Watercress Developer Blog #8 - Critanium and Why Assistant Writers are

Hey folks, I’m Critanium. I go by a few aliases, mostly Mohn Jadden, Watercress Communal Punching Bag, and generally whatever incoherent screaming the team can throw at me.

I’m the Assistant Writer for Natalie, which means I fall under OptionalSauce in the mythical ‘chain-of-command’. Now, before you ask me why we just didn’t get the man himself to do this, Optional, and why he would delegate one of his *assistants* to do it, this blog isn’t about writing in general.

It’s about the role of the Assistant Writer, and why tacking on the word ‘assistant’ doesn’t mean we don’t contribute as much to the project. That, and why it’s needed in the first place.

But first, a little about myself. (A.K.A, skip to the next line.)

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I’m a 16 year old high school student currently pursuing (More along the lines of ‘lazily pawing at’) a job as a Network Analyst/IT Tech. Writing, to put it simply, is a hobby of mine. Something that I’ve done even when I was a young lad, saving word documents on a hard-drive that I burned a long time ago.

Writing was a passing fling of mine, before I came across Katawa Shoujo. Like Albro, the same picture he was referring to was my same experience of the game. However, unlike him, I waited 2 weeks before I remembered it while lazily clicking around in my steam library, and decided to try it.

I went into the fray at 6 PM and came out at 9 AM crying. Seriously, crying. (Okay, it was one tear, but I still savor those moments when I can.)

So after an intermission of watching like, two animes and becoming a weaboo to all my friends, I came back to Katawa Shoujo, immersing myself into the community on the Subreddit. After a bit of that, writing 24k words on some fanfiction that was a damn stupid idea, I came across one person on the subreddit, low_hanging_nuts.

You see, he posted a topic that wanted help on creating an Aoi Pseudo-Route. (For those of you who don’t know, Aoi is a character that gets 5 seconds of screen time at the end of Shizune’s route.) But then I realized, for some reason I had tipped him off on a previous topic that she was ‘route-less’. He requested help, and it felt only natural that I should assist him, if to have something to do.

A few months later, and we’ve already created 6 parts of the route, stretching almost 24k words.

So, in the midst of creating part 7, I got a message from TheForeverLoneWolf, one who I had prior experience with on one of the fringe Katawa Shoujo subreddits. He asked me to join Watercress Studios as an assistant writer due to my experience as an assistant writer. However, he didn’t send a message to Nuts.

Spoiler: I changed that. Now, Nuts and I are both assistant writers for Natalie.

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Let’s get back to the topic on hand, the role of the assistant writer. When nuts and I were brought on, we thought the most we’d be were glorified editors. Maybe writing a couple of scenes or so here and there, but still following the path set by the lead writer, Optional.

We couldn’t be more wrong.

As we read the writing that had been created by Optional (Which stretched out for 40+ pages and generally constituted most of the first Act.), we came to a consensus. Natalie, as a character, seemed… off. In that state, she lacked any sort of real back-story, or real character. Plus, her motivation for writing was never specified.

So, what did we do? Nuts and I opened a google doc, and began pointing out the flaws we saw in Natalie, and suggested ways to improve upon them.

After a few of the major, glaring, ideas were cut (Ones that we aren’t even sure why we thought up in the first place.) We presented it to Optional, he worked with us, helping set this new version of Natalie down in stone.

After a second revision (again, done by Nuts and I), Natalie is turning more and more into a character of her own, becoming the foil we’ve always wanted for Sanne, and turning a flat story into a rather dynamic one.

This how vital Assistant Writers are. With the perspective of more than one person, errors can be spotted and brought to the attention of the Lead Writer, who can advise us on how to fix them.

Of course, as with writing goes, you must always kill your darlings, and Nuts and I are totally not looking forward to writing those 40 pages again. But if it means a better character that contributes to a better storyline, we’ll be glad to make that happen.

So if assistant writers are allowed to do these huge revisions? Why are they still assistants? Why can’t they just be co-writers?

Well, it all falls back into what I mentioned earlier, ‘chain of command’. As a studio, we’ve realized that it’s necessary for people with tangible power over others, as both a method of control and a method of organization. Without leaders, this project would frankly be a mess, which leads to a directionless project. (Read: a failed project.)

So why Lead Writers and Assistant Writers? Lead Writers are focused on the big picture of the route, making sure everything falls into place and has a beginning and end set in stone. Assistant Writers are there to help advise the Lead on the direction of the route, while also filling in the gaps here and there that need fixing.

There is a very important dynamic here, one that will be able to assist us on attaining that sweet, sweet poontang we call a finished game.

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Hey, thanks for tuning into this weeks Dev Blog. Hope you enjoyed my slightly less worthful opinion on how the writing dynamic works.

If you want a sneak peek on how writing for her is going, here’s a secret.

The words ’bollocks’ and ’cunt’ will be spoken more than once.