Clearing the Haze: Rob Yescombe On Writing For An FPS
October 22, 2007 Page 5 of 5
Does that 1,000 pages include everything
from the barks to the names of guns and things?
RY: I'm talking about spoken dialogue.
Spoken dialogue is 1,000 pages. Additional stuff is... all the manual
stuff is another X number of pages on top of that.
Wow. How many minutes does that translate to?
RY: It's about a page a minute.
That's a lot. I hope you have a good voice director.
RY: I am the voice director. So I cast it and directed it.
Well I hope you did a good job!
RY: Fingers crossed! Like I said, Royal Shakespeare Company -- they were good.
Yeah, it should be. So as a full-time scriptwriter, are you always writing, or are you also working through the design meetings and things like that?
RY: That's the other benefit -- having
someone full-time who isn't just coming it to write and then leave --
is that I'm constantly able to adapt the script to fit the gameplay.
In a movie, it's nice because the script is the foundation it's built
on, but with a game, it has to be the gameplay, because, like I said,
it doesn't matter how great the story is. If it's unplayable, it's a
waste of time. So it's all about having them decide, "How do we
want the gameplay to work?" and then "How can the story work
with that?" It's a constantly changing experience.
What did you do previously?
RY: I was in TV and film, basically.
Free Radical found me. It was kind of odd. I wrote a sitcom in the UK.
It wasn't actually produced, but it was shortlisted for a Taps award.
Even though it wasn't produced?
RY: Yeah. Still haven't really figured that out. And Free Radical didn't want to advertise for a screenwriter, because you get a million fucking replies. So they contacted Taps, which is this awards body, and they contacted me, saying, "Do you want to write a game?" "Yes. Hell yes!" Free Radical wanted a twelve-page sample; I gave them two full screenplays and a twenty-page document on gameplay ideas. I had like fifty letters of recommendation from a bunch of places, so you know, it was good.
Cool. How have you found writing for games, in terms of being able to having able to kill your babies sometimes when you have to cut things?
RY: It's no different to writing TV or film or anything, because writing is rewriting, and anybody who thinks that the first draft is going to make it to air, you're out of your fucking mind. It's a collaborative process and everybody has an opinion, and everybody's a consumer and therefore everybody's right. It's about trying to figure out what's the best way to run.
What's interesting is that I've talked to some people who've had Hollywood scriptwriters come and write their game's script, and then it didn't turn out that well. It seems to me that there are misunderstandings on both sides. On the one side, you've got the Hollywood writer who's used to writing a draft, and then either someone else takes it over or they're done. And then you've got game people, who are expecting that Hollywood writers are going to be able to do this amazing thing right away that they can totally use, but when they want to change it, the writer is not there. It seems like there's a lot of industry understanding that needs to happen.
RY: It's good, because what it means is developers and publishers want good writers. All they're doing is figuring out how that's going to work for them. So I'm happy that's happening.
I think it's good too. An example
of a position like yours is good to set
for the industry. Well, assuming it does well.
RY: Let's hope!
There's always that. Yeah, we'll see how that goes. I hope that people will realize that it's important to have.
RY: I hope so. It is happening. It's slow, but it'll happen. We're a big juggernaut, and we drag our feet as the games industry, but we are moving in the right direction.
Page 5 of 5