Game Development Reference
the engine can only handle five speaking characters at the most. Even if the
writer feels that this scene is of vital importance, if there is only one instance
in the game where this is required the additional time taken to adjust the
engine to accommodate a single scene is unlikely to be justified in the
schedule and budget.
Being aware of potential issues from other areas of development means
that when joining a team the writer can ask all the pertinent questions,
which will give a clear picture of the scope of the writing task. How many
characters are displayed at any one time? Can the player instigate conver-
sations with other characters or are they triggered automatically based on
gameplay or positional criteria? Is the dialogue interactive in any way? How
is story information given to the player - through dialogue, on-screen text
or some other way? How much character acting for story-telling purposes
has been allowed for in the animation budget? Do the characters have a range
of facial expressions? Will the dialogue be recorded and is there lip-synching
that shows this in the best way? Though these questions will give you an idea
of the kind of information it is useful to know when becoming involved in
a game project, I will be expanding on it throughout the topic.
Above everything else, it is important to understand that, because the
subject is the development of games, gameplay is of paramount importance.
Even if the story and dialogue are the best things since Shakespeare, they will
count for nothing if they swamp the gameplay.The players will probably react
against the game because the primary reason people buy games is to play.
Of course, there may be times when the writer knows what their role
should be, but the game's director or producer is unclear about what the
writer is able to bring to the project. By understanding the development
process, writers are able to show more clearly how they can work with the
team to enhance the game and increase its chances of succeeding in an
increasingly competitive market place.
I hope that what I am going to say here is unnecessary, but if one thing my
experience has taught me, it is never to make assumptions if there is the
slightest chance that the assumption could be wrong. Like any field of
writing, game writing should be approached with a completely professional
manner at all times.
Some years ago I was producer on a game that was to become a successful
title. Among the reasons for its success was the care we lavished on the