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I would like to become a writer for the series.


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Hello SSMB. I hope this is the appropriate section.

I would like to become a writer for the series because I have a passion for literature and fiction stories, and want to give back to Sonic Team for all the nostalgia and memories they have given me in my youth as well as the fun and entertainment they still provide me with today. But also because I think that the quality of adventures, portrayal of the characters, and overall tone has been highly inconsistent as well as innaccurate, and I am an advocate of 'If you want something done right, do it yourself.' So that is my goal, with collaboration of the teams that design the games of course since I know it isn't as simple as writing It alone and sending it off. But it is my dream to be a part of designing a game for Sonic Team, regardless of how significant or minor the role but I am gunning for the pen.

I am posting this here because I would like some input on what I should do to get there. I don't have any personal connection with Sonic Team, and I missed out on the tickets to the 25th anniversary party. They literally sold out the day I was going to buy. 

I have no experience with writing but have put together a few scripts. I think they're good but of course, because I'm writing it. I don't know if it would behoove me to post them on the Internet. But I will be attending a university in a few months for writing and literature to improve my skills, and possibly graphic design just to have under my belt. Beyond that, I don't know how I would get my foot in the door so that the big wig Iizuka senpai himself will notice me. 

With that being said, any input and advice is very much welcome. Thank you for your time and words in advance.

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The thing is, you wouldn't be creating the story of the games. What you'd most likely be doing is taking the story Sonic Team gave you, and translate it for an english speaking audience. I believe that's what the current writers said is what they do.

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6 minutes ago, Toby said:

The thing is, you wouldn't be creating the story of the games. What you'd most likely be doing is taking the story Sonic Team gave you, and translate it for an english speaking audience. I believe that's what the current writers said is what they do.

Then who is responsible for the stories? 

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Sonic Team really, who specifically I wouldn't know. Maybe Iizuka? 

But as how to become a writer for Sonic, you really got to work yourself up in the ladder. Spend a lot of time writing various stories, refine it several times and try your best to put it out there to the public. 

I wouldn't know the first thing about writing but I feel that's a pretty solid first step.

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Hey! Welcome to SSMB!

I believe in order to be a writer for Sonic Team, you are going to need a couple of masters or bachelors degrees. Most writers do have degrees in creative writing and language and others also have degrees in technology and video game designing. Once you got that, you will also need to start small and write for smaller series in order to build a portfolio of some sort, that way if you wanted to shoot for SEGA or such they will see your past writings. 

Also, it's been said but you won't be an actual writer for the series but rather someone who is filling in the blanks and translating scripts. 

The biggest thing is patience along with lots of experiance. 

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I want to write for Sonic games as well. However, I seriously doubt my Bachelors in Creative Writing is going to help with that. Mostly because I'm not certain a position for it even exists.

Most likely, they get Steve from the break-room to pen something down on a napkin and they go from there.

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The position of writer in videogames in general is pretty far down the ladder.

Lets look at Sonic Colours, for instance. It's a good game for a lot of reasons, but people give Pontac and Graff a lot of shit for its story. But where do you think the collective Pontaff had the most impact on the story? Dialogue in cutscenes. That's all they wrote. They weren't responsible for the settings of the levels, the wisps, or any of the meat of the cutscenes. The actual content of those cutscenes is designed to be watched in a narratively weird fashion - you can play the levels in a mixed up order, so the majority of cutscenes in the middle of the game cannot hold any significant narrative weight. The developers, in making the game the way it was, forced their hand. They can say 'Sonic will do this' in a cutscene, but they didn't have a say in where those cutscenes should be or what they could actually contain.

Or, for another example, Sonic 06. Any sensible writer would not write Elise getting kidnapped repeatedly into your narrative. It's redundant. But, the designers were adamant that each hedgehogs story should have ten levels, and that they have to return to the hub at certain points. And the writers had to deal with that. Of course, if a developer is paying attention, they can work it in a way that those stipulations can seem natural - you never feel like you're thrown back to the hub for no reason in Sonic Adventure, for instance. 

