BioWare - On Being “Lead Writer”
David Gaider has a new post on his Tumblr blog about being Lead Writer at BioWare.
I get asked this question in various permutations quite frequently— and, even when I’m not asked it, I get the impression that people have wildly different interpretations of what it might mean.
So, okay. Bit of a boring post if you really have no interest at all in learning what a Lead Writer for BioWare actually does. If you do, then here you go.
First thing you’d need to understand is that there’s no single definition in the game industry as to what a “Lead Writer” is or does, or indeed even what a writer does at one company to the next. Some companies bring in writers after the rest of the game is designed, often on contract, to add a story and dialogue. Others have writers who also wear other hats, as level designers or even programmers. Only a few have full-time writers who only write, and who participate in the game’s design from the get-go— though that number does appear to be growing.
Second thing you’d need to understand is that the position at BioWare has changed over time. Back in the days of Baldur’s Gate 2, there was no such thing as a “Lead Writer”— all creative decisions and management were handled by the Lead Designer. As the team sizes grew, it became too much work for the Lead Designer to manage the entire design team directly— so some of the work began to be off-loaded to “sub-leads”. At first the Lead Writer was just the sub-lead responsible for keeping an eye on the overall narrative, making sure it flowed throughout the game and alerting the Lead Designer if something needed to change. Over time, more responsibilities were off-loaded to the sub-leads, until the Lead Designer became a position that is as much co-ordination of his sub-leads as it is creative leadership.