Hey /r/iama, Eric here. I play Marvel Heroes as nonumbers, I've written VO scripts for 30+ Marvel characters (plus thousands of lines of item flavor text), and I was recently promoted to Senior Dialogue Writer for MH2016. Ask me anything about seniors, dialogue, writing, or whatever.

Also, if you'd be so kind as to check out my own comic project on Kickstarter, I think you might like it. It's called No Holds Bard and it's about Shakespeare fighting crime, written mostly in iambic pentameter. Here's a 7-page preview with art from Erica Henderson (Squirrel Girl), Logan Faerber (Oh! Killstrike), Cara McGee (Lumberjanes), James Callahan (The Auteur), Aaron Conley (Sabertooth Swordsman), Sina Grace (Self-Obsessed), Bobby Rubio (Pixar's Inside Out), Ashlyn Anstee (Nickelodeon's Harvey Beaks), Dave Kloc (The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail) and more!

My Proof: https://twitter.com/RealGladstone/status/674664510750195712

Comments: 130 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Paulsaddiction20 karma

How much do you get paid? How much per job? How much did you make writing for games last year?

TrueBlueFriend16 karma

I get paid per line, which I don't think is the standard in the VG world. I work remotely (I'm in LA, and Gazillion is based in San Mateo), I'm technically a contractor rather than an employee, and this is on top of my regular salary at my regular job working for Stan Lee at the POW! Entertainment office.

abueloshika19 karma

What lines do you regret the most and why are they Icemans?

TrueBlueFriend18 karma

Yeah, Iceman isn't my proudest. I love the character, but he's been written all over the place from stoic to stupid, so I had a hard time getting that concentrated essence of the character that would tell you exactly who he is in 300ish lines. I wanted to make him a kid brother but also a leader. Didn't quite work, but come on, he's not thaaaat bad.

Also, I was kind of embarrassed when I heard him do the "Straight Outta Xavier's" line. It was supposed to be like Straight Outta Compton!

FxckWork1 karma

pls respond, literally stopped playing this hero because of the lines...no offense

TrueBlueFriend10 karma

None taken.

MonzcarroMurcatto11 karma

The interactions between characters may seriously be my favorite part of Marvel Heroes, and I love how you (or your team) have written Emma Frost. How much do you know about the characters before writing? Do you try to stick with iconic moments from the comics or do you prefer to do your own thing?

TrueBlueFriend6 karma

The way the game handles the interactions, they need to be able to happen any time these characters pass one another, regardless of environment, so I have to keep them at least a little broad, whereas the comics are very specific. That said, I always do a lot of research to see if the characters have any established history.

AhSighLum8 karma

How did you get into that profession? As i also am interesting in that kind of work/creative writing.

Edit: Holy crap! BOBBY RUBIO? got some major love for his comic drawings. I would die to put one of those on my wall haha. Fangirl moment over, i apologise.

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

I cannot stress enough being at the right place at the right time, and being prepared for when opportunity knocks. Like so much of the creative industry it's about what you know AND who you know. One of my best friends was hired by Gazillion, the game's publisher, as an associate producer right out of college when the game was early in development. They needed writers and he knew my background as a comics fan and writer, so he put my name into the hat. I was given a sample script and I tested well.

AhSighLum1 karma

Well thats me out of the game then. LOL. I don't know a lot of people.. other than the people on reddit and my SO.

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

Doesn't mean you can't meet people who won't help you out later down the line. I have pretty bad anxiety around people, but I got EXTREMELY LUCKY.

TRenegade6 karma

Most of Venom's voiceovers are unlike anything he would ever say in the comics. Are there any chances of these being fixed to be something more realistic?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

I got my cues for that from the Ultimate and cartoon versions of the character as opposed to the Lethal Protector version. I read a lot of Venom in the 90's and wouldn't say it's unlike anything he'd say in the comics.

SouthernPolarBear3 karma

Have you ever voiced any on the characters you wrote for a game?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

I wish. I voiced Shakespeare and Page in the kickstarter video and I have a small VO portfolio. The voice acting world is TOUGH.

Still, I like to think they're all my voice. The music swells, the crowd wipes tears from their cheeks

Jedasd3 karma

Finally the right person to ask some things that were bothering me as a comic reader.

