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Need help with a story


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#1 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:46 AM

Hi everyone,

So I'm developing a TPS set in the present day, in which you play a criminal. I know what will my game look like, but I have trouble creating a good story. My first concept was:

"After a heist you have been betrayed and left to die. With last bits of strenght, you manage to call your girlfriend, who helps you and takes you to the doctor. After spending several months recovering, you begin searching for person who betrayed tou, and your money."

I have a problem developing a story after this point, because I don't want to create a cliche, or just another stupid crime plot.

So I need your help and advice to make this a good story,

Thanks in advance,
Noddy92

Edited by Noddy92, 29 December 2012 - 04:46 AM.


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#2 Gregory Aaron Martin   Members   -  Reputation: 159

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:06 PM

To be honest, what you have is rather cliche. Countless films have this plot as do several video games. With this genre, it's ALL been done before, and t's not too interesting as it's presented here. One way to keep players/readers interested is to not tell the story chronologically. It will require more careful storytelling from you because you have to decide what will be revealed at certain moments in your delivery of the story. Some enemies can be revealed to be allies and vice versa. Some "lies" are really truths" and vice versa. If you do it right, you should be able to keep players/readers immersed in your characters.

How many days/weeks/months/years does the story span?

 

Another thing that will also help is to develop character relationships and stating their motives and personalities and backgrounds. Don't info dump. Spread this information out along the course of the story, but personality is one thing that should be established early on. This is the best part of storytelling because it allows you to take characters completely out of their comfort zones and mix things up a bit for them. This ultimately drives any good story. Then, ask yourself what kind of shady character would play a part in a scheme to betray a guy and leave him for dead? 

 

Do you want all of the mayhem to have a surprisingly peaceful resolution, or would you want all the characters to go all out on each other? Is it a story simply about revenge, or is it a story about seeking the truth? What if the guy who is betrayed did the job out of desperation but he's really a softhearted guy? What if he was someone who knew better than to get involved with such behavior due to his upbringing? What if he was always meant to just be the fall guy? What if the one person who really knew him (his girlfriend) took major risks to help him escape police custody? What if it all boiled down to this guy simply wanting to know why he was betrayed? (This would really only work if he knew the person or people who betrayed him.) 

 

One convincing way to push this easygoing guy over the edge early on is this: A trusted friend who tags along with him in the early part of the quest. In a heated but tender moment with someone connected to the heist, the friend is shot. It can be a tender moment because this guy wants one thing anyone who is stabbed in the back wants to know; why? He's very calm and rational, no guns or anything. After a threat from the lead, the unarmed friend is killed. This incident is reported as a domestic dispute, but of course it's much more than that. This is a key moment because this very likable and peaceful guy is finally broken. If he remains at the crime scene, introduce some law enforcement characters that might become allies.

 

What physical locations will his quest lead him to? 

 

Start the story on focusing on minor characters like the group leader of a small group of professionals or small time thugs who organizes the heist. On the heist, no real names are used; you're just playing as some hired hand. Then, after we see the heist unfold, the attention falls onto the guy who's been left for dead. The leader who could also be betrayed appears later on and teams up with the main character to find answers. What if a player could follow both of their story paths? Both characters would have different intentions and what they both discover on their joint but separate quests leads to a different conclusion for both of them? What if intentions change for one of them? Surprise the audience with this.

 

IT DOES MATTER WHAT THE HEIST IS FOR. If it's for money, is it for the group to share amongst themselves, or is it for a debt that needs to be settled? This list can go on for a while. What happenings in a character's life would make him/her so desperate to turn on someone else? How well do the characters know each other?(applies to below as well)

 

If it's diamonds or gold or something high tech, how much do the main characters know about their employer?  Would they want it for themselves? Who else is after it and what is their connection to other main characters? 

 

I've never actually written this type of story myself because it's so run-of-the-mill, but the above should help you out. 



#3 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:45 AM

OK, thanks for the advice. In the begining I though, to make a story that would just be the excuse plot to start shooting, but after reading this, I really got some ideas.

And I thought story to be about the money to pay of debts, like in the Payback.

Edited by Noddy92, 30 December 2012 - 07:39 AM.


#4 Dan Mayor   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1712

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:05 PM

I have to agree that those two ideas in themselves are cliche and already on the edge of loosing my interest (because I've seen that so many times in movies, games, rap music and real life).  If you are really determined to go with the idea of being a criminal who needs to get dirty to pay off some debts you will need something ground breaking to make the story interesting in the least.  Sorry to sound so harsh but in my opinion it's truth that needs to be carefully considered towards the overall story design.


