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Video Game Writing Advice from an Industry Veteran

Ever wish you could write for the video game industry?

A veteran video game writer shared some advice and experience with an aspiring writer on Reddit. We’ve collected some useful bits below, but you should read the complete post.  Here’s an excerpt about finding jobs:

All my jobs have been through contacts I’ve picked up as I’ve worked – a sound designer moves on to a different studio, and calls when he finds himself wading through bad dialogue, or a producer I’ve worked with refers me to a colleague. I’ve never once gotten a cold call, or made one.

They added this note about cut scene writing:

cut-scenes can be in regular screenplay format. It’s just simple scene work, and the only thing special about it is, you’ve got to punch up the dramatic setting, while being aware of the art budget. Videogames hate one-time use art. If you create an expensive scene with lots of cool art, you better come up with a way to use it more than once. If you pay special attention to this, the Art Director will love you, and they’re a great ally to have when it comes to fighting with the designers.

They offered this advice for regular in-game dialogue:

I’ve always used spreadsheets, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. The spreadsheets will have things like “100 lines of generic attack” dialogue, or “fifty lines of ‘I’m hit” dialogue. All of these lines will be called by the game engine, based on triggered events that happen within the game. And these triggers are the key to making some cool and fun in-game dialogue. If the triggers are generic and don’t convey much context, your writing is guaranteed to suck. I would highly, highly suggest that, as early as you can, you delve into these triggers, and figure out if there’s any way to load more context into them. (is the character outclassed? is he the last one alive? is he surrounded? is he out of ammo?) More context is always better.

Photo via Marcin Wichary

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