Game Development Reference
Colloquial dialogue is not enough. Find an edge, something that will catch
the ear of the player because it is not what they usually hear in the real world.
Vary paragraph, sentence, word, and syllable length for variety. Too many of
Do not write huge speeches unless a huge speech is specifically called for. Keep
lines short and to the point.
Use every line to reveal character and advance the story.
Avoid anachronisms and cheap humor untethered from character or time or
One other point about dialogue: consider return visits. Allow NPCs to have
memories of the avatar. Then provide variations for an NPC to re-greet the avatar
when you go back to her based on time or distance, e.g., (a) if the player exits the
NPC's room, then turns around and goes back in: “Was there something else?” or
(b) if the player travels to Thailand and returns to the NPC's room in Chicago: “Hi!
Long time no see!”
Keep exposition simple and clear. Break it into bits and pieces and scatter it through-
out the game. Don't stop the game for exposition. Give it to the player as she plays.
IF you would like to read about puzzles, GOTO “Puzzles”
IF you would like to read about story and structure, GOTO “Story and Structure”
IF you would like to jump to the conclusion, GOTO “Conclusion”
ELSE GOTO “END”
Puzzles are the heart and soul of adventure games. Because writing and design are
so closely linked, your writing chores may often include puzzle design. Puzzles can
involve creation (build an impromptu ladder to reach the roof ), destruction (break
open the strongbox), questing (“Find me the sacred pickle, and I'll reveal what I
know”), and many other jobs large or small that the player is asked to accomplish.
metaphorical lock) and a means of overcoming it (a literal or metaphorical key).
Puzzles can be mechanical or character-based or mental, or a combination of these.
Mechanical puzzles can be inventory-based (combine the poison with the coffee and
the cup) or require only manipulation of objects in the world (push lever to the right
and down to put the car in gear). Character puzzles may require dialogue (threat,