Spinning a Gripping… Game

The Edmonton Journal has published a two-page article about video game storytelling, with BioWare’s Drew Karpyshyn and Mike Laidlaw offering commentary about their experiences writing for Mass Effect and Jade Empire, respectively.

The game boasts about 300,000 words of dialogue and an elaborate backstory. Everything has been accounted for, right down to creatures native to different planets. “There’s a huge amount of content, more than you would find in a movie or a book,” Karpyshyn says. “So you need an enormous amount of writing to flesh that out and really make the experience resonate.”

Writers are assigned their own pieces of the galaxy to dream up. To start, they are given only the vaguest of directions like: create an ice world.

“It’s a very broad mandate,” Karpyshyn says. “Each writer is given quite a bit of freedom in their own little corner of this vast universe, but they have to make sure that everything fits together, and that’s really what the lead writer’s responsibility is.”

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