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Writing Should Be Treated As Design Element, Not 'Separate Discipline'

Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines writer Darby McDevitt explains that "it is vitally important to treat [writing] exactly as you would any other design elemen
Seattle-based writer and game designer Darby McDevitt (Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines, Where the Wild Things Are) says in a new Gamasutra feature that game writers are a "frequently misunderstood sort." He explains that often, writers are relegated to pasting "fun moments of gameplay together with a few lines of snappy, expository dialog." But that's not how it should be, he says. "The spirit of collaboration games are supposed to embody often seems well outside the writer's reach. ... But the truth is, we don't want to hijack your game with pointless soliloquies, and we don't want to write a posturing Hollywood-style epic." "Game writers simply want to help designers craft an immersive, interactive narrative experience," McDevitt adds. He clarifies that he's not saying gameplay should make any concessions for a game's writing, but more collaboration would be optimal. "The average game-playing public will suffer a deluge of poor storytelling if a game is knock-down, drag-out fun. But a great story with terrible gameplay will die a fast and lonely death on the shelf. I respect and support this pecking order. Gameplay must come first -- this is the golden rule," McDevitt says. But he continues, "However, if some form of narrative happens to play a design-critical role in your proposed game, it is vitally important to treat it exactly as you would any other design element, not as a separate discipline." For more from McDevitt on collaboration in video game writing and development, and highly helpful, practical steps in the video game writing process, from before writing begins, during writing and into a game's production, read the full Gamasutra feature, available now.

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