Game Development Reference
of what lay in wait for us as writers may give you cause for pause before assuming
that when a developer asks for a writer on a sports title, all they want is a bit of
So how do you handle these kinds of elements and things in a game you've never
encountered before? Well, here it is in 5 easy steps:
Clarify the brief. Make sure you're clear about what you're being asked to do
and when you're being asked to deliver it by. What's the tone? Who are the
characters? What's, ultimately, the desired experience for the player? What are
the time frames involved, and what are the critical resources available? Then
go back and ask what the desired experience for the player is. And try and
keep the answers you get from designers and producers in your mind for the
length of the time you're working on the project.
Research. Do your research. Make sure you at least understand what it is that
people who enjoy the sport would be expecting to see in a game.
Understand triggers. With speech and text that's closely tied to interactive
elements, it's critical that you understand what the triggers are, i.e., what is it
that a player does that can provoke a response you're being asked to find words
for? Unless you understand the context of the action, you can't write the words
that make sense in that situation. Talk to programmers, talk to designers, and
make sure you understand what a player can do and what responses can give
rise to consequences in the game.
Provide samples. Even if the material is relatively straightforward—e.g., com-
mentary or crowd responses—it's a good idea to provide samples as you begin
working on the material. If you're heading off in the wrong direction, it's not
a painful journey to return to the starter's blocks and rewrite 10 or 20 sam-
ple cells. It's a long walk back after writing 90,000 words that don't really do
what they were supposed to do. Not only that, but you've also given yourself
a whole lot less time to rewrite them.
Coordinate with design. Linked to the point above is to always coordinate
with designers—and everyone else who helps shape what you're doing. Things
will change over the course of development, and you need to know what's
being cut, what's being added, and what the feedback is (what it means, and
why it means what it says) so you can deliver the next drafts.
8.7 “The Ref's Going to Blow Up!”
Writing for sports games can be a pretty thankless task. Get it right in a game people
don't like and it really doesn't matter what you did because it's unlikely anyone's ever