Start Writing Your Video Game Script in 5 Steps

written by Georgia Schumacher 15 May 2014

Writing a scriptGone are the days of simple video games where a player just travels through static screens, attacking the bad guys and running around in a landscape that doesn't change. Today's video game players have come to expect rich visuals, a strong narrative, and an overarching goal that must be reached via a series of complex and often puzzling tasks. Follow these five easy steps for video game writing and you'll be closer to crafting a script that will have the people in game development dying to bring it to life.

1. Know your market

Time for some (fun) research! Get your hands on every game in your preferred genre. Play them, talk to friends who've played them, seek the opinions of other writers and people working in game development. See if there's a gap in the market, and brainstorm ways your game can fill it. Video games that promise something unique or different to other games on the market will generate buzz in the gaming community.

2. Describe your world

Game designers need to know everything about your game's world: the characters, the world's history and the world's background. If the designers can easily visualize what your game's world will look like, you've done a good job.

3. Make a flowchart

As you know, a video game is incredibly complex, with numerous different paths a player can take. Get out some index cards, magic markers, and find a nice blank wall to put up a flowchart to visualize your game development. Map out every possible path for the player -- this will help later when you're writing your script, ensuring that the pathway explanation isn't confusing to the script readers.

4. Create cut scenes

It might sound too early to start considering cut scenes, but they're effective ways to enhance your game story. These short animations usually sandwich major plot points in your game's story, or it could be a reward for the game player achieving a particular goal. Make sure the cut scenes add to the story, and aren't just fluffy fillers.

5. Write an overview

Your Executive Overview is just that: a synopsis of your game script that gives the complete story, from start to end, covering all the steps that are necessary for players to complete the game. It can make or break your script, so make it engaging.

Once you've gone through the above steps, you should be well prepared to start your video game script! If you ever hit writer's block, come back to your planning notes and see if another bolt of inspiration strikes.

Learn more about how you can earn a degree in the area of Game Design & Programming.

How You Can Get Game Design and Development Experience

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 6 September 2013

Post Written by Guest Blogger, Sara Wade
Game Art & Design Faculty, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Concept art for game

For students studying game design and development, it’s important to get experience making actual interactive game experiences. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) student chapter here at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division is doing just that!

We’re utilizing the Unity3D engine to make a 3D Role-Playing-Action-Platform-Puzzle game where the player takes on the role of a teddy bear and goes on a heroic quest through the realm of nightmare to save her human (concept art above). This IGDA project gives students a place to discuss, design and develop an original game concept starting from scratch.

Here are some of the ways we’re communicating as we build this game.

Forums – Dedicated forums make staying in touch and getting involved easy! Just hop over and dive right into development discussions such as game mechanics and level concepts.

Weekly Meetings – A dedicated Mumble server makes voice communication easy. The entire team meets weekly on Mumble to go over the developments of the week.

Google Drive – Google Drive and Google Docs syncs files so everyone stays organized and can work on the project simultaneously. Any changes you make are synced to the drive – meaning the entire team always has the latest version of documents and files.

Ready to join? Start by attending one of the chapter's weekly meetings -- information on these meetings as well as how to officially join the chapter can be found at http://aioigda.wordpress.com/. You can also read more about how to join in our last blog post about IGDA.

Still not convinced? Here are 10 more reasons to join IGDA!

1. Working in a low pressure environment with flexible schedules means you can produce high-quality, portfolio-ready work at your own pace.

2. Learn how to work as a member of a team or gain management experience as a team lead.

3. Gain knowledge of the entire cycle of game development including conception, design, asset generation, programming, play testing and publishing.

4. Learn Unity 3D – a highly popular game engine used in the industry.

5. Work on a unique game concept with lots of room for artistic flexibility.

6. Add a large scale, high quality project to your portfolio.

7. Our friendly and cooperative environment allows you to learn new techniques and assist your fellow team members as we all grow together.

