Writing for Video Game Genres: From FPS to RPG

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" 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"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568814179
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy Despain is a multimedia writer who has worked primarily for television shows, although she is now mostly writing for video games. She is a key member of the IGDA Game Writing Special Interest Group, editor of Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, and a contributing editor to the book Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames.
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Table of Contents


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


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