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December 10, 2019, 09:47:23 PM

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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignWhat gamewriting tools / techniques do you use?
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jamesmh
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« on: June 19, 2019, 06:16:55 PM »

Hey everyone, my first post because I’m curious about the tools that other game developers and writers use to make their stories.  Hand Pencil

I currently work as a writer in an Australian game studio. I have a background in writing and developing stories for Films and TV but I’ve found the switch to game writing to be challenging and increasingly time consuming. We have been experimenting with different models and techniques for writing outside the writer’s room pen and paper stuff, particularly different ways of visualising or modelling stories, potential character arcs etc. I was wondering if anyone has used any software or tools they recommend?
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fluffrabbit
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2019, 06:47:41 PM »

I feel your pain and more. I went to film school and left with a trilogy of unproduced sci-fi feature scripts. Since that didn't work, I tried going rogue and doing more of a Korine/Herzog style postmodernist thing. That approach ended in various disasters. I also tried game writing at one point and the guy kicked me off the team because I put in too much stuff about hanky-panky. All the while I used Trelby to write the scripts. I've never found the occasion to use branching story software.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 07:48:27 PM by fluffrabbit » Logged
Rarykos
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2019, 12:59:30 AM »


Scrivener and Twine to be honest!
Still, nothing beats pen and papers for the beginning.


It just is way more different and way more time-consuming. With a million tiny tasks that prose or film writers don't worry about.

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TonyLi
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2019, 01:33:22 PM »

Still, nothing beats pen and papers for the beginning.
I totally agree. My slight variation -- but the same principle -- is a big whiteboard and post-it notes. This especially benefits branching content such as conversation trees and quest trees. Draw big boxes on the whiteboard for major topics and smaller boxes inside them for subtopics. Put post-its in the smaller boxes for details such as individual lines of dialogue, quest entries, etc. This way you can rearrange ideas and link content in different ways without having to fight software.

This also helps you transfer content more efficiently into branching content software like articy:draft, Chat Mapper, and Twine. The choice of software will often be dictated by the engineering side to accommodate their ability to bring your content into the game.

For an initial treatment, which is usually linear and doesn't get into the details of breaking down branches, good old pen and paper.

Whatever tools you use, make sure it has some way to do search and replace (e.g., changing an NPC's name halfway through the project), spell check, and localization, even if it's by means of exporting to formats that can do those things and then importing back into your tool.
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vanaman
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2019, 10:15:30 PM »

Hey it's my first post.

In my experience tools and techniques change depending on where in development I find myself.

In the early days, post-its and outlines help keep the shape of the ideas and produce the things inside of the story that the core design of the game are going to hook into and vice-versa. If I find that your game's core is the actual story (say, in something like Firewatch or Obra Dinn) these post-its and outlines become the backbone of the project and the scoping mechanism for figuring out how big the whole thing is.

Ink is the best for prototyping a bunch of interactive dialog or the flow of a branching narrative. It's also good for communicating ideas to a small team. If you can make an entertaining Ink game that someone can play on their phone, there is a good chance folks can come together to make something good at it.

Then, for actual writing (gross), I've use Google Docs. It's the best way to collaborate, you can then spin out a dialog database in google sheets and you can organize your work as effectively as anywhere else. It's not a hot-shit all-in-one game making suite but I've yet to find something better for working with groups of people (or even on my own, tbh).

Once the game is on its feet, I go back to Post-Its and collect piles of them. They contain ways for the story to react to what I'm seeing players do when they mess around with the game or things I wish I would've thought of back during the writing phase. Then repeat.

Lastly, it was echoed in other posts, but some sort of iron-clad database (if you're doing any dialog) is essential, obviously.

Another good tool I've employed is a high pain tolerance because writing sucks ass.
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sekayee
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2019, 06:06:03 PM »

Scrivener and Twine is enough.
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Josh Bossie
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 06:15:57 PM »

No matter how far I stray I always come back to Excel. It's still unrivaled in its ability to maintain very large bodies of work and all the scripting and macro support means you can make your own time savers on the fly. Easy to collaborate, easy to get stuff out of it, and so on
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