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Videogame Voice Actor Scripts and Celtx

July 30, 2012

Sometimes it takes awhile to catch up on one’s reading, but Jesse Harlin’s Aural Fixation column in the November 2011 edition of Game Developer succinctly summarizes some of the issues involved with scripting, producing and integrating voice actor content in videogames.

This is a rarely discussed topic, but one covered in Story and Simulations in Serious Games and End to End Game Development, two books on independent and serious game development previously co-authored by the writer of Mastering Celtx.

As the column discusses, no real standards have emerged in script formatting for videogame voice acting: I’ve seen scripts in Notepad files, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations (truly a hideous application for scripting) and thankfully, in Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter (generally, I’ve been the one creating those).

Celtx is ideal for scripting videogame narrative scenarios and dialog scenes, and can address one of the significant issues raised in the column: the need for multiple versions of the same script (one for the actor, one for the director, and one for audio programming). Celtx can generate dialog script printouts for a single actor, as well as a script printout filled with director’s notes, as well as a complete script printout (minus director’s notes) that might also include “technical directions” printed in a light gray.

Celtx can also export scripts to HTML — and that’s one step towards creating parsable XML content that can then be brought into Excel files, python scripts, and so on. The export-to-text feature is another way towards outputting parsable content for videogame authoring.

In the past I’ve converted Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter scripts to XML or CSV output; it’s doable, but requires patience and a certain number of global search-and-replaces after export. I won’t tell you that Celtx export to XML or CSV is any easier, but it certainly isn’t tougher.

As Jesse’s column confirms, script formatting in the videogame world will vary for every project: the only rule is to serve the project and its creators, and the task is always a learning experience, which is part of the fun if it doesn’t drive you crazy.

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