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  1. #1
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    Video Game Jobs for Writers?

    Hey everybody, I'm not quite sure where to put this, so I thought this might be the place. Big, insightful self-evaluation coming up, hold your hats.

    I've tried my hand at studying art as a field of employment for the past few years, over and over again, and it's led me to a few conflicting conclusions:

    -I have a GIGANTIC imagination just begging to be unleashed upon the world. I always have, and it's not going to disappear anytime soon. I've drawn things since I was little because I didn't have the words to get it out, and I always resonated with the imaginers of the world, i.e. writers and fellow artists. That's one of the main reasons I love video games, and the only reason I can stomach most laughably bad anime plotlines. The imagination and inspiration behind the characters, the worlds, get me every time. I'm an insomniac solely because I become most inspired at night, and don't want to miss a thing going on in my head. When I listen to the right music, I brim with so much inspiration it brings tears right to my eyes. It's intense.

    -It would seem I'm gifted at making people understand my ideas through writing, even though I don't have any training besides a firm grasp of the English language. Whenever my friends read a short story I've written, they say something along the lines of "Wow, nice. I can really feel the world in there. Give me more!"

    -I can't stand to sit and draw for more than four hours per day, and if I try to push myself any more than that, the quality of my drawings steadily decreases until I'm scribbling at white canvas with my Wacom aimlessly, bored out of my skull. I think I might have some form of ADD, but I'd rather not diagnose myself with that when my problem could very well be a simple lack of self-control or patience.

    -Going along with the last realization, I can't do studies, and I can't draw a correct human figure to save my life, because fucking with the physique is too much fun, and I get bored really easily. I try and try to learn the human form and the basics of art, but I always get sidelined by a sudden 9001-horsepower inspiration and end up saying "AW HEEYA GOES!" while whisking uncontrolled lines onto the screen.

    -I'm very, very stubborn. Hence the trying my hand at art for years before even considering that it's not my forte. And after a lot of thinking, I've finally figured out that it's not.

    But I still really, really want to be somewhere in the game design field. Is there a position for guys like me? Guys that can write well, and pitch ideas? Guys with a passion for their characters, and a firm grasp on what hooks the public eye? I've heard of similar things watching various behind-the-scenes videos from my favorite games, but I've gotta know for sure. I wouldn't have any problem imagining things like gameplay mechanics or UI, either, I've written tons of outlines for imaginary games over the years that seem like they'd be plausible and fun for the public if I had a team that would help me iron out the kinks.

    My internet's being wonky right now, so I don't know if I'll be able to come back to this thread in the immediate future. Thanks in advance for any answers.




    tl;dr Tried to draw full-time, didn't like it, would love to imagine things through writing for a video game company. Any suggestions?


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  3. #2
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    I know that, for example, GTA4 used a TON of writing: not just the character dialog, but all the in-game TV shows, ads, internet sites, etc. As games get more detailed and immersive there's going to be more and more demand for that sort of thing.

    Tristan Elwell
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  5. #3
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    you are going to need to grow up some...making games means sitting at your desk for up to twelve hours a day...all day, during crunch times.
    you are going to need to learn story mechanics, dialogue writing, all genres, and the like.

    there is a course called beyond structure that tours around. ive taken it. is decent though the guy running it is...he is david freeman. He will answer your questions I am sure. another way in to games design is to go in as a games tester and work your way up.

    good luck

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  7. #4
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    If you're thinking of writing storylines and dialog, rpg games are pretty heavy with written content. Hit developer forums or fan sites to checkout unofficial fan made stories. People from these forums do get hired if their works catch the eye of one of the studio's lead writers.

    If you're thinking of a game designer role, you may have to prove your talents with a level demo (collaborate with level artists) or if you can script it yourself if you're comfortable with engine tools (there's a few, research).

    Either way it's gonna be a tough and long process if all you've got is talk and desire but no portfolio.

    Good luck.

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  9. #5
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    Some games have good editing tools, where you can make modules and addons, without tons of art/programming skills. Neverwinter nights and oblivion comes to mind. This might be a good way to show that you have writing skills. Its also a good way to see if you can handle the kind of narrative that is required for video games, since just being able to write a good short story won't cut it.

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  11. #6
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    You dont seem to be really clear about what you want.

    Do you want write stories and adventures, do you want to create games, or do you want to write for worlds?

