Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
16
Writing for Casual Games
Chris Pasley
16.1 Who Is a Casual Game Writer?
Or, even more fundamental: “What is a casual game?” There are countless semantic
squabbles among game developers as to the exact definition of what makes a casual
game casual, but a widely accepted explanation is a game with a relatively small bud-
get, meant to be played in short amounts of time over several sessions. The majority
of casual games are either PC downloads or browser-basedWeb games (Flash, Shock-
wave, or other plug-ins), though both consoles and handhelds have begun to embrace
the casual gaming space as well.
Onacasualgameteam,thewriterisusuallythegamedesigner,ortheartist,
or the programmer—someone who already has a job to do. By definition, casual
game budgets are small, and very few independent casual game developers can afford
dedicated writers. Often, this can lead to hackneyed, overly long stories, embarrass-
ing typos, and horrible dialogue (when there is any). This isn't anyone's fault. The
programmer spent a lot of time learning to be a programmer, not a writer, and any
writing that has to be done is often viewed as a distraction or, worse, unnecessary.
So how can an average part-time writer keep the writing a priority, especially
when there's so much else to do? First off, by making sure that the scripts, the story,
and even the instruction text has its own deadline in the production schedule. The
writer has to get the rest of the team on his side, and treating it as an equal task
among all the rest is the first step to doing so. It also helps ensure that the writer
has a strong motivation to actually get the work done. A game's writing may need to
evolve even after this deadline, but having the bulk of the work already done makes
including it much less painful.
Another way to convince everyone on the development team that the writing is
an equally important job is to create a wireframe flow of the game as it will exist,
including all in-game slots in which story will need to be written. Game flows and
 
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