Writing a video game script offers a challenge that goes far beyond the normal realm of writing. But it is also something that can be tremendously rewarding in the realm of your creativity. Here are some guidelines and tips for writing a video game script.
Today’s video games are based on complex worlds and tell stories. A player no longer simply progresses through repetitive screens killing goblins and demons in a quest towards the goal. A player now hopes to progress through a world where there is a rich story and a plethora of decisions to be made. This adds to the complexity of writing a video game script and also the wealth of creativity involved.
The first thing you have to think about is that writing a video game script is not the same as writing a movie script. The two processes are similar and you write a movie-like script for your video game, but that’s only part of the process. There are a lot of supporting materials that you need to write for your game script. Here’s an overview of what you need to write and why.
Write an executive overview of the story in prose.
This is the most important part of your game script and this is what will sink or float your script. This overview needs to tell a compelling and unique story and needs to tell the entire story from the opening scene of the game through the main steps to the completion of the game. An overview like this can be almost any size and could very easily be written ten pages or more. Remember that today’s video games are very complex and the stories can be very complex. This overview is also the most important part of the script. You would buy this from game developers to see if they are interested in making it into a game.
Write a history and background of the world.
Video games are whole worlds and game designers need to know what the world is like and what kind of story it has. This will help designers visualize what the world will look like.
Create a flowchart for the entire game
His game is going to be very complex and there will be many decisions that the player will have to make and each decision opens up a whole new path for the player to take. Creating a flowchart is the best way to keep track of all the possible paths through the game.
Create side quests and write a prose overview of each quest.
Side quests can be simple or complex, but each one is a story in itself and you must tell these stories.
Create character descriptions and biographies for all the main characters in the game.
Game designers need a complete picture of the characters in the game. Many of the non-player characters you create will appear again and again. And their story is deeply woven into the fabric of their world. You should describe this relationship in detail to the game designers.
Write interactions with non-player characters
Your game will likely involve interaction with non-player characters (NPCs). You must write the dialogue and flowchart of the choices the player can make. These interactions are often critical to the story and can lead the player down very different paths towards the conclusion of the game.
write cut scenes
Cut scenes are short animations or movies that appear before or after the main plot points of the story. A cut scene should always be written to enhance or describe the story. A cutscene is also a reward given to the player for achieving a major milestone in the game.
Write the actual storyboard script
This is the final step in the entire video game script writing process and is the most detailed. Do this step last because you need all the supporting materials to understand and describe this correctly. This part is very similar to a movie script. You go through each scene of your story and detail all the necessary information. Here is an example:
To lease: A dark cathedral with stained glass windows. An NPC is kneeling before a stone coffin in the center of the main room.
Music: Background music from an organ playing introduces the scene but subsides
Characters: Main player, NPC named Thomas, seven were creatures
Player Objective: Discover the location of the underground air
Values: The player must start the discussion with Thomas, in the first contact we activate the cut scene (1) where Thomas transforms into a man-creature and summons his man-minions. The main character must fight the werewolves and then restart the discussion with Thomas.
Flowchart: No decisions are made at this point: if the battle is completed, Thomas reveals the entrance to the underground lair and the player advances to that level. If the player is defeated in battle, go back to the death cut scene (11) and move to the try again screen.
Grades: The player is locked in the cathedral and there is no way out. The only viable way out is to initiate contact with Thomas. Random creatures can be activated if the player explores the cathedral before talking to the NPC.
end of scene
When writing a video game script you have to remember that your main audience is not the player but the game developer and what the developer needs is a complete picture of what their game is about. This means you’re not just writing a story, you’re creating a world complete with tone, sounds, characters, story, plot, and subplots. To successfully communicate this to the developer, they need to use a full set of creative tools and this is where game scripts deviate from normal scripts and open up a whole field of creative possibilities.