|This person is an employee of or a staff member at ArenaNet.|
Hi there. I'm the writing team lead. Our "pod" is a subdivision of the design team. Our group works with gameplay and world designers to create compelling characters, interesting (and hopefully entertaining) NPC dialogue, and fun quests and missions. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Bear in mind I am not a Web designer or wiki guru, so until I leech someone else's template this page will likely be text heavy and rather dull to look at.
Drop me a line on my user talk page if so inclined. Questions, feedback, and other ramblings are all welcome.
News, Updates, and Other Stuff
- More tidbits about the writing and VO for the Cologne demo are at the official blog.Bobby Stein 04:05, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
- New blog post is up (complete with audio samples). Check it out and let us know what you think. Bobby Stein 01:18, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
- Happy Independence Day! Bobby Stein 16:39, 4 July 2010 (UTC)
- My first ArenaNet blog post is up. Not much new Guild Wars 2 information is there other than our style change, but I do mention a forthcoming article that I'm sure will get people talking. Bobby Stein 05:19, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
- The junior writer position has been filled. Thanks to all who applied. If you have questions feel free to post them on my discussion page. Bobby Stein 17:15, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
- I'm on Twitter. Follow me if you like. Bobby Stein 04:28, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
We're looking for a junior writer. Check out the job listing if you're local to the Seattle/Bellevue area and have a passion for Guild Wars. Qualified candidates only, please. Post questions on my feedback page. Bobby Stein 17:42, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
- See how we're Giving Tyria a Voice. Bobby Stein 21:21, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
- Introducing the Guild Wars 2 iconics. Enjoy the new trailer! Bobby Stein 14:54, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Who We Are
The ArenaNet writing team is part of the design team and is currently comprised of seven writer/editors of various backgrounds. I am team lead. We are primarily responsible for in-game text, spoken scene dialogue, and various related content. We all have published works ranging from Web and magazine articles to strategy guides, licensed books, video games, and pen-and-paper RPGs.
There are also two embedded writers on the design team: Jeff Grubb and Ree Soesbee. They take turns crafting the world setting and story arc for each Guild Wars campaign, write the cinematic dialogue, and flesh out the various cultures and factions in the games with the lead gameplay designer. Both Jeff and Ree have extensive experience in paper-based RPGs and card games, and have written numerous licensed novels. In brief, they work with content designers to define the world, and we go in and give it a voice.
What We Do
Some of our responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Editing, rewriting, or creating new written and voiced dialogue for various non-player Guild Wars characters (NPCs)
- Writing and editing ambient scenes
- Polishing quest and mission dialogue with content and world designers
- Working with voice directors and actors
- Polishing dialogue trees
- Editing cinematic text
- Polishing skill names and titles, user interface (UI) text, and item names
- Working with localization to translate in-game text from American English into many other languages
Though we each claim a specialty, we all get our hands dirty writing and editing in-game text of one form or another. Without our touch, the game would read *very* differently.
How We Work
ArenaNet is a rather large company compared to most game development studios. We have over 100 full-time staffers working on the Guild Wars series. That means we have an abundance of designers, writers, and artists (the content producers) in addition to our large contingent of programmers responsible for the underlying technology that powers the game. Even though we are a big studio, we are nimble. Employees are given the opportunity to contribute beyond their official roles. We are encouraged to submit gameplay and story ideas, give each other feedback on the development process, and work with other teams to accomplish our goals.
As writers, we don't simply write. Instead, we work together with the members of the design and programming teams to craft content including missions, quests, events, and scenes. A typical Guild Wars 2 brainstorming session might begin with Jeff Grubb or Ree Soesbee laying out a particular section of the world with Eric Flannum, Colin Johanson, and other members of the content design and writing teams. They brainstorm ideas that are consistent with lore. Separate discussions are then held with level artists, who "art" the maps that our level designers create. From there, the designers lay out the basic gameplay mechanics, who the principal characters are, and their initial lines of dialogue. Writers then build off these templates and add new NPCs, scenes, and dialogue to add flavor and substance.
After that, the programmers hook up various bits of design into code, and then the designers can "spawn" the quest and get it working in the game. We playtest, taking into account feedback from QA, and then further revise as necessary until the final product is as you see it onscreen. It's a collaborative effort from beginning to end, and one that's flexible enough to be adjusted to fit the needs of the people involved. If something doesn't work, we change it and try something else. The process is always evolving.
What I Do
Meetings. Meetings. And more meetings. Every once in awhile I attempt to write something funny that usually gets censored by the ESRB, Jeff Grubb, or James Phinney (a.k.a. the "Destroyer of Fun"). Then I waste a good hour or two in the executive washroom playing DOOM RPG on my cell phone while drinking copious amounts of free Talking Rain from the break room fridge. Life is good.
Actually, I do spend far too many hours in meetings, but they're usually productive, informative, and dare I say...exciting? A lot of being team lead encompasses cooperation and communication between all the various departments. I meet with gameplay designers, tools programmers, localization personnel, and the business team practically on a daily basis. When we're not hashing out details of our current projects, I'm usually at my desk documenting new features and processes, keeping tabs of our work schedule, helping various designers prototype new systems that involve text or voice in some form or fashion, or fixing bugs with Mike Z.'s QA team. Sometimes I even get to write or attend voiceover sessions.
I graduated from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) with a degree in film. During college I held many jobs ranging from the mundane (shoe sales) to the somewhat bizarre (quality assurance testing for an edutainment game company). After graduation I worked in television for a bit, crewing on various commercials and television shows as a production assistant, lighting and grip truck monkey, cameraman, and audio guy. I made the switch to finance in 1998 and worked on Wall St. for about five years doing technical and trade support for institutional equity derivatives (options), online trading, and market data applications. I switched gears and began writing about my lifelong passion, video games, in 2002. The bulk of my work was with Microsoft Game Studios, Xbox.com, and Nintendo Power. I've been with ArenaNet since December of 2005, first as a writer/editor on the Guild Wars Factions strategy guide, and then writing in-game text. I took over as team lead in December of 2007.
I was an active musician throughout college. My primary band, Boss Jim Gettys, released two full-length albums, an EP, a split 7" single (with the Stuntcocks), and contributed various songs to multiple indie compilations. We signed to now-defunct Childlike Records in 1998 and released our swan song, Tigrebeat, in winter of 1999. After the group disbanded, I played bass for Hoboken indie band Bobfields for about a year. The group released one record, Head So Full. I also played a few sessions at the Pigeon Club with Lanky, though none of those tracks made it onto the final release.
Since people ask this question a lot, I figured I'd share a little bit about how I transitioned into the game industry. Making the jump from Wall St. to game development wasn't easy. I had no experience and wasn't really sure what, exactly, I wanted to do. On the advice of an acquaintance, I started writing reviews about every game I owned and found a couple of different independent web sites to publish them. Despite being an avid writer in high school and college, my first articles were admittedly amateurish. I kept refining my work until I had a sizable portfolio of published samples, which I then used to apply for jobs about a year later. There weren't (and still aren't) many industry jobs available in the NY/NJ/PA area, so I had to move closer to prospective employers. My wife and I decided it was time for a change, so we packed up and moved to Seattle. A friend introduced me to her boss at Microsoft Game Studios, and when a position opened up I interviewed for it and eventually landed my first gig. My first few assignments were all contract, meaning that they were temporary and lasted anywhere from three to nine months. After nearly two and a half years of contracting, I landed a permanent job at ArenaNet and haven't looked back.
Here are some samples of recent projects I've worked on:
Writing and Editing
- The Tengu Accords (designed by Colin Johanson)
- The Rise of the White Mantle (with Brian Campbell, designed by Linsey Murdock)
- The Flight North (with Will McDermott, designed by John Stumme)
- Kilroy Stonekin quest chain (designed by Colin Johanson)
- Prenuptial Disagreement and related quests (designed by Linsey Murdock)
- Jovial Pete collector (and other collector text)
- Oggy (designed by Linsey Murdock)
- Tihark Orchard (designed by Colin Johanson)
- The Bog Beast of Bokku (designed by Colin Johanson)
- Spiritual Possession chatter from the Canthan New Year Festival 2007 (designed by John Stumme)
Design and Writing
- Shing Jea Sherman (with Colin Johanson and John Corpening)
- Ulfarr Leadfoot (with Colin Johanson and Joe Kimmes)
- Just My Luck (with John Stumme)
These are the games I've worked on as a developer (from most recent to oldest):
- Guild Wars 2 - Writing Team Lead
- Guild Wars Bonus Mission Pack (2007) - Writer/Editor
- Guild Wars: Eye of the North (2007) - Writer/Editor
- Guild Wars Nightfall (2006) - Writer/Editor
- Guild Wars Factions (2006) - Writer/Editor
- Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 (2006) - PR
- Who Is Oscar Lake? (1995) - QA
Marketing and Community Credits
Here are some games that I've written marketing, strategy, or community materials for, as contracted by the publisher. Content was published as magazine articles, strategy guides, on official marketing sites, or on community sites.
- Conker: Live & Reloaded (2005)
- Forza Motorsport (2005)
- Advance Wars: Dual Strike (2005)
- Pokémon Emerald (2005)
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (2005)
- Super Mario 64 DS (2004)
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004)
- MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf (2004)
- Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge (2003)
- MechAssault (2002)
What I'm Playing
- Red Dead Redemption on Xbox 360
What I'm Watching
What I'm Reading
- Lots of Guild Wars 2 content for Cologne and PAX.
- Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
- A Briefer History of Time
Some other ANet folks on the wiki you should check out:
- Mike O'Brien
- Will McDermott
- Josh Petrie
- Emily Diehl
- Linsey Murdock
- Mike Zadorojny
- Ryan Scott
- John Stumme
- Isaiah Cartwright
- Regina Buenaobra
- Andrew Patrick
- Gaile Gray