At the beginning of my scriptwriting journey, I had the pleasure of participating in a brainstorming session for a VR game. There were no set deadlines for completing the project or technical aspects to be rigidly adhered to. The only requirement was that the game had to be between 3 and 5 hours long. A perfect opportunity to show creativity!
In the meeting at the studio, I have presented an idea I had for a long time. The story was about a brilliantly executed bank robbery and was heavily based on movies like “Inside Man” or “Heat.” To my surprise my concept was met with a polite
but firm “no.”
Why was that? I could present only vague descriptions of the game-play. The very idea of a game about a single heist did not seem like something that guaranteed several hours of gameplay. Also unclear here was the role of the player himself. While I knew he was supposed to be the perpetrator of the heist, I didn’t want the game to be all about shooting, but what else could I propose? Of course, they are plenty of options:
My idea limped along at several points:
- As a die-hard heist movie fan, I knew firsthand the rules of the genre, but I didn’t know how to gamify them. I didn’t understand the differences between a game and a movie. I couldn’t name other game titles that could help defend my concept.
- I put too much confidence in the idea. In my imagination, I saw a beautiful 3D game… I didn’t realize at the time that I was unknowingly designing my title as if it was going to be an AAA game (a major studio title). The reality was quite different. I was working for a company that didn’t have the technical resources to realize overly ambitious ideas.
- I didn’t understand the technology and limitations of VR. It would be difficult to execute the idea without cinematics.
- My story was not polished. I had the basic frame of a structure, but I didn’t quite know how to fill it with content.
In the end, my proposal fell through. I would work on the script of a completely different story. I believe,
however, that it was a good thing. This minor failure taught me a few lessons:
– It’s not who the idea comes from that matters, it’s what happens next with it.
– Cost-effective ideas have a much better chance of coming to fruition. Think of a fortress siege scene in
3D. You can make it with epic flair, show from a bird’s eye view the defenders’ struggle, attempts to force the city gate, hundreds of ships on the horizon… But you can focus on the drama of the individual. Instead of visual effects,
use sounds. Do not show the entire siege, but only a snippet seen through the eyes of the hero. Not everything has to be epic. If you know your studio has 10 and not 100 people try to go off the scale in terms of the scale of events.
– Without gaming, there is no writing. Familiarity with other titles helps you defend your ideas. However, remember
not to fall completely into clichés.
On the other side of the table
All of the above advice actually boils down to one thing: the ability to look at your project from the outside, through the eyes of others. Will your team rise to the challenge? Where do you see risks, strengths and weaknesses of your
project? The more viewpoints you are able to take into account when presenting your idea, the greater the chance that you will be able to defend your idea from criticism. Such analysis will help you not only during the brainstorming
phase, but also at many other stages of a scriptwriter’s work.