Why Writers aren't a Commodity
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 05:09 AM
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 09:09 AM
Original post by Landfish
REASONS WHY WRITERS GET REJECTED
1. Everybody and their mother wants to write for video games.
Aye. The same is true for designers. Actually, it''s not as bad as everyone and their mother, but it is fairly competitive. However, the good news: Thank god it''s not screenplay writing, or retail fiction... yech! Talk about everybody and their mother!!!!!
2. Writing is impossible to quantify.
It''s a religion of taste. That''s one of the things I got sick of about content creation in general. If I code an program, mathematics and system resources will tell me how well or poorly I''ve done. But with writing or designing, it''s part art, part random will of the gods. (or should that be )
Games don''t need to tell stories to sell.
I know this is difficult to accept (for some), but for some games this is true. These games will need someone to write the manual, but the core activity has nothing to do with narrative.
For others, though, skimping on the writing is an invitation to disaster. Companies will realize this when their other forms of leverage (graphical technology, mostly, and, soon, maybe AI) reach a period of stasis. That''s what I believe happened to Half-Life. In order to differentiate, it was necessary to do something beyond new weapons, new gfx, and new monsters.
Just waiting for the mothership...
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 10:27 AM
I would never try to get a job as a "game writer" unless I had some brilliant idea that was gauranteed to make tons of money somehow (never happened, but you can always hope). No, the way in is through pure hard work. Be one of the extreme low-level programmers who doesn''t make any decisions and just programs what they are told. Then climb your way up the ladder. Come up with game ideas in your spare time. Fully develop them into working game models. Then show some to your superiors. Gradually (if you''re good) they might recognize the quality of your ideas and use it. Then you''ll have been a game writer. Don''t expect a bag share of the profits or a lot of fame, but at least you''ll know that you came up with the idea.
"When i was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of
the corner of my mind. I turned to look, but it was
gone, I cannot put my finger on it now. The child has
grown, the dream has gone." -Pink Floyd
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 10:59 AM
Since hiring a programmer or artist depends on merit and experience, why should hiring a writer be any different? Managers can put out requests for artists who can draw in Medieval style or programmers who can deal with 3D graphics without giving away too many secrets about the hgame they have planned. But asking for a writer who can write, for example, a detailed plot involving 3 different characters classes, lots of magical medieval weapons, elemental magic, religion, and evil dog-like monsters would pretty much (in the manager''s eyes) give up the farm.
Writers who want to work in the game industry should write, and not be lazy. But they think they can get away with writing the least amount possible? Think storyboards, dialogue, scene descriptions, character profiles, allusions/themes and coherency. It''s not about churning out a bunch of crap, it takes time to get a decent script or game plot written out. People who realize this usually discover their work ethic through some other means, as school never really compels students to write freely about a topic they enjoy...that would break the concept of creating mindless followers (joking...) but it still happens. Programmers, artists, managers all develop a work ethic while doing their jobs, so they make themselves better inclined to write fully-developed plots. Writers are created, not born.
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 01:13 PM
Original post by Landfish
Writers should be the MOST IMPORTANT person on the team, I said.
And I respond, "writers are often just designers who can''t be bothered to learn implementational details" Note: often, not always.
This is why nearly all commercial games have designers who double up as above-average writers, but most games do not have dedicated writers. Sadly, some games are just made by programmers whose design skills don''t extend much into the writing domain, and you get the likes of Quake
But the fact is that the people who ARE doing the dirty work want the privledge of deciding what they''re going to work on. And they''re just more essential to the process than a writer is (let''s face it, plenty of best sellers have been churned out without dedicated writers on the staff...)
I remember you trying to kill me once for saying that It doesn''t make a good writer any less useful, but it makes an average writer useless.
2. Writing is impossible to quantify.
Nobody wants to take a risk on a newbie writer. they want EXPERIENCE.
Again, this is why I recommend to some of you guys to go grab an RPG maker program where the engine is largely done for you, and plug your story in, learning the skills as you do so. This allows you to make your equivalent of the rotating 3d-rendered cube or whatever the programmers might do for their portfolio.
4.The industry still believes they''re making just games.
But the majority of the industry is too myopic to see past quake
I half agree with the point, just not how you worded it. The industry aren''t necessarily short-sighted, not as interested as we would like in taking a chance by investing in something ''interesting'' and different. They''d rather get a guaranteed return from a clone. I don''t begrudge that, in fact I welcome it, as it leaves a niche for the amateur developers like myself to exploit.
5.Writers are notoriously unwilling to work hard.
In my never ending quest to boslter Landfish''s ranks as a game devhouse, I come across a lot of "writers" willing to do "high-level work". Meaning, they want to tell someone the story and have them write it. Or, they want to write a story out in prose and have someone convert it for them into something useable for the artists and tech people, voice directors and musical composers. Fat chance.
This is the point I was making above about shirking the implementation details. The problem is, some people on this board have said "Some games have poor storylines. I write cool stories. I should write a story for a game." Sadly, it''s not like that. Let''s take an example of another non-programmer who works on a game; the Artist. It''s no good them just being great at drawing and painting or whatever. If they want to work on a game, they will have to refine those skills to take implementation details into account. This includes making textures seamless, and of a size that is a power of 2. Or, when they make a model of a character, they will probably be given a limit on the number of polygons that they can use. That''s life. Writers have to accept this too. They have to do more than think of a story, they need to write scripts, consider responses, give ideas to the designers how the characters might add to the game, consider how they''d like the setting, describe characters to the artist, liase with programmers as to how many responses a character can have, how long they can be, how a player will choose their response, etc etc. That''s the simple facts of it, and anyone wanting to really get started, even on an amateur level, really has to bite the bullet and accept that.
Personally, I think the lead designer should be the most important person on the team. They need the vision to understand just enough of everything, programming, art, writing, sound/music, and indeed marketing, to coordinate and balance all the conflicting goals and get that product finished.
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 10:47 PM
Here''s my personnal experience.
I''m ''software engineer''.
I was trying to make a game, I was already an experienced story writer (10 years of weekly RPG in which I created my own world and my stories), and I learn Game Design.
(A game just isn''t a Story.)
I sent my Design to all the french firm I knew and UBISoft replied.
I asked if they were having story writers and they replied they didn''t, they only had Game Designers.
I was very surprised and suddenly understood why all that games sucked. (IMO)
I tried to get a job at UBISoft but failed my 2nd meeting.
I decided to make my game free and to build a team on the internet, but I did not find any coder (I mean good ).
So I learnt 3D basics, DirectX6 and 7, OpenGL...
And I joined other teams as... 3D engine coder...
I realised that I didn''t accept that people took all decision from me, and I wanted some of my ideas in the game.
Learning the team work was interesting.
My Game Design is not terminated at this time, more than a year after it''s initial release (when I sent it to UBISoft...), my game Story is almost completed but as been modified by the GD.
I''ve almost finished planning my 3D engine, know named OctoPort, and I''m working as a 3D coder for teams on the web.
I''m a professionnal web developer, using JAVA everyday, far from the job I dream of...
The point is that in fact we have very little clue of how it works, people in the industry don''t tell newbies/newcomers how it works and why, and Game Designer is the most ''valuable'' status one can have, and so the hardest place to reach.
Publishers don''t know their job at all, they can''t recognise a good game from a bad one.
Developers are reduced to do enhanced games, because publishers can easily see/understand how much it can give them money...
In fact the Game Industry is the harder to get in and the harder to stay in...
/* ... I missed the point */
-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-
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Posted 14 December 2000 - 11:21 PM
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers'' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche