Today I thought I’d answer a few questions from Twitter. For those of you who don’t follow me, I’m @TJ_Fixman. Yes, it’s the world’s most original twitter name.
@DavidGillette1 Favorite Quantum Leap episode?
So hard to pick! Quantum Leap is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, so there are so many episodes to choose from. A lot of people would probably say the Lee Harvey Oswald episode, but I’d have to go with “The Leap Back.” That’s the one where Al and Sam switch places. Sam becomes a hologram trapped in the Imaging Chamber, and Al is stuck with the Ziggy uplink in 1945. Sam even got to back to the future (1995!) to reconnect with his estranged wife. The episode was so good it almost makes up for the evil leapers.
@nickthebishop15: What do you look for when reading over your first draft?
The honest answer is, everything. Draft One is my throwaway draft—usually I refer to it as “Draft Zero,” as it may have temp dialogue, omitted scenes, script notes that require rewrites to other parts of the story, etc. Thorough outlining can eliminate 90% of your plot holes, but often times you’ll break real ground during the script writing process. This means lots of fixes. I’ll think of that elusive twist, or a new take on a character, or an idea that didn’t occur to me during the outline process. Rather than stop, go back, and rework, I’ll push forward with the idea and note the changes I’ll have to make in earlier scenes. Naturally, I try not to show Draft Zero to anyone since it looks pretty messy, but it’s a process I’ve found works well for me.
@DannyJC13 Insomniac have strongly suggested FFA/QF will not be the final R&C, are you guys already brainstorming for the next game?
As far as I know we haven’t suggested anything of the sort, but I always find it funny how internet rumors get started! Obviously I can’t comment on future titles, but I will say nothing is ever set in stone. Insomniac loves the Ratchet & Clank universe, but we don’t want to churn out titles unless we’re sure we can deliver on a fun, unique experience. So I’ll hit you with the “never say never” response, but I will also confirm that I am just as in love with the Ratchet universe as I was when I first started. So if Insomniac chooses to do another Ratchet game, I’d be interested in writing it.
@WestonAlbert What kind of writing samples should you have trying to break into the game industry, especially if you haven’t worked on a game?
This is a tough question, because it comes with bad news. The honest truth is that if you haven’t worked on a game, sending in your samples is probably not going to get you anywhere. As I’ve mentioned in my blog, getting a job as a game writer means experience in both game production and writing. This means you must have been published several times and have experience in some form of game production. I know this may seem like a long road, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. The key is to develop your portfolio and get yourself through the door. This can mean game design, QA, or animation. Start from the bottom and work your way up. I wrote greeting cards just for experience!
@CooperHeinrichs What are some of your influences for comedic writing? Do you read your dialogue aloud with other writers?
When I was a kid I fell in love with those old Looney Tunes cartoons. I remember being amazed at how much comedy you could get with just a coyote, a roadrunner, and a ton of faulty Acme products. I also love Douglas Adams, Steven Spielberg, and Mel Brooks (Spaceballs is still one of my all-time favorite movies).
As for reading my dialogue with other writers, since I tend to work alone I don’t read my dialogue to other writers. However, I do act out my own scenes to make sure what I’m writing is actable. Since I myself am a terrible actor I try not to do this in front of Insomniacs, but I find that acting out my own material is the fastest way to know if it’s working or not.
@alexislawl Tips for newcomers to narrative design / writing for games?
Start with the basics. When I was 17 I thought my writing was amazing; I read it now and wonder why I ever sent it out. Every sample you write is going to be stronger than the one before, so don’t be too eager. The last thing you want is to send out a sample that is sub-par and earn a reputation as a green writer. Start by writing short stories, entering screenwriting competitions, and magazine articles. When you succeed in one area, jump up a rung. You’d be amazed at how much your writing will improve in just a few years. Then, when you have learned about the landscape of professional writing, make your move. Everyone hates hearing that they have work to do before they earn the job of their dreams, but being strategic and realistic about your writing will better prepare you for success.
@DrewHolmes Will you read my R&C slash fic?
Drew, please stop sending me your stories. They are borderline pornographic and the paper always smells like cheap bourbon.
@jakesones How did you escape New Jersey?
Who says I escaped? *shudders*