iRrAtiONaL vOiCE oF tHe DamNEd
Narrative Design & Creative Writing Services for the Games Industry
Welcome to Graffiti Writer. This is the online portfolio of writer and narrative designer Spanner Spencer. It’s also my soap box, where I’ll shout from every time I do something skill.
Please take a look through the site to find out what goes on at Graffiti Writer, to learn a bit about its narrative design services, see a few samples, and to get in touch to discuss the creative writing requirements for your games.
(Despite being terminally English.)
Being an established fiction, screen and games writer, I have a complete understanding of the essential elements that make up a good story. Strong characters, solid story structure and acute audience awareness are powerful tools that can help to turn a good game into a great game by providing a rich and engaging narrative experience for the player. Even the shortest, most basic story benefits hugely from these elements, so partnering with Graffiti Writer on narrative design adds this essential weapon to your game design arsenal.
Graffiti Writer specializes in science fiction, horror, thriller, fantasy, steampunk, comedy and urban genres, and can create your game’s narrative concept from scratch. If you already have specific characters or archetypes you want to include, or require particular events, locations or plot points, we can craft a solid, engaging story that fits your game perfectly.
There’s more to a character than the guns they carry or the abilities they provide the player with. At Graffiti Writer we can create characters that your players will love, hate, care about and empathize with. Creating well-rounded, properly developed characters is the simple most important factor in engaging players and making them not only want to play your game, but to win. Using our wealth of fiction writing experience and talent, we can create movie- or novel-quality characters for any game.
A profound understanding of the audience is vital when it comes to crafting a professional narrative. Audience’s are experienced and intelligent, and a story must inform and support the game’s genre or the players will instinctively resist — and even reject — the whole game. A fantasy game must appeal to the fantasy-loving audience, and a sci-fi game must meet the exacting standards of a highly educated sci-fi player. Graffiti Writer brings a profound understanding of genre, and how to employ it in your game development.
If you already have a story and characters, bringing Graffiti Writer in to help refine, rewrite and edit your text, dialogue and script can give a game the polish it needs to stand out from the crowd. These script, story and text doctoring services are essential for acquiring the highest possible quality in every aspect of your game’s narrative, from tutorials and introductions to interstitial scenes, dialogue and in-game text. Bring Graffiti Write in to work with you on editing and evolving your existing game narratives and overtake the competition quickly and effectively.
The beauty of global digital distribution through channels such as the Apple App Store, Android Marketplace and Steam is that any developer, anywhere in the world, can publish their games and apps to the largest markets with ease. Selling to the essential US markets is the key to success on the digital distribution networks, and Graffiti Writer works with software studios all over the world to help them crack this vital demographic.
A word-for-word translation typically fails to maintain the context of your game’s story, so at Graffiti Writer we work with the development team to provide a full and professional rewrite into English. This ensures the story’s context remains fully intact while providing a natural and professional English version that makes your game fully accessible to the largest markets, even if the studio is from a non-native English speaking background.
Using a combination of tools — including Google Translate, Microsoft Word language packs and various online resources — Graffiti Writer can accept in-game and in-app text documents and scripts in most any native language and provide a full rewrite into English that will make your game instantly and fully accessible to the vast English-speaking markets.
Graffiti Writer has provided these services to software studios from France, Germany, The UK, The US, Australia, China, Japan, Russia, The Philippines, Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, Denmark and more.
With millions upon millions of games and applications trying to grab the users attention on distribution channels such as the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace, it’s more essential than ever to have the perfect App Store listing. One of Graffiti Writer’s most popular services is the drafting of professional, eye-catching and seductive App Store listings for both games and applications on platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android, PC and Mac.
Conveying a game or app’s essential feature along with a concise synopsis that is easy for busy users to immediately digest is an expertise Graffiti Writer has developed by providing listings for companies including EA, Chillingo, Vivid Games, Tequila Mobile, Fishlabs, Rovio Mobile, Dynamic Pixels, Shamrock Games, Fox Mobile Group, Ice Hill Interactive, Wet Nose Design, Clever & Son, MyFlickbooks and many more.
Name: Spanner Spencer
Age: God, I suppose I must be in my mid-30s by now.
Status: Married – no children
Occupation: Full-time freelance writer, narrative designer, forensic scientist (not really).
Location: Yorkshire, England
Hobbies: Videogames, kung fu, immaturity, archery, work (what can I say? I love my job)
Other skills: Qualified electronics engineer, kung fu teacher (several styles, including xing yi and tai chi chuan), artist (more enthusiastic than talented, though), speak Mandarin Chinese (enough to order beer and arrange pleasant company, at least).
Graffiti Writer is the company banner under which I write.
While it’s true that a writer must be able to adapt to the style of a publication, I’m not sure I entirely agree that one type of writing – journalism, for example – is different to every other type of writing – feature film scripts, for another fine example. Structure, development, characters and a clear purpose for your story are universal, so it seems perfectly natural to take those skills and apply them in every literary duty.
That’s what Graffiti Writer is all about. I currently work as a freelance narrative designer and creative writer for game studios. My previous positions include news editor at PocketGamer.co.uk; creator and editor of sci-fi, fantasy and horror digital magazine Spectra; and news, reviews and features writer for publications such as The Escapist, Eurogamer, Edge, Total PC Gaming, Retro Gamer, GamesTM, IncGamers, Strategy Informer, GamersDailyNews, Retro Fusion, KnowYourMobile, Mobile Choice, The Guardian and many more.
