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The definitive guide to game writing inspiration

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#1 boolean   Members   -  Reputation: 1710

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Posted 16 August 2004 - 01:18 AM

Over the last few months I have noticed that there seems to of been a number of posts asking for help on a similar theme: “Im a coder, not a writer. Please help me write a story” This is a pretty common occurrence. A programmer designs an engine, but has no world or plot to place upon it. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that a post asking for a story that you could create will lead to anything substantial. This is because unless you design it yourself, you wont have a passion for the world you are creating, and invariably end up continually asking people for more and more help on what comes next (In a similar way, its like asking someone to write the first 10 pages of a book for you). So, to combat this problem, I have come up the list below. The following is what will (hopefully) be an ever-growing list of sites and guides that can help you get over that writing block. They are links to sites that may spark ideas and get you thinking of possible plot ideas. Some will be galleries with lots of different art, and some will be guides on how to get started when creating a story.
++ How to submit ++
UPDATE: This thread has been retired automatically, so to submit new content please just send me a PM I am hoping that this list will continue to grow as more and more people submit links. To submit your part to the guide, please follow the format below. Once I have verified that the site fits this guide I will add it to the list below. I will put your username with your link as well so you get sufficient credit. Site name: Type the name of the site or page title that the link is connecting to. Site Address: Don’t worry about it being a clicky or not if you don’t want to. It will be formatted correctly when I add it to the list. Description: A quick description of what the site contains. Best way to use(optional): A small guide on how you use the site for inspiration (not needed if the site you are linking to is a tutorial/guide) You can copy and past this if you find it quicker: Site name: Site Address: Description: Best way to use:
++ THE LIST ++
++ Websites ++

  • Elwood Science fiction and fantasy art
  • A collection of user submitted art containing both Sci-fi and Fantasy Best way to use: Just go through random pages looking at the art. Find one picture you like and try to imagine that as being part of a story. You will be surprised the plots you come up with
  • Concept art
  • A small collection of user submitted art containing people from both Sci-fi and Fantasy Best way to use: Just go through random pages looking at the art. Find one picture you like and try to imagine the character as part of a story.
  • The big list of RPG plots
  • A huge list of plot starters that can be used to move to bigger story lines. It is designed for Pen&Paper games, but its still useful. Best way to use: Read some of the plot starters and try to think of them being a level in a game. You may find that the setting and characters come naturally after this.
  • Dictionary of Inspiration Credit: orionx103
  • A dictionary of stuff that inspired me Best way to use: Base your own characters or items off those presented here
  • FanFiction.net Credit: orionx103
  • A collection of fan-submitted fanfics Best way to use: Shows you how characters can be taken in directions you might not've thought about
  • Vladimir Propp's "Elements of the Folktale" Credit: sunandshadow
  • Propp breaks down plot/folktale elements into 31 basic forms. Very interesting reading
  • Chris Crawford's library of articles Credit: sunandshadow
  • A library of articles about mimetics, the structure and function of fiction, and the design of the Erazmatron and some games made for it.
  • The TV Tropes Wiki Credit: sunandshadow
  • A lighthearted but intelligent wiki exploring common cliches and tropes in not just TV, but also anime, games, movies, and novels. Lots of stuff about heroes, villains, types of love interests, types of plots, and much more. ++ Books ++

  • Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: David Keirsey. Received 4.5/5 on Amazon.com
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Linda N. Edelstein Ph.D.
  • 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Victoria Schmidt. Received 4/5 on Amazon.com
  • The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Tami D. owden. Received 4.5/5 on Amazon.com
  • Characters Make Your Story Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Maren Elwood. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com!
  • Fiction Is Folks Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Robert Newton Peck. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com!
  • Interactive Storytelling: Techniques for 21st Century Fiction Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Author: Andrew Glassner
  • A list of his books including The "Masks of God" series, as well as "The Hero With A Thousand Faces". Credit: stimarco
    A study on mythologies and how to use them when writing a story
  • Author: Joseph Campbell. Received 5/5 on Amazon.com (average from 3 books) ++ Forum Links ++

