How can one describe a moment of gameplay inside a script for a video game? Writing down Cut-scenes is like writing down scenes of a movie or a tv show. How can one write the moments in a script in which are purely depended on gameplay and player interaction?

Even if the outcome is predefined the gameplay is defined by the player so how to do it?

  • 1
    Research "game studies" and read some scholarly articles to see how this is done. Google Scholar can be of help (or confusing). Also: google.com/search?q=video+game+transcript
    – user5645
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 7:33
  • google scholar does not show exactly the full papers. All websites I found only show a fes lines from the abstract Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 7:50
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    Go to a university library and browse Google Scholar from their computers. They will have bought access to many journals, and Google Scholar will show direct links to the PDFs. Game studies is not my speciality, else I would quickly grab something that I know could help you, but I don't have the time to do the research right now. It seems that this journal is open access, maybe there is something for you: gamestudies.org/0601/archive
    – user5645
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 8:21
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    Also this and the links at the end: ocw.mit.edu/courses/comparative-media-studies/…
    – user5645
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 8:24
  • These links aren't all that helpful as they are about transcribing and analyzing pre-existing games (and hardly ever consider plot branching, or only skim some basic choices), as opposed to creating a script for making a new game (which must include ALL possible branches).
    – SF.
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


...Just the same. Just note that this is open play and not the cutscene. Write all events, but note which part is a cutscene, which is a dialogue, which is plain action, which is a quicktime event...

In case of linear games this is very simple, and doesn't differ from typical script by much.

Now, in case of games with more advanced plot, the scripts are branching. There are elements that are optional, may or may not have impact later, depend on prior decision or cause total script split into two or more entirely different realities.

First, tag your scenes/variants, and whenever the plot branches for longer than a couple paragraphs, present

"if [condition is met], proceed to scene#. Otherwise, proceed [to next scene]".

Then, all (except 'decorative', illusory choice) decisions the player makes in game that impact the plot in the long run, can be represented by 'tokens'. Tokens for items possessed, tokens for knowledge gained, tokens for switches toggled etc. So, if the player makes a decision with lasting impact, generate a token to be used when the 'impact point' is met. Whenever you arrive at such a branching point that depends on a prior decision, include respective token in the condition.

"Player may choose to check under the stump, finding BAG OF GOLD


Player arrives at the gates of the mystic tower. A hatch in the gate opens, eyes of an old wizard can be seen.
PC: I need to learn magic.
WIZARD: Pray tell me, how do you intend to pay for such lessons?
If the player has BAG OF GOLD, proceed to scene #72, otherwise: (script about turning the player away follows)

A concept map graph is immensely helpful in arranging the scenes and their dependencies.

Note if your game is of 'open world/sandbox' type, you can manage the script easier by splitting it into multiple plotlines - "quests", which should be quite independent from each other (or creating few, clear dependencies). In this case sequence of scenes is assured only within the plotline, but different plotlines may progress at different pace independently and simultaneously.


A good way to do it is to refer to files outside of the main script, like a map of the area that displays where the player may go, what they may do and what they may find. When you reach the area in the script, simply write something like 'Refer to: '

This will also give a clearer image to anyone else looking at this as to what the map will look like or what they will be able to do.

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