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WagTheJake

Script Writing in Video Games

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I''m studying to become a game developer. Most of the studies revolve around programming. But what I''m really interested in is design. More specifically I''m interested in plot and characters in video games. My biggest gripe about the Video Game Industry is that it seems the designer of the game is required to do so much. He must create a plot, map out the levels, design the gameplay, interface, play-mechanics, etc. It''d be nice if some games had dedicated people just for the plot. Like script writers in the movie bizz. Just because a person can write a good story doesn''t mean they can direct a movie, or create good special effects. I''m just wondering if anyone thinks there is room for script writers in the video game business. Or, if there are already people like this working in the bizz and I was just unaware.

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quote:
Original post by WagTheJake
My biggest gripe about the Video Game Industry is that it seems the designer of the game is required to do so much. He must create a plot, map out the levels, design the gameplay, interface, play-mechanics, etc. It''d be nice if some games had dedicated people just for the plot.


this definatly IS the case:
the bigger a project is, the greater is the specialisation of each project member. to get some examples watch the credits of some big games... there are usually LOTS of people involved each one doing their own resort.

quote:
Original post by WagTheJake
I''m just wondering if anyone thinks there is room for script writers in the video game business. Or, if there are already people like this working in the bizz and I was just unaware.

there are


quote:
Original post by WagTheJake
But what I''m really interested in is design. More specifically I''m interested in plot and characters in video games.



yep... this should be THE forum u searched for. sunandshadow will give you some hints for sure... and why dont you help getting new information? ([url=http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=126268]over here[/url])

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I believe Doom 3 involved the input of a quite famous science fiction writer.

These days I think it is almost obligatory to do this - especially in plot driven games. Half-Life really started them all off - previously, you just had a "stuck on some planet - have to fight your way to the escape capsule" type "story".

Plot and plot-twists are important for immersion and the suspension of dis-belief in video-games today.

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quote:
Original post by Robbo
I believe Doom 3 involved the input of a quite famous science fiction writer.


not sure about this but i know that TombRaider 5(or is it allready 6?!?) will feature a story written by a real writer.

quote:
Original post by Robbo These days I think it is almost obligatory to do this - especially in plot driven games. Half-Life really started them all off - previously, you just had a "stuck on some planet - have to fight your way to the escape capsule" type "story".


games != ego-shooters ... MANY games before half life actually had a story. Your ingorant statement is an insultation to all the gamedesigners allready thinking about story before this so called 'revolotionary' game came out... it actually only was an revolutionary shooter . (back to the old dos-times... thinking about most of the rpgs there... even might and magic beats half-life in story dephts (not in bringing it onto screen though ))



[edited by - BB-Pest on December 4, 2002 9:10:18 AM]

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Yes there are people who work specifically as writers with gamedesigners who aren''t writers. There are also gamedesigners (e.g. me) who want to do the writing but delegate some other aspect like the programming. More professional teams have been hiring writers recently, and Japanese game design companies have traditionally done so for rpgs and ren''ai (dating sim) games. Whether or not it''s egotistic to say, the game designer is the person the whole project revolves around. You need to be able to handle everything, either by yourself or by delegating to someone qualified. So it''s important to figure out what you can''t or don''t want to do yourself and make sure your team includes people who can do those things. A large game project can benefit from having two designers with complementary talents, but only some game designers have the right personality to be able to share creative authority like that, plus it''s difficult to find someone who thinks the same way you do so you''re not trying to create at right angles to each other.

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My biggest gripe about the Video Game Industry is that it seems the designer of the game is required to do so much. He must create a plot, map out the levels, design the gameplay, interface, play-mechanics, etc.

>A valid plaint, for certain. However, I''d rather have a single responsible party for the blueprint of the game than a collaberative environment. If you''ve ever made a movie without a director, you''d know just how hard it is to complete and for it to be good.

It''d be nice if some games had dedicated people just for the plot.

>That is often done in the story bible, and that can be written by the designer, a writer or a screenwriter, or even a programmer; what matter is the quality of the plot, not who did the keystrokes in the word processor.

Like script writers in the movie bizz. Just because a person can write a good story doesn''t mean they can direct a movie, or create good special effects.

This is true, I write screenplays, and after fifteen years of having them made, I feel I will know enough about this business in a coupla years to direct one. But the game dev process is a different critter, in that you have a more absolute environment control process, and can literally guarantee light levels, sound levels, aspect ratios, screen ratios, movement for the stage, beats and bars in the duologue, and more.