Why does Cyclops hates Emma but literally worships Jean? I just finished cosmic prestiging him so I played a lot with him and its literally unbearable how out of character some of his lines and how the last 15 years of X-Men books/Cyclops characterization have been dismissed.

Why does Winter Soldier sounds like its shortly after his reapperance 2005 and pretty insecure(at least it sounds like that to me)?

Will Nova(Richard Rider) and Thor get some new lines(including Worldmind for Richard)? Because they are my two favorite characters from comics that is currently in t he game and both their voice actors and lines are really good and satisfying(especially Thor). Also I really like Emma's, Magik's and Reed's voicework and dialogues, will they get more lines? Im sure Reed has the lowest chance though.

What can I expect for my 3rd favorite character, Iron Fist?

Im sure you arent allowed to answer it or probably dont know yet but can we expect Hercules in the game next year?

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

There were actually a handful of lines that got scrapped for Winter Soldier that were supposed to sound like memories/flashbacks from Cap ("I'm proud of you, Bucky" but really processed). I think that would have made it feel more complete, but I loved the way David Hayter delivered those lines.

I didn't write Cyclops, so I'm not sure.

I'm a big fan of Shaw Bros kung fu movies, so I tried to sneak in a bunch of references to those.

I would love Hercules to be in the game. I went as him for Halloween/Comic-Con one year. (http://i.imgur.com/ZEte5id.png SORRY!)

MonzcarroMurcatto3 karma

Another Marvel Heroes question: With so many different voice actors I imagine you can't bring them back every time a new character gets released, yet I've noticed launch characters interacting with heroes released years later. How far ahead do you plan interactions between characters and unreleased heroes?

And on a totes unrelated note, written anything new for Spider-Woman?

TrueBlueFriend7 karma

We actually do bring some actors back for later sessions, but we also have a general idea of what characters are doing next. Sometimes I'll write some "wish list" characters, or characters I'll know will be coming out 6 months in advance to keep older characters feeling fresh with newer ones.

Kizer913 karma

I am a big fan of Ghost Rider. Was he one of the characters you wrote and if so, what was it like writing him?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

Yeah! I love writing characters that are mean or evil or haunted, they tend to have more personality than the noble strong types.

As for my process, well, first I set my head on fire and tried to give passers by a penance stare.

Danite72 karma

I love how Dr. Doom refers to other player Dooms as "Doombots". Any other characters lined up to refer to themselves? Spider-man referring to another clone or something like that?

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

I didn't write Spider-Man, and for a while we didn't really reference other players as the same characters, but now I make it a point to have at least one "clone" interaction per character.

Punchclops2 karma

I guess I just missed this, GodDoom damn it!

But just in case you happen to glance back at late responses - keep up the good work!
And does Gaz have any opportunities for crazy webcomic writers?

TrueBlueFriend1 karma

Thanks and I don't think so, respectively, but show me what you've got.

clawclawbite2 karma

How much research do you do, and what kinds, to get a sense of character 'voice'? Are you more focused on recent versions, or trying to find more iconic versions?

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Whenever I'm given an assignment, it's usually comes with the caveat that these are the iconic, evergreen versions of the character (unless it's a specific movie costume). That said, I usually go for more up-to-date interpretations.

I'm a huge comics fan, I buy my books every Wednesday so a lot of these voices are already pretty well ingrained. I also have a Marvel Unlimited subscription and that really helps. I usually read 6-12 issues (or watch a few episodes of whatever cartoon) before writing anything and I'm constantly hunting within those books to find the character's voice.

er00n2 karma

Any hints on upcoming heroes of the year 2016?)

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Nope, gotta keep it mum.

latiasfan2 karma

What is your favorite VO, or flavor text you have written so far? (This game has so many so I understand if you have to pick like a top 3 or something).

TrueBlueFriend8 karma

Oh gosh.

Rocket: The only thing wanton about this destruction is I'm wanton some more

Thing: What's the hold up? It's half past clobberin' time.

Blade: Do I have to pay taxes on this (I don't think that made it into the final script)

Spider-Gwen: Just like I smash the patriarchy!

citricacidx2 karma

Do you use All your Base Are Belong To Us as reminder of what not to do?