This is true of a lot of games, but not all of them - Tomb Raider 2013 sought to have its lead writer present in development meetings, so she could influence the actual content, but most of the time the writer has to plug in the gaps between what the developers want to do. Another way to look at it is this - games with very strong stories and narratives (Undertale, Telltales output, adventure games, Metal Gears, etc) have to be designed with that in mind from the outset, and telling stories in gameplay requires some sacrifice in raw playability. Reading text or listening to dialogue in a Sonic game is less time spent running to the right and jumping on robots, and if you get it wrong people are going to turn it off - Sonic Rush Adventure is a great example of how to fuck this up. 

If you want to work at Sonic Team, or any game developer for that matter, the best way to go about it is to make games. They're not like writing novels or movies, they have a whole raft of unique technical issues due to the medium. If you can understand those and work your narratives to suit, you're on the way.

This is a rambly mess, but hopefully it helps a bit. 

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Pretty much. You also need a good amount of time writing for other people like I said. I'm not talking fanfiction, but I am talking about working for small companies and some internships or volunteering time. Even shoot for writing for comic books. They want to see that you have experience and with that, it's not going to easy. It's gonna be hard, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it. 

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At most you'll be writing dialogue for a story Sonic team has already solidified back in Japan. 

Video game stories are often more heavily influenced by game designers, not writers, as they're creating the settings and gameplay the story has to revolve around. At best, you'd get a shot writing dialogue to suit whatever Sonic Team in japan has in mind, but that's it. 

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While it's entirely possible to work for them in the future if you're in all the right places at the right time, I'd honestly focus your energy into building a portfolio of working for other companies (especially those more into and known for writing). Pointing your guns at the big fish with no experience is unfortunately very unrealistic, and if you truly want to work somewhere at such caliber, you're going to need a reputation.

At this point in your career I'd be putting my feels out to any sort of fan projects, or possibly start one of your own. The latter is probably the easier route in the long run since face it, most people who make a fan game have a story in mind already (however depending on size they may want more people to help flesh out the world so still look). Even saying this should be an flag to you: being in a position to tell the tale is most likely going to require being near the top of the ladder. Anyway, learning some skills in just RPG maker and some simple spriting can be great stepping stones as it shows that you're not only a writer, but now you're good at multiple things for game design. Land a spot, get a neato fan game out and go for more until you got it on lock down.

Making games are far from cheap outside the realm of fan games, and the next step once you have some fan games and etc small projects under your belt are to start poking at indie developers (or if you have the skill sets by this point to start a budgeted project since you'll be out of uni by this point most likely). Indie development is where you'd actually get your professional portfolio for game writing going. You may have other fantastic writing pieces from elsewhere sure, but this is almost guaranteed your first actual game writing for a profit you can put your name on. "Indie" is again, not cheap. People who are in these are going to have small teams because they actually have to pay these people, and these people better know a bit about everything (or close) to be hired. It'd be hard to just hire a guy who knows how to make a killer story and not much else.

And go from there. If it's a great game then maybe shoot Sega a letter or call them and see what sticks. It's a pretty hard long road for being into video games, but if you're passionate and lucky enough you'll make it work. Just make sure you have a realistic road trip planned and you'll have a shot!

And in addition, I guess another route you can talk is to work more on those scripts of yours, share them with the internet and friends, receive critique and feedback and edit edit edit edit until perfect, and then once it's a pretty stellar package, try and find some hobbyists of programming and sell them on your script to make a neat game around it. Believe it or not, while they are more rare, there are just entry level programmers wandering the internet with an ounce of artistic knowledge in their skill set. Pick up one or two of these bad boys, scrape one of the 84902845302 artists off the web, and then you can start your first fan/etc project.

I hope that helps and am not too blunt to the point of coming off dickish or all knowing haha. I too am starting to go into game design this fall (though more on the programming side) and had to be told/find this stuff out along the way too 

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I don't mean to be totally negative after everyone else has been negative in a positive way but... if you want to know who wrote "the story" for each Sonic game, look in the credits of each one for "Scenario Writer" - it is always a Japanese person.

If you have such a lofty goal as to be the person who sits in on meetings at Sonic Team while the game is being developed to workshop out a storyline to match the gameplay and aesthetics being created, you're not only going to have to do all the above work mentioned - but you're going to have to be able to do it all in Japanese.

