1st Edition

Writing for Video Game Genres From FPS to RPG

Edited By Wendy Despain Copyright 2009
    305 Pages
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    306 Pages
    by A K Peters/CRC Press

    This book, written and edited by members of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Writing Special Interest Group, follows the acclaimed Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing to deliver practical advice from seasoned veterans on the special challenges of writing for first-person shooter games (FPS), role-playing games (RPG), and everything in between, including massively multiplayer online games, real-time strategy games, sports games, horror games, serious games, casual games, handheld games, and more. Game writing samples are included with the book, and more are available online.


    Writing for Massively Multiplayer Online Games
    Steve Danuser and Tracy A. Seamster


    The Play’s the Thing

    Story and Play in Harmony

    Unique Challenges of MMO Writing

    Telling Stories: More than Words

    Pitfalls: When the Story Doesn’t Get Through

    Planning is the Key to Consistency

    Got All That? Now Go Forth and Write!

    Writing for Role-Playing Games
    Daniel Erickson

    The RPG Challenge: Writing without a Protagonist

    Understanding Interactive Storytelling

    Making Choices and Making them Matter

    Keeping Players in the Moment

    Reinforcing a Player’s Personal Fiction


    Writing for Adventure Games
    Lee Sheldon

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

    Writer as Designer

    Player Character

    Non-Player Characters





    Story and Structure


    Writing for Action-Adventure Games
    John Feil

    Introduction: "Hey, You Put Some Adventure in My Action!"

    Story and Action, Not the Best of Friends

    The Cracks



    Writing for Licensed Games


    Writing for Platform Games
    Andrew S. Walsh

    Jump, Die, Repeat

    Learning to Run: Story and Game Objectives

    Holes in the Ground: The Pitfalls of Platformers

    Writing Techniques and Technology

    Character Creation for Platformers

    Linear Gameplay Equals Linear Narrative

    Safe Landings

    Writing for First-Person Shooters
    Lucien Soulban and Haris Orkin

    Introduction: FPS and the Nature of the Beast

    A Primer on First-Person Narrative

    The Caveats

    A Very Short History of the FPS

    Proven Methods for Telling FPS Stories: A Quick Primer

    Early Classics and How They Told Their Stories

    Modern Classics and How They Tell Their Stories


    Linear versus Modular Storytelling

    A Guiding Hand: Staying Inside Your Head

    First-Person Characters: Identity Crisis Central

    Technical Considerations

    Writing for the Multiplayer FPS

    Political Controversy

    The Future of First-Person Shooters

    Writing for Real-Time Strategy Games
    Stephen Dinehart



    RTS Narrative Structure

    The Primary Storyline: Single-Player Campaigns

    System Responses: Non-linear Interactive Dialogue

    Putting It All Together

    Writing for Sports Games
    Maurice Suckling

    "He Shoots. . . He Scores!"

    Extra Time

    Sports Games and Sports Management Games

    A Whole New Ball Game

    2K Case Study: Don King Presents Prizefighter


    "The Ref’s Going to Blow Up!"

    Writing for Simulator Games
    David Wessman

    Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...

    Know Your Audience: Who Plays Simulator Games and Why?



    Story? What Story?


    Writing for Driving Games
    Maurice Suckling

    "I’m a Game with Cars in It. What Kind of Game Am I?"

    "Delivery for You! Where’d You Want It?"

    The Sports Cars

    The Other Cars on the Road

    The Right Kinds of Cars for the Right Kinds of Roads

    Hybrid Cars

    Writing for Horror Games
    Richard Dansky

    Defining a Horror Game

    Limitations and Conventions

    Defining What Needs to Be Written

    Mood, Tone, and Atmosphere


    Plot and Payoff



    In-Game Artifacts


    Writing for Science-Fiction and Fantasy Games
    Chris Klug

    Fireball Spells and Ray Guns, What’s the Difference?

    What Makes Sci-Fi and Fantasy Different

    The Pivotal Role of Star Wars in This History

    Writing for Sandbox Games
    Ahmad Saad


    Defining the Genre

    Examples of Sandbox Games

    Structuring a Narrative in a Sandbox Game

    Increasing the Complexity of Your Sandbox Story


    Writing for Alternate Reality Games
    Wendy Despain

    What’s an Alternate Reality Game?

    This Is Not a Game

    Evolving Narrative Over Time

    Writing Live—Working without a Net

    If the Writer Ain’t Having Fun, Ain’t Nobody Having Fun


    Writing for Serious Games
    Sande Chen and Anne Toole


    Introduction to Serious Games

    Serious Games Challenges

    Case Study: Physics Adventures in Space-Time (PAST)


    Writing for Casual Games
    Chris Pasley

    Who Is a Casual Game Writer?

    But Tetris Didn’t Need a Story!

    Write as Little as You Can—Then Halve It

    Concise Copy and Instructions

    Licensed Games



    Writing for Handheld Games
    Evan Skolnick


    Player Interaction with a Handheld Game

    Additional Considerations: Cartridge-Based Games

    What to Do?


    Writing for Mobile Phone Games
    Graeme Davis


    The Platform

    Types of Writing

    Other Issues


    Web Resources

    Writing for Interactive Fiction
    J. Robinson Wheeler

    What is IF?

    A Writer’s Medium

    The World Model and the Library

    Using the Medium

    Player Characters as Storytelling Springboards

    Conversation Styles

    Notable IF Games

    Go for It

    The IF Community and Its Resources

    Finishing Up

    Step 3: Profit?


    Blood Wake Samples

    Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance Cutscene Scripts

    Big-Picture Plan for Proposed Game Starfall

    Casual Game Wireframe


    Coding Examples

    IF Resources

    Author Bios



    Wendy Despain

    " Writer's SIG has assembled an impressive group of experts who deliver spot-on advice for tackling gaming's many genres. I wish I had read this 20 years ago."" -Bob Bates, Bob Bates, Veteran game designer, writer, and past Chairman of the IGDA, February 2009
    must-have for the bookshelf of any game writer, no matter what genre they're working in. It was equally fascinating and useful for me to read the chapters about genres I'm experienced in and the chapters about genres I've never worked in."" -Steve Meretzky, Steve Meretzky, VP of Game Design, You, February 2009
    those of us swimming in the murky waters of games storytelling and narrative design, Writing for Video Game Genres: From FPS to RPG is not only a life raft, it's one with a treasure trove on top. Seldom do we erstwhile swimmers get this lucky. Read, learn, and build the rafts of the future."" -Rhianna Pratchett, Rhianna Pratchett, Writer and co-narrative designer on Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge, and Overlord, February 2009"