TrueBlueFriend1 karma

Like Zero Wing? Yeah, I guess so. Unless it's someone like Deadpool who would use that line (I didn't write him, only Deadpool Kid)

CommissarSCV2 karma

Being a "family friendly" game what is the direction on mature references? Do they allow Emma's "Life's a bitch and so am I" because it's character friendly? Things like Iceman's(I think his lines are great for his character btw) referencing Magneto being a murderer come to mind as not really adding to value, but being in there anyway. Also why aren't those god awful lines like Luke telling Iron Man about his armor being on blocks veto'd for being insane?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

We're an online game and so we're not rated by the ESRB, but we try to keep it consistent and soft PG-13, while still being as true-to-character as possible. I didn't write Emma, but that absolutely fits with her character. The most explicit I'll go is "crap", the occasional "bitch" and otherwise I'll write some stuff that can only be classified as "rude humor"

I'm not sure which Iceman lines you're referencing, but I think he'd be reluctant working with Mags, they've been fighting for 50 years, and Mags is pretty self-righteous for someone who has killed so many people in the name of his ideology.

I didn't write Luke either, but yikes.

VagabondM1 karma

So you're the one I have to thank! By far my favorite thing in MH is the dialogue.

I don't really have any specific questions..so..Who was your favorite character in MH to write overall?

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Rocket Raccoon's movie costume and Spider-Gwen were probably my favorites. I had less than a week to finish and very little access to the movie dialogue for Rocket, but I think we nailed the character. Same goes for Gwen, she hadn't been out for very long when we started.

Also, the first one I wrote was The Thing, and I tried to get him to sound like my favorite radio host, Tom Scharpling, as much as his original inspiration, Jimmy Durante.

VagabondM1 karma

Awesome! My favorite character dialogue is probably a tie between Moon Knight and Iron Man, MK has this one line when fighting purifiers that I absolutely love.

TrueBlueFriend1 karma

"Hope your surgeon's not a mutant"?

abueloshika1 karma

Without going into specifics (we can't expect that) have you experienced any disconnect between the way you wrote any lines in MH and the way the Voice Actor performed them?

Are you involved in the direction at all or do you supply notes with tone, inclination etc like a movie script?

Also I'm sending a lot of questions, feel free to ignore them to move on to someone else.

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Yeah a couple times. It happens.

I try to write directions or references in the notes section of the script, but the actor is going to bring their interpretation of the character to any performance. I'm usually not in the room when they record, so I try to be clear about how it sounds in my head.

About4001llamas1 karma

Hey Eric! You have my dream job! I'm going to college for video game design with a minor in creative writing next year, and I was wondering if you had any tips on how to break into the industry? Other than that, do you like your job? Thanks!

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

I love my jobs, but they are still jobs.

The industry has changed a lot even since I started a few years ago. It used to be you could start as a QA tester at some studios and work up to production, but now in a lot of places they keep it pretty separated and you're expected to have a degree. The best way to break in is to make friends who are already in the industry (without the presumption that they'll get you a job), and to be ready to work your ass off if you get the opportunity.

Also, I'm not sure how true this is, but I hear big studios don't really like the indie game landscape and won't draw from their talent pool.

vpr5551 karma

Why does Doom hate Wolverine and/or Canadians so much through his dialogue?

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Because they smell like hockey and beer, and Canada beat Latveria in the 2010 Olympics.

Pinkasso1 karma

what rules do you have to follow for writing dialogues? you've mentoined the blade paying his taxes line not making into the game, probably due to pc, do you know if it got recorded nonetheless? are there limitations due to copyrights, for example could iceman sing "ice ice baby", preferably in the right rhythm? how long do you need to write dialogues for a character? do you have a character you would like to do dialogues for that isn't in the game yet, who is it and did you write the lines already?

now that turned into a lot questions :|

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

It wasn't a PC thing, I was specifically referencing Wesley Snipes' tax woes, and yeah I get why they didn't keep it. I wasn't in the session, so I don't know if they recorded it.

It usually takes a week or two to nail down a script, depending on what else I have going on.

When Fraction and Allred's awesome FF series was going on, I made a hard push to get Miss Thing in there as an enhanced costume. I don't think it's going to happen though.

Pinkasso1 karma

that's what i meant by pc. it's the same like you wouldn't have someone ask professor x if his legs are hurting.

about ff: if it doesn't happen the reason could be that marvel is pushing gaz not to release much stuff for heroes whose movie rights aren't in marvel's hands.

how would you handle black bolt dialogues, just make them thoughts and maybe his ultimate being a word?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

I did write Juggernaut's line "I'm on a roll, and not like my brother, Chuck." But Juggy's supposed to be a dick, so it fit.