8. Gain real development experience and IGDA membership, both valuable additions to your résumé.

9. Further define your own career goals by trying your hand at various areas of game development (game design, game art, technical art, programming, world building and more).

10. Work with other students in a long-term project. It’s a great opportunity to network and make friends!

Guest Speaker Recap: Bruno Velazquez Part Two

written by 23 May 2011

By Guest Blogger
Bethany Crowley

Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division
IGDA (International Game Developers Association) Member

 

Velazquez continues by explaining that flexibility and adaptability are crucial to the game design and development processes. For him, the core skills in animation and drawing that he nourished over time proved essential when ported to the 3D realm of animation and design. Velazquez explains that in order to pull some weight around the artistic zones of the game design and animation fields, artists should be knowledgeable about timing, sense of weight, strong poses, and interesting silhouettes, all of which are equally important concepts and techniques in 2 and 3D animation. Arnold asks if teamwork inside a development studio is truly essential or if departments can work separate from each other. If we can picture the game development studio as a puzzle, says Velazquez, we can envision certain departments as pieces to that puzzle. "Think of departments as teams. We work as teams and communicate through teams too." Teams work together to create the whole and bigger picture, often pairing up and working side by side. Velazquez says that animators and designers in Santa Monica Studio often work with one or two characters from beginning to end. In order to ensure consistency with each other abd every character in their games, this is the method that works.

As Velazquez presents the presentation he has prepared for the event, I am blown away by the sheer devotion he has shown us so far. Bruno Velazquez has been noted as one of the most community friendly figures in the industry, and it is not hard to see why. By showing us the animation process, he is eager to point out key elements of animating characters. Velazquez presents his take on important processes of animating characters from the concept stage, creating exciting contact sensitive moves for in-game play, keeping main chracter Kratos consistent throughout the game, and understanding the balance between game play and animation.

As Velazquez gives us an overview of what that means, using the Chimera character as an example, he delights us by showing early concepts of the character. He explains which concepts work and which do not in order to see how simple or difficult it would be to animate the complex character. Velazquez demonstrates the scale image of the Chimera next to Kratos, identifying potential rigging issues in animations. For Velazquez, concept art serves as initial inspiration in momentum and creativity for continuing with projects.

As a general rule of thumb for Velazquez and the animation team at Santa Monica Studio, animators' main aim is to keep chracters consistent throughout game play. Velazquez notes key points in keeping main avatar Kratos as consistent as possible. Animators had to follow simple trait elements when Kratos was being developed - he is always grim and angry, we never see him smile or joke, he never falls on his back until he dies, and he must always have forward movement. Velazquez claims that because Kratos is a very direct character, he must always have forward momentum. In order to make sure players experience the ultimate from Kratos, every animator at Santa Monica Studio had to learn how to animate the character, but these rules were well applied beyond the animation department. From scene to scene, Kratos had to remain consistent. The Santa Monica Team certainly had their work cut out for them, yet they triumphed in creating a memorable character we all were able to get swept away with.

As our facilitator, Arnold closes the fabulous event with a quick Q&A section, the response erupts from the group chat. The first question is one that is often on the minds of animation students pursuing the career goal of being on a game development team. Just how important are programming skills to an animator's position? Velazquez's response claims that programming is not something animators need to know, usually. "It's something that could be...beneficial, if you know how to do some light scripting...or if you're familiar with other aspsects of Maya, some light rigging or modeling. Especially early on when you're breaking into the industry, it might be important to know a bit about that." Yet he says rigging and modeling are more important to animators' skill sets than programming.

Arnold asks Velazquez how big the teams are that he works with."We have about one hundred people in the Studio," he says. "Of course, we're not limited to that amount and depending on the needs of the project we're working on, contract positions open up. On God of War III, I think we had about one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty people." Velazquez says that this is what he really likes about the game design industry - the chance for contracted positions to become permanent ones, one of the few careers to do so in this ever-changing world. "We were able to hang on to a few people after some projects ended, which really helped us out."

To be continued...

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