1. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    Video Game writing?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Caveriver, Dec 20, 2016.

    Anyone have any experience with game writing, or have any idea how one would break into this market? Seems like it would be a lot of fun, but it's not something you hear a lot about.
     
  2. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Check out Full Sail University, they probably have a class, or go on youtube, there will be a bunch of videos about it.
     
  3. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Senior Member

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    Are you talking about writing lore for video games or LitRPG which became popular in 2013?
     
  4. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    I think I was leaning more towards lore for games... characters and how they create the storylines of the game. I assume this is a different person than the coders who create the visuals?
     
  5. SadStories

    SadStories Active Member

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    The reason it's not talked about much is that it's like wanting to be a designer at a candy factory.

    It's extremely difficult to get someone to try to publish your writing in paper; imagine how hard it is to try to get someone to put millions of dollars behind you.

    To be honest, most video game writers are the ones who started the company themselves; being allowed to write them is basically a privilege. In other words, your best bet is probably to be there when an video game company is started and juggle several roles until you make it big. I'm interested in this in myself, so if anyone wants to see about cooperating we can probably chat about it. I can do light programming, have thousands of hours of creative writing behind me, and I can do simple graphics.

    Honestly, it's probably not as hard as you think (with great tools like Game Maker, Unity, etc. available). You just have to stay at it.

    The other, perhaps even harder route is to apply for a smaller, unrelated position (such as programming) and be at the right place at the right time. Good luck.

    Finally there are the very rare cases when video game companies actually hire writers. In games with less story, like the Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty series, it seems like they themselves will contact commercial writers, usually someone with a lot of comic books and/or tie-in novels behind them. The other, probably more interesting option is the more story-heavy games. Occasionally in companies like Telltale and Obsidian there will be an opening for a "Junior Narrative Designer" which is basically a grunt writing position. From what I understand about this job, you write small parts of the story according to the guidance and vision of older, more experienced designers -- and of course the ever privileged company founders. If you've ever played something like Dragon Age, you've probably noticed a lot of the quests are each like their own little story. This is probably a great job and a lot of fun, but everyone feels the same, so you better have an extremely impressive portfolio of creative writing ready.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  6. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    There are no pure writers in video games. Most of them are some form of a designer, which more often than not, means a programmer. The best way to become a writer in video games is, ironically, not to be one primarily.
     
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  7. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    It sure shows.
     
  8. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Nah, the main issue with game writing is that, as a medium, it's interactive. That means the player controls the pacing and, to a certain extent, the tone. The only way to claim them back is to use cutscenes, which more often than not damage immersion by taking control away from the player. If you want an example of a narrative done right on all accounts, look at Dark Souls.
     
  9. SadStories

    SadStories Active Member

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    Personally I could not have cared less about Dark Souls's story. It suits the game, but it is by no means exceptional imo -- in large part because of the way it is told.

    I think it's a myth that because video games are interactive it's somehow cheating to use a lot of cutscenes or even large amounts of texts. You had the exact same thing going on when movies first started out: A lot of people kept saying how movies aren't a play and how we have to invent a whole new visual medium and not rely on dialogue. But the movies that went along with this, like Man with a Video Camera, are mainly just curiosities today. Honestly I think it will be the same with Dark Souls-style storytelling.

    Meanwhile the number of amazing video game stories is just increasing, many of them having relied heavily on cutscenes. Examples range from the very recent The Last of Us to Silent Hill 2 and Final Fantasy VII. The latter may have a wonky translation, but, in all fairness, it's an incredibly intricate and original fantasy epic.

    I agree that it shows that a lot of people doing the writing in video games are amateurs. Fortunately many video game writers have also been given space within the format to develop themselves, like Hideo Kojima whose early works like Snatcher and Policenauts were not so good imo. With video games getting bigger, it would be great if some companies started hiring writers who are proven on their own though, and not just mediocre ones. On the other hand I enjoy how much more crazier and braver video game writers often can be because nobody cares. I'm pretty sure a lot of the things that make Hideo Kojima's writing so special would never have made it past a book publisher.
     