Even the most stringent sounds stage has environmental differences. I''ve hung lights for seven hours for a simple rock concert, and for three weeks six hours a day for a major theatrical production, and there were still things that could have been changed. The audience usually does not notice, because at a certain point in refinement, they are pleased. It''s the pro''s you worry about impressing, and they know all the techniques, or at least a great many of them.

I''m just wondering if anyone thinks there is room for script writers in the video game business. Or, if there are already people like this working in the bizz and I was just unaware.


Both. Go to the Writer''s Guild of America Website, www.wga.org, and see what they have done to build a contract base of professional writers in the contractual guidelines specifications.

Having been writing for twenty five years, and for fifteen as a screenwriter and for four now as an interactive game designer; the maxim will hold true: if it ain''t on the page, it ain''t on the stage, or the scene, in the case of this medium. There are lots of differences between linear through line plot writing and interactive storytelling plot writing, but even more similarities than differences. Each has it''s own skillset, but will be useful most of the time in each medium.

I''ll tell ya, sometimes game design writing becomes so challenging, even to an experienced and diverse writer like myself, sometimes I have to go write a novel just to take a break and get my feet back on the ground. But then again, a lot of that has to do with the personal artistic fascination I have with this game medium of expression as a whole, and how I can use master plotting skills and situation/circumstances skills directly from my screenwriting experience in it.

Just follow the passion, and you can''t lose. Nobody''s going to say you''ll make money at it, but you gain things money can''t buy. Some of the showbiz people I know say that''s how you get to the money anyway, by forgetting about it and following your heart. Create at your own risk and reward.

Addy





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Script writing is the basis of my involvement in game development. I have written dialog, cutscenes, background filler, storylines, character development, even a saturday morning cartoon pilot. Great stuff, but in the better projects I have been on I have certainly not been key staff. This is because the story is not the key to a game. I''ll repeat: the story is not the key to developing a game. The key to a game is the style concept - the defining of it as a first person shooter, a real time strategy game, a mmorpg etc. This is a design question of far higher importance that the details of what kind of monsters you will handle.

The dirty secret about game dev is that there''s practically no writer in the world (exceptions for Michael Strascynsky and a few others of that calibre) that will be successfull in getting a game dev studio to even look at the first page of their story. The leads in the team are full to the ears with their own ideas, no matter if they have read only one book and seen one movie in their entire life. Game devs rightfully consider themselves to be creative people and want to do their own thing. That is why they became devs in the first place!

So on the occasions when I have been involved with a professional team to do writing, it is at the point where the story has already been half written. The world has been decided, the bad guys defined roughly, the key characters named and the main conflict set up. Not to mention that the levels are already planned and under building....so what I''m left with is to take the pieces and try to make some sense of it as a story. It works, although I have despaired at times when the groundwork has been particularily sloppy. (He kills those guys for WHAT reason? The war will end because of THAT? What happened to HIM anyway?) Storyteller''s nightmare - and challenge.

If you want to have your own story told, forget it or be the lead designer. Lead designers must do a whole lot more than write the story, though....

Mucky as the game story writer''s job is, people are clamoring for it. Anyone above the age of 10 knows in his heart he is very skilled at it, and that he will be the focus of any meeting with his unique ideas. It doesn''t matter if he has never written a story before, have no understanding of human diversity and will not be bothered to listen to the team''s needs. Any of you guys who have started or run a dev team know the type; full of exclamation points and grins and consistent like a politician in a corner. Enthusiasm is great, but knowing how the industry works is better. Story writing is hard work, but even harder to find when ever dev team is full of them. Many of them are pretty good too.

- Storymage

Bury me deep. Future generations will be hungry.

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Clive Barker''s Undying (Clive Barker)
Betrayal at Krondor (Raymond E. Feist)
Half-Life (Marc Laidlaw)
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream (Ellison)
Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan (not sure of his level of involvement))
Deus Ex (Sheldon Pacotti, et al)
...

And there are others. I also heard recently that Michael Crichton is working with Sega on an original game concept, and he''s coming up with the storyline for it. I would imagine Tom Clancy also had something to do with at least the original Rainbow Six games.

_________________________
The Idea Foundry

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quote:
Original post by Tacit
I also heard recently that Michael Crichton is working with Sega on an original game concept, and he''s coming up with the storyline for it.


yeah... thats right, he founded his own game factory some years ago. misfortunatly his games arent as good as his books (except the story ) and so his first game flopped(time travelling students... based on one of his books i dunno the name of).

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