BECOME A GAME WRITER
11 MAR 2024 - 24 APR 2024
MONDAYS & WEDNESDAYS
5:30 PM PST / 8:30 PM EST
Learn from an industry powerhouse who created $1B+ projects for Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and more. Join Adrian Ropp, Avalanche’s Lead Writer, to unleash your game storytelling potential.
THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU, IF...
YOU ARE A WRITER WITH A PASSION FOR GAMING
Wouldn’t it be awesome to combine your skills and interests in your career? Discover the basics of writing for games and master genre-specific skills to find your place in the game industry. Build a solid transition to the world of gaming with the practical tasks from this course.
YOU WANT TO ELEVATE YOUR GAME WRITING CAREER
Who can guide you better than a person with a successful 29-year career in the entertainment field? Learn from Adrian Ropp to expand your knowledge of the game industry and get ready for networking with like-minded professionals.
YOU WANT TO COLLAB WITH VARIOUS TEAMS AT YOUR NEXT GAME STUDIO
Be prepared to take a helicopter view of the gaming industry. This course will help you deal with cross-team collaboration, advanced narrative design, new technologies, and current market trends.
Don't just play games, shape their stories.
Analyze and improve game stories, create compelling characters, master dialogue writing, explore genre-specific techniques, dissect impactful cutscenes, and navigate the challenges of player choice.
Gaming evolves – and so does online education.
Just like the best games, this live online course offers an immersive experience, combining flexibility with expert guidance. Engage in real-time discussions, receive personalized mentorship, and gain practical knowledge.
- Lead Writer, Avalanche
- Creates stories for projects worth $1B+: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set, Toys to Life, Cars 2, Avengers, and Hogwarts Legacy.
- 29+ years experience in the Gaming, Movie, Comics, and Animation industries for such companies as Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Marvel, MGM, DreamWorks, Universal, Fox, Archie Comics, WB, and Avalanche.
- Worked as Story Lead, Lead Cinematics Artist & Director of Animation: expert in screenwriting, directing, creating storyboards, managing production teams, and pitching ideas.
- National Cartoonist Society Member and Honorary Member of the 501st Legion for his contribution to comics and animation, particularly to the Star Wars franchise.
- Instructor Introduction
- Course Objectives & Flow
- Q & A
Learn about the role of storytelling, game writers’ skills, and common tools.
- The role of a game writer
- Storytelling in video games
- Key skills for success
- Game writer tool kit
Assignment #1: Game Story
Pick a game you are currently playing and explain why you find the story effective.
Good ideas can stem from anywhere and be built upon. Learn how narrative elements intersect with game development and how to be analytical with your storytelling.
- The game development process
- A game writer’s role in the development process
- Case Study: Hogwarts Legacy development life cycle
- Workshop 1: Game Story Analysis
Students pick a game they're currently playing and discuss it with peers, focusing specifically on the game's story and areas for improvement
How do you actually start a story? With a plot? With an idea? Learn to make your narrative sing by balancing it with game design.
- Creating the story structure
- An iterative approach to plotting and pacing
- Player choice vs. traditional storytelling
- Storytelling tips and tricks for video games
- Case study: God of War Ragnarok and Uncharted
Assignment #2: Player Choice and Branching Story (optional)
Choose a popular film and imagine how it could be different if player choice and a branching story were used.
Your character is more than your plot. They have a life & personality of their own. Let’s learn how to bring them to life and stay consistent with their thoughts, actions, and motivations.
- Creating relatable characters (backstory & history)
- Finding a character’s flaws and goals
- Developing character arcs and non-player characters
- Case Study: Sebastian Sallow, Hogwarts Legacy for character creation from concept to final game version
- Workshop 2: Character Creation Speed-run
Students create a character complete with basic information, a brief backstory, and one unique trait.
Assignment #3: Hero Character
Create a hero character using the template outlined in this session.
