So I was reading this article on Kotaku about musicals and gaming. In it, the opening sequence of Epic Mickey: The Power of Two and an in-progress indie game called Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!” are bridging the gap between video games and musicals.
To be honest, I’m still iffy about the whole concept. I remember once in an X-Play interview of a comedian where he asked that we all know video games can be funny, but could the point be to make people laugh. He mentioned something about comedy being all about timing and even when I was a kid I thought about how comedy could be incorporated into the actual game playing experience. I know I’ve posted something about this particular subject and in that post I talked about how writing in games make things funny. But as for gameplay, you can’t just have the proper timing for a joke to well-executed, which is why in video games, when it’s not a funny line of dialogue, its pretty restricted to random sight gag or just absurd situations usually not intended.
For musicals, I think the same thing applies. You can put music, singing, and dancing into a game and make it a musical, but is it a musical game or a musical told in game form. The difference might seem stupid, but it is important. The former is easy, in that your game mechanics and the musical are entirely separate. I feel like that indie game I mentioned above falls into that trap. Sure, dialogue is portrayed through singing, but does that make it different than any other point and click adventure game?
If I were to make a musical game, this is how I would do it (and now I’m totally considering going through with it). You have you’re normal dialogue trees or maybe even simplify it to just emotions you want to invoke, and have dialogue work in real time, to a rhythm. Each line sung effects the story and since information can be heard out all the way or interrupted and have inappropriate responses and silence be a factor in deciding how the story plays out, each time would be relatively unique. Could this be done without lyrics? Probably, but perhaps if the writing is really subtle and well done, the fact that the game is a musical can help players make crucial decisions. It would take someone with more musical talent than I do do that, but I certainly hope one day I meet that person.