Making a demo as proof of concept

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Making a demo as proof of concept

    First, I just want to say thank you for adding this section to DDP. Really glad to see there's a section for video game writing. So thanks.

    My question - do game developers respond better to a 'pitch' if you were to make a small demo as a proof of concept? Like a short film to show what a feature could be? Or is that a waste?
    I keep hearing pitching video game companies your story is damn near impossible.

    Thanks
    -FM

  • #2
    Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

    I have written on a few games (got one coming out next month) - but never pitched ideas to devs. The reason being - five years back, I'd recently finished work on a small indie cyberpunk RPG (Dex) and was then on a sci fi novel assignment with loads of amazing world-building and great cross-platform potential. I thought to ask my boss on Dex about pitching the book to game studios, seeing as Jan really knew the games business (and not just in Europe). Met him for dinner and this is what he said without hearing a word about the book (I was under NDA so couldn't disclose anything about the story or world):

    - That I probably shouldn't bother, as studios tend not to receive pitches from writers. The story, characters and world are such a small fraction of the overall experience and almost always need to be created around the gameplay rather than the other way around.

    - For this same reason, devs also wouldn't be prepared to pay much at all for the story - so I would need to be doing it for 'exposure' (not an awful idea for selling a screenplay, I suppose, if you're prepared to wait four years).

    - If you've written the next Harry Potter, that's different for obvious reasons.

    Just realised that's all I remember him saying on this matter - kind of wrapped it up.

    It sounds you might have a pitch for gameplay too, though - so, sure, have a go. And definitely the more visual stuff you can show the better. But make sure you know what you want from the studio, because they will most likely never have done a deal like this before (all their previous lore and narrative work would have been done in-house). Remember too that there is very little chance they'd give you any kind of job on the project without game writing/development experience (possibly a support/consultancy role developing lore and characters, maaaybe rewriting dialogue...). But who knows. Give it a try. After all, life isn't programmed (ermmm).

    Denouement re Jan - four nights after we met to discuss the above, he died from liver failure after taking some dodgy MDMA. He was just 26. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects.../posts/1397813 RIP Jan - one of the most talented people I ever worked for (and I was over 10 years his senior even back then).
    Last edited by muser777; 02-25-2020, 04:37 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

      Originally posted by muser777 View Post

      - That I probably shouldn't bother, as studios tend not to receive pitches from writers. The story, characters and world are such a small fraction of the overall experience and almost always need to be created around the gameplay rather than the other way around.

      - For this same reason, devs also wouldn't be prepared to pay much at all for the story - so I would need to be doing it for 'exposure' (not an awful idea for selling a screenplay, I suppose, if you're prepared to wait four years).

      - If you've written the next Harry Potter, that's different for obvious reasons.
      Yaaa, this all kind of makes sense, from the bits and pieces I keep hearing and noticing about trying to 'break in' into video games. I know Naughty Dog has a team or writers, but that may not be the norm.
      Seems like if you want to have your story told through a video game, you have to have some dev skills behind you, or at least partner with an indie gamer. A lot of parallels to breaking into Hollywood - wanting to sell a james bond script vs. writing an indie and shooting it yourself. I'm sure it's near impossible to get onto a AAA game as 'just' a writer.
      Congrats on the success and Dex. I just saw the trailer. Love it. I feel the nostalgia of side scrollers, but it looks contemporary.
      Sorry for your loss. Glad Jan could share some pearls before he passed.

      Thanks for the info and sharing all that. Feel free to DM info on your new game when it's out!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

        Originally posted by Filmmagician View Post
        Yaaa, this all kind of makes sense, from the bits and pieces I keep hearing and noticing about trying to 'break in' into video games. I know Naughty Dog has a team or writers, but that may not be the norm.
        Seems like if you want to have your story told through a video game, you have to have some dev skills behind you, or at least partner with an indie gamer. A lot of parallels to breaking into Hollywood - wanting to sell a james bond script vs. writing an indie and shooting it yourself. I'm sure it's near impossible to get onto a AAA game as 'just' a writer.
        Congrats on the success and Dex. I just saw the trailer. Love it. I feel the nostalgia of side scrollers, but it looks contemporary.
        Sorry for your loss. Glad Jan could share some pearls before he passed.

        Thanks for the info and sharing all that. Feel free to DM info on your new game when it's out!
        Yeah - even indies have writer teams. But AAAs have huge teams - Deliverance Kingdom Come had like 20 in a room. And a dog. There's simply so much content for dialogue with even basic branching.

