Mistakes that Developers Make When Writing Narratives for Their Games

Developers are almost always bound to make mistakes when developing their games. It can happen anywhere, whether it be within code, graphics, audio, and even the game’s overall narrative. These mistakes generally have positive or negative effects on the finished product. Some developers including myself have a big focus on the game’s story. I have put down some notable mistakes that developers make when crafting their game’s universe.

Grammar Mistakes

A common factor for many developers is those who do not speak English as their native tongue. When creating games for English-speaking audiences, a single developer can commit many mistakes on the spelling and grammar, whether it be for interface text or dialogue. This mishap is common for developers who are new to the Anglophone market, or in countries where English is a dominant language but are poor in writing it. Despite this, it can be a useful way for developers who want to learn and improve upon English proficiency. The most common mistakes include interchanging words and confusing them with “there”, “they’re”, and “their”, as well as “your” and “you’re”.

There have been cases where a developer’s English proficiency is very low that their games lack complete coherence, or in extreme cases, make absolutely no sense, and have therefore become infamous. In the age of the internet, some developers have used Google Translate where some phrases output nonsensical, broken English when translating from certain languages.

Misspelling Character Names When Localizing In Other Writing Systems

Writing systems vary between languages. Say for example one is developing a Touhou Project fangame. Because of the source material’s loads and loads of characters, developers can become unfamiliar with the characters if they are new to the franchise. It’s not uncommon for characters’ names to be misspelled, even those who are flagships of the franchise.

Unreadable and Annoying Text

Some developers deviate from using a sans-serif typeface for in-game text including subtitles, and instead use decorative, stylized, or cursive (referred to as script) fonts such as Comic Sans or Lucida Handwriting. Inherent text set in these fonts take longer to read, and in some cases not give players enough time to read before it disappears. There are typefaces specifically designed to be legible, such as those used on highway signs, but in most cases Arial or Helvetica which is standard for most operating systems would just do fine.

In-game text can comprise a rainbow of colors, but white or yellow are highly recommended for the best experience. It is recommended to change colors if the background of the text blends in with said color or if their engine supports it, add an outline.

Other Mistakes

These mistakes don’t usually impact the narrative of a game, but are usually caused by sloppiness:

  • Subtitles aren’t properly synchronized with the dialogue.
  • Sloppily-clipped voice files, where characters’ dialogue are cut off mid-sentence.
  • Vocals in musical segments out of sync with the music.


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