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Jobs as Game Writers?

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The last few years, I've read a lot about players pretty much destroying the game writers of today, due to the mysterious absence of truly awesome story-telling in games (to which I can agree to some extent, though not fully). Now, I don't wanna slam the hammer on this myself. But one [i]can[/i] often wonder what game writers of today are actually applying from what they've learned from the major successes of the past - [i]Planescape Torment[/i], for instance. That said, I think it's a bit exaggerated to claim that the great stories don't exist.


[b]But enough about this (I know hehe). Here are my questions about "breaking in":[/b]

[b]1)[/b] - As an extension of that notion, how are game writers viewed today? Are they really needed or are they a dime-a-dozen? Assuming that the game writer in question is indeed kick-ass and produces exceptionally well detailed design documents, how can that actually help him land a job?

[b]2)[/b] - Is it possible to earn a living by just writing design documents alone? Similarly to how book authors write their books and leave it to the publishers to get them developed?

(As for me, I'm learning to program nonetheless. But it'd be nice to know, because necessity is the mother of invention, after all.)



Cheers,
DrMadolite Edited by DrMadolite

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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1336321547' post='4937803']
The last few years, I've read a lot about players pretty much destroying the game writers of today, due to the mysterious absence of truly awesome story-telling in games (to which I can agree to some extent, though not fully). Now, I don't wanna slam the hammer on this myself. But one [i]can[/i] often wonder what game writers of today are actually applying from what they've learned from the major successes of the past - [i]Planescape Torment[/i], for instance. That said, I think it's a bit exaggerated to claim that the great stories don't exist.


[b]But enough about this (I know hehe). Here are my questions about "breaking in":[/b]

[b]1)[/b] - As an extension of that notion, how are game writers viewed today? Are they really needed or are they a dime-a-dozen? Assuming that the game writer in question is indeed kick-ass and produces exceptionally well detailed design documents, how can that actually help him land a job?

[b]2)[/b] - Is it possible to earn a living by just writing design documents alone? Similarly to how book authors write their books and leave it to the publishers to get them developed?

(As for me, I'm learning to program nonetheless. But it'd be nice to know, because necessity is the mother of invention, after all.)



Cheers,
DrMadolite
[/quote]

1) Game writers (not designers) are needed for some games (Especially adventure games and RPGs that tend to be heavily story driven), game writers don't write design documents, they write stories, dialogue, quest/item descriptions etc.

2) No, many studios are even abandoning the use of GDDs entierly, a designers job is not to write, its to design (Which is not something you do in isolation).
If you want to make a living as a writer you should write a book (or many books). (If its good a publisher might want to make a game based on it). (You could also work as a writer on a hobby project to show off your talent) Edited by SimonForsman

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Hey, thanks for the reply. I'll definitely write a lot about my main game project, I'm actually making a website as we speak where I'll be filling in the blanks (similarly to the amount of information found inside a wiki or an official MMO site or whatever).

But concerning your second answer - Are you saying that studios aren't interested in design documents alltogether (as in not even interested in reading them), or just that they don't spend time on making them (which I understand perfectly, since 90% of the game changes in development, as I understand)?

Cheers. Edited by DrMadolite

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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1336342427' post='4937883']
But concerning your second answer - Are you saying that studios aren't interested in design document alltogether, or is it just that they're not gonna waste time on it themselves (priority-wise). Because as I see it, those are two different scenarios.

Cheers.
[/quote]

Rigid [b]pre-written[/b] design documents are close to worthless when you do agile development so in general they're not used, some forward planning is useful but most of the [b]details[/b] should evolve during development rather than prior to it. (Most of the info you see on MMO wikis would be worthless at the start of the development cycle).

a GDD is more of a communication tool than a blueprint and thus its not really something a publisher would buy from someone. (Buying the rights to make a game based on a popular IP is common though), Don't plan out the details of the game before you can test how they play out.

Also, GDDs have almost nothing to do with writing for games and telling stories, (Game Design is about mechanics, not stories), selling a story is far easier than selling a design. Game designs cannot really be evaluated unless you play them which is why premature planning of details is a waste of time while a story can be evaluated simply by reading it. (Planescape: Torment has a fairly sub-par design in many respects , it pretty much lives on its excellent writing)

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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1336321547' post='4937803']
[b]1)[/b] - As an extension of that notion, how are game writers viewed today? Are they really needed or are they a dime-a-dozen?
1.b. Assuming that the game writer in question is indeed kick-ass and produces exceptionally well detailed design documents, how can that actually help him land a job?
[b]2)[/b] - Is it possible to earn a living by just writing design documents alone?
2.b. Similarly to how book authors write their books and leave it to the publishers to get them developed?
[/quote]

DrMad, you've gotten good answers, but I just thought it necessary to muddy the waters for you.
Firstly, you ought to have a look at FAQ 32.
Now, as to your four questions:
1. Good story writers are definitely not cheap. There are a lot of writers, but not that many gems among them.
1.b. It doesn't, usually. Writers are usually not full-time, except at companies that make MMORPGs or other games that constantly need new story content.
2. No. You're talking about technical writing. Not a common job. Someone might hire a freelance technical writer to flesh out a GDD that exists only to satisfy a platform holder's requirements, or a licensor's requirements, when the game's game designer is too busy to do that writing.
2.b. I am not familiar with this practice you describe. Are you talking about "ghost writing"? Because I really never heard of an author just doing a half-assed job of authoring and then expecting the publisher to hire a clean-up writer to tidy up after him. Unless you're talking about the job of an editor (and even then, the editor doesn't do the actual cleanup, the editor sends notes to the author for the author to do the writing).

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[b]@ SimonForsman:[/b]
Thanks for clarifying and adding some more good points. I think I'm just gonna use my writing as a complimentary pastime to the primary focus (learning proper programming and development).


[b]@ Tom Sloper:[/b]
Thanks for reminding me, I got a bit distracted lately and the FAQs (and your website) sort of slipped my mind. I'm gonna prioritize reading this stuff in detail shortly. Also, thanks for your other answers as well. As for the book author thingie, I guess I was just talking about printing and publishing.


Cheers to both! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] Edited by DrMadolite

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