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Reader Comments (17)

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 1:57PM Stuxatte said

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I'm interested in reading the full article, because the blurb doesn't make any connections between game design and game writing. It just says they have a boot camp for writers where they train them to be designers.

Unfortunately, I don't have / want a subscription to PC Gamer UK, so I guess I'll never find out exactly what Erickson means.

I can see a connection between writing and game design from the perspective of the player being guided by the story and having to make narrative choices as "gameplay."

I would therefore guess that Erickson means "writers can become mission designers." I'm not sure why you would hire or train a writer to build proxy meshes, do complex scripting, or tackle systems and UI design.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 2:11PM (Unverified) said

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@Stuxatte

I agree, it looks to me like he was referring to mission or content design, not UI design or combat mechanics design or network infrastructure design.
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Posted: Jun 24th 2011 2:08PM (Unverified) said

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@Puremallace

They're releasing with an ingame world that's many, many times the size of Rift and even a hell of a lot larger than WoW and LotrO at their launch, with enough leveling content that dwarfs that of all other MMO's at their launch, so I think they're pretty good for quite a while.

Plus iirc they already started with the concept art, design and story for a future expansion, so they should already be off for a good expansion development start after launch.

I don't know if like Erickson said writers would make good overall game designers, but as far as content designer goes, being a good scriptdoctor or plot/story writer might be a good foundation.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 2:25PM Space Cobra said

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This actually reminds me a bit of Hollywood script writers, at least good ones.

You have to be cognizant and work with the limits of your media. You can always "push the boundaries", but there are boundaries and sometimes they can be technical and other times it's story/audience...or both.

Especially TV, for example, you have a budget and you have to match it for each episode. Many novice writers start with big dreams and ideas and while that's not bad, it can be unattainable. If you want a big space battle, complete with ships zooming and explosions, that costs time AND money so you have to work around that sometimes and not have it for every episode. You have to think on your feet and present the story a different way, which can be just as creative.

Having no boundaries can be creative, but working with around boundaries can also be very creative and an interesting challenge. Basically, you got to know the limits of your media.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 2:48PM Faryon said

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For mission design this is completely true.
If a good writer has the opportunity and training to make a very rough version of the mission he/she has written it will help that writer to refine the pacing of the mission/story before handing it over to a senior designer. That senior designer will then have a much easier time completing and polishing the mission since most of the groundwork has already been done.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 2:58PM Lateris said

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I can wait for BioWare to finish how they make games for TOR. Polish means everything these days.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 3:34PM Mystal said

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I think this is a bit misleading, because in general I'm not sure if there's much need for game designers at Bioware in general. They don't seem to have any ambitions towards original game concepts, so what exactly do they need real game designers for anyway?

Seems to me like what they're actually doing is pretty smart: they're not training writers, and they're also not training game designers. What they're training are CONTENT designers. That's the big challenge when it comes to theme park games in general, and doubly so when it comes to a SW;TOR, whose only ambition when it comes to pushing the boundaries is in the area of content: specifically with regard to having a greater focus on story, full voice acting, etc.

It's a smart approach, considering what their apparent goals are, but I don't think it would be the right approach for every one. WoW has done pretty well with a very mediocre story, largely because they came up with a winning game design and simply tacked on a bunch of "lore" that any gifted high school student could have written. You obviously don't NEED to have real professionals doing your writing, though it's certainly nice if you do.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 4:23PM Borick said

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The best games were designed by computer scientists -- math geeks, mostly. Being able to write copy is important, but a game doesn't get its style from a sheet.

What a bunch of doofuses.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 5:15PM DeadlyAccurate said

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@Borick Obviously this is a matter of personal opinion, but for me, the best games are the ones with the strongest story lines, not the strongest technical specs. I'm glad there are developers out there who understand that being literate and being a good writer are not the same thing. Too many think that because they know how to make games and form coherent sentences, they also know how to pace the story, write engaging dialogue, and understand when to show and when to tell. Writing well takes skill, practice, and hard work.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2011 3:39PM Rialle said

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@DeadlyAccurate

The best games are the ones that make me want to play them over and over again. A good story is not always necessary for this to be accomplished. Sometimes it doesn't even help if the game play sucks.
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Posted: Jun 24th 2011 6:01PM ElfLove said

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@(Unverified) "They're releasing with an ingame world that's many, many times the size of Rift and even a hell of a lot larger than WoW and LotrO at their launch, with enough leveling content that dwarfs that of all other MMO's at their launch, so I think they're pretty good for quite a while."

