Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scripting for dummies (like me) - part 1

I started this blog and then I suddenly realised that I have very few strong opinions - most of them about the correct way to prepare a pizza and why it should never include pinapple, which you may not care much about.

For lack of more interesting topics, I've decided to share a few things that I've learned in this first year of making a webcomic. Take everything with the benefit of doubt because what works for me may not work for you and (insert disclaimers of your choice here). I'll just describe the way I do things and my thought process, it's up to you to decide if it could apply to your work - if you are a comic author - or if you give a shit - if you're a reader.

1. The idea
First of all, of course, there's the idea for the episode. It doesn't have to be detailed, as long as I think that it could work by being funny or moving the plot, or if I'm lucky, both. For this tutorial, I'll script a very simple idea that I may include in the story whenever Ohforf will group with other newbies to go level. The idea is this (it's not particularly funny but it's simple so it's good as an example):

The group includes a guy who's playing a new character but isn't a newbie like the others, he is - or claims to be - an alt(ernate character) of a much higher level main character. He gives Ohforf and the others some complex instructions of what they're supposed to do when he brings a monster to the group (using a lot of acronyms and expressions that leave the newbies completely baffled). He proceeds to pull while they stare at him(they didn't understand a word he said), and dies horribly while they're still staring or possibly discussing his instructions.

2. The general look

At this stage I still haven't thought of the details of the dialogue, but I form some vague concept of how the strip would look like and about the characters involved.

For example, I think that for the strip to work well the guy that gets slaughtered should be an annoying fucker, rather than a poor bastard who had to join a pickup group of noobs for lack of options. He should be the kind of know-it-all guy who tells pickup newbie groups that he's got a maxed level main character and tells people what to do (generally ending up in everyone's death because he doesn't have a clue, then him leaving the group after calling them stupid noobz). Everyone's grouped with a specimen of this player type at some point, so it would be nice to see one of them die a horrible death - but most of all I'll enjoy drawing it.

The image layout is very simple (within the constraints of my - mostly - 4-panel comic). I think that the guy should pontificate to the group in the first two scenes, leave them to pull a monster in scene 3 while they stare open-mouthed (something that Ohforf is very good at), die horribly in scene 4 (no need to draw it, all it takes is cries for help and blood and guts spraying from just outside the scene borders) while the group is still staring at him with the same expressions. This is the general idea of how the panel looks like that I have at this stage:

Scene 1 - (assuming that the group was already together and the characters were all introduced in the previous episodes). Close-up of the alt guy who's telling the group that he'll organise the pull and what each of them should be doing.

Scene 2 - Group scene with "camera angle" from behind the alt guy talking, so that the confused expressions of the rest of the group are visible. He's completing his speech in this scene.

Scene 3 - Seen from the side, the group staring at the guy as he's running out of camera view to the right of the panel, possibly still talking.

Scene 4 - Blood and guts and cries of agony coming from outside camera view while the whole group is still staring. Maybe there will be a short exchange between group members in scenes 3 and 4 but I'll look into that later.

3. The raw script

Here, I start writing the dialogue without giving myself too many constraints of timing, length and exchange sequence. I've already got a rough idea of the division in scenes though, to fit the dialogue in. Let's say that the characters present in the strip, aside from Ohforf, are the two newbies Sugarbabe and Masterandcommander - who appeared briefly in episode #52 - and the alt, which I'll just refer to as Alt. OK, let's have a first go at the scripting.

Scene 1 - (assuming that the group was already together and the characters were all introduced in the previous episodes). Close-up of the alt guy who's telling the group that he'll organise the pull and what each of them should be doing.

Alt: Guys! My main's a 75, just do as I say! I pull, Ohforf tanks, if it bafs Sugarbabe mezzes the adds, but whatever you do don't agro the left spawn

Scene 2 - Group scene with "camera angle" from behind the alt guy talking, so that the confused, borderline imbecilic expressions of the rest of the group are visible. He's completing his speech in this scene.


Alt: If it's an Evoker and it waves the green thingy hit it with a dispel straight away and go full damage but don't overnuke or you'll be OOM when it regenerates the Hounds of Hell! GTG?

Scene 3 - Seen from the side, the group staring at the guy as he's running out of camera view to the right of the panel, possibly still talking.

Alt: (partially out of view, only a leg still sticking out) -=*** PULLING (GREY GOBLIN EVOKER) ***=-
Sugarbabe (whispering to Ohforf): What did he say?

Scene 4 - Blood and guts and cries of agony coming from outside camera view while the whole group is still staring.

Ohforf (whispering): "Guys!" and, hmm, some other stuff
Alt (from outside the panel): AAAAH! HELP! AAAAAAH!
Monster (from outside the panel): grrrrrr

Now that there's a basic script I'll have to do the finetuning work, cleaning up the dialogue, working out the sequence, possibly changing the camera angles if required. I'll cover these things in part 2.

6 comments:

Fabo - the noob one said...

Nice written, even I can understand.
Just continue in your nice work.

LC said...

interesting behind the scene look at the comic

im not so sure that oforf should say anything, i like the beginning more when he's shocked with confusion =p

also when i read it i conjured an image of someone saying this stuff in real life and attacking a police officer or something, maybe ill draw that as a spoof O.O GG summer vacation starting today and all.

and i also read through the whole archive yesterday, really clever stuff, keep it up

Gianna said...

I had included Ohforf talking so that I could explain why to remove it in part 2 ;) You beat me to it!

LC said...

hehe

it did seem awkward =p

Sailor SpellChild said...

Thanks for that. It really helped me out. I will need to do some major scripting for my webcomic, Circle Arcadia. It's coming along nice and all, but I just wanna be safe, and write it all down, chapter by chapter, b/c I know that I'm close to running into some creator's block. So, thanks for that, once again.

Mr. Borceforth said...

About the pizza, why no pinapple?