don’t know so much that it was, that I spent a lot of time practicing it, that is why I do what I do today; it’s that I felt the need to do it in the first place, that explains why I do what I do today.

John: You felt a compelling need to create narrative meaning out of this thing that, actually, didn’t have a lot of meaning because it was rolled by dice. You wanted it to make sense and exist, in a way.

It was probably one of the earliest occasions for you to see that the decisions you were making about who the characters were would influence the kind of stories you’d want to tell with those characters. Were you being the equivalent of the Dungeon Master for this? Were you relieving the games?

Craig: No. My friend Dave Rogers was usually the Dungeon Master. And, interestingly, he is an Emmy Award winning director now, is a very well regarded director in television. He directs a lot of episodes of The Office.

John: I’ve noticed several people who are involved with big TV shows right now come from a D&D background. John Rogers, who does Leverage, has done a lot of other great shows, still writes for … I guess it’s not TSR now, it’s Wizards of the Coast who bought out the D&D franchise.

Craig: Right.

John: But I first noticed like, “Oh, there’s this” … I was looking through one of the new manuals and there’s his name. I was like, “I wonder if it’s the same person.” So I Googled and like, “Oh. That’s just so strange that he still is doing that.” In fact, he’s doing the new Dungeons and Dragons comic book, which is great. It’s like Firefly, but with swords.

If we were to have him on the show I suspect he had a similar experience where that experience of developing characters and developing worlds for characters to run around in is really similar to developing the world of a movie or, even more so, developing the world of a TV show. It’s that you have a sustainable world that goes beyond the adventures of this one week’s play.

Craig: Right, right.

John: But has an overall narrative and overall arc. I haven’t talked to David Benioff to see whether he played much D&D but I’ve got the feeling that it’s probably true.

Craig: Knowing David, I would guess that he did. And knowing Dan Weiss, I would guess that he did as well. Yeah.

John: Right. It’s a pretty safe bet. I’ll also stump for the new D&D manuals. I don’t actually play D&D anymore, I wouldn’t have time to. I fell like so much of what I do and get paid to do is so similar that I’d be burning out that part of my brain to try to D.M. a session. But I still buy the new manuals. The new manuals are fantastic.

Anybody who’s listening to this who played in the past and has seen those manuals and like, “Ehh, I wouldn’t go into them,” they’re remarkably well done. Its Gary Gygax’s sort of legacy but sort of brought through to make a lot more sense. They made very smart choices in the new books. I have a ton of them that are all sitting on shelves and I read them as leisure time books.

Craig: I could never — that’s where I would fall apart. That’s why I can’t do that sort of part of the game because I don’t understand all the rules and my mind could not wrap around on that stuff.

John: One of the things that I think is interesting about where we are right now is the online games — Diablo and World of Warcraft — that seem to be very similar, where they’re doing a lot — you’re running around and you’re killing things — they don’t develop that same instinct, really, because in those games you are optimizing. You are trying to figure out the best kind of character to make but the character is really just a collection of statistics. The character has no back story. The character has no motivations beyond the quests that are assigned through the game. You have goals as a person but that character, individually, has no goals.

Craig: I like the Bethesda games. The main quests, at least, give you some sense of identity and sense of purpose.

John: In terms of choices you make?

Craig: Even in terms of your goal, like, in Oblivion you are tasked with a job by the dying king. In Fallout 3 you’re actually murdered in the beginning of the … isn’t that right, in Fallout 3? No, no. That’s not Fallout 3. That was the other one.

John: Fallout 3 is an example of a tremendous…

Craig: Oh, it was in New Vegas you’re murdered.

John: New Vegas, yeah.

Craig: But in Fallout 3 you’re actually born and you’re raised by a father and then he disappears and you have to go find him. There’s some sense of character.

John: There’s a sense of character but you’re not generating that sense of character.

Craig: No. You’re right.

John: You are essentially an audience to that character development. And so, while you might learn a lot by observing it, you’re not responsible for the making of it. You’re not making choices about how that narrative is going to be shaped.

Craig: That’s correct. That is the difference between the passive act of playing a video game that’s presented to you and scripted for you, and the idea that you’re going to make your own story as you go along. No question. No question.

John: This is probably a good time to sort of wrap up. I’d meant to segue into talking about film school and whether film school is even worth it or what the point of film school even is these days. And I think we’ll save that for another time.

Craig: Yeah, great.

John: Thank you very much.

Craig: John, thank you.

John: All right, talk to you later.

Craig: Bye.