  • The Creative Process Credit: CoffeeMug
  • A post by CoffeeMug
  • Works to get inspiration from? Credit: various
  • Excellent post started by Origin2052, continued on by many others.
  • Writing – Reply by adventuredesign Credit: adventuredesign (includes other various members)
  • The post originally asked for help with writing, and adventuredesign went on to post a gigantic tutorial like post ++ Gamedev.net links ++

  • More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Worldbuilding sunandshadows developer journal
  • An in depth look into worldbuilding. Touches on aspects such as Physics, Geography, Ecology and Culture.
  • Designing Characters sunandshadows developer journal
  • A guide on creating believable and in-depth characters.
  • Plot Part I sunandshadows developer journal
  • Breaks down the key points of a plot and analysis its progression from start to end.
  • Plot Part II sunandshadows developer journal
  • Fleshes out some of the milestons discussed in 'Plot Part I'.
  • Naming sunandshadows developer journal
  • A look at 5 different varieties of names, and discusses how to use them to name your characters. ++ Other useful tools ++

  • Universalis Credit: onyxflame
  • A collaborative storytelling game, with mechanics to resolve disagreements between players, as well as the ability to semi-randomly resolve story conflicts so even the players can be surprised by what happens.
  • Roget's Thesaurus online, free and searchable! Credit: Sunandshadow
  • Storybase Software for Writers Credit: diceymatters
  • Storybase is the world's only dictionary of essential human situations. The situations in Storybase make no reference to culture or gender specific conventions, so in a sense they are 'archetypal' and can be applied to any type of story. The software enables the writer to insert the names of their characters into the situtuations in Storybase. It is a great resourse for game developers who are having trouble with a specific story or who need to generate a lot of story threads in a short amount of time. Storybase does not write the story for you, however, it offers suggestions that spark the imagination. Storybase is a PC based software program that costs $99 (but it can be found on eBay for as little as $69.95). [Edited by - sunandshadow on August 27, 2008 3:33:51 PM]

    Sponsor:

    #2 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 05:43 AM

    What about character inspiration? Please start a thread about character inspiration. I can't think of any plot when I don't have characters.

    #3 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 11:04 AM

    I had a site up called the Dictionary of Inspiration. It wasn't so much meant to inspire everyone else. It was mostly for me. It had a large list of characters, items, and weapons that gave me ideas for other characters, items, and weapons. I wouldn't mind putting it up somewhere if you want me to, but it would take a while.

    #4 boolean   Members   -  Reputation: 1710

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 02:38 PM

    Quote:
    Original post by Anonymous Poster
    What about character inspiration? Please start a thread about character inspiration. I can't think of any plot when I don't have characters.


    This guide can be used for character insperation aswell. Basically, this guide should be used for plots, settings, characters...basiaclly game writing. One I (hopefully) get enough links added, I will re-format the guide and split it into sections (Settings > Sci Fi, Characters > Fanstasy etc).

    Ive changed the name of the topic a bit to reflect this. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    @Orion; If you have time, that link sounds pretty good.

    #5 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 03:19 PM

    I'd suggest something different...

    Settings > Scifi > Characters
    Settings > Scifi > Items
    Settings > Scifi > Plots
    Settings > Fantasy > Characters
    Settings > Fantasy > Items
    Settings > Fantasy > Plots

    I'm gonna start working on a bare-bones version of the DoI now. ^_^

    [Edited by - orionx103 on August 17, 2004 10:19:59 PM]

    #6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4827

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 04:15 PM

    Why would fantasy and scifi characters be any different? They're all people, even if they're aliens or mystical beings or androids.


    Here are some character resources:

    _Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence_ by David Keirsey

    _The Writer's Guide to Character Traits_ by Linda N. Edelstein Ph.D.

    _45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters_ by Victoria Schmidt

    _The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines_ by Tami D. owden

    _Characters Make Your Story_ by Maren Elwood (a bit old-fashioned)

    _Fiction Is Folks_ by Robert Newton Peck (again, a bit old-fashioned)

    #7 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 04:20 PM

    So if people want to look at fantasy characters, they can look at fantasy characters. If they want to look at scifi characters, they can look at scifi characters. Then, you can have a third where they can look at one in a combined list.