Not sure about the rights thing. Marvel Studios doesn't own the rights to Deadpool, but they're always putting out new costumes for him.

I'm not sure. I love Black Bolt, and it makes sense the way you described him. It would either be silent or inner monologue.

ColdThor1 karma

Not sure if it was asked from you already or not, but what do you think of the current state of Marvel Heroes? Do you think it provides enough content for both newbies and those players who have been playing for 2 years now? Do you think the team´s change of personell slowed them down, or are you looking at it more positively: Veterans may have left, but the newer developers will do better things, once they get in the flow.

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

I still play it fairly regularly (I've 60'd a handful of characters, but never beat Surtur or any cosmic trials).

I don't work at the Gaz office, so I haven't seen how the workflow has changed day-to-day, but I know they have a lot of good people working on it, and they're putting lots of content into the 2016 update. The goal with this kind of game is to try and get the most people playing, so that means reaching out to new players as well as honoring the people who have been with us since the very beginning. That's a balancing act for sure, and I think they're doing a really good job with it. The community has always been one of the best.

Jaggerbomber1 karma

You've done a fantastic job of including the romantic character interactions through the different heroes. Are there any you felt you could have done more for? IE: Rogue/Magneto.

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Thanks! Yeah, there's kind of a guideline on how many lines are spoken from one character to another. I'm always more comfortable writing characters that have established histories and will top load those with additional lines.

suaveitguy1 karma

What's a script look like with all the potential roads to take? How do you account for moods and health and variables like that when a character is in the same situation but they are going to respond differently?

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

I'm given a spreadsheet of all the places to put the lines (i.e., critical hits, specific enemy encounters, low health, etc). This isn't like Mass Effect or something that has those crazy long dialogue trees, so everything is written as if there's some urgency and they're trying to save the world at that moment. It's more of an utterance rather than a conversation.

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TrueBlueFriend10 karma

Thanks, bot. I admire skepticism.

suaveitguy1 karma

What's a non-action film that you would want to adapt into a videogame?

Nayib981 karma

Did you go to college/university and if you did which one?

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

I was in a car crash my senior year of high school and couldn't tour any of the colleges I'd been accepted into and ended up going to UC Santa Cruz (Go Slugs!). I didn't love it then because it felt to much like summer camp, but I met some of my best friends there. I ended up going home after a year and going to Santa Monica College (Go Corsairs!). It wasn't great either, but I learned a lot about myself. I finished up at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!). I've also done some continuing education writing classes at UCLA.

Pinkling991 karma

Hi Eric! I'm a Senior in college and I desperately want to get into Video Game Writing. Any tips on how to make that break into the industry?

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Make friends, be a good person, focus on improving your writing by doing a lot of it, and make your own luck.

jordan135421 karma

What characters have been your favorites to work on throughout your career?

Are any of the said characters ones you didn't know about, worked on, and then started to like?

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Well, I mean they're Marvel characters, so a lot of them are pretty well known. Even the less popular ones like Moon Knight I had a pretty basic knowledge of.

As for my favorites: Thing, Rocket (Movie), Dr. Doom, She Hulk, Silver Surfer, Kate Bishop, Spider-Gwen, Jane Foster, Wiccan, Rachel Cole-Alves, and the Deadpool Kid

AmorphousGenitalia1 karma

Metal Gear???

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Card keys?

360walkaway1 karma

What's the worst line you've ever been party to? The lowest point I can think of is "WELCOME TO DIE!" in X-Men Arcade.

There was also one in a Playstation MLB game where the announcer introduced his partner (a black guy) as the "most colorful color man around". Eesh.

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

Ones that I've written personally? I'm more scared of writing a boring one than a bad one ("Too Late!" or "Stay down!" is cliche.), but the one that's gotten the most flack was Moon Knight's "Thought it was Smiley" because it relies on way too much on outside knowledge of a several-year-old run on a minor character, and even then it's kind of weird. Like even hardcore Moon Knight fans didn't know what I was talking about. Smiley was referring to Raoul Bushman. He was a merc that Moon Knight killed and skinned who subsequently showed up as a faceless hallucination of a moon god that told him to do stuff. Convoluted, right?

