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Are you a creative writer with an interest in games? Here’s something for you.

We writers all have something in common, our urge to want to create something that’s good, while still being able to enjoy the process. Often, when I come across people and they ask what I studied or what I do, I tend to say “I studied Creative writing at university, I’m a writer.” they automatically think of novels and poetry, their mindset never goes further than that. They what kind of novel I plan to write and I awkwardly chuckle while shutting down their enthusiasm. However, it’s not their fault…of course, when it comes to games, they never get the chance to see the writing process. It’s either always the development for mechanics, illustration, visuals or the end result. It’s up to us writers to do something about it!

 

How do you write game scripts?

There are different formats for game scripts, it all depends on what you’re looking for. It also depends on what you are writing, it could be a cutscene or what you write could be involved with the actual gameplay, it also depends on whether the story is linear or non-linear, the type of game and the mechanics involved, the aesthetics that are used. They all contribute to the type of game script you write.

An example would be a comic book. If the game itself is set up in a comic book-like fashion then naturally, you’ll write something close to a comic book style script, but keep in mind it will be for a video game. So if there are choices involved, it would be wise to add those in and write how it will change the plot or response, if it does so at all. A comic book script involves pages and panels, but of course, for a game, you may choose not to have pages involved in that sense and just have panels.

If there is dialogue, that is added in as well as a good description of the setting, colours and the rest of it. Scripts should always be written in the present tense, not the past tense as everything the player sees is happening NOW, in that exact moment. That goes for almost any script, even those with a flashback.

 

Here is an example of my comic book script, let’s put it into the perspective of a game script. Rather than having reader, you replace it with player.

 

 

Now, keeping player in mind. Depending on what point of view this is from. Where it could be the protagonist’s pov (first person) or or the player’s pov (the third person) or a birds eye view, this scene is versatile and can play out differently depending on what you’re looking for. You might have a long sequence and then a series of choices, perhaps multiple story branches. It’s all up to you.

Form

To get a good idea of what form you want to write in, it is wise to read other people’s gaming scripts. Close reading to be precise. Close reading is when you read a piece of work, copy what they’ve done by hand to get a close observation of their methods and then put their methods to practice in your own work. Before you say anything, no this is not copying.

When I say put to practice, you are simply learning how to write well in that form to see what works for you. When I say methods, I mean…learn the different attributes that make their script good, such as how they build suspense, how write choices for the players and how they write the affects that has on the plot, how they describe the settings. Although you do copy what they write word for word by hand, once you understand their methods and craft, you DO NOT take what they’ve done, put it in your work and take credit for it. Inspiration and stealing are two different things.

Once you master the methods of that form, you can then make it your own by having your idea and trying it out with different styles.

 

Layout and format is important

Very, important. Traditionally for most scripts whether it is a screenplay, comic or game script. They use Courier 12-point font. Once again, this all depends on the type of script you are writing and the specific form it’s in, but if I had to suggest something easy to start with it would be that traditional lay out. There are two softwares I would recommend for this, one of them which is free to use. Scrivener or Celtx. If you’re looking for something easy, beginner friendly and free to use I would go for Celtx, if you are looking for something with more choices, go for Scrivener.

 

 

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