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Old 12-21-2009, 04:37 PM   #1
boojum
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Question Writing Portfolio - Chatter, Barks, Misc. Question

Obviously there are a lot of things that go into writing a game, depending on what the developer has hired or wants you to do. I'm guessing that published works, sample scripts, and world building documents are important to have for a game writer in their portfolio.

But how about chatter? I forget the more common name used for this, but this is the "dialogue" that characters say while you're playing. For example, when you click on your Warcraft unit, or random things TF2 characters yell out during battle, etc.

I went to a video game writing panel and they spoke on how this can be a huge chunk of what a writer has to do, depending on the game. They however didn't address if samples of this for a portfolio would be necessary.

Would any of you suggest it? And if so do you take a brief paragraph to explain the sort of game it is, so they understand the context? And what would be the proper format? I know for dialogue trees and "chatter" excel is often used, so for a portfolio should it be the same, or in a more user friendly writing format?

As always thanks for your time and help. It's greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-21-2009, 05:27 PM   #2
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I'm a bit confused. I'm sure I'm way off here, and I apologize in advance, but it sounds as if the only dialogue you've experienced in games are unit chatter in RTS games and some FPS taunts. Way off, right?

Or wait...are you saying that these panelists claim that minor dialogue like chatter and taunts--opposed to major dialogue like character conversations--are a large part of a writer's job in a studio? I really can't imagine that, to be honest. In any case, I don't think you'd need to worry about showcasing any samples of this. If your general dialogue is any good (and obviously represented in your portfolio), any sort of talent for minor dialogue like taunts and one-liners are more or less a given, and I honestly can't see this being a selling point or deal breaker for any prospective employer.

Also, chatter is totally contextual, isn't it? There's really no way to actually sample it without sound really, really cheesy and senseless.
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Old 12-21-2009, 05:46 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Would any of you suggest it? And if so do you take a brief paragraph to explain the sort of game it is, so they understand the context? And what would be the proper format?
Idling dialogue does not make a good showcase, especially if you have to explain it.
Never put anything in the portfolio that cannot be understood without explanation.
The best format is one that's easy to read. Like movie script format for instance. Yes, we don't use movie script format for games, but we don't really have just one standard format for voice-over scripts or for onscreen story text. The main thing we do is number the lines so the programmer can just call them up -- and the numbering system depends on the filenaming convention in use for the project. You get to make a format that makes sense for you and that's easy for an interviewer to read.
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
I'm a bit confused. I'm sure I'm way off here, and I apologize in advance, but it sounds as if the only dialogue you've experienced in games are unit chatter in RTS games and some FPS taunts. Way off, right?

Or wait...are you saying that these panelists claim that minor dialogue like chatter and taunts--opposed to major dialogue like character conversations--are a large part of a writer's job in a studio? I really can't imagine that, to be honest. In any case, I don't think you'd need to worry about showcasing any samples of this. If your general dialogue is any good (and obviously represented in your portfolio), any sort of talent for minor dialogue like taunts and one-liners are more or less a given, and I honestly can't see this being a selling point or deal breaker for any prospective employer.

Also, chatter is totally contextual, isn't it? There's really no way to actually sample it without sound really, really cheesy and senseless.
They didn't say it was the most important part but they did mention that it was the most excruciating and that obviously depending on the genre (RTS, some MMOs) that can be a long process. But I agree with what you said, if you can do and prove to be successful at the regular dialogue, the minor stuff isn't anything to showcase.

Quote:
Idling dialogue does not make a good showcase, especially if you have to explain it.
Never put anything in the portfolio that cannot be understood without explanation.
The best format is one that's easy to read. Like movie script format for instance. Yes, we don't use movie script format for games, but we don't really have just one standard format for voice-over scripts or for onscreen story text. The main thing we do is number the lines so the programmer can just call them up -- and the numbering system depends on the filenaming convention in use for the project. You get to make a format that makes sense for you and that's easy for an interviewer to read.
Thanks as always Tom. I'll focus on scripts then. Do you suggest scripts we've written (film, animation, graphic novel) or should I write a game specific script?

Last edited by boojum : 12-21-2009 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:37 PM   #5
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Thanks as always Tom. I'll focus on scripts then. Do you suggest scripts we've written (film, animation, graphic novel) or should I write a game specific script?
If you focus on scripts, you eliminate other writing other job possibilities.
Submit your best work, whatever medium it's for. But a game script would show, don't you think, that you understand the requirements of that medium?
And who's "we"? You're not alone, you're submitting a joint portfolio?
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:29 PM   #6
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If you focus on scripts, you eliminate other writing other job possibilities.
Submit your best work, whatever medium it's for. But a game script would show, don't you think, that you understand the requirements of that medium?
And who's "we"? You're not alone, you're submitting a joint portfolio?
Okay. Thanks yet again. The we've was a typo..sort of. I dunno, it just felt weird saying "I've" in that context.

"But a game script would show, don't you think, that you understand the requirements of that medium?"

Yes a game script would be good. I guess my question then is in what format? I know script format but that limits itself to cinematic moments only, right? You mentioned earlier that having to explain work in a portfolio is no good, but how do I write a game script without some sort of introduction? Do they not need to see one (is it more about dialogue?)? And what do you think is a good page limit to set for such a script?

Thanks for the help Tom. Finding articles on game writing are tough to find, though I have some books and am combing through Gamasutra so try to find anything else helpful.
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Old 12-21-2009, 11:19 PM   #7
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Yes a game script would be good. I guess my question then is in what format? I know script format but that limits itself to cinematic moments only, right?
No, it doesn't. Get creative. Just write it, stop asking how. Learn by doing.
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Old 02-22-2010, 07:46 AM   #8
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Let me get this straight.

A "game script" is the text of everything that can be said in the whole game, right? So in a Fire Emblem game, it would be all the character conversations, all the cutscenes, all the scripted events, all of the Boss Rants (tm) and all the things units can "say" to each other?
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:22 PM   #9
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Let me get this straight.
A "game script" is the text of everything that can be said in the whole game, right?
There are different kinds of scripts.
Voice-over script is different from the on-screen text, and both of those are different from "scripting" which is a programming thing that defines sequences of events.
What is your interest exactly? You said in another thread that you weren't sure if you wanted to be a game designer or not. (Not that a game designer is necessarily a writer, but he might be.)
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:57 PM   #10
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Default Well...

I love words, in general and in specific. As I have said on other posts, I'd love to be an English teacher, a foreign language teacher, or a writer, as well as a game designer.

I'm interested in writing for games mostly because of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. The actual *game* is a fairly average strategery game- directing a team of units with different powers to defeat enemies- but the art and the story is AMAZING. They juggle four or five different plotlines, each with its own set of major and minor characters and subplots- and manage to do it fairly creatively and believably. I would *love* to try something like that.
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