Game Development Reference
The writer's role
Though the whole of this topic is aimed at helping those writers who want
to work on games understand their role in the development process, a brief
overview is in order.
Just to be clear, it is worth mentioning what a writer does not do: a writer
does not come up with the idea for the game, write the script and send it to
the developer. Where a screenwriter will often create a script and send it to
film studios - probably through an agent - there is no equivalent in game
development. Game studios usually have more than enough ideas of their
own and initial concepts are typically the domain of the game designer rather
than the writer. That is not to say that a writer and a designer cannot col-
laborate in order to create a high concept proposal (even a writer-designer
on his own, sometimes) and a number of concepts have been sold this way,
but this is not common and is usually something that is done from within
the studio where the writer is brought in to work with the team.
Like all others in the development team (programmers, artists, animators,
designers, etc.), writers have specific experience and skills which they will use
to maximise the quality of all aspects of the project.Writers will not create 3D
character models or code the physics engine for the game, but they should be
aware of these and other aspects of the project and how the team members'
various skills combine to bring about the creation of an exciting and vibrant
game. 3D artists will model the characters the writer creates; programmers
will develop the dialogue engine that puts the writer's words into the mouth
of those characters, and designers will work with the writer to create the
gameplay that complements the story. The writer will usually work closely
with the game designers, because if a game is to have cohesion, the gameplay
and the story should match each other as much as possible.
It is worth noting at this point just what is meant by game design.There has
been a certain amount of confusion, particularly in some educational establish-
ments, and the term has sometimes been taken to mean the visual design of
a game. Game design is the creation and development of the gameplay.This
includes the design of the player interface (the control mechanism for the
game), the gameplay rules and mechanics, and how the mechanics are put
together in varying combinations to give a satisfying gaming experience. If a
story is to be an important part of the game, the design will reflect this -
story objectives should match gameplay objectives as much as possible.
The writer needs to be aware of the limitations of the game engine, too.
There's no point writing a scene which includes ten different characters if