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SF: Can you playtest a game’s story?

RP: It’s really hard to do. There’s this big feedback loop between writing a line and actually getting it working in the game. You have to write it, it has to pass through all the gates and checks required to approve it, it has to be recorded by - if you’re lucky - an actor, and then it has to be placed in the game. Now you have to make sure it triggers in the right place and if it’s part of an animation then it has to go along with that. It can take a long time before you can see if it’s working in place.

Mostly it’s about having time to test. All you can do is get people in early - get writers in early. Ideally writers should be doing a lot of work before they write any dialogue - character profiles and bios and working out relationship structures and world building exercises. Really getting to know your characters before you write them is a luxury and it’s about having that time to iterate. Most game scripts get only one draft and that’s it! Even the best Hollywood screen writer doesn’t get it right first time and that’s in a linear medium. So often there is just not time for polish and iteration on scripts.

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Rhianna Pratchett — Playing At Writing