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Words power Gears of War: Judgment

A video reveals how two writers shaped Gears of War: Judgment during its development.

Gears of War: Judgment, an Xbox 360 exclusive, arrives on March 19. Epic Games

Gears of War: Judgment has turned at least one aspect of game creation on its head, according to a behind-the-scenes video about the upcoming game for Xbox 360.

The 7-minute video sheds light on how the shooting game's co-developers, Epic Games and People Can Fly, integrated the two lead writers early in the game's creation -- instead of adding dialog and conversation later in the process.

Rob Auten and Tom Bissell, the lead writers for the fourth iteration of the game, spent a year creating 20,000 spoken lines for Judgment, which they estimate clocking in somewhere near 100,000 words. There are only about 17 minutes of cinematic cut scenes, so a lot of the dialog occurs during gameplay. Players can also increase the difficulty of levels in Judgment, and these experiences contain different script material for enhanced replay value.

"The really strange thing about video game writing is you often don't know if it works until it's in the game," Bissell said in the video. "You actually have to play the game and get in there to remember what those levels felt like, remember what that combat encounter right before this line of dialog is going to fire. That's the only way to write dialog that makes the characters feel like they're responding to something real."

Judgment art director Chris Perna describes in the video how interaction with Bissell and Auten made a huge impact on all aspects of the game.

"I'll sit down with the writers when I can, and I'll get story dumps -- that helps me to drive the concept art," said Perna. "It's kind of like an umbrella: you have the story at the top, and then it umbrellas out to concept art; then to the models; the levels; the characters; gameplay; even the programmers. It all falls into place from that one germ of an idea."

The video comes via the Creators Project and Kill Screen.