Game Development Reference
The writing team
Because of the scale of a story-based multiplayer project, a team of writers
must be involved if the game is to have any chance of being a success. Not
only must the writers work well together - matching their styles, for instance
- but they must also be able to take direction from the lead writer. In turn,
the lead writer must be the type of person who is able to motivate the team,
work well with the design, programming and art teams, and distribute work
to the other writers in a way that uses their individual talents and keeps them
fresh and motivated.
In many ways, writing for an MMOG has parallels in the television
industry where teams of writers will work on daily soap operas, long-
running dramas and successful sitcoms. Many writers who work in these
areas are often required to produce huge amounts of material each month to
meet ongoing deadlines. Although some people feel that the writing teams
on MMOGs should match the word output rate of their television
counterparts, because of the interactive nature of what they produce, the
game writer has to work with much more than just the story and dialogue.
Logic that links to revealed information or conversational scenes must be
sound and thoroughly tested, not only with the writer's own work, but also
that of the other members of the writing and the design team.
Before the launch of an MMOG an enormous amount of material must
be created so that the development team can keep ahead of the requirements
to produce new material once the game goes live. This task is an immense
undertaking which involves the creation of a whole world and the develop-
ment of a rich and diverse back story with all the historical elements and
scenarios required to flesh it out. Details will also include, but will not be
restricted to, plot threads, quest details, armour, weapon and item infor-
mation, character information and dialogue.
Creating the world
It is likely that during the initial stages of development the full writing team
will not be involved and initially it may only involve the lead writer. Until
the basic ideas for the world and the gameplay it contains have been worked
out, using too many writers could be confusing and reduce the chances of
creating a clear vision for the game.The lead writer - and their team when
they come on board - needs to ask serious questions of the world for it to
become as compelling as possible.
Does the setting lend itself to becoming a massively multiplayer game?