Moonyu691 karma

I know you guys try to keep your stories tied to the MU. How difficult has that become with the complete craziness sprung off of the secret wars fiasco and into the ANAD Marvel?

TrueBlueFriend1 karma

It's one thing to draw from the comics, and it's another to be tied to it. I'm not sure what our Official Reality Number is, but it's not the same as say 616 or 1610 (or whatever the new one is designated). MH exists in a continuity all its own, a place where clones and copies run rampant, and there's constant threats from Doom, Loki, Surtur and all the rest simultaneously, depending on the point of view of each individual character.

Battleworld is nuts, but it doesn't really affect the game for the time being.

Genoshaleader011 karma

Before a new hero is released there already dialogues of different heroes to that character?

Example before Kitty Pryde was released , there were already lines between Emma Frost to kitty or Colossus to kitty , or Iceman to kitty

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Yep! It helps to think ahead. Keeps it fresh.

lntrn1 karma

Your proof screenshot says story by Ryan Collins.

Which story did Ryolnir write?

Anything you can tell us about Thanos Raid/Secret Invasion? Tower Defense zone coming?

Who's got the greatest hair in the office and why is it KingBacon?

What made you want to use The Bard as your hero over Oscar Wilde?

Your twitter is hilarious and your comic sounds like a blast.

Thanks for making me giggle everytime I hear a new VO for character interaction I'd never heard before

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

The screenshot is from the upcoming MH2016 release. Ryan told me I can use it.

I don't work at Gaz's office. I do everything remotely, so I don't know a ton about the inner workings of the gameplay/raids/hair.

The main reason I chose Shakespeare was during the 1960's Batman TV show, he had a bust of Shakespeare that was literally the key to the Batcave. I thought, "What if Shakespeare was narcissistic enough to have a bust of himself" and it grew out from there.

abueloshika1 karma

How conscious do you have to be that players will be hearing the same dialogue again and again across many hours of play? Are there any lines or dialogue that you have penned, then scrapped on reflection?

Have you ever tested a line by repeating it over and over again to the person next to you in the office throughout the day and measuring how long it takes them to throw a hot drink in your face or have a full mental breakdown?

TrueBlueFriend4 karma

Hahahaha! I am aware that you'll be hearing a lot of lines over and over again, so I try to keep those ones short and (hopefully) funny. But yeah, there's two kinds of joke: ones that get funnier when you hear them a bunch and that get stale after one listen.

I've thrown out a bunch of lines that didn't work for one reason or another. I can't think of any right this second, but I'll dig around.

zaphodava1 karma

Welcome to Corneria! Do you like swords?

Robin_of_Loxley1 karma

What kind of limitations does the marvel comics team impose on yours? Is there just an established outline that you're not to detract from, or do you get considerable writing freedoms? Thanks!

TrueBlueFriend5 karma

There's a few characters we're not allowed to talk about due to rights issues or whatever, other than that I'm given a lot of freedom, at least for the first drafts.

LegionsDemise1 karma

I've written small plays and skits and have always found writing dialogue the hardest part. What are some tips for making dialogue feel smooth and natural?

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

Talk it out. These lines are to be said, not read. Look for what people are trying to say on top of what they're actually saying. When somebody says something, they have a whole lifetime of experiences leading up to the very moment they open their lips, so there's a whole inner life behind it. But keep doing it, and I swear you'll get better, unless you suck (you probably don't)

kingtrumpy211 karma

With comic characters always in a state of flux (i.e.. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver no long being Magneto's kids) how constrained are you in writing dialogue that won't be irrelevant in a short time?

TrueBlueFriend2 karma

By trying to keep them the "evergreen" versions of the characters and peppering in a little of the more modern stuff. For Quicksilver, when I was writing his team-up, the Uncanny Avengers arc that established they weren't Mag's kids had already been out, so I "taught the controversy" and had him reference their relationship without out and out saying "you're not my father"

akusb1 karma

Never, ever play with the MH game sounds on but, is the interactions only w/ heroes to heroes? or like does wolv walk into Onslaught's room and be like thats a real big bub!

TrueBlueFriend3 karma

There's general environmental references (This place is cold, bub), specific room references (The Raft's on fire again and I gotta put it out, bub.), and references to specific bosses (Lady Deathstrike is one mean bub), on top of their hero-to-hero interactions.

Note: none of those lines are in the game.