Game writers have been harbouring a secret for years and it’s time to come clean – it’s not important for any game to use an experienced writer, even for a story based game.
Now this may seem controversial but it needs to be said. After all, anyone can write, can’t they? Everyone watches films and TV and most people have read books at some point in their lives – how hard can it be?
Level designers are talented people and a producer knows the project inside out (right?), so one of those guys can do it. It doesn’t matter if they know little about all that malarkey concerning structure, character arcs, theme, sub-plots, subtext, motivation and suspension of disbelief – quality isn’t important when good gameplay will disguise any story problems. (You have got good gameplay, right?) And you can use spell-check and grammar-check to fix the dialogue; after all, everyone speaks grammatically correct at all times.
Games don’t need characters we care about – they don’t need depth, just cool stats. The only characters anyone gives a damn about in games are the ones with big guns or big tits. Preferably both. Or fill your game with mindless robots – they don’t need quirky personalities players will find enjoyable and tell all their friends about.
Characters don’t need back-story or any kind of humanity that will lead to empathy. Killing zombies will provide all the empathy necessary.
Don’t lose sleep over plot holes. Who the hell finishes games these days? You can’t tell me that all those people who complained about the ending of Mass Effect 3 actually played it through. Besides, plot holes are a good thing – they encourage the player to give up on a game and buy a new one; a win for all developers, surely? And I’m positive players will never remember these plot problems the next time they consider buying one of your games.
Anyway, players won’t have time to care about the plot if they’re busy killing their best friend’s girlfriend’s cousin’s teacher’s poodle. (Remind me again why we’re doing that?)
Who cares about a believable bad guy? Just make him a hard bastard it will be nearly impossible to defeat at the end of the game. He doesn’t need to be seen in the rest of the game and we don’t need to care about his motivation or why he’s such a big problem for the player character. If in doubt, swap any angst for cool looking weapons and a gravelly voice.
Drama and conflict is bollocks, except when it involves big weapons or improbable martial arts moves. The player should be able to find out the important information without even trying – gameplay is shooting and jumping not investigation and interrogation. Variety is for those players who want a rich, value-for-money experience.
You should always design and implement the game before worrying about the story. A great story can be tagged on at any time because it’s just a bunch of made-up stuff. Completing the gameplay before adding the story means that there is no chance the writer can take up your time with valuable suggestions on how to enhance the whole project. You know what you want; there’s no need to improve it.
Quality dialogue is completely unnecessary. No one wants to read or listen to what you wrote anyway. The producer or the technical director probably once won a school prize for a poem they wrote about their dog, one of them can write the speech lines.
When it comes to turning the dialogue into recorded voice samples, this can be one of the easiest tasks of all. Acting is a piece of cake and the guys in the office can put on silly voices so get them to do the voices at a bargain basement price. They’ll have a whale of a time and can even ad-lib cheesy in-jokes while they’re at it.
If you really feel you need to use professional actors, don’t bother attending the casting session because the voice studio that’s doing it on the cheap will have no decent actors on their books, which only helps to emphasise that it wasn’t necessary to waste money on a writer in the first place.
Do you know of any game that was spoiled by poor acting? Exactly! So, even though your Cockney gangster sounds like a Russian diplomat, he doesn’t speak much when he’s avenging the death of his cat with a pair of grenade launchers.
So there we have it. Don’t employ a writer who knows what he’s doing because he or she will only make things difficult with their high levels of expertise and expectations of quality dialogue, story and characters.
Who cares about the low review scores when they will be more than compensated by the money you save? It’s not like you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into the game you just released. It’s not like you set out to make a good game in the first place.
You’re just in it for the money, not the fact that you love games and want those you make to be the very best possible. Right?