I was writer and narrative designer on Transformers Universe at Jagex Games Studio for two years. The game was a multiplayer online battle arena title, with overarching RPG elements, released in open beta in 2014. It also took inspiration from the Emmy-award winning Transformers Prime animated series.
My primary roles involved:
- Working with the creative leads on high-level story concepts
- Working with design, development, marketing and localisation teams to produce text for the game and surrounding media
- Working with the cinematic team on trailers and cutscenes
- Liaising with Hasbro in the creation of new Transformers lore and to ensure consistency with the IP
- Creating and maintaining the in-house style guide
- Serving as editor to ensure a high quality of English across the project
- Directing VO sessions
- Working directly with the game tools via a text pipeline that I helped design
My work was published in-game and online during the game’s 2014 commercial Open Beta.
Language: All text for Transformers Universe was written in American English.
I collaborated closely with the creative director and cinematic team on the scripts for the game’s episodic motion comic (unreleased) and intro cinematics, the latter of which can be seen below:
All scripts for in-game VO began at my desk. I wrote dialogue for Optimus Prime and Megatron, the tutorial missions, the game mode announcers, and the warriors themselves (they had fanfares, battle cries and squad commands). These scripts were then iterated with the creative director, audio team, and Hasbro themselves.
I was also involved at the recording stage, directing VO sessions to help the actors find the desired voices, and at the post-processing stage where my voice direction informed the effects applied. I’ve written lines for a wide variety of actors, from franchise legends like Peter Cullen, Frank Welker and Steve Blum, to a whole host of London-based talent.
This video showcases a selection of the VO scripts I’ve worked on:
Each warrior had a unique name, flavour, short biography, strap line and famous mentor quote. I wrote these, then iterated with the creative director to fine-tune them. Two warrior examples are provided below.
Warrior text also featured in the spotlight videos below, including ability names which I wrote under the guidance of the combat designer, to tie into each warrior’s theme. The spotlight videos also saw me working alongside the cinematic team, supplying flavours, biographies and ideas for each character’s trailer.
Bent Outta Shape
‘If there was ever a Decepticon greater than the sum of its parts…’ – Switchblade
A fearsome amalgamation of metal, Mismatch hits the battlefield decked out in spare parts and blasting rockets from his launcher. Notorious for raging in the red, his minigun has been known to overheat and blow up in his face – but he’ll roll with that because his enemies will taste the shrapnel too. When the dust settles you’ll find him scavenging for vital components – ignoring the burial rites of the dead, all he sees is second-hand steel.
Torques the Talk
‘When the bravado’s blown over, he’s got it where it counts.’ – Arcee
When his mentor left him, Swagger had to fend for himself and learn how to fight the hard way. This led to an unorthodox style, combining dazzling swordsmanship with high-tech gadgetry. Over-confidence is now this Autobot’s weakness, and his biggest challenge is keeping his mouthplate shut. Only under the right command can he stealth like a shinobi, and strike like a samurai.
Ability tooltips were written to explain each warrior’s complex MMORPG-like abilities in a clear, concise, and consistent manner. Here are two examples that I wrote, under the direction of the combat designer:
Mismatch’s Hull Polarizer (Equipment)
While active, redirects all damage from nearby allies to Mismatch at a reduction of 28.5%. Direct damage to Mismatch is also reduced by 30%. Other Mismatch warriors are immune. [Morale]
Swagger’s Shinobi Spiral (Special Attack)
Deals damage to all nearby enemies. Damage is increased by 50% if Swagger’s Emission Shroud equipment is also active.
I wrote the Game Guide copy under the guidance of the design and marketing teams. Here are some excerpts:
The Leviathan is Switchblade’s starship, which he used to destroy the Autobot vessel, Arclight, when it arrived in Earth’s orbit. Hovering menacingly above the remains of Central City, the Leviathan is now the Decepticon command hub. Its main deck houses a GroundBridge for deploying to battlefronts, and the Hangars from where Decepticon commanders lead their troops.
Weapons have one of four firing types:
- Ammo weapons use a single round every time you fire, and the clip size is dependent on the weapon. They automatically reload when ammo runs out, and can’t fire again until fully reloaded.
- Charge weapons have a greater output the longer you charge the weapon for before releasing.
- Overheat weapons fire continuously until they overheat, at which point they need to cooldown. They can fire while cooling down, but will quickly overheat again if they’ve not been allowed to cool completely.
- All-in weapons fire with a single, powerful activation, which requires a short recovery cooldown.
All Transformers Universe content © 2014 Hasbro