Updated date:

How to Write a Video Game Script

Author:

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web design and development.

Video game scriptwriting is a challenging task. It works completely in a different way from writing a film script or novel. You need to go through several pre-requisites before beginning with the scriptwriting. For example,

  • Understanding the context of different routes
  • Dealing with the functional constraints of the game programming
  • Working with large groups from different departments
  • Merging the ideas to figure out the best outline for your script.
  • The discussion session also includes meeting the investors and ensuring their needs are fulfilled.

Unlike science fiction novels, where the content is limited to your own imagination, video games have successfully taken a leap in their sophisticated environment of different characters, situations, levels, and much more. The question arises, where to begin from?

Overview

Pick up the major outlines from different levels:

  1. Opening scene
  2. Motivation (Target)
  3. Climax
  4. Possible different story arcs (this script certainly doesn’t have a character arc, in most of the cases)
  5. A separate description of each story arc with possible endings

It is absolutely fine for the overview to reach more than ten pages. You need to ensure it has all the major elements needed. Try approaching to game developers and check if the script does ring a bell in their ears.

Adding the Details

After the overview, break the points into different scenes.

  • The scenes can be in motion or a pause or even a hybrid, such as a character getting stuck at a button while having a conversation. Scenes like these must be given a minimal description.
  • The pause scenes are termed as cut scenes. These are like short intervals that come before or after the major plot. These scenes must be written to enhance the story description. One example of a cut scene is rewarding the player for achieving a certain milestone.
  • Video games have a world of their own. Besides the story, you must also give a brief history and background of this virtual world. This is important so that game designers can better visualize your story and give the desired effects.
  • The best way is to make a flow chart. The flow chart is the most important element of video game scripting. Since video games have complex settings, the flow chart gives you a vivid description of every possible outcome for every possible path within the game.
  • Write the character description along with related bios. This includes both player and non-player characters.
  • Craft the interactions of player characters with the non-player ones to enhance the different paths in the game. These interactions can play a crucial role in determining the conclusion of the game. Make sure to include the non-player characters in your flowchart.
  • Don’t forget to include the sub-quests (side quests) in your script. These are the smaller missions, often requiring from few seconds to a minute to accomplish.
  • Commence with the finalized storyboard script. This is a lengthy process. It works quite similar to the movie script. You need to detail every scene including the necessary information for producing perfect visuals.

Reviving and Rewriting

Certainly, the last step is to conclude your script. But, don’t be in such a hurry. It goes for every sort of writing you do.

  • Take a break, say for a week. Read your script again, make others read it too.
  • Ask yourself, if it still holds a grip? Are the characters really appealing? Is it fresh and unique?
  • Rewrite the script, if your answer is negative.
  • Most of the games repeat crucial plot points, which doesn’t mean you need to write again and again.
  • Many gamers leave the game in midway and forget about it for a month or more. If your statistics are way too long, they may not remember their actual scores. For this reason, make sure to always write diaries and quest logs.
  • Covering every aspect of the game, it is time to question yourself, “Would you like to play this game?”

Examples of Video Game Flowchart

Harry Potter Video Game Flowchart

The flowchart starts with Harry Potter deciding the path he must take to kill the villain, Voldemort. The flowchart also considers the options in which he decides to leave the magic world and pursue a different path. If he chooses to stick, then there are two different paths, first is finding and destroying the Horcruxes and second is looking for his own path and killing the Voldemort with his magic. On the basis of his decision, the game proceeds to the next relevant step.

Click here to get the clear picture of the flowchart

Harry Potter Video Game Flowchart

Harry Potter Video Game Flowchart

Battlefield Video Game Flowchart

Here is another example of a video game flowchart. It discusses a more complex story arc created by Joe Juba working at Game Informer.

Video Game Flowchart Example by Joe Juba

Video Game Flowchart Example by Joe Juba

Examples of Video Game Script

Best Video Game Scripts | Mashable

Mashable discusses the 8 most thrilling video game scripts of all time. The scripts are rated on the basis of a strong portrait of characters, visuals, complex stories, and much more.

Game Writing Examples | IGDA

IGDA (International Game Developers Association) is a non-profit organization founded to support game development around the world. The link gives you a perfect idea of the methods needed to write a successful video game script.

GitHub

Run a search on GitHub related to game script. You may not find the best versions of the game scripts, but there are enough examples to help you get started with the video game scriptwriting.

The gaming industry launches hundreds of games every now and then with tons of money invested. To generate a successful game, your video game script must bring freshness and heartfelt moments. This is a creative opportunity, it works only if you give something of your own essence to it.

Your video game script audience mainly consists of game developers and designers. They must understand not only the story but also the characters, important sounds, tones, and other necessary information as per the theme of the game.