  10. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Modding games is one of the ways I know some people have gotten into the design process of games. Typically it follows the same line of actions: modder makes mods and designer makes new game. modder gets appraised for his work. modder get offer to make his own game or get a lot more support if he seeks to make his own game himself as he has some work to display and proove that his ideas are well liked.

    But again, it's nothing to do with writing really, but more coding and programming.
     
  11. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Personally I think games like Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are masterpieces in terms of story and lore. Bethesda has hired, designated writers, but they work in tandem with other areas of the development team. So when writing a quest that takes place in a cave, they're creating the history for that cave, the story for the quest, as well as working with the world-building designers of said cave (if not designing it themselves). However, none of that can contradict the basic lore, which is written by only a few lead designers if I remember correctly.

    Coincidentally, on another note, the profile picture of @SadStories is of the character Max, from Life Is Strange. That game was a work of art, and definitely deserves a mention (although it does seem to have more of a cult following; people either love it or hate it) for its moving story.

    Although I do disagree that Assassin's Creed is lacking in story-telling. In my opinion, the story of the game is what made it so interesting--it's just not at the fore-front. The first four games (AC1 through Revelations) were brilliant. Then Patrice Desilet was "let go", and that series was *his* child. After that happened it was a shitshow, and storytelling was basically scrapped for milking as much as they can out of the IP.

    Call of Duty is the same way. Telling stories through important moments in history, or making allusions to movies like Enemy At The Gates, or even completely new block-buster stories. They're not complicated, by any means, but they're successful for the same reason block-buster action movies are successful. They're well-told in regards to being highly entertaining and action-packed, and you won't have to think very hard.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  12. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    The major thing that films allow that plays don't are that things like close-ups and panning shot can be done. It allows much greater control of what the audience perceives. There's also a much greater effect of colour due to things filters over traditional lighting. It was the ability to affect how the audience sees the world presented that stuck. To me, Dark Souls uses it's punishing combat to give the world a much greater sense of danger and oppression, which fits in with story, and I hope it causes people to consider a greater level of focus on game mechanics as narrative devices, instead of just something isolated from the themes. I'm also hoping that it causes people to reconsider use of music within games, because the sparse use of sound gives a further sense of isolation.
     
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  13. g_man526

    g_man526 Member

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    Here's a great video about it:

     
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  14. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I'm in no way an expert in the field, but one thing I heard is that one way to get into the gaming industry is to, funnily enough, make games.

    Braid is a prime example, with the exception of the music, it was done entirely by one guy.

    Now, if you want to focus on story writing maybe look into visual novels. Published examples include the Ace Attorney series and Steins;Gate. They're story dependent so good writing and scripting really is the lynchpin.

    There's a free package for it online Novelty IIRC, and it has a full community that could help you.
     
  15. Dreams_on_Mars

    Dreams_on_Mars Member

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    The best way is to say you are a writer and ask to go in with someone making a game, and show you are good of course.. or what they want, and be willing to go in a kickstarter sort of waiting to get paid thing.. But still that doesn't lead to permanent employment. Or try to make a game yourself.. And write it too.
     
  16. NathQ

    NathQ New Member

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    Yeah I kinda want to do this too, I think if I ever go the chance, I would just make my own game, and try to get other people to help, because I can't code.
     
  17. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Active Member

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    I did a little work, but that project is on the groups back burner while they worked on a shorter game right now. Go sell yourself as a writer to these groups, even indie groups may need writers if you're cheap.
     
  18. jay_t

    jay_t New Member

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    As a freelancer, I've written several video game storylines, including the lore for some high profile video games. A lot of programmers will hire out the writing to someone better than them because, as already has been mentioned, there's no specific writers jobs in video game studios. However, in order to get my start in this area, me and my friends made our own video game in RPG Maker. I wrote the story for that, which I then used to leverage writing opportunies with indie developers. It's totally possible, but writing video game storylines and lore is actually quite difficult. It's like writing a choose your own adventure story (and they are freaking hard).
     

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