Practical Tip for Writing AI Lines

This post follows on from the previous one about how to write AI lines for the aspiring video game writer. It gives a practical tip for writing AI lines for open world AAA video games.

To retain your sanity when writing AI lines, it’s necessary to get them down fairly quickly, especially when there are thousands of them to write.

The thing about writing them on your PC, though, filling in one blank space in the database after the other, is that at some point you will get bogged down by the line that just refuses to come. You might spend 10 or 30 minutes racking your brain just to find a single line or paragraph that works. This is inefficient and very frustrating especially when you have missions and main path dialogue to write.

So, instead of trying to thump out the lines directly on my PC, I first write down a draft on paper. Sounds old hat and time consuming but in fact, in the long run, it turns out to be the quickest way of writing quality AI lines.

Here’s a quick breakdown on how to do it:

  1. Place 4 or 5 A4 sheets on your desk. Number them.
  2. Write the indications for each set of lines to be written. For each line I simply put a dot on the left and provide enough space for my text.
    tip for writing AI lines

    It only takes about 10 minutes to write out the indications.

    N.B. Some situations will call for just a few words such as attack commands. Others may require a whole paragraph like chitchat in a tavern or around a fire. So remember to leave enough space! 😉

  3.  Once you have written down your indications, write in the lines one after the other. If you get stuck, go onto the next. If an idea pops into your mind that would fit further down, write it.
    writing AI lines method

    Here you can see I have started to fill out the spaces.

  4. Copy the lines into the database. Take full advantage of this extra time by thinking of the characters in relation to each other and by fine-tuning your lines as you go.

I find it preferable to write AI lines by character rather than by line type. This is because it is far easier to write while staying in one character at a time. That said, sometimes you are not given the choice, you have to adapt.

To recap, this method not only allows you to easily skip lines or whole sections when you get stuck, but gives you the freedom to dance about with your pen pinning down lines as they pop into your head. The idea is to keep the ink flowing fast and furious without lifting your pen off the page for more than a few seconds for thought.

This simple way of writing AI lines also enables the writer to more easily enhance the text with idiosyncratic speech or recurring images and expressions.

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