    Writing dialogue for example is completly different from describing parts of worlds. See it like this, if you would look at what Tolkien did with LotR, would you rather write the actual story, or would you rather write his preliminary research. Both of these require the same understanding about character design and drama, but the end product is very diferent.

    edit: Jason, although Mr Freeman is very good, he is a screenwriter. And what I get from his book so far( I havent read the whole book yet) is that he approaches his writing from a single story premisse. He develops his story from one character, its controlling values and the actions that result from the conflict that the character needs to deal with. And all though this is an awesome approach to storytelling and worked for thousands of years, its not really the way to write for games. Immersion is the key with games, the last thing you want as a storyteller is for the player to blame the developers he cant do something in the game. By approaching stories in games from another level, by for example building a macroruleset of pseudo science, or by giving the universe of the story a premisse of its own, players will blame it on the world if they cant do something (GTA4 is a prime example of this).

    So basicly, its a good book. And it definitly competes with STORY as far as I've read. But it is definitly not the solution yet. Then again, you must have been to the GDC and noticed that there is still so much discussion about this subject, and there really isnt any conclusive material written about writing for games.
    Last edited by Duq; May 13th, 2008 at 02:10 PM.
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  13. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nateman742 View Post
    -Going along with the last realization, I can't do studies, and I can't draw a correct human figure to save my life, because fucking with the physique is too much fun, and I get bored really easily. I try and try to learn the human form and the basics of art, but I always get sidelined by a sudden 9001-horsepower inspiration and end up saying "AW HEEYA GOES!" while whisking uncontrolled lines onto the screen.

    -I'm very, very stubborn. Hence the trying my hand at art for years before even considering that it's not my forte. And after a lot of thinking, I've finally figured out that it's not.
    Point A most likely explains Point B, honestly. If you never do studies you never really get better, and who likes to not improve for years on end?

    And if you're really that stubborn, why can't you force yourself to do studies so that you improve?

    Curb your inspiration with discipline. You HAVE to, in any line of creative work. Eventually (even in writing) you have to refine a work into something that even a strong critic will enjoy. With writing this means rewriting over and over and over again.

    Furthermore, especially in the game designing world, you're going to have to revise to fit the team's vision. Writing a good short story is a great start, but you've got to have the discipline to write about things that you might not necessarily like all that much. You may even absolutely despise some of the ideas you end up writing about. But guess what? You're not going to know all about a game from the outset, and once you're on the team you're committed (if you're a professional, that is--and if you're not a professional then you might as well just not try with game design). You're going to have to turn your inspiration on something that you may not necessarily be inspired by. (I mean, c'mon. Everybody gets a job they hate at some point or another. Even though I loved the job I had as a journalist on the school paper, I hated some assignments, but I still got the job done.) If you can't do that, then honestly you're probably not best suited to game design. You're probably best suited to some kind of job not requiring that level of teamwork and compromise on your part.

    That's not to say you can't do it. I just don't see someone who doesn't have enough discipline to stick to studies without going wild with his imagination doing so hot at, say, writing about something that he's bored by. And you're not going to get a game like GTA, Portal, or Halo at the outset. You're going to most likely get a game (or even multiple games) that don't excite you all that much. For example, imagine getting your start at writing the dialogue for a Madden game, or other similar sports game. Does the job still sound worthwhile? It's a job you're infinitely more likely to get than one on the next Big Thing 3. Be prepared for that.
    Let's do this.

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  15. #8
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    Thanks for the helpful replies everyone. Thread totally saved. I'll have to think about some of the questions posed to me and get back to you, I really don't know the answers at this point. Thanks for bringing me up to speed on that. There is one comment I'd like to address directly, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by fanficbug View Post
    Point A most likely explains Point B, honestly. If you never do studies you never really get better, and who likes to not improve for years on end?

    And if you're really that stubborn, why can't you force yourself to do studies so that you improve?

    Curb your inspiration with discipline. You HAVE to, in any line of creative work. Eventually (even in writing) you have to refine a work into something that even a strong critic will enjoy. With writing this means rewriting over and over and over again.

