Writing workflow

A forum for general discussion of the game: Open to all punters
Post Reply
User avatar
coldacid
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:43 am
Location: In ur head, weirdin' ur thoughts
Contact:

Writing workflow

Post by coldacid » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:28 pm

Now that I've given into the Dark Side and started working on an old VN idea I had from some time ago, I'd like to ask what the writing workflow is like for KS. How do you guys work this all out, not just the writing itself but the planning of the plot, editing, and actually sticking into the game? How do you mark up your scripts, etc?

Sorry if this has come up before, but searching the forums & blog didn't turn up anything, at least not for the terms I used.
<coldacid> hanak-o's
<coldacid> taste best when burnt

Silentcook
Carelessly Cooking You
Posts: 2516
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:22 am
Location: Imola, Italy

Re: Writing workflow

Post by Silentcook » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:22 pm

coldacid wrote:planning
BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAA :lol:
I wish. Oh gods, the pain. :cry:
Shattering your dreams since '94.

Image

User avatar
Suriko
Lilly Writer, Hanako Co-Writer, Producer
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:10 am
Location: Australia

Re: Writing workflow

Post by Suriko » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:34 pm

While each writer had a slightly different way they went about things, we all generally followed the same idea.

First off we made a scenario plan. It was a very general description of what major events occur and what form the story would take, and largely served as a way for both the writer to stay tethered to a plan without wandering off into the wilderness on a whim (which happened anyway, in most cases) and as a way for others in the development team to critique the path's foundation as presented before too much work was wasted.

Then we wrote out the paths. We wrote generally scene by scene, and in chronological order, with each posted to the forum as they were done and staff leaving a comment or two on any scenes they wanted to comment on so things could quickly be addressed. Each scene was written in whatever program each writer used (I just used Notepad), and took the form of a simplified Renpy script (no/very little direction, comments where wanted preceeded with a # to mark them as such, each line keeping to the length constraints of the in-game textbox). This part is what took up most of the path's writing times.

As this happened, Delta (and eventually some of the writers) inserted the scripts into the SVN repository (very basically an online copy of the game with the previous versions tracked). This meant that the dev's local versions of the game could be updated and the scenes read through in-game (though without sprites, backgrounds, music, sfx, etc) and any lines going outside the limits of the textbox could be fixed.

Then we scrapped pretty much everything and began to rewrite the paths.

The first drafts were far from useless - they served to lay down a first idea, as unrefined as they often were, of the path, and gave the writers valuable writing practice. After they were finished, the developers read each completed path and gave complete feedback and collected thoughts on what they were like (especially Aura, as head writer). Some needed just a bit of work, others needed quite a lot. Using this feedback, the writers produced a new plan for the second (and final) draft of their paths, this time a much more detailed scene-by-scene plan detailing what each scene would entail. This was also commented on by each developer and eventually laid the basis for the new second draft paths.

As the second drafts are being written (which is what is currently happening in Devland), they're being inserted into the SVN usually as they're done and then edited in there by the editors (Silentcook, Kagami and Losstarot). After each act is edited, Delta goes through and directs the scenes, adding sprites, backgrounds, SFX and music cues as well as fancy effects (for example, Emi's bouncing and the Shizune fireworks in Act 1, among others).

I guess my main advice would be to not be afraid of throwing out work. Writing can be cranked out on a good day, and sometimes a bad idea just isn't worth saving. And as always, practice, practice, practice.

User avatar
coldacid
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:43 am
Location: In ur head, weirdin' ur thoughts
Contact:

Re: Writing workflow

Post by coldacid » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:53 am

Thanks, Suriko!

I should probably start putting SVN to use for my project, and from this early stage. Usually I've never bothered with any source control until I have something a little more concrete, but that might be part of the reason that most of my previous projects (games and apps both) have never gotten very far. :|

I should also spend some more time plotting things out before I do more scene writing, too. So far I've got a few characters and a prologue scene, and absolutely no clue where to go from there. How have you dealt with that kind of writer's block? I hate the idea of throwing stuff out, but considering I've already culled two thirds of the originally planned characters for my story, I know how necessary it can be.

How long do you find it takes to write out a scene, by the way?
<coldacid> hanak-o's
<coldacid> taste best when burnt

Vigilant
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Writing workflow

Post by Vigilant » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:54 am

Hmm, Suriko I usually love your advice, but about throwing out work, I'd be careful with that, it's a bit personality dependent. I'm *EXTREMELY* self-critical, and I usually think all of my work sucks after first writing it, so I'd be liable to throw out everything most of the time. I like keeping it because after it passes a certain time period I can look at it with new eyes and often times go *hey this is pretty good*. Also good luck coldacid on your project.

I posted kinda some similar questions a while back (work on my idea has slowed down a lot since i'm keeping more than a couple different projects active at once, but it is progressing :) ).

User avatar
Suriko
Lilly Writer, Hanako Co-Writer, Producer
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:10 am
Location: Australia

Re: Writing workflow

Post by Suriko » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:57 am

Can only speak for myself, but I pretty much just wait out writer's block. Planning, especially scene-by-scene planning, can help in maintaining both a clear overall picture of the path's progress and also can help in keeping momentum between scenes. Most writer's block I get tends to be specifically in how to begin a scene or how to segue from one part of a scene into another, which can usually be solved by taking some time off writing until an idea pops into my head. Keeping a couple of text files around for quick access in order to jot down random ideas can also help give somewhat of a repository of starting points and events to use.

During writing the first draft of Lilly's path, I had an average of roughly one scene a week once I got into a rhythm. The second draft's a lot more start-stop and harder to guage. I tend to write scenes out in one sitting and spend the rest of the time more or less letting ideas coalesce in my head before starting to write.
Vigilant wrote:Hmm, Suriko I usually love your advice, but about throwing out work, I'd be careful with that, it's a bit personality dependent.
Of course, everything I've mentioned is generalised. Everyone is different.

Just as keeping bad writing can lower quality, continually throwing out everything leads to nothing getting done in the first place. It's a hard line between the two to strike.

User avatar
G3n0c1de
Posts: 1074
Joined: Mon May 25, 2009 1:15 am
Location: How are ya?

Re: Writing workflow

Post by G3n0c1de » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:49 am

It's like an interactive blog post!
It's a good thing Shizune is deaf, she is the only one who can stand (not) hearing "Wahaha~!" over and over.

User avatar
Warwick
Posts: 392
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 11:28 pm
Contact:

Re: Writing workflow

Post by Warwick » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:14 am

Two things. If you're thinking of collaborating, consider using Google Wave. I'm working on a non-writing-related project, and just throwing ideas around on it and modifying parts is fairly convenient.

Second, about writer's block, try out stopping midway on a sentence. It's how Hemingway did it.
静音是买外夫

HeMeido
Posts: 108
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:06 pm

Re: Writing workflow

Post by HeMeido » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:29 pm


User avatar
coldacid
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:43 am
Location: In ur head, weirdin' ur thoughts
Contact:

Re: Writing workflow

Post by coldacid » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:50 am

HeMeido wrote:I'm just going to leave this here.

http://www.onemanga.com/The_World_God_Only_Knows/75/01/
What was that? It's...

BRILLIANT.
<coldacid> hanak-o's
<coldacid> taste best when burnt

Post Reply