Game Development Reference
designer - through e-mail or instant messaging - is important as you will
need them to answer your questions or to discuss your ideas.
At all stages of working with the design team, the writer should keep
accurate notes to keep track of the game's progress. As well as creating story
and character profile documents and dialogue scripts, where relevant, you
should also write up and summarise meeting notes, e-mail communications
should be archived and any design or story changes clearly flagged.
Major revisions to documents should be saved as a new document - there
is always the chance that you may need to return to an earlier version because
the recent changes have proved impractical for some reason. All relevant
people should be given updated documents as soon as they are available to
ensure that no one is working with incorrect data. Clear communication is
vital at all times and any lack of clarity or other issues should be raised to
avoid misunderstandings that could lead to serious problems further down
the line. Always clarify any points which are open to interpretation. If some-
thing is ambiguous there is always the chance it could be misinterpreted.
Good design documents are a pleasure to read as they will take you
through the game with a clear mental image of how it is intended to be
played. But even the best can make assumptions at times that are not always
caught by the designers creating the document. Be sure to raise questions
with the design team no matter how small the point. It may be a simple
oversight you have picked up on, but it could also be a potentially large logic
flaw that has serious repercussions.
The reverse of the above also applies and any documents you create will
be read and scrutinised for clarity and to ensure a fit with the game design.
You must respond to any questions and requests for clarification and be
willing to change and adapt your documents to ensure cohesion with the
The types of documents a writer will be expected to create will depend
on the project and where the writer is brought in. Some typical documents
could include, but are not restricted to, the following: pitch proposals, story
overview, full story, character profiles, story and game background, story and
game timeline, dialogue scenes, help files, and instruction manual.
Only through establishing which documents the writer is expected to
deliver will an estimate for the time taken be created. Not only is this vital
for the writer to know what he can then charge the studio, it is also
important for the studio's project manager, who will use that information as
part of the project's scheduling.