Game Development Reference
professional enough to realise when this is no longer profitable and move on.
The last thing you want is for the developer to feel that they are dealing with
a writer who cannot accommodate the changes they are requesting.
Many developers are creating games that push the boundaries of what is
possible, technically, artistically and in gameplay terms. Story and interactive
dialogue are part of that exciting mix, too, even though it seems at times they
take a very subservient role to the other aspects. Because of this desire to
create original games with new features, a sizeable chunk of a game's
development is essentially research undertaken to find out if the new ideas
will work in the context of a game. As is often the case with research, results
can be unpredictable and the time involved difficult to estimate, both of
which can have serious implications for other areas of the project. Even tasks
that are seemingly unconnected to your writing responsibilities can have a
Falling behind schedule
One of the major reasons for change is when the project falls seriously
behind schedule. Most games have a fixed budget and cannot afford to miss
the deadline for completion, so something must be done to avoid slippage. If
caught early enough, a little additional work on the part of all team members
could be enough to put the project back on track. Sometimes, though, the
problems do not get resolved - or are not caught early enough - and can
become compounded to a point where game features have to be removed or
even whole sections of the game taken out of the design.
In a game where the story is an important part of the overall experience,
losing a couple of sections of gameplay could have a major impact on the
plot, particularly if part of the cutbacks is that a couple of the cut scenes must
go to save time. Suddenly you are faced with a serious problem where you
must either make all the plot points fit into a smaller number of game
sections or to re-write the story so that you are able to reduce the number
of plot nodes.
If it does not matter, from a gameplay perspective, which sections are
removed, find out if it is possible to work with the designers to remove the
sections that will have the least impact on the story and then build back up
from there. It could be that you have sections that are only relevant to sub-
plots and it may be possible to remove these without a serious overall impact.
Cuts caused by time and budgetary restrictions are going to make it
difficult to recreate the original scenes in a new area and the writer must find