        We had two other writers and myself on Dex. Glad you liked the trailer - there were three or four of them released over the first two years, and some were better than others. I find a lot of the voice acting really grating now, though - didn't back then. Weird.

        Anyway - Dex was supposed to be an homage to old beat em ups, which explains the nostalgia.

        Back to your question about getting your story told in a game - I am rarely involved in concepting for a new game so don't take my opinions as gospel but I really think, like you said, you just need to get someone excited about your story who has clout in a studio (probably catch them out of hours and informally, but making sure it's written down and registered first, of course).

        Even if this worked out, I have no idea what would happen then without at least some game writing experience behind you. You are right that no AAA would just hire someone for their writing team without a vg writing background - at least as far as I know; but it did happen more in times past - two writers on one European AAA (decided it prudent not to be too specific!) were fresh out of college with just English degrees.

        But in the same way as we write spec scripts, there are ways of doing the same for games. You can use https://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/ or twine.org to write something interactive off your own back. That counts as experience among devs, which can lead to a hire (though you should treat the work as a sample - never heard of anyone getting a hire AND getting a sale with their sample; although it might have happened somewhere sometime, I suppose).

        When you have some interactive writing in hand as a sample, another option is interactive visual novels for phones. It's a huge, growing and ever-evolving market with so many publishers and platforms now that I've lost track. But it is way more story-driven than pure games, and consequently much more writer-driven. The pay is in low 5 figures just for the writing, which you can do in two months - and you can get royalties too. My second VN was actually an adaptation of my first screenplay, so it is very much your baby.

        And, if you don't mind programming and designing too, there are also places like https://taleswriter.com/apply/ and, the more established, https://www.choiceofgames.com/looking-for-writers/ where you can do the whole visual novel yourself. In return for a mix of pay and royalties (just royalties if you're starting out), you get access to their design engine, assets and publishing platform - which is all you need to put the entire thing together and publish. Not used either of these yet but I imagine either would equip you with some useful skills for moving into 'real' game development.

        At the end of the day, like anything, all this is just a question of applying yourself. A lot. But for sure video game writing is more financially secure and less competitive than screenwriting - at least in my experience. This makes it a really good backup if screenwriting doesn't work out. And if, like me, your screenwriting is still on small films, it's nice doing a bit of both. Films take forever to get made and it's easier to get stuff out there in games - so you always have reviews to check in on.

        Our former chair for video games at the WGGB put together this three part blog about breaking in, with contributions from much bigger vg writers than me (though I contributed too, in the second part): https://lukeopenshawwriter.wordpress...riters-part-1/

        Right - I think I've now said absolutely everything I know on this topic!
        Last edited by muser777; 02-25-2020, 08:02 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

          Originally posted by Filmmagician View Post
          Feel free to DM info on your new game when it's out!
          Thanks - is not a secret so I'll put it here. Just early access release first but you can see a couple of trailers and a bunch of screens: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1207320/Gray_Zone/

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

            Originally posted by muser777 View Post

            Right - I think I've now said absolutely everything I know on this topic!
            Ok... I started reading your reply on my phone and it was like opening presents on Christmas morning - so now I'm on my desktop, giving it the proper read it deserves.
            That's all amazing info. The interactive visual novels sounds really cool. Will for sure check out those sites as well.
            I'm kinda sorta starting to dabble in C# and Python, simply to see if I can program something I write for. Total new found respect for programmers and devs - but I'll look into taleswriter and choiceofgames when I get a chance.

            GrayZone looks cool. Added to my wishlist.

            Thanks again for all the info. This was nothing short of mind blowing for me. Lots to keep me busy. And this blog post about breaking in sounds like a great read to start off.

            If you ever want feedback on a beta build or any notes for anything, let me know! Thanks again!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

              Originally posted by muser777 View Post
              twine.org
              I think it's https://twinery.org incase anyone else is reading this.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

                Happy you found it useful. And thanks for the offer for reads. Will remember, sure. This doesn't happen all that much because of fear of leaks etc - it would be kind of like giving out drafts of a film script two weeks before shooting. But let's see.

                Likewise, let me know if you do write something interactive - glad to feedback too, no prob. God knows I got enough good advice from others back in the day on this board.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Making a demo as proof of concept

                  Originally posted by Filmmagician View Post
                  I think it's https://twinery.org incase anyone else is reading this.
                  oops. Yeah - thanks.

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X