1. Mask
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    Mask Member

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    Writing for Games

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mask, Mar 12, 2013.

    Have many of the denizens of this place considered writing for games? Whether it be a video game of a tabletop RPG, there is an interesting method to writing for a game.

    Thought it would be good to discuss game-related writing here. The differences from writing a novel, thoughts on the subject, and any game-related aspirations we feel like voicing.


    As a starting subject, has anyone looked into or thought about how you go about writing a Tabletop Pen and Paper RPG?
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to love paper and dice RPGs - spent a great deal of my time as a student playing it with my housemates. Those were the days! I wish I had friends who liked RPGs now :(

    Never looked into how I'd write a game though - you got any thoughts? How would you go about getting it out there? Just publish it, like the game books and character books? But you'd need so much graphics to go with it, how would you as a writer do it, or does the publisher supply the graphics?
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I still play p&p rpgs with my friends, though not as often as we used to. I have written a few scenarios since we usually didn't like the ones sold at nearby stores, but not many since i never liked playing as a DM. I have also written a few backstories and extras for two video games of BioWare but nothing extensive there.
     
  4. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    To create a halfway decent game you need a big team of experts, good funding and obviously a brand name behind you. If you only saw the piles and piles of game ideas people send to every company out there your jaw would drop. If you write a complete game concept that you feel has commercial potential and you want to get it made, you have to market your idea to the company most likely to create the genre and kind of game you are proposing. Pitching a beat-em-up gore game to Disney is not going to get you very far.

    If you are talking about a tabletop rpg guidebook then you don't need much graphics really. You would need some if you are to include original items, creatures and races for sure, but if you create something based on an already known universe like D&D, Dragonlance, Warhammer, Dune etc and you get a publisher to get it out there, you will have all the graphics ready from previous works. But there are not many scenarios being published nowadays since there is just no market for them. Fewer play the games, and those who do already have to choose from millions of free scenarios being distributed on the internet.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cheers Xatron - well, just as well then that I've never had any inclination to create a game then I guess. And I agree, being DM is really hard, I could never be DM.
     
  6. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    Few years back I used to start scenarios for RPGs that me and few friends would play... we normally act it out instead of just turning it into a dice and paper thing. It was lots of fun pretending to be a princess or a guy who can't get a job or knights at war. lol

    I don't think it is easy to submit game ideas into those game manufacturing companies. I have a complete story of the Final Fantasy genre game, ready with battle system and everything, but who would ever be able to submit such an idea to Enix Square? Nobody, the Final Fantasy ideas are exclusive to the bunch of creative brains they have in there. :(
     
  7. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    I beg to differ. Indie developers are gaining more and more notoriety while becoming more accessible to the public with the availability of digital purchases. Games like Braid and Minecraft have the big companies smack their head up against the wall.
     
  8. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    True, once in maybe every 7-8 years a game comes out without a big brand behind it that is good enough to succeed with low budget. But what i am talking about is the general rule, not the exception. Just for the graphics part for a video game, the budget required is overwhelming.

    And phoenix it is really fun indeed. Once i played a halfling bard, that used to smoke halfling weed all the time so much that even with the dice and no damage, he could not move in a straight line, but he could pick any lock in under 2 seconds. Creating a character can be a lot of fun.
     
  9. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    I disagree. There are video games being released all the time that manage to get great sales without a large budget. Publishing a video game is not hard anymore, so that leaves only programming, artwork and sound to the developers, many of whom are studens or people working in their spare time. There are so many good tools to program games these days that a single person is all you need to make a halfway decent indie game. Graphis, well, you dont actually need more than one person there either. Same with sound. Just look to games like World of Good and My Little Inferno, which was made by only two people. Minecraft started out being developed by 1-2 people.

    To be a writer for a video game however, you either need to find a team to start developing one from scratch, or already have made a name for yourself by having published something in the same genre as type of game you want to write for. Some game companies occasionally hire writers, I have seen Blizzard do so in the past, but the chances of getting to write for a game is unfortunately pretty slim.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i did some character dialog and edited the text for a start-up rpg last year... it was little work for a nice $200/month minimum and the heavily discounted rate of only $25/hour i agreed to since they had a very limited budget...

    and i don't even like rpgs at all!

    it's definitely a good way to make some pin money, for a good writer who actually likes the stuff...
     
  11. Rebel Yellow
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    Minecraft, Braid, Trine, The blinding of Isaac, Torchlight and many other indie games came in the last few years and are highly successful. It is not an exception as much as a new trend.

    I agree that having a big budget and dishing out games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age like there's no tomorrow is the most efficient way of making money in the industry, but those companies value profit over customer satisfaction and I just like to think that gamers are starting to wake up (but maybe that's wishful thinking).
     
  12. Mask
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    How difficult would you say it is to land such a job?



    Whether you have to worry about publishing a tabletop RPG, likely depends on who is working on the rule system. Maybe there are cases where the writer of a RPG book is the main author--but I assumed the person inventing the mechanics normally was.

    Making extensions to existing rule systems is easier, from what I hear. Would also require less mechanical work from the writer, so they could do it on their own without being game savvy.


    I do still wonder, though, how you feel is a good way to go about writing the lore of a new pen and paper RPG, if you were asked to? Such as, if someone wanted to make an RPG of one of your literary works, and you decided to help with writing the story of it--how would you go about it? What would your thoughts on it be?
     
  13. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Half of my writing is for the games I design but although I'm going to school for the design portion telling a good story has always been my pride
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, no clue!... i was hired by someone i helped on one of the 3 writing sites i post help/advice/info on daily, so didn't have to go looking for the job...

    had i not already done so, i'd simply study the structure of rpg's and their scripts, then apply that knowledge to doing the adaptation...
     
  15. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Yep, http://www.kickstarter.com is changing the way we look at funding for games. Have a big budget has its own problems, look at Age of Conan - the team at funcom were pushed so hard by their investors they released an unfinished game and it flopped. I played it about two years after release and it was brilliant, loads of fun, had it been better at release I doubt it would have failed so amazingly.

    If you worked for blizzard you would be working with a team of writers creating back story and characters; the plot for the game and possibly world building. It would be a hell of a lot of fun, but you would be under a lot of restrictions and tight deadlines. The actual game play you would have literally no input into. The few game writers I actually know of seem to be mid list authors.
     

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