Lead Narrative Designer
About Splash Damage
Our teams celebrated the launch of Gears Tactics earlier this year, and we’re currently developing Outcasters for Stadia along with several unannounced titles.
As an UnrealEngine focused studio, we're excited to be transitioning our teams to the latest in UE5 technology and we're looking for skilled and passionate developers to help us drive this.
We're advocates for work-life balance and offer a comprehensive benefits package focused on the well-being of our staff and their families.
We believe that teams create the best work when they have a range of perspectives and experiences to draw from. Therefore we're committed to increasing diversity across our studio, fostering an inclusive environment to ensure everyone's voices are heard.
Due to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak, we're all currently working from home. We’re still looking to welcome new team members, who'll join us remotely until we return to the studio.
As Splash Damage Lead Narrative Designer you’ll manage the project’s narrative team and assign their work. You will be accountable for the creation, development and implementation of the game’s narrative, setting, characters, story arc, emotional tone, pacing, dialogue and text as directed by the Project Leadership. You’ll be accountable for overseeing and driving the work of more junior staff on the project.
You will work closely with designers, programmers and artists to create and maintain fun, playable experiences that marry gameplay mechanics and level design with storytelling moments.
Working with the Creative Director and Senior Narrative Designer, you’ll help establish core Narrative Design pillars, ensuring the narrative vision is upheld, maintaining constant alignment across all disciplines. You’ll oversee in-house and external writers No text or dialogue will go into the game that you have not personally signed off on.
You will assign work to your team and ensure it’s done to a high standard, on time. You will facilitate constant communication between team members, ensuring they understand their goals and how they feed into the bigger picture. You’ll have excellent written and verbal communication and be able to clearly and enthusiastically communicate your narrative / design intentions.
You’ll be responsible for hiring narrative designers and working closely with the recruitment team.
You will help the Senior Narrative Designer coach and mentor more junior staff, making sure they have what they need to do their jobs effectively.
You will be accountable for the task estimates provided by junior staff and give your own accurate estimates for work as well as logging work in management software.
You will provide input to Production / Management on project schedules throughout development to prioritise tasks / workload for the developers responsible for their assigned feature-set, in alignment with the product vision.
You will articulate the impact of changes to the narrative to the developers on your team, maintain morale and set a personal example of professionalism and best practices.
You will have a thorough understanding of the narrative delivery / storytelling mechanisms and how the levels will deliver/showcase them, taking into account project goals, and the target demographic. You will need to maintain up to date Narrative Design documentation, ensuring Narrative Design guidelines, best practices and metrics are thoroughly documented.
You will be expected to have a clear understanding of the technical constraints of the game engine, the capabilities and workflow of the game editor and level design pipeline. You will also drive ideas to help improve them.
You will maintain a focus on the narrative / atmospheric aspects of the gameplay areas and ensure that focus is respected by the Level Design and Environment Art teams. You will be expected to present your vision for the narrative and your work to the team, upper management and the wider company at various stages and be happy to accept positive critique from all sources.
You will pro-actively work with the other narrative designers to share knowledge, review content and ensure consistency both on the immediate team and across the studio.
You will be expected to oversee the team’s bug database and ensure that all issues are fixed in a timely fashion to maintain stability and ensure that the game remains playable at all times.
Where necessary you will regularly and effectively communicate with any external partners or publishers; managing those relationships, presenting the creative achievements of the team, negotiating feature / change requests. You will manage and oversee external writers and vendors. You may be required to communicate outwards to press, communities and fans in various formats from live appearances to pre-recorded interviews to forum engagement; acting not only as an evangelist and representative of the product but also as an ambassador for Splash Damage.
- Work with the Project Lead and other stakeholders to create the narrative vision for the game
- Actively participate in the decision-making process with the project leadership team, and communicate all decisions to the narrative team
- Assess the workload and production capacity, plan work, and set priorities for the game’s narrative design team
- Working closely with production, oversee the allocation and tracking of work via Agile task-tracking systems such as JIRA
- Create a positive, supportive work environment that motivates the team and prioritizes their development
- Communicate the project’s goals, pillars and status to all team members
- Communicate expectations of progress, quality, and alignment with the game vision, and any changes affecting the project
- Oversee, mentor and champion the project’s narrative design team and the personal and professional development of its members
- Anticipate, prevent and resolve personal and organizational conflicts and problems
- Oversee the creation, documentation and standardization of systems to turn the narrative vision into a playable experience
- Champion the player’s emotional engagement with the game’s setting, storyline, characters and plot developments
- Oversee work under guidance of an IP holder to further develop their existing franchise’s lore
- Oversee the collaboration with writers, game designers and cinematics artists to craft the main storyline for the game
- Oversee the creation of elegant connections between the core gameplay mechanics and storytelling methods
- Oversee the implementation and maintenance of the storyline related mission logic, allowing for the game to progress between story beats in logical order
- Oversee the design of narrative-related elements within the game, including map and level content to identify storytelling requirements and opportunities
- Work closely with character artists, environment artists and level designers to develop environmental and alternative storytelling methods
- Oversee the management, briefing and editing of the work of external writers
- Collaborate and communicate with stakeholders across the project to create a compelling journey for the player to explore
- React swiftly to feedback on narrative-related elements, iterating to improve their quality
- Articulate the impact of changes to the game design to the team
- Oversee up-to-date documentation to guide the development team’s efforts
Essential Skills and Experience
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Extensive industry experience and leadership experience on 3 shipped AAA current gen (PS4 / XBOXONE) or last gen console or PC titles that featured extensive narrative content, worked on from beginning to end
- The ability to work both collaboratively with other disciplines and independently without close supervision
- The ability to take direction, and rapidly absorb and act on stakeholder, publisher and IP holder feedback
- The ability to maintain a positive, supportive work environment that motivates the team and prioritizes their development
- Must be able to create the project’s narrative vision, goals, pillars and quality bars and inspire the team to meet them
- The ability to oversee workload capacity assessment, work planning and the setting of priorities for the team
- Experience with design documentation, diagram and flow-chart creation
- The ability to manage and implement written designs and text and audio assets
- Skilled and experienced in writing to a high standard in all forms including but not limited to concept, research and design documents, blog posts, presentations, internal and external update and marketing videos, in-game tooltips, text logs, audio logs, VO barks, scripted scenes, storyboards, cinematic scripts, motion capture and performance capture scenes
- A proven ability to create text and dialogue fitting a game’s world and tone
- The ability to create game worlds, characters, items, dialogue, backstory and lore to support IPs, whether our own or those of our partners and IP holders
- The ability to rapidly and thoroughly research potential game settings, and technologies, historical events and current cultural issues, writing clear guidelines for other developers
- The ability to convert research into actable, implementable, playable narrative design documentation and scripts
- The ability to write concept briefs for all other disciplines, particularly artists, programmers and audio designers
- The ability to drive the studio’s recruitment and selection of new narrative team members
- Experience with wiki-based design documentation
- Presentation skills and experience with PowerPoint
Preferred Skills and Experience
- Experience working with dynamic dialogue systems
- Experience writing, casting and directing actors for voice over, camera, and for motion capture/performance capture
- Experience working with a game scripting language to implement game logic.
- Undergraduate degree in English, History, Creative Writing, Video Game Design, or a form of technical training
- Experience with source-control applications (SVN, Perforce, AlienBrain, etc.)
- Experience with RACI matrices and Risk Logs
Splash Damage is an equal opportunity employer. We believe our teams create better work when they have a range of perspectives to draw from, and we are committed to creating an inclusive working environment that celebrates diversity.