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Some additional narrative designer advice.

Posted by Chris Avellone , 03 February 2012 · 9099 views

In the last profile, I ended up giving general advice on seeking out development jobs, here are additional suggestions for narrative designers:

- If you have the time or resources, I'd recommend attending the Game Narrative/Writer's Track in Austin GDC, TX in October (Iíll be there, and hope to give a presentation). It's a great place to network and meet narrative leads who might need help (Obsidian found 2 candidates there, one for narrative, and one for level design).

- If you can't find positions, try to move in laterally by trying for:
- Quality Assurance
- Web/marketing/manual text writer
- Customer service
- Technical writer
- Audio recording company (chances are youíll be able to work across a range of game studios, get familiar with the scripts, and meet the writers).
- Narrative producer (Iíve only met one in my career, but I feel this position has legs and you should keep an eye out for future job postings for it)

Before seeking those roles, try and figure out if thereís room for advancement and lateral transfers in the company youíre applying to Ė some companies donít allow promotions within, some encourage it (we do, and Blizzard also looks to hire from within).

- Being published can help your resume, but not necessary. Screenwriting definitely helps, however.

- Having your narrative work used in a mod or indie title is great.

- If you can't find a narrative design position (and they're rare), sometimes integrating yourself into a game company can be done through another position (like the ones above), and you can make better contacts that way.

- Always start with companies who make games youíd want to write for, don't settle. If they turn you down, pay attention to the test critique they gave you (and they should give you one), learn from it, and then tackle the next company on your list.

- In general, most narrative-focused companies have specific tests they send to test applicants, so as a result, your portfolio may not matter to them. Donít feel that you have to have samples to show first, the proof of your skills will come in how you demonstrate your skills in the test they send. And as no surprise, itíll likely be focused on one of their franchises, so be sure youíve played them, know the lore, know the scripting conventions, characters, and more.

- I also believe that the IGDA has a special writer's group thatís worth joining up with (and they have gatherings at GDC, I believe).

- Lastly, the best way to break in is to actually write for games, even if it's for free and as a hobby. There are plenty of mods and game editors out there that you should be able to work on or contribute to, and finished mods are something that game companies either look at in terms of resumes or while they're looking to see what cool things have been done for their games (for example, in Fallout New Vegas, we checked out the cool mods that people had done as inspiration for our DLCs, and they'd made some great stuff).

  • Alvin Nelson and daniel.robert.campbell like this

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