    #8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4827

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    Posted 17 August 2004 - 07:18 PM

    Quote:
    Original post by orionx103
    So if people want to look at fantasy characters, they can look at fantasy characters. If they want to look at scifi characters, they can look at scifi characters. Then, you can have a third where they can look at one in a combined list.


    You missed my point. My point was, there isn't any such thing as a scifi character or a fantasy character. I mean look at Data from Star Trek TNG. He's an android, definitely a sci-fi character right? But he's based on the idea of pinnochio, a fantasy character. The only difference is that one works by 'magic' andone by 'technology'. And I'm sure you've encountered thequote, "Any suffciently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."? So even an android, science fiction incarnate, would be right at home in a fantasy novel with one tiny change. Or look at klingons - really what's the difference between a klingon and an orc? There is no difference. There is no such thing as a fantasy character or a science fiction character, genre only effects worldbuilding, not character or character dynamic.

    #9 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 10:37 AM

    Point taken, but I still suggest making three lists (scifi, fantasy, and mixed).

    #10 EricTrickster   Members   -  Reputation: 142

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 10:47 AM

    I'll start with the standard disclaimer that I'm not dismissing the concept, but I will offer a disparaging view of the viability of this.

    For writers or potential writers looking for help I do think these are great resources, but how useful would it be for the programmer who comes in with the phrase “Im a coder, not a writer. Please help me write a story”?

    Would a person with no skill at writing be able to use these resources to create a world, characters and a backstory?

    Purely hypothetical question, I'm playing devil's advocate. I can see very easily the programmer looking at these books and saying "okay, that was vaguely interesting - now what do I do?" while scratching his head in frustration.

    I just thought of an example: drawing. There are many books available with the title "How to Draw [choose any noun]". If I were a programmer who decided I needed to draw some concept art, but I have no artistic ability, I may indeed go out and buy one or several of these books. I'll sit and diligently read, I'll follow what they've done, copy their examples and compare.

    Then I'll sit down and try to come up with my own designs, and discover all I'm really doing is modeling the examples in the books and adding the occasional flair or change the angle here or there to give it a different look. I'm not really creating anything from scratch, I'm not realizing what's in my head - because it would take far too long to teach myself to draw the vehicles I envision.

    Thoughts?

    [Edited by - EricTrickster on August 18, 2004 5:47:45 PM]

    #11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4827

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:08 AM

    Quote:
    Original post by EricTrickster
    For writers or potential writers looking for help I do think these are great resources, but how useful would it be for the programmer who comes in with the phrase “Im a coder, not a writer. Please help me write a story”?


    Yeah that was what I thought when I first read the original post. The list is still a good idea, but the intended audience should be writers. Non-writers really have no business writing stories, with or without help, they should just team up with one or two of the many writers in this forum who don't currently have a game they're working on.

    #12 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:34 AM

    Site name: Dictionary of Inspiration
    Site Address: orionx103.virtue.nu
    Description: A dictionary of stuff that inspired me.
    Best way to use: Base your own characters or items off those presented here.

    Very bare. I only have a list of items up. I did all that last night, and I was drained by that time, so I'm doing the characters later.



    #13 boolean   Members   -  Reputation: 1710

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 12:26 PM

    Quote:
    Original post by sunandshadow
    Quote:
    Original post by EricTrickster
    For writers or potential writers looking for help I do think these are great resources, but how useful would it be for the programmer who comes in with the phrase “Im a coder, not a writer. Please help me write a story”?


    Yeah that was what I thought when I first read the original post. The list is still a good idea, but the intended audience should be writers. Non-writers really have no business writing stories, with or without help, they should just team up with one or two of the many writers in this forum who don't currently have a game they're working on.


    The way I intended the list is to give people a starting point when writing a story. Most of the people I have noticed that ask for help with storys havnt said 'I have no abilty in writing at all, please write me a story and post it here', rather they ask people for a story that they can continue working on (like the posts here and

    [Android] Stupid Human Castles - If Tetris had monsters with powers and were attacking human castles. "4/5 - frandroid.com"

    Full version and Demo Version available on the Android app store.


