Here’s the general breakdown of talent in our house:
Me: writing, worldbuilding, drawing, languages, cooking
Husband: programming, music composition, editing, technical writing, cooking
So we kind of ended up breaking down “Nikria’s Menace” work into well, the stuff we each more naturally fall into. It isn’t that he isn’t able to worldbuild at all or that I have no idea of programming – these are just not instinctive to either of us just yet. Therefore I’ve wound up with the “writing” in RoomsListFile for what seems like ages just now, while he’s been doing programming, trying to create a Command Core and a RoomLoader.
Neither of us being too happy about the way this makes us feel – pigeonholed – we’ve talked about it. We’ve both agreed that well, only I am fully in charge of my own worlds. I just am not able to teach the ability to come up with the little bits of writing required for the more-immersive stuff in the Rooms, like when someone comes upon a salt barrel asking whether or not to take some is something that’s repeated in the game, but conversations with merchants wouldn’t be, and his writing style is very different than mine. However, I can show him the writing I’ve done, and we can discuss how the [END OF] and ROOM X areas should be written so that it works all together. Likewise, he can show me what he’s doing and explain it to me, and I can learn from that.
We’ve benefitted from both of those things. A couple days ago, we went through an extensive viewing of his Command Core, and I’ve gleaned a bit of knowledge from that, and he’s gotten some ideas as to how to move forward. He did note to me that it helps him learn just teaching me about the more intermediate programming knowledge that he’s got (which is something I can remember from the SCA; I learned a lot about heraldry by editing that of other heralds!). I on the other hand am getting ideas for how to do future games, how to write it so that either of us could move forward within the writing if we wanted to help the other person.
Now, I know game development companies don’t seem to do things this way. The bigger ones at least have people stuck in one box or another, not two or three. There’s programmers, worldbuilders, story writers, artists, marketers. This is my general understanding of it, anyway. I don’t think I like that idea. I know that I definitely DO NOT want to just be The Writer, any more than he just wants to be stuck in one role either. I want to know how to do what he’s doing too!
I think eventually we’ll come to a better way of doing this so that the pigeonhole effect doesn’t happen as badly, but we’re definitely feeling the pinch just now. I have to keep reminding myself that once I’m done writing out the storyline stuff of the game, I’m basically done. There’ll be a tiny bit of tweaking here and there, but it’s done otherwise. There’ll be a lot of coding left to do after that.
When I was solely writing stories/books, I never collaborated on one with another writer, so I couldn’t say if this is a similar situation. It probably isn’t since if it’s two writers, then they’re at least on an even playing field. This is all part of a learning process though.