Game Development Reference
Animation in games on current-generation phones is simple, consisting largely of 2D
sprites—although some 3D games are beginning to appear for higher-end phones.
Cutscenes are often too expensive, and every piece of art has to compete for its place
in the download package. Sometimes, in-engine cutscenes are possible, though as on
other platforms, they run the risk of confusing and frustrating the player, who might
not understand why the controls have suddenly stopped working while the screen
looks much the same.
Automatically scrolling text (as sometimes used in epic movies) is out for the
most part, as this is also animation. However, the player can be allowed to scroll
text line by line or screen by screen, using the same up and down controls as for text
Given the tight restrictions imposed by the nature of mobile phones as a game platform, writers
may despair of achieving anything at all in the way of storytelling. Some may even doubt their
ability to write within such rigid limits.
It's vital to approach a writing assignment for a phone game with the right frame of mind. Treat
the restrictions as a challenge rather than an obstacle. Imagine you're writing haiku, or imagine
yourself as a skilled miniaturist. Refine and refine your text until you have conveyed your meaning
with a maximum of clarity and elegance. This is actually a good writing exercise in any case.
Mobile phone games are a market that is overlooked by many writers, and although this kind of
work may not lead a writer to the same kind of fame and glory as writing an award-winning story
for a high-profile PC or console game, it can lead to reasonably steady work. The skills required
to write well for phone games are far from commonplace, and a writer who develops these skills
will also win the respect of fellow writers, who know just how challenging this process is.
18.3 Types of Writing
On mobile phones, just as on other platforms, all games require more or less the same
kinds of writing. Different genres of games may require more or less of a particular
The instructions for playing the game are often provided by the development team.
In cases where the game has been developed overseas, though, the writer may be
required to edit or rewrite the text. And don't assume the programmers know how
to explain things really well in plain English. Take some time to consider ways to
improve the instruction text.