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Old 05-14-2008, 11:38 AM   #1
JCSmits
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Default Writing Portfolio Site

Hello everyone,

I've recently joined and thought I'd post a quick question regarding portfolio sites for writers. I've recently graduated with a BA in Game Design and career services advisors at my school suggested a visually appealing and quickly accessible or reviewable site for most within the program.

However, in regards to writing I haven't come across too many ideas for a way to make the writing more appealing to a recruiter, let alone what recruiters look for in writers. (If they're looking for them).

I had an idea of creating an animatic or cut-scene with a voice-over written by me (giving proper credit to the voice actor and artists involved of course) in order to portray the writing translated into a more visual medium. In addition I was thinking of a 3D modeled character performing animations while their description was overlayed across the bottom of the screen, while a voice-over reading the words about the character played. This way the viewer can both read and listen to the description of the character as they see it.

This could possibly work for scenes themselves that lack dialog or environment fly-throughs. Any thoughts or comments on these suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Also, as far as portfolios go I've definitely run across the idea of blogging game reviews from different forums and see that as a viable option as well, something along the lines of the Austrailian reviewer The Escapist of Zero Puntuaction. Thanks again.
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:40 AM   #2
yaustar
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If you are a writer, why would you need anything more then written samples in your portfolio?
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:06 AM   #3
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The problem inherent with that is the relative short attention span of most... everyone, whether due to a busy schedule or some other reason. It's infinitely harder to get people to look at writing than it is to get them to look at visual art.

So I can certainly understand where you're coming from, JC. I have a portfolio site that is specifically for writing. My idea for increasing readability was to make a new format by which to access it. If you look at my latest work under Game Writing (the Baiting the Beast stuff) you'll see what I mean. It's essentially a CYOA format that allows the user to easily navigate a conversation file as they would in game. So far I've received positive feedback regarding the readability of such a document. There are links to the template actually a few posts down in this forum. It's based off of Bioware's template, but I've made quite a number of formatting modifications to make it suit a certain style.

Regarding your ideas, I personally think the cutscene would go over much better. Fire up an engine from a PC game (NWN2, Oblivion, etc) and make a nice cutscene, 30 seconds to 2 minutes max I'd say. Put it on your front page as an embedded video that viewers can choose to play (like how YouTube videos are embedded). Put some text below it clearly stating that you designed the cutscene using such and such toolset and that the dialogue and characters are yours but the voice work is done by so and so. I actually find this idea very appealing and think it would be a great eye-catcher. It can also show off some of your design skills.

One thing that worries me however - I'm not sure what program you graduated from, but in mine there's really not much of an opportunity to do narrative design. Which is understandable as it's mostly a game art program. I've written maybe four documents that could be considered applicable, and none of them are in my portfolio. Most of my stuff is from my work writing for different mod projects and the like, and a personal demo script meant as the feature of my portfolio. I assume your program either had some applicable things or that you've written them on your own time?

While you're looking for an industry job, I recommend browsing some mod forums and joining an established team as a writer. Be professional - send the project lead a PM with a grammatically immaculate, perfectly spell-checked letter inquiring about their project and if they need the services of a writer. Link your portfolio, give them your regards, and await response.

Feel free to send me a PM or email if you like, or leave a comment on my site. I'll respond to any of the above if you'd like any further advice, critique, or just want to talk shop.
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
The problem inherent with that is the relative short attention span of most... everyone, whether due to a busy schedule or some other reason. It's infinitely harder to get people to look at writing than it is to get them to look at visual art.
If time is the issue, then I would expect most people, to be able to read a lot faster then for it to be acted out. Considering that the OP would apply for writing positions, then why would the recruiter/interviewer/etc not look at a portfolio that has writing samples in?

I may be missing something, but I don't understand why you need to catch someone's attention if it is expected?
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Old 05-15-2008, 01:35 PM   #5
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It's true it's expected, and you're quite right about that. I think the thought is that it's just something a bit different. And for one, doing a cutscene shows a few things:
  • He knows how to set up a cutscene which implies anything from setting up cameras and waypoints to hard coding
  • He knows his way around a conversation editor
  • He understands the need for the writing to be represented in a visual manner

To me, it just shows he knows a bit more about game development than your average 'writer' who has credits from Blockbuster X, but doesn't know how to write a non-linear story, and doesn't know the first thing about the game development pipeline. Not that just a cutscene shows all of this about the OP, but still. It's the whole Writer versus Narrative Designer difference, again.

This is, of course, all my opinion. Perhaps just wishful thinking on my part, too.

That said, I would encourage the OP to maybe use this technique for one piece, just as that little something extra. Then put solid writing samples in your portfolio and rely on those to convey your skill as a writer. When submitting a sample with an application, leave out the cutscene. Just send your best writing, and make sure it's formatted the way the studio prefers, if they have a preference.
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Last edited by CKeene : 05-16-2008 at 01:48 AM.
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Old 05-16-2008, 07:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKeene View Post
  • He knows how to set up a cutscene which implies anything from setting up cameras and waypoints to hard coding
  • He knows his way around a conversation editor
  • He understands the need for the writing to be represented in a visual manner
Actually, that isn't a bad point.
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:19 AM   #7
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*bump to drop spam thread*
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:35 PM   #8
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Yaustar and CKeene,

Thanks much for the info and responses, very helpful! Also sorry about the slow response, took a bit of time off for family with school finally being done and all. As far as my degree it was sort of a "little bit of everything" type of program. There was some scripting, some modeling, some level design, some sound, some writing etc. Though like you mentioned CKeene, there wasn't much in the way of documentation save for a game doc or two with little than a template to go on. There were some classes devoted to things like the Three Act Structure and Hero's Journey, but in regards to the game documents I do have, I need to polish them before putting them in a portfolio.

Also picked up a copy of NWN2 and plan on getting the newest Unreal just to get experience on both as much as I can (seeing as I've heard a lot of suggestions to use Unreal and heard good things about the NWN series).

And I'll have to agree with you Yaustar, great points, hadn't thought of all that. Having taken a bit of time to breath I'm going to dig into the editors (soon as my desktop is up and running so I can have a PC that'll be up to snuff) and see what I can do.

With what writing I've done, the majority of it was done in a linear prose style outside of school and I'm figuring out how to present it in a more non-linear way, there's the fun challenge.

CKeene, I'll definitely check out your site, and thanks again for all the help!
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Old 05-24-2008, 08:55 AM   #9
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Let me know if you need help in NWN2 (Electron) or Unreal 3 toolsets. I have experience in both, though more experience in Electron.
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:10 AM   #10
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These are some really good ideas. I will definitely implement them in my upcoming portfolio.
I'm a non-traditional student, having attended the school of hard knocks for a while before deciding on post-secondary education to open some doors. I tried screenwriting and I am currently working on a novel.
The ideas given above certainly blend my interests into a cohesive portfolio piece.

Question: I've got NWN 1. I've got an older computer. I have very little money. Are cutscenes and mods for NWN still acceptable as part of a portfolio?
I don't have the guts in my PC to handle NWN2, so that wouldn't be an appropriate investment right now.
Does using the aurora toolset in NWN show sufficient grasp of the concepts to warrant a closer look at my portfolio?

I'm a part time student, planning on graduating in 4 quarters. That gives me about a year to pull together a stellar portfolio to wow the world, or at least get my foot in the door.

Any thoughts or guidance is appreciated.

-Tarl
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