Here’s a tip: You should be able to guess which character is speaking simply by reading a random line. Here’s the lesson: In today’s class we’ll learn ways to approach dialogue. And we’ll learn how to connect the visuals with the words.
- The rule of show don’t tell
- How to give a unique voice to each character
- The danger of too much specificity in player choice
- Supporting level design
- Workshop 3: Writing Dialogues
A hero tries to get information from an uncooperative character with a secret. Break out into groups, write a dialogue exchange, and present it.
Assignment #4: Writing Scenes with Dialogue
Write a scene in two ways - one with spoken dialogue and one in text.
Learn about the tropes that exist in different genres. This way your dialogue will never break tension but collaborate with it.
- How genre influences storylines
- The unique requirements of each genre
- Character archetypes in different genres
- Workshop 4: Genre-Specific Writing
Students will be divided into groups and given a genre. Write a description of a character/short story that aligns with your task.
Assignment #5: Genre Analysis and Rewrite
Students are assigned a specific game genre. They are to analyze the storytelling techniques and tropes typically used in that genre. Then, they must choose an existing game of a different genre and "rewrite" it to fit the assigned genre.
Grasp the big picture as you blend gameplay and cutscenes to allow the player to have autonomy.
- The role of cutscenes in video games
- Finding an economical approach
- Creating engaging & memorable cutscenes
- Cutscene vs. gameplay
- Use Cases: Iconic cutscenes: The Outbreak Begins - The Last Of Us & The Sinister Six - Insomniac's Spider-Man
- Workshop 5: Cutscene Critique
Show students a cutscene from a game and have them write a short critique, analyzing how effectively it conveys a story, reveals character, and integrates gameplay.
Assignment #6: Screenplay
Write a screenplay for a one-minute cinematic in screenwriting format.
Learning how to add value will make you an asset. The goal is to make a brand stronger and to deepen the relationship with the audience and characters. But how? Let’s find out!
- Brand withdrawal or Brand deposit?
- What are the rules of this universe?
- Why does this story need to be told?
- Working with Game Design to create a clever narrative
You’re creative. So you likely want to create tons of outcomes. But the budget might say otherwise. Learn to limit choices & use the craft of writing to give the illusion of autonomy to the player.
- Branching storylines and multiple endings
- Player choice and agency in non-linear narratives
- Interactive storytelling and its role in non-linear narratives
- Narrative documentation
- Case study: Witcher
- Workshop 6: Reality of Player Choice in Games
Some amazing player choice ideas are beyond the company budget. Practice overcoming this challenge by aligning the limited budget with the given narrative to devise three different player choices.
Assignment #7: Player Autonomy
Write an outline for a branching conversation with no more than three outcomes, preserving the illusion of player autonomy.
Craft impactful barks and callouts that enhance gameplay moments and apply best practices for writing them. Ensure they're concise, natural-sounding, and support the game's tone and narrative.
- Barks & Callouts in Dialogue
- Writing Barks & Callouts
- Good Barks & Callout Tips
Assignment #8: Bark Sheet
Create a full sheet of barks using the information provided.
This is a part of the job where you’ll likely bump heads. So you’ll learn to problem solve, blend ideas, and work professionally in the industry. In this class, you’ll find commonalities with game designers and other writers to produce an engaging story.
- Collaboration in game development
- Working with mission, world, and level designers, artists, and voice actors.
- Collaboration tools (Slack & Microsoft Teams)
- Team Communication
Assignment #9: Team Quiz (Optional)
Take a bonus quiz about the different roles in the game industry.
Networking. Career possibilities. Industry trends. And getting your foot in the door! Learn what to highlight and what to avoid when interacting with your next employer.
- Career trends of 2024
- Career possibilities as a video game writer
- Portfolio & interview tips
- Keys to appearing indispensable
- How to find opportunities
Assignment #10: Course Project: Professional Game Presentation
Make a Professional Game Presentation using the parameters outlined.