One day, about three weeks after Evan Salas started working as a gameplay designer at Vigil Games in Austin, a producer overheard him telling a coworker about his writing background – his Creative Writing master’s degree, his short stories, his plan to write a novel – and asked if he wanted to work with the game’s lead writer.
“Of course I jumped at the opportunity,” Evan says.
And so, in addition to gameplay and level design, the stuff he was contracted to do, Evan became something of a jack-of-all-trades, writing character dialogue, ambient dialogue, and item descriptions for Darksiders II. Not long after the gamewas finished, Vigil went into bankruptcy, and Evan moved back home to Ft. Lauderdale, where he began writing his first novel entitled Base 211: Sins of the Angels. He later went to work in Chicago for NeatherRealm, the company behind the Mortal Kombat games, in October 2012, as an associate designer working on Injustice: Gods Among Us. That game, which bowed in April 2013, turns the DC Comics’ universe on its head – Superman, for instance, is the bad guy.
He’s also writing for Injustice as well – content, dialogue, scripting out scenario missions, and more. It may not be the most obvious element of video-game design, but today, when games are structured as stories that unfurl as you play, having writers who understand how stories work and how characters evolve is more important than ever.
Evan’s creative writing background, he says, “definitely helps because a lot of games these days” – including the ones NeatherRealm, a Warner Bros company, produces – “are kind of in that movie-script format.” In other words, they can run a hundred pages long, and are full of character arcs and carefully plotted intricacies and dialogue. They require a creative mind – and not just a creative mind in the sense of, say, C++ design, but one that can tell a story.