Bioware: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

I regret not being able to hit AGDC this year, as it was a tremendous learning experience last year. However, being in Toronto, and still recovering from GenCon and post-GenCon travels, it wasn’t to be. Still, I got to go to Pitch Expo Toronto, which may well have been more worthwhile.

But I saw this article today, on Slashdot. Zonk covers Bioware’s Writing Seminar from the Austin GDC.

How They Do It

The core of the BioWare writing process would sound familiar to most programmers: iterate, iterate, iterate. To that end, the company aims to get writers involved in a game’s creation early in the process. They make it a point to have a writer in the room during the broad concept stage of game creation. From an org char perspective, writers are a part of the design department. Currently the company has 73 designers on 5 projects, with 26 of those folks being members of the writing team. Titles on the writing team include lead writers and managing editors, writers, and technical editors.

Projects are broken out into three distinct phases: Prototyping, Pre-Production, and Production. Prototyping is primarily early story and setting concepting, looking for new ideas, trying to figure out how to do things in a different way. They ask how they can explore the IP they’re working on while staying true to the core concept. This is the ‘cheapest’ phase of the work, by far. Pre-Production, then, is about nailing things down: defining characters and story arcs, and working out systems and work pipelines. Production is the longest phase by far, with several distinct sub-phases making it up. This is all about generating the guts of the game, and the goal is to know what the company is going to make before they get here.


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Posted in Games, Writing on September 11, 2007 by Jesse
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Jesse Scoble

Jesse Scoble is a writer, story editor, and game designer in no particular order.

He has won awards, written a Western Horror script, worked on computer games & pen&paper games, contributed to more than 30 titles, and makes a mean mojito.

Currently he is a freelance writer in Montreal, QC.