Writerly Advice

hero-clipartcom (1)As a Narrative Designer, you often create and develop non-player characters (NPCs) that help drive the story you’re telling. This is your supporting cast, the characters that bring the world to life around your player character or main character.

What I’ll talk about below comes from my experience creating NPCs for various story lengths (short to epic) and various media, including video games, fiction, table-top games (TTGs), and live-action roleplaying games (LARPs). No matter what, good story is good story, and bad story is…well, a damn shame.

What are Non-Player Characters, Really?

Truth? NPCs are storytelling tools. They’re not your best friend, not your fantasy (iiew), not your children, not your pets, not there to serve you. They may be your chance to show off, but ONLY if you’re showing off how great a narrative designer you are.

You create NPCs to serve the story you’re telling. This means every decision you make about them must pass the “ARC” test. Does taking the character in a particular direction:

  • Answer questions players/readers may have about the world and story?
  • Reinforce the story you’ve already been telling?
  • Create opportunities for future story twists and awesome story arcs?

Read the rest of the article at Gamasutra.com.

7 Tips for Narrative Designer Hopefuls

February 10, 2017
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If you’re eyeballing the games industry as a destination for your career, and the “writer” or “narrative designer” job seems right up your alley, then you should know what preparations you can make in advance to better position yourself for success. I hope you find these tips helpful, and I look forward to hearing your […]

8 Questions that Improve Your Game’s Narrative

October 24, 2016
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Creating narrative for a video game has similar challenging, frustrating, and fun elements as those you encounter when putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Both tasks require critical thinking and the ability to see the big picture as well as the details.

Registration Now Open for Narrative Design Workshop

March 9, 2013
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This workshop will help you see your writing from a new perspective, whether you’re a novelist, short story writer, or comic book writer. It will also help you understand what it takes to break into the games industry and to be successful once in it.
The video game industry as a whole pulled in 24.75 […]

How to Format a Short Story for Submission

August 3, 2012
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Technology in the publishing industry has changed dramatically in the past twenty years, and yet, I see many submission guidelines out there that haven’t changed with it. Old-fashioned typesetting is extinct for all practical purposes, and digital publishing (for the Kindle, for example) imposes requirements that publishing in paper doesn’t.
To compete and be at the […]

Novel to Game! How?

January 8, 2012
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Someone contacted me recently with this question. He wanted to know how to get his novel turned into a video game.
Here’s my response:
I’m afraid I don’t have very good news for you. There are certain novels that are made into mainstream top-shelf games, but they’re typically big-name series. A grade-A game costs millions of dollars […]

Working Backwards by Morva Shepley

December 26, 2011
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Guest Blogger: Morva Shepley
Here are a couple of tips I thought I’d pass along to fellow writers. They’re from no less a person than Jane Espenson, who has written for such TV shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and the new version of Torchwood, Torchwood: The New World. She was in Australia […]

Video Game Writing Tip #10

December 13, 2011
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Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Many games include races that are non-human, and these are the toughest to write for. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking like a human writer, which you are, and writing dialogue that your fictional race would never say.
In order to write for any character, you have […]

Confessions of a Wily Newb, Part 5, by Paris Crenshaw

December 1, 2011
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Guest blogger: Paris Crenshaw (Go back and read Lesson #4)
Lesson 5: You will never “find” time. You have to make time.
Okay, so now we’ve reached what is, for me, the greatest challenge to my writing: Time. I’ve already mentioned that all of those demands on my time will easily keep me from meeting a deadline […]

Teach Your Kids to Game Week

November 14, 2011
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There are many reasons you might want to turn your kids onto tabletop roleplaying games (like Dungeons and Dragons). Let me just list a few that come immediately to mind:

Encourage storytelling, imagination, and creativity.
Encourage social interaction with live people.
Give siblings a common interest.
Encourage reading.
Family time!
Keep them off the real streets and out of real dark […]

Re: Horror Genre and Video Games

November 11, 2011
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“The Horror genre has long been a cornerstone in computer and console games, from Phantasmagoria to Doom, Alone in the Dark to Plants versus Zombies–and many in-between. In the early days, game developers themselves wrote all the text for a game, but in more recent times, many game companies have come to value the polish […]