    Furthermore, especially in the game designing world, you're going to have to revise to fit the team's vision. Writing a good short story is a great start, but you've got to have the discipline to write about things that you might not necessarily like all that much. You may even absolutely despise some of the ideas you end up writing about. But guess what? You're not going to know all about a game from the outset, and once you're on the team you're committed (if you're a professional, that is--and if you're not a professional then you might as well just not try with game design). You're going to have to turn your inspiration on something that you may not necessarily be inspired by. (I mean, c'mon. Everybody gets a job they hate at some point or another. Even though I loved the job I had as a journalist on the school paper, I hated some assignments, but I still got the job done.) If you can't do that, then honestly you're probably not best suited to game design. You're probably best suited to some kind of job not requiring that level of teamwork and compromise on your part.

    That's not to say you can't do it. I just don't see someone who doesn't have enough discipline to stick to studies without going wild with his imagination doing so hot at, say, writing about something that he's bored by. And you're not going to get a game like GTA, Portal, or Halo at the outset. You're going to most likely get a game (or even multiple games) that don't excite you all that much. For example, imagine getting your start at writing the dialogue for a Madden game, or other similar sports game. Does the job still sound worthwhile? It's a job you're infinitely more likely to get than one on the next Big Thing 3. Be prepared for that.
    Thank you for the comment. You've given me a lot of things to consider. However, let me be more clear about how I feel in regard to prose vs. visual art. I hope I don't come off as defensive or naive.

    I have a MUCH easier time writing about something, going back, dissecting it, rewriting, changing pieces of a story as needed to fit an assignment, patching that up, editing, rewriting, patching, then scouring the paper again in search of errors I might have missed the first ten times around and changing those, than I do going through the same backtrack process when drawing.

    Believe me, I have taken breaks, drank tea, snapped mounds of pens and pencils, thrown things, torn scrap papers up, punched walls, taken naps, waited a few days, anything to alleviate my frustration at staying with a study, because I wanted to become a visual art master, and that's the only way to get better. But something inside kept telling me I should move on to something, anything, else. I couldn't place it, and that's what I've been trying to stubbornly get over for the past few years. Every time I'd think "Ok, I've gotten past that hurdle, I'm just building patience, I can do this," the next study frustrated me in the exact same way, and that in and of itself was infuriating.

    Writing, on the other hand, easily keeps me going for hours, and even if the subject is really boring or something I hate, I can always manage to stick with it. The process is just more interesting to me. I've always been somewhat of a wonder kid with the English language, and the rules of writing make sense to me; I feel comfortable playing around with them. I have fun somewhere along the process even if it's hard essay work about things I can't even stand to think about, like I'm sure many artists here have at least one oodle of fun while rendering an idea they think is completely stupid. Heck, in high school I wrote a statement in my defense to the police, scared out of my mind that I'd spend the night in jail for doing something stupid, and ended up having fun with it: Delving into intense detail, going back and erasing things for better word flow, adding thoughts and anecdotes, even striving for an overall story tone. If that's not a sign of a natural attraction to some kind of writing (or of a wordy felon) I don't know what is.

    What I mean to say is that visual art makes me angry and flustered on some deep level, and doesn't come natural to me. Writing makes me feel great, and usually just flows. Sure, I'll write commentary for Madden, as long as I don't have to accurately illustrate the folds of his face or how he moves his hands when he's drawing on his little board. I'll write for Romance of the Three Kingdoms 40 or the next Oregon Trail, as long as I'm not charged with making photorealistic images of the main characters and the oxen.

    Thanks again for the comment.

    Speaking of writing about challenging things, I figure I'll ask this in this thread: Is there a random plot synopsis generator like 3CH floating around somewhere on the internet? I know about Seventh Sanctum, but I'm looking for something that throws truly unexpected or wholly incompatible elements at me, so I can get in as much practice as possible writing about things that make me go "Why in the world would I ever write about that? F-ing stupid."

    EDIT: Duh, I can just use 3CH. If anyone's got anything zanier, though, by all means post it.
    Last edited by Nateman742; May 13th, 2008 at 06:24 PM.

  16. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nateman742 View Post
    I have a MUCH easier time writing about something, going back, dissecting it, rewriting, changing pieces of a story as needed to fit an assignment, patching that up, editing, rewriting, patching, then scouring the paper again in search of errors I might have missed the first ten times around and changing those, than I do going through the same backtrack process when drawing.
    Good. I just wanted to make sure you were aware of reality. See, I was one of the people who thought writing would be easier than drawing. I spent WAYYY too much time catering to the idea of "writing is easier" in general. It's completely not--only for specific people is it easier. So I feel like I have to make sure everyone knows that writing isn't an easy way out, so that they don't waste their time like I did.
    Let's do this.

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