Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Writing for actors who are “on stage” and need a hand with improv.
Any time interaction with the players goes beyond text, the writer can't also be
the actor. You can write scripts and talking points and prep the actor all you
want, but there will be times when the actors are in the middle of improvising
their part and find themselves at a loss for words. The writer can jump in and
save the day here, but once again it requires some preparation.
- Establish a method before you begin. Talk to the actors about ways
to work together while they're on stage (on the phone, behind a bar at
a party, etc.). This will probably be a new experience for the actor, too,
and you want to make sure your live writing will be seen as a help and
not additional pressure to get things absolutely right.
- Don't rely on hand signals. It's fine to have a hand signal so the actor
can indicate she's in trouble and could use a line, but don't rely on hand
signals to convey the line you want her to use next. Even if you think
your hand signals are completely clear, a flustered actor may not have
any idea what all the twitching is about. You're a writer. Write. Don't
just try to motion to her to cut it short. She might think you mean she
should feign death. And even if both you and the actor are fluent in
sign language, don't use it in public places. It will be just your luck to
have players watching who also know sign language and will catch you
manipulating events.
- Pass notes whenever possible. Pull out a pen and write down exactly
the line you want the actor to use. Don't include commentary like, “Say
this...”Simplywrite down the line anduse ALLCAPS. Seriously. It's
much easier to read quickly and requires less squinting. Just make sure
the actors are aware of how this is all going to work before you hand
them a note that says, “RUN AWAY!”
14.5 If the Writer Ain't Having Fun, Ain't Nobody
Having Fun
This phrase is usually about moms and happiness, but I've found it holds true for
writers and fun in ARGs. Writers are sometimes the same person as the designer
and producer for an ARG, but in my experience when those roles are separated out,
the responsibility still falls to the writer to keep up the fun. A miserable, grumpy
writer churns out miserable, broken prose if he produces anything at all. This makes
the designer and producer and actors—the entire development team—miserable and
worried. A cheerful, enthusiastic writer produces consistently quality work and the
occasional gem. This makes everyone else on the ARG dev team excited about the
project and eager to see how everything turns out.
And it's even bigger than the internal team. When you're turning out good ma-
terial, the players are happier too, and everything feeds on the momentum. If the
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