Monthly Archives: April 2011

Khyle’s Out of Time Development Diary: Scripting For Games …or “What Is Currently Driving Khyle Crazy.”

So it’s been a long time since I’ve made a post on the blog. Reason? Sickness issues. Won’t go into it much more than that, because that’s not what this blog is about and it’s kind of depressing and talking about it isn’t much fun.

Anyway. Scripting for games!

And why it drives me crazy.

Let’s roll back a little and let me introduce you to an awesome piece of freeware called Celtx.

Celtx is basically a pre-production media development center. It allows you to alternatively write scripts, develop storyboards and collaborate with others on your projects through the internet. This program is a great find for anyone needing a basic script writing program. A ‘Pro’ version is also available for a nominal fee ($15) if you wish to stretch your production abilities even further.

Alright, now lets roll back to where we were: scripting for games drives me crazy.

Reason? Our good old friends called ‘Variables’.

Writing the story itself isn’t really the hard part. Writing a script for a game isn’t so much different than writing a script for a movie or play, except for the fact that it has multiple pathways and multiple ways to come to any one ‘conclusion’, with different story elements integrated at any given moment.

Developing a game script, at least, at the beginning, is relatively easy. Writing a very linear game is even easier. Writing for a game that will have some breadth of story-changing game play (like Out of Time) is much, much, much… much harder. While taking your developed mind map and adding scripted elements (surroundings, dialogue, music, sound effects) might seem easy at first, the more you get into it, the more complex it becomes. Like ripples in a pond, things begin to expand and overlap, and you must be sure to keep a close eye on those ripples so they don’t upset that little toy boat (your idea) like a perfect storm.

Let’s take a look at a little bit of the script to see what I’m talking about:

Here’s part of a scene at the very beginning of the game (don’t worry, no spoilers) where you are just starting to learn how to use the current interface (how we’re implementing it is blurred, for IP reasons).  It doesn’t mean much when you first look at it, but do you see all those sticky notes and all the tangents they go into? As we keep going, the number of sticky notes is going to gradually increase. At a certain point, more scripts will begin to propagate off of this one. Different scripts, with differentiating details and (in some cases) differentiating outcomes.

Having a program like Celtx is going to be very important (especially for a group with individuals like me who can’t find their own shoes sometimes). It’s going to give us the ability to keep all of our production notes together while giving us the flexibility of adding and deleting variables as we please. As this is just the first draft, more and more variables will be added until we’re comfortable with the level of interactivity overall. What’s great about this program is that once we do establish enough of the script, there is an area where we can specifically include storyboards! It’s awesome.

So, yeah. That about wraps up my post about scripting for games. I know I could go over all the finer details of specifically writing scripts for games, such as: headers, descriptions, differentiating and combining interface text, speech and interactive variables. But honestly? There’s really no completely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write a script for a game, as long as you’re being clear and organized. The most important part of writing a script for a game is simply sitting down and writing it. As you can see from the screen shot, Celtx does all that organization work for you, so all you need to do is focus on what you’re writing and what area you need to use to store certain bits of information.

That said, download Celtx and start writing!

And you’re welcome. :)