Quality vs. Scope in game writing

Ever played a game with all the bells and whistles that was terribly unfun to play? We all have, with good reason. Jamie Fristrom suggests that in the balance between quality and scope, developers tend to choose to make a bigger game.

This tendency also impacts the writing in a game. We have seen some games make great strides with their story, but the player has to wade through blocks of text to even get to it. City of Heroes has some quite interesting storylines, but each mission in an arc could have paragraphs and paragraphs of text. It’s hard to find time to do all this reading when you have teammates to defend.

Instead of expanding the scope, improving the quality of game writing lessens scope. Much like when streamlining design features, clean writing could have a bottom line effect. We worked on a project where we reduced the word count significantly, which will at least have an impact on the voiceover budget. The reduction will also offer a hidden benefit. With fewer words, the players will be more inclined to read the quick blurbs of text as they hack away at their next task.

I think I’ll reduce the scope of this post right now with this conclusion:

Less is more.

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Published in: on April 25, 2007 at 4:46 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My old writing professor used to say good writing is more like sculpting than construction. A little writing and a lot of editing.

    But convincing your bosses that they should pay you to carefully cut away from your own mess of words is probably quite a challenge. At times, it’s nice being an amateur. 🙂

  2. I did work on a game project where I refocused and streamlined a company’s story. I did end up having to delete a lot of the previous material. Mind you, it wasn’t my material, so I wasn’t very attached to it.
    – Sande

  3. […] to Bartle, killers are people of few words — you need to tell them the game story in as few words as possible.  Like in the CoH example above, no text was even necessary to get me interested in the story.  […]

  4. […] this approach contradicts his goal of competing on a quality level.  We’ve often said that less is more when it comes to dialog, and its just the same with design.  The key with any creative endeavor is […]

  5. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo


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