And EVEN then, how many non-Japanese names do you usually see in the credits for the non-localisation side of the game's development?  Japan as a culture isn't racist or xenophobic on any kind of malicious level whatsoever, but they are far more likely to "hire from within" than seriously consider a foreigner - unless you already have a portfolio and reputation for working in Japan on Japanese game projects of course.

Persuring a career in video game writing for games developed in your own language/territory, OR writing for foreign games on the localisation end of things is a more reasonable goal, however if your motivation for doing so is still "I want to write a Sonic game" then you are setting your targets too narrow.

 

"I want to write for a Sonic game" is a very nice dream as a fan, but I'd discouage you from making it your goal.  You cannot create a successful, happiness-fulfilling career in the arts for something you are not in some way passionate for.  If you want to be a writer for video games, it should be because the idea of writing for video games in itself appeals to you.  "A career writing for video games" is a goal (even then, the writing side of game projects would likely not provide consistent, constant work for you, so "a career writing for modern media" might be an even more realistic goal than that).  "Writing for a Sonic game" is a dream.  That's not to say this dream is definitely impossible to achieve, but, well, it could be.  A lot of it would come down to being in the right place at the right time or having the right connections.  Working on projects that are successful as oppose to ones that flop - regardless of your contributions as writer.  If you manage to achieve that far-flung dream of yours along the way then that is bonus, it can't be what drives you, or you're setting yourself up to be miserable as you continually fail to achieve what you want to do.

 

As a final note, it's worth remembering too that in the kind of time it would take to build up to this dream, the Sonic franchise could be entirely different, so not only are you setting your sights on one hell of a bulls-eye, the darts board may not even be the same board by the time you finally get to throw at it.

 

 

I don't WANT to discourage you, and I'd even say that if you made it through my post without feeling one iota of discouragement or fear, maybe that's a sign that this dream is important enough for you to take on and dedicate your life to anyway.

Orrrrrr it could mean you're completely out of touch with reality so uhh, yep.

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You know, with all the weak stories Sonic had, I wonder how hard it would be for Sonic Team to just ask for some hardcore fan to write a good story for free. I know, it would take them a second to find a right person, but with Sonic's large fan base they would be bound to find someone eventually.

Anyway, what everyone said. If you really want to write Sonic, I would aim at Archie comics first/instead, sounds more do-able (there are little campaigns asking that current Archie writer, Ian Flynn, to write next Sonic game. Maybe one day it'll succeed). And before that start with even smaller jobs.

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I won't say it can never happen, but I'd aim your sights on other places besides Sonic Team first. Go out there after you are done your writing course, and see if you can find positions at smaller developers as everyone has to start somewhere! The other thing is find places to maybe even write about games (yes, gaermz jurnalism) - it surprised me to know that a couple gaming websites I had frequented for news had writers leave that sector to go work in games via connections and a reputation of having solid work. You meet people that way and network! Also writing more than just games I think is key, expand out and do other creative things such as maybe trying to write for video series on the net or something too.

My field is different but I have learned this somewhat- I want to work on games and do design and concept but I also have done comic book stuff too in the past on my own time. It opened up the doors for me to now work on some Street Fighter comics, and through that I have already been asked once to do a design for an indie game and I am not sure where else my future will lead me. I'm also 26 now, and I've been out of college for almost 5 years now. So it takes time to build it up and even though I am not where I eventually want to be, its all a stepping stone and I get to do some cool things as well. It's all about building up that body of work, that reputation that you deliver and you deliver on time and do things well. None of the big places will even look at you until you have that most times - so start small and who knows - it could always be in your future to write at Sonic Team or you may discover a totally different path that is just as rewarding to you.

Good luck!

 

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Uh, hasn't the story been written in English first then translated to Japanese since Colours?

You may want to ask yourself what's more important to you, writing Sonic, or working for Sonic Team. If you want to just write Sonic stuff you can, but to get noticed by Sonic Team you'll probably need a large portfolio of various works.

A roundabout way of producing "official work" would be working for somebody that has a license (Archie comics), they might be a little more lenient with your portfolio (ie if it's mostly fanfic) but I'm not really sure.

 

 

 

 

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