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GCG Book Excerpt: 'Game Writing Handbook'

For the latest feature on Game Career Guide, we present an excerpt of Course PTR's 'Integrating Dialogue of the Game Writing Handbook', by veteran game writer Rafael
For the latest feature on Game Career Guide, we present an excerpt of Course PTR's 'Integrating Dialogue of the Game Writing Handbook', by veteran game writer Rafael Chandler, where readers learn about several important aspects of successful scripting, from tools and scheduling, to documentation and cues. In this excerpt, Chandler explains the importance of bringing the game designer and the writer together to make sure the two are on the same page, or the work of the scripters could grind to a sudden halt: “The scripting team needs to have clear, accessible information about the expected user experience. The documentation should outline precisely when and where the voice cue plays and under what circumstances. Using the screenplay, the scripters should be able to distinguish the speaker from the audience. This information can appear as part of the design documentation or in a separate document. If the data is presented in two different documents, it should be carefully aligned, because there’s a substantial margin of error if the scripters are working off of multiple documents. For example, in Rise of Merlin, while scripting the Dismal Forest level, the scripters are populating the map and setting behaviors from the design documentation, which was written by the lead designer. The ogres go here, the spider-gaunts go there, and the wyverns are going to attack from the north when the player enters the Holy Glade. However, when the scripters are placing dialogue cues in the game, they’re going to be working off of the story design documentation, and it’s not 100% up to date with the design documents. This means the writer was still working under the impression that the Dragon Queen would be waiting for the player at the glade and that the player would have to defend her from attack. Furthermore, the scripters are confused, because the voice cues coming from Merlin’s sidekick, Talerios, indicate that the wyverns are attacking from the south. This is because the wyverns originally were supposed to do so, but this was changed when the lead ­designer moved the Crimson Citadel to the north side of the map so that it would be visible throughout the level. This series of complications means the scripters will have to arrive at some kind of resolution on the matter; first, though, the lead ­designer and the writer must hash out the details, which might take a little time. Compromises will be made and solutions will be concocted. During this time, of course, the dialogue scripting for the Dismal Forest level will come to a halt, and the scripters will have to tackle other work. If there is none, valuable time is lost until the issue is resolved. To do the best possible work, the scripting team needs a cohesive and integrated document to work from. Any gray areas should be delineated in advance and should not have significant impact on the project. That means it is permissible to leave content in the hands of the scripters, but they should not be held accountable for its interpretation at that stage.” You can now read the entire feature, including more from Chandler on all aspects of the scripting process, including scheduling, documenting, and planning around false awareness (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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