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Organizing for non-linear storyline


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#1 Seongjun Kim   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:55 AM

I've been trying to write a non-linear storyline with multiple paths, and each path giving different stories and endings. And upon doing so, organizing each "events" became hectic. (I've been trying to write on MS Word)

One way I thought of using is Powerpoint, with clicking hyperlinked action leads to a slide with its event, etc. But before I do so, is there any other free programs that may help with this?

Thank you in advance :)

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#2 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2222

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:06 AM

If you're only doing a few levels of interactivity you could just use multiple levels of headings in your document and generate a TOC, it would be structured and linked like a little tree. You can use hyperlinks in most/all Office products, but sometimes it's a little buggy. Otherwise, not sure! Good luck!

#3 Seongjun Kim   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:16 AM

If you're only doing a few levels of interactivity you could just use multiple levels of headings in your document and generate a TOC, it would be structured and linked like a little tree. You can use hyperlinks in most/all Office products, but sometimes it's a little buggy. Otherwise, not sure! Good luck!


What I plan to do is some sort of interwining storyline, where if you choose to do X quest, you might not be able to do Y quest, but it doesn't stop from you achieving Z ending because endings are made from various combinations of paths you took so there's more than 1 way of achieving the same ending (I'm thinking of making 4 endings total).

So it's like similar to skyrim's sandbox quest type, except the storyline will flow more dependently on each other.

#4 DadeLeviathan   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:40 PM

There are a few options you can pursue. First is to create an ordered spreadsheet in which the cells are grouped by datapoint. This will result in a very large spreadsheet if you have a large branching storyline, however.

My personal recommendation? Make a flowchart.

Lastly, have you ever written a storyline for a game start to finish? If not, start with a linear storyline and familiarize yourself with writing interactive fiction. THEN move on to the confusing, obnoxiously complex behemoth that is branching storylines and non-linear narrative.

Now onto writing the story itself. Start with an outline. Starting by writing the story itself is the equivalent of trying to build a house without any architectural designs. The outline at first should incorporate only the MAJOR branching story trees. Include NO side quests or anything of the sort. Stay broad and high concept. once that is done, rewrite it. Then rewrite it again. Finally when that outline is GREAT, add in additional branching storylines, quests, etc, working your way down and repeating the process. What I mean is first you write major secondary quests into the outline, rewrite, and then make sure that is all working well. Then you add tertiary quests, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Once all that is done you can finally write the story itself. This organization is required for a project such as nonlinear narrative, otherwise you have no road map. While you can get away with writing a linear (or mostly liner) story without an outline, trying to write a non-linear story without one is akin to hiking the entirety of the North American continent with no plan and no road map. While it's not impossible, it's incredibly hard and incredibly unwise.

Both when outlining and writing the rough edition of your story, I recommend using a flow chart or a mind map. If you go the mind map route (my preferred method for outlining non-linear narratives), Freemind is a great open-source program for creating mind maps. You can find it here: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

For flowcharts, there are numerous websites where you can easily create flowcharts by dragging and dropping. Flowcharts are also easily created in a spreadsheet if you know what you're doing, but it takes far more time. Flowchart.com, lucidchart.com are both good sites. Creately.com is definitely the best, but costs money if you wish to use it to its full potential.

I would highly advise against doing a non-linear story in word. Trying to write a non-linear story in word, even with headers and document links, is about as user-friendly as a nail gun to the head.

#5 Seongjun Kim   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 05:49 AM

Lastly, have you ever written a storyline for a game start to finish? If not, start with a linear storyline and familiarize yourself with writing interactive fiction. THEN move on to the confusing, obnoxiously complex behemoth that is branching storylines and non-linear narrative.

Yes I have, although it was pretty simple without much background story :/ Just the usual you're the hero and you have to go kill the enemy who took your loved one stuff. But I did write bunch of small stories (not for games tho) which helped me develop what I have so far. Plus, it helps that this game with non-linear story is pretty short in terms of length because of memory restraint I have (specifically, I'm developing this RPG for TI-83+ calculator which only has so much memory that if I developed a long storyline it would not fit in the calculator)

Now onto writing the story itself. Start with an outline. Starting by writing the story itself is the equivalent of trying to build a house without any architectural designs. The outline at first should incorporate only the MAJOR branching story trees. Include NO side quests or anything of the sort. Stay broad and high concept. once that is done, rewrite it. Then rewrite it again. Finally when that outline is GREAT, add in additional branching storylines, quests, etc, working your way down and repeating the process. What I mean is first you write major secondary quests into the outline, rewrite, and then make sure that is all working well. Then you add tertiary quests, etc, etc, etc, etc.

That is also what I'm doing. I've wrote a document that shows my overall outline and the description of the world that the character lives in, the history, etc, and wrote the overarching major storyline. I haven't touched on the details yet, which I plan to do now.

Both when outlining and writing the rough edition of your story, I recommend using a flow chart or a mind map. If you go the mind map route (my preferred method for outlining non-linear narratives), Freemind is a great open-source program for creating mind maps. You can find it here: http://freemind.sour...x.php/Main_Page

Wow this is amazing!! thank you so much for it :D this is exactly what I was looking for! This does seem 100 times better than what I was trying to do with powerpoint.

#6 KaiRosenkranz   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 04:24 AM

Hi all,

There's a design tool tailored for interactive stories, it's called articy:draft. A free trial version is available, if you want to check it out.

Here's a video (other vids are linked there):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2NQJtkLnsw&list=PLCF24BFEEF6B55503&index=1&feature=plpp_video
And this is the website: http://www.articydraft.com

Enjoy experimenting with it!


PS: Why am I getting a negative reputation for posting something that's 100% relevant for the topic? Posted Image

Edited by KaiRosenkranz, 11 July 2012 - 06:32 AM.


#7 Seongjun Kim   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 04:48 AM

wow seems like a really nice product! Will try the 30 day version, although the price does seem pretty high for me, since I won't be making any money off of the game I'm developing x.x But I'll definitely consider this if I go full time developing games :)

#8 mekk_pilot   Members   -  Reputation: 142

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:13 PM

My own experience in fiction writing (which is nothing to be in awe of) has taught me that the best way to write is to first write the most important/your favorite scenes. You'll find ways to weave them together. This is much easier than starting at the beginning, even of an outline, and slogging your way through.

#9 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10070

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:02 AM

@jsj: You'll need to come up with a speech naming system, kind of like how a computer program uses routine and subroutine names. When character A says tavern010, character T3 says tavern011. After character T3 says tavern011, there might be a number of subsequent lines spoken, depending on context or on player choice.

Naming the speeches and specifying the interactive path will help you follow what you've written.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#10 bvanevery   Members   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 03:22 PM

Another way to sharpen your nonlinear narrative writing skills, is to play a Freeform Play By Email RPG, with no rules, and all the participants concentrate very hard on trying to make good writing. The random tussle of all the different directions that other people will take you, and trying to keep the results interesting, will help you a lot. Having to read and respond to others also forces the writing to get done... at least until people get off-track or lazy. Still that's part of the learning curve. What's more likely to keep people on track, and what's more likely to derail the game?
gamedesign-l pre-moderated mailing list. Preventing flames since 2000! All opinions welcome.




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