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u235

Getting into game writing

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After ten years of being a supposed programmer I have little to show for my efforts, so I think I have come to the conclusion that programming is not the area I should be in if I want to be a part of developing games. I have always loved writing and that, I know, I am at least decent at. I had some stuff published in high school and won a few small writing contests, so I know I don't have the same problem with writing as I did with programming. What I would like to know is, how does one get started writing for games and probably more importantly, what does a game writer do? I am not quite sure how different it is from traditional writing, but I would like to see what information I can get and see if it is something I might like. Thanks.

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Well I'd like to point you in the direction of Game design documents (AKA GDD). Start searching the internet for information with how to create one and properly format one.

If you are looking to write Story or background for games, you are really doing the same thing with writing any fantasy, sci-fi story. Of course you would need to be guided with what the developer needs written.

To be any kind of writer, you will need very good spelling and grammer; they are both very important in game design and story writing.

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I wouldn't particularly recommend writing as a path into developing games. Not sure whether you are thinking of industry or indie development; there's almost no industry demand for writers, although there's some indie demand. IME 3D modeling is usually in the highest demand, then after that programming, music, and managerial/documentation/website skills. What problems have you had with programming? The most direct path from programming to game development is to either master an engine like Torque's gamebuilder or learn flash and then team up with a designer who already has a design document.

Game writing is more like writing a screenplay than a short story or a novel. Then there's interactive fiction, which is a whole different mindset than standard linear fiction. And game writing is heavily intertwined with game design, the designer of a project is often that project's lead writer or at least choses the main concept, characters, and other restrictions the writer has to work with. So if you still decide you want to get into game writing you could read webpages and books about those 3 topics (screenwriting, interactive fiction, and game design) or for a more hands-on approach you could get or make transcripts of some of your favorite games and then try to copy the format while adding your own original content to it.

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Hi AJ, you wrote:

>After ten years of being a supposed programmer

You mean 1010 years? (^_^)

>I have little to show for my efforts

Huh? If you've been programming games, you have your name in the game credits, and you've been getting fairly well paid. What is it you expect to "show" for your efforts?

>how does one get started writing for games

By having a writing degree and some serious writing creds (movies, TV, comics...). Read article 32 on my site, and read the Writing SIG page on IGDA.org.

>what does a game writer do?

Write what the project calls for, upon assignment, and usually as a freelancer (not a fulltime employee). Read those articles.

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I'm guessing he meant by "little to show for it" is that he couldn't really get into the niche of programming. He also didn't say he did it for games, he might have just been studying for 10 years.

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Quote:
Original post by pothb
I'm guessing he meant by "little to show for it" is that he couldn't really get into the niche of programming. He also didn't say he did it for games, he might have just been studying for 10 years.

Could be, could be. I did notice that it hadn't been clear as to whether any of his "supposed programming" was in games or not. If he aspires to become a writer, we shouldn't have to guess what his words meant. Then again, now I've probably just opened the door to a tangential discussion about the appropriateness of ambiguity in game story writing... (^_^)

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Hi AJ, you wrote:

>After ten years of being a supposed programmer

You mean 1010 years? (^_^)


yeah, that's what I meant

Quote:

>I have little to show for my efforts

Huh? If you've been programming games, you have your name in the game credits, and you've been getting fairly well paid. What is it you expect to "show" for your efforts?


I wasn't doing it professionally, I just meant that I couldn't get the hang of it to a degree that allowed me to do what I wanted to do.


Thanks for the article recommendations, I will read them.



Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
What problems have you had with programming?


Basically, I learned the languages pretty well, but I could never bring it all together to do the things I wanted to do. I guess I simply don't possess the necessary capacity for abstract thinking that is required to be a good programmer.

@Falawar: Thanks for the advice and recommendations.

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I attended a session on the subject last year, thanks to the IGDA Brisbane Chapter. Basically, there IS some demand for writers, but at this stage it's minimal. The majority of writers being hired for games are those that have experience writing for films or television series, and aren't going to demand too much money.

Looking at the industry, demand IS likely to increase over the long term, but for now 'design' is your best approach. The best way to enter the industry in a design role is through level design. With a programming background, you should be able to master scripting languages fairly well, which is a major plus for employers. Get some practice in with Hammer or the Unreal editor and you're in a good position.

Otherwise, I'd look at independent development. You won't likely make much money, if any at all, but once you get a couple of good titles under your belt you may stand a chance of getting an actual writer position at a bigger studio. As a matter of fact, the project I'm running will be needing writers a little down the track, so PM me if you're interested.

In all honesty though, most studios have designers to do narrative. Few projects actually involve writers as a separate position. Either way, here are some steps that may help.

1. Collect together a collection of creative works you've written. Filter out the poorer ones and compile the good ones into a portfolio.

2. Pick one or two essays or more formal writing examples, if you have some that demonstrate your mastery of the English language.

3. Hook up with some independent teams and work on design documentation, narrative, in-game text, etcetera.

AND/OR

4. Write some design documentation for an idea of your own.

All these will really help your chances of getting a design or writing position.

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Well, I am currently leading a smaller project at the outset and am still forming the team so to speak, but Im definatley looking for a Writer who wants to help out on some stuff.

If your interested shoot me a PM or something and we'll get in touch

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