Writing for games is a much different beast than other mediums.
When it comes to what games are some of the most well written ones, no doubt that CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is at the top of the list. It really stands above many other games in its dialogue, general writing and pacing. Such craftsmanship isn’t easy to achieve of course, and the game’s writing team opened up about what makes video game writing different from other visual mediums.
In a very lengthy interview with Eurogamer, several of the game’s writers spoke on writing for the game and the medium in general. When it came to the challenges of writing for video games vs other mediums, Jakub Szamalek broke down how the lack of actors and things like rehearsals can have an impact on how you start to think about writing game stories. You can’t imagine what the whole picture will look like in the same way you can a film or play, meaning you often are challenged with having to alter pieces of your story as you go along.
“What people outside of the industry don’t always appreciate is a game is constructed from so many pieces and you don’t see the final product until the very end so it’s hard to plan for unforeseen problems,” says Szamalek. “When you’re working on a play in the theatre, you might not have the costumes or the set, but you can see the actors interpreting the lines, you can imagine what it will look like – in games that’s extremely hard. Even if you do have a clear goal and direction, you might end up in a different place because a certain part of the game gets cut or a new mechanic is introduced and this requires you to change the storyline, or it turns out that a tester says the game is lacking this or that.”
The whole article is a pretty fascinating look at writing for video games, and it’s worth a read. The Witcher 3 is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The Switch version of the game just came out, and you can see our review through here.