    #14 DesignerGuy   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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    Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:44 PM

    hehe. The "non-writers really have no business writing stories" is a great elitest attitude, especially when you take it out of context.

    There are people out there who really don't know how to write, and it should be punishable by law for some of them to pick up a pen; however, many of them manage it anyway. At least we can help them along the way.
    Wizard's First Rule: People are Stupid.

    #15 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 19 August 2004 - 01:24 AM

    Site name: FanFiction.net
    Site Address: www.fanfiction.net
    Description: A collection of fan-submitted fanfics.
    Best way to use: Shows you how characters can be taken in directions you might not've thought about.

    Just a thought: Maybe this should be stickied like the similar one about space?

    #16 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4827

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    Posted 19 August 2004 - 03:22 AM

    Quote:
    Original post by DesignerGuy
    hehe. The "non-writers really have no business writing stories" is a great elitest attitude, especially when you take it out of context.

    There are people out there who really don't know how to write, and it should be punishable by law for some of them to pick up a pen; however, many of them manage it anyway. At least we can help them along the way.


    Lol, I was thinking it was tautological. If they do manage to write, well, they must be writers, musn't they? ;)

    #17 orionx103   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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    Posted 19 August 2004 - 01:48 PM

    Yes, but there's a difference between a writer and a good writer.

    #18 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4827

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    Posted 19 August 2004 - 03:26 PM

    I'll second fanfic.net , I've learned a hell of a lot from reading thestories posted there. It's especially valuable in that it often has multiple examples of the same 'challenge' as executed by different writers, as well as examples of how different writers handle the same character.

    Another great game is the card game "Once Upon a Time". (Ahw mentioned that it's also available in French as "Il etait une fois".) This game gives one or more players a selection of typical fairytale tropes, archetypes, and endings, and the player(s) have to assemble these into a coherent story. I played this with my sister and brother and we all laughed our heads off. :)

    Here's Vladimir Propp's "Elements of the Folktale"

    Perhaps you've heard of Chris Crawford's Erazmatron? Here is his library of articles about mimetics, the structure and function of fiction, and the designof the Erazmatron and some games made for it.


    Boolean, if your bored, I know for a fact that there are lots of links and recommendations to great writing resources throughout the forum archives, we just require someone patient and motivated to sort through and collect them up... ;)

    #19 boolean   Members   -  Reputation: 1710

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    Posted 24 August 2004 - 01:07 AM

    Quote:
    Original post by sunandshadow
    Boolean, if your bored, I know for a fact that there are lots of links and recommendations to great writing resources throughout the forum archives, we just require someone patient and motivated to sort through and collect them up... ;)


    I went back through some of the posts, and dug up some good topics. The odd thing is I couldnt find many with links to sites and books. Maybe im not looking hard enough [smile]

    Because the list was starting to get quite long, ive re-formatted it into 3 sections: Websites, Books, and Forum links. Hopefully this makes it a lot easier to read. A big thankyou to everyone who has contributed so far


    [Android] Stupid Human Castles - If Tetris had monsters with powers and were attacking human castles. "4/5 - frandroid.com"

    Full version and Demo Version available on the Android app store.


    #20 Game Developer 1   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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    Posted 06 September 2004 - 09:41 AM

    guys, these links are great, and will provide you with a lot of info. but if you want to make a good game story like Halo, this is what you need to do:

    what do you like, what are your intrests? if you like space and sci-fi, start making a game off of that.

    it wont come to you overnight, you wont be able to sit down one time and do a little typing and bam you have a story, no it takes years of daydreams, adding little bits and pieces to the base.

    just think of a basic idea and add to it, if you see an alien you like, think of a feature you like on it and try to incorporate that into your character.

    making a story is simple if you just put your mind to it. just think of the basic idea, and imagine yourself as the main character. what would be cool, what would be logical, what would you do if you were a space cowboy with a plasma shotgun. and things will follow.

    if you just read sci-fi and watch movies, your gonna get an idea, and then find out how similar it is to the fiction you have been reading/watching. and you will be very dissappointed to have to abandon your story over the fact that its already been done.

    but it takes more time and skill to write a story than most people think. ive been working on mine for 8 years, and now its been refined to be even deeper than Halo.





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