Given that I follow the mobile, iPhone, PC and console gaming trends all day long, and play at least half a dozen games to completion every week, it seems natural to offer story, character, narrative, editorial and localisation services to game developers, and this is a proving to be an immensely valuable task for a growing list of clients.
Working in non-fiction – writing news, features and reviews – is essential to understanding the complexities of game fiction. It teaches you about the essential business of writing, and provides the experience necessary to predict trends and understand the structure of strong interactive narrative, plot and dialogue. This isn’t something that a game designer or programmer is particularly well versed in, but can turn a good game into a great game – even budget priced, five minute iPhone games benefit hugely from the services of a professional, experienced games journalist with a working knowledge of fiction writing, character development and story structure.
And the games industry is no longer owned by America. Some of the best games are coming out of Eastern Europe, the Far East, India and Russia; territories that need to crack the fickle Western, English-speaking markets, where a sterile, word-for-word localisation can do more harm than good. At Graffiti Writer, I offer my clients much more. I edit and rewrite entire game texts – from story and dialogue to menus and user interfaces – to ensure every line and every word does the game justice in its English translation; maintaining the quality of storytelling and style that transforms the overall experience for the gamer.
More and more of my clients are now coming to me during early stages of their game developments for services and consultation on story, narrative, character development and every other aspect of communication with the gamer, which helps game developers ensure their visions are fully realised.
A wealth of industry contacts also help when it comes to delivering and promoting a game, so get in touch for a free consultation and quote on any aspect of your game’s user interaction – fiction, non-fiction and editorial skills are intrinsically linked and vital to any interactive vision. Graffiti Writer brings them all directly to your game.
Graffiti Writer works with developers, publishers and game studios to provide their creative writing needs. There’s no limit to precisely what this remit covers, so please feel free to get in touch about whatever requirements you, your project, your company or your games might have.
However, here’s a list of specific services that I’ve provided for most of my clients.
This is the big one, and the main focus of Graffiti Writer’s business. Story is increasingly important in games, and Graffiti Writer works closely with the game development team to build a professional, engaging and entertaining story that both informs and enhances the gameplay. Understanding the intricacies of game design and story structuring is essential to building an effective narrative, and it’s here that Graffiti Writer’s expertise is found.
More details on the methods I use for building great stories with engaging characters and a solid structure can be found here.
Sometimes games require more traditional fiction writing in the form of accompanying short stories, cinematic sequences, back stories, voice over scripts, character biographies and a host of other story-driven content.
Having work regularly and consistently published, winning fiction-writing awards, reaching the finals of three different worldwide screenwriting competitions (achieving top 10 finalist positions against a combined total of more than 35,000 entrants), and being an accredited member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, I’m in a position to create the exciting, dynamic creative writing content you need.
If you need a script doctor, editor or early feedback from an experienced games journalist, Graffiti Writer can help. Games with a script already written can benefit hugely from a second draft, structure checking and plot maintenance, and bringing in a second pair of eyes can turn a good story into a fantastic story.
I also provide editorial services and proofreading of all in-game text, from script, dialogue and story to instructions and point-of-sale marketing, ensuring your game is as polished and professional as possible.
To help refine the creative writing and design early on, I offer a consultation package that includes all the script doctoring, editing and proofing services mentioned above, and also provides a feedback document detailing expected media reactions as the game currently stands. A mock review is provided to help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the game during its early testing stages. Being a professional games reviewer and features writer, I cover approximately six games (across all platforms) each week; playing them to completion and writing them up for a host of different games media outlets, so this level of experienced consultation can prove invaluable in hitting the high scores from launch day onwards.
Because Graffiti Writer works differently to many translation and localisation services, I’m able to accept game scripts, documents and content in most any language and provide a professional English adaptation. During localisation many stories, descriptions and dialogue sequences can lose their original context, but I work with the developer to provide full, professional rewrites into English to ensure it’s not just a word-for-word translation.
By playing the game thoroughly and working closely with the design team, even a basic translation from Google Translate is enough to understand the essence and context of the original-language text. From there I perform a full rewrite — essentially a second draft of the script and in-game text — that ensures your game’s written content, cinematic sequences, instructions, sales listings, press releases, stories and scripts are of the highest quality for the essential English-speaking audiences.
As a member of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, I use the recommended WGGB rate card as a starting point for calculating job estimates.
Based on the Guild’s extensive research with UK producers, writers and companies, these are the average ranges of current rates (including buy-outs) being paid within the industry. More experienced, in-demand writers will earn in excess of these rate-bands.
|Localisation/editing/copy writing:||£300 per day|
|Narrative/dialogue work:||£350-£450 per day|
|Original material:||£450.00+ per day|
This is work which does not require a substantial re-write, but the reworking of existing material.
Original work within the boundaries set out by the I.P. (Intellectual Property) holder and in collaboration with others.
This is work involved in the creation of original I.P. The premium rate is set to include the intellectual rights of the writer.
The rate card above is more of a guideline than a fixed price list, but gives you an indication of the approximate costing for hiring Graffiti Writer.
Please note that although the above figures are per day, hourly rates (based on these figures) are also available should a particular job not require a full day’s work.
Depending on the quantity of work, bulk discounts are negotiable, as are variations on the rate card to better suit a client’s specific requirements and budget. Please get in touch at any time if you want to discuss a contract, quote or rates.
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