Gamasutra - Rebuttal: Why Writers Matter
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March 25th, 2008, 19:19
While I mostly agree with Steel_Wind, I do have to disagree on one significant point: Dialog.
It's one thing to write character dialog for paper, and another for dialog that's going to be spoken aloud. Especially now that voice acting is mandatory on any so-called "Triple-A" game. Screen writers (
) have the skills to make that voice acting sound sane when spoken aloud, and not end up with something like DW Bradley's purple prose from Dungeon Lords (which I actually found amusing, but for the wrong reasons), or the horrible writing for Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood (the worst I can ever recall hearing), or the cumbersome translation of Witcher's dialog over to English.
The fine art of making voice actors not sound bad is something screenwriters should be good at. That's a big part of their job. For smaller scale games without voice acting, an experienced writer (not necessarily a screen writer) can go a long ways towards making the dialog a much more pleasant experience, keep all of the characters having distinct voices, etc.
For us niche RPGers, dialog is important, and man does it stink in most games. We may not be able to trust writers to have the skill for making a non-linear story enjoyable, but neither can we trust game designers to have the skill to make the dialog not sound like a horrible caricature, or like all characters are clones sharing the same tone, word choice, idioms, etc.
Finding someone good at both is unlikely. I think most teams would benefit from a skilled writer. But I also think that what constitutes "writing" for a game is different than fiction or screen plays. The dialog is definitely the purview of a skilled writer.
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