I hope so because I was warned in another thread that the leveling would be super fast and that it would be one of those 'max level in a month' games like Rift.

I'm glad to hear this really because I don't raid...I'm one of those few that actually does love to quest and explore.

I hope your correct.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 6:48PM Graill440 said

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The statement you cant teach people to be something else is utter BS, you make that statement simply because you suck as a menotr or teacher. Anyone can be taught anything with enough time and the proper resources, telling an audience that people can be taught one thing and not the other is ignorant at best.

Sounds like that clown needs to go back to school and educate themselves a bit further.

This shows the type of stagnant thinking in todays developers, what a showing. (golfclap)

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 7:49PM Mystal said

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@Graill440

Being an effective writer takes so much practice and dedication that you typically can't "teach" some one to be a good writer. They tend to teach themselves through repetition that comes from simply doing what they like to do (which is write). This learning typically happens over the course of decades.

You can certainly teach some one to be literate, but I don't know of any illiterate computer programmers or illiterate game designers. We can safely assume that mere literacy is not what Bioware aims to deliver in its writing.

I don't think this stems from any sort of stagnant thinking on Bioware's part, in fact I think it shows just the opposite. Finding talented writers, then spending three months training them in basic game design, just to make them effective in this particular task, shows a fair amount of forward thinking.

Most developers are still under the impression that they can entrust their writing to people they've promoted from QA or programming to the "dev team," or else bring in outside writers with little effort to integrate them into the specific demands of writing for games.
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Posted: Jun 24th 2011 7:00PM Stormwaltz said

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@Puremallace

I think you've got the wrong idea about writers in general, and BioWare writers in particular. They don't sit around sipping martinis, waiting for inspiration, and demanding that everything suit their "vision."

Game writers are professionals working as part and parcel of a team. They scope their work to fit within technical, time, and budgetary limits, and their ideas are subject to a collaborative review and approval process involving technical designers and artists. Ideas that don't pass muster in any area are re-scoped or cut.

Posted: Jun 24th 2011 7:34PM Distaste said

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@(Unverified) No, their world isn't a hell of a lot bigger than WoW. Tatooine is 20% of the Kalimdor continent so it would take 10 Tatooine sized planets to equal WoW's vanilla launch size. Except we know that Tatooine is one of the largest planets and the 3 starter planets are quite small.

As for total content, don't be so sure. SWTOR supposedly takes 200 hours to reach max level and vanilla WoW was closer to 400. Not to mention that since SWTOR's class story is not the majority of that content(World quests/group quests/flashpoints) a large amount will be shared. Let's say there is 60 hours of purely class content per class and 140 of shared, that's 760 hours of content between 8 classes and 2 factions. With WoW vanilla being 800 hours between 2 factions, you can see that it really doesn't "dwarf" them.

As for the expansion, WAR had an expansion in the works on launch as well and we see how that turned out. WoW actually had up to Naxx planned out(2 years), if you have the launch concept art book from vanilla WoW you will see the concept art from all of the raids. The point is that it takes a long time to actually get the content out there and while it might be conceived right now it won't be reality until 6-12 months from release.

Posted: Jun 25th 2011 3:10PM Rialle said

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Statements like this are what makes me fear for TOR. I suspect that we're going to see a game makes WoW seem like a sandbox in comparison.

Nowadays, Bioware's games have more in common with Japanese RPGs and dating sims than they do with their earlier titles. This design philosophy is fine for single player console games, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to see it bleed into an MMO.

Posted: Jun 25th 2011 3:10PM Misterlee said

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What a dick. So basically "my profession is better than the others, we can do everything but you can't do what we can".

Keep drinking the Kool Aid dude.

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