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Developing a Game Story/Game Writing

Introduction A game can be described as a series of interesting choices. In a game, the player leaves the real world behind and enters the game world, even in games like Charades, Tag or Baseball. In Tag tapping someone�s body has a specific meaning in the game-world that would be utter non-sense in the normal world. A Story is a series of conflicts and resolutions. It also makes a reader leave the real world behind and enter the story world. That is if the story is well written and engages the reader. Combining these two ideas is the challenge of writing a Game-Story. How much choice will you give to the player so that it�s still a game and not just an interactive novel? How will you make it a good, interesting story to captivate the player? Contents 1. From the Beginning 2. Hero's Journey Model 3. Basic Story Structure 4. Story Telling Elements 5. Tips to Try 1. From the Beginning Every story and game starts with an idea or concept. That idea can be a character, a situation, a relationship, a creature, a place, another game, a battle system, an item, an event, and so on. Once you are clear on your idea you can build a story around it. But there are some things to be careful of. You should always keep in mind that this is a game and not a movie or book where the audience has no choice in what happens to the characters. The player needs to feel some level of authorship. Keeping your audience in mind is called PLAYERCENTRIC DESIGN. (This is what is being taught in Game Design Programs.) It not only needs to be a good story, it needs to be fun. Developing a Game Story is really not much different than developing a story written on paper. There is just the extra challenge of making the story playable. 2. Hero's Journal Model Almost 99% of RPG games features the �Hero�s Journey� type story. Lord of the

Climax .Conflict . The steps between that conflict and the resolution are many. all stories follow a similar structure. 3. Take a Game like Ocarina of Time (warning some spoilers). everyday person until an event/mentor shows them the door and they begin on their journey. Then you have to talk to the Deku Tree.Rings or the Hobbit are classic examples�as is Star Wars oddly enough. Translating this to a game is not too difficult. Longer games may have several conflicts and resolutions. Then you have to talk to Mido. Basic Story Structure While the "Hero's Journey" is a specific model. A novel is actually a very long list of conflicts and their resolutions. Then you go into the tree dungeon. The cut scene before the event. Stories are made up of Conflicts and Resolutions.Resolution. Personally. G) The hero returns home. E) Hero continues to overcome obstacles and grow. I try to think of a game in a series of events. F) The hero can now overcome the obstacle they were unable to overcome before. First you have to learn the game controls. D) They lose their mentor and now must grow on their own. the player plays and at the end another cut scene plays to state the resolution of the event and start the next. Then you have to find rupees and buy a shield. Introduction . B) They are met with an obstacle they are unable to overcome C) They are challenged by their mentor or an event that they do over come. The first conflict is the Deku Tree is dying. the player is presented with another one. Short stories generally only have ONE conflict and resolution. A) The hero is an ordinary. There is a general thread through these kinds of stories. Then you have to find the Kokiri sword. . After that conflict is resolved. The resolution is defeating the boss inside the dungeon.

etc. Psychological type stories. This may affect the resolution of the main quest. All other side conflicts must lead up to this Main resolution with their resolutions. (And you also learn that you were adopted. For action games and first person shooters. Water Dungeon. Each had a cut scene proceeding it telling you of this specific problem as well as provide another step towards the resolution of the BIG conflict. Usually this is done with cut-scenes and in-game dialogue. It is almost always text based. 5. it is better to just have a mission log displayed. The main quest should be the main conflict in the game. Self (The character is opposed by his/her own mind or some spiritual struggle.The conflict is there is evil rising in the land and the world is in danger. Other conflicts can have more than one resolution that the player can choose. It gets the barebones idea for your game story down on paper. The resolution will be the final boss/battle/confrontation.) Each dungeon or level after that has some sort of conflict. Tips to Try High Concept Document: While you may not really be pitching this idea to a company. Fire Dungeon. Nature (The character is opposed by forces of nature. Man (The character is opposed to another person/group of people) Man vs. storms. A good game designer/writer presents interesting conflicts for the player to try and resolve. To write the explanation in the game while keeping the player immersed in the game.) [header]4. plagues.) Man vs. the princess is missing. Story Telling Elements[/header] You have to present your conflicts somehow. the Gorons are starving and the cave is blocked. This document should include: Game Title/Working Title Game Genre . the information you need to include is perfect for getting peer feedback for your game/story. Conflicts for a character based story are usually: Man vs. The side route is to have a bulk of text to read on screen. story telling is best done through dialogue cut-scenes. Sometimes there�s only ONE correct resolution that you can give.

get unicorn seeds. voice actors planned. Game Design Document: A Game design document goes further in depth than a Pitch Document. meet Wolf Pack Leader. I usually work things out as a series of quests. Character descriptions. Sneak into Capital City � enter city without getting caught.Setting: Player Motive: Features: Unique Points: Design Goals: Extra details (Audio plans. fight Dragon Lord 11. arrested 10. run up the mountain. Finding �Niece� � help ELF find informed NPC. and the basic storyline. meet king 7. Travel to Capital City � Travel to the Stop. 9. Play through the game how you intend the player to go through it. Demon Wolves � Fight Demon Wolves. Chase Boss � chase Boss through labyrinth 12. Catch Thief � Chase Thief. Battle Boss/Save World � Fight minions. Opening Quest � Trading Quest for money and unlock first cut scene. demon character joins party 5. it does not include side-quests or random game events. and the goal/result of that quest. Unicorn character joins party. Challenge Boss � fight your friends. Usually receiving an item.) (Example: My Little Pony: End of Flutter Valley) Quest Outline: When writing out your game plan. getting a new quest. Example: 1. I had already created the story-world. Find a Unicorn for the king � travel to centaur village. list of location descriptions. make a story outline for the game. Don�t worry about dialogue or cut scenes. fight final boss Prior to making this list. Elf joins the party 3. 2. Thief joins party 4. I make quick notes about what I want to happen during that quest. You must take the ideas from the outline and pitch document and . catch Caravan. 8. Sprite Character joins party 6. the characters. Flee the Dragons � run to the Lake. What the quest list does for me is turn events in the story into game quests. trap unicorn. This is the bare-bone trail for my game. Travel to Enemy City � go to enemy town. Meet Fae Chief. a player joining the party are the results of quests. meet Sea Serpent King and dragon queen. what I expect the player to do.

form a larger database of information. Menus. dialogue scripts (usually a separate document). For industry games these documents are pretty hefty. Ability list. quest list/game outline. The Game design document should include: General Information -Game Name -Game genre and setting -Description of the world including important towns. Story Elements -Premise of the story -Character Descriptions -Types of NPCs encountered -Types of Monsters/Bosses Other Things -Victory Conditions. cut-scene list. Game System -Specifics on Battle Systems. HUD�s and the like. names of places and probably a quick map. unimportant towns. If you are working alone. it�s just good to get down the details you need to know. Weapons list. Class Systems. If you are working with a team it is absolutely crucial that you have a detailed Design Document for everyone to follow. but really just expanding on what you got should do it. . and on screen displays.

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