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#5 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:04 AM

Your're not sounding harsh, any advice is welcome. I'm still working on that ground breaking thing in the story.



#6 Got_Rhythm   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 09:26 AM

*raises hand* I have an idea!

What if, your character is the traitor who screwed over the rest of the heist gang, and has to spend the duration of the game evading revenge plots from the other members of the heist?

That could be a slightly more original take on the genre, i mean shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter prove people enjoy following the 'bad guy'.

#7 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:56 AM

Hm... that's actually not a bad idea, considering how many games have player do good things through the game.

Edited by Noddy92, 31 December 2012 - 10:56 AM.


#8 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 08:22 AM

OK, so I've been thinking a lot about a story, so starting from scratch, how about this:

 

You play a criminal who ownes a lot of money to the boss of the family, so you and your friend come up with a plan to hot a payroll van.

The job goes smoothly, but as just as you are about to take the money, your friends tells you that he has been hired by the boss to kill you and take the money. He then shoots you, take the money and leaves you to die.

 

I just came up with the beginning, and I need your criticism to improve it. I know I never wrote a crime story, so any help will be appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance, 

 

Noddy92



#9 Zac Andrews   Members   -  Reputation: 129

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 11:20 PM

 I like Got_rythems Idea about you being the traiter.

Could it have dynamic trust system ?
Where you have teams of criminals on your side and teams that are out to get you. But depending on the players dialog choices and their actions with those different teams he can influence the size of his army and even turn teams against each other. You could create a really nice back stroy with intergang wars using a family tree and timeline.

That could make for a dynamic story and interesting player choice based on greed and moral delemma.



#10 shay.yizhak   Members   -  Reputation: 195

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:00 AM

What you have here, is called a premise. It's not a plot, or a story yet, just the beginning of one.

The way I get it - you just want to have a background story, so you can have a reason to start shooting baddies.

 

Well, that's nice and all, but your story will need some kind of progression between levels.

 

How about his:

 

You play a small-time crook who decides to rob a mob-boss to get ahead in life. You get your best friend to help you with the job, since he's already employed as a driver for that mob-boss. At the end of the heist, he betrays you and shoots you, to gain favor with the boss. You drop into a coma.

 

Years pass. You wake up from your coma, bent on revenge. Your loving girlfriend, who has taken care of you all this time had also took the time to gather all the information you need in order to get to the boss.

 

In turns out, that during your coma, your best "friend" is not the boss'es right hand man. But in order to get to any of them, you'll have to find them, and the road to them goes through their henchmen, and loyalies.

 

So you start your journey. You get a gun (or whatever) and goes after the low-level crooks in the mob. As you finish off each of them, they reveal a detail that gets you to your next target, or closer to your real target - the boss, or your friend.

 

From this point, there's a lot you can do. For example, you could reveal during the final showdown with your "friend" that there was no way out of this, and he shot you and put you in a coma cos that was the only way to save your life (otherwise, you'll both be dead). You can have the girlfriend kidnapped by the mob, when they start getting angry and fearful. There are many options. Let your imagination fly.

 

Start writing down the story. It may take a while, but it's the basis for your entire game.

 

Oh, and one last thing: the fact that a story is a cliche doesn't make it bad. Many great games/movies have been based on cliched stories. It's not the premise that counts, but the execution, so don't be discourages if you don't have the MOST original idea.



#11 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:52 PM

Thanks for the advice, very nice point of view of the story. Everything is great, something like this I always had in mind, but I always thought, that would be a cliche, and it will look like something else. But I think you're right many games are based on cliches, like Max Payne, GTA, etc.

 

Once again thanks for the advice



#12 Bruno Primiano   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 02:43 AM

OK, thanks for the advice. In the begining I though, to make a story that would just be the excuse plot to start shooting, but after reading this, I really got some ideas.

And I thought story to be about the money to pay of debts, like in the Payback.

Noddy,

 

there are a fill problems in you idea.

 

- first: what's wrong with cliches? There's a lot of stories with common plots. it all depends on how you manage the plot to show your story. This article gives a good idea of the basic plots to start.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirty-Six_Dramatic_Situations

 

- Second: you need more details about genre. TPS is too big. It could be something like GTA, wiht a giant story, lots and lots of turn arounds, etc. But it also could be something like Max Payne, with levels, more linear. Without this its hard to give any tip. Anyway, a good start is to define why the character was shot.



#13 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 05:24 AM

first: what's wrong with cliches? There's a lot of stories with common plots. it all depends on how you manage the plot to show your story.

 

I don't have anything against cliches, it just that every time I wrote a draft of the story somone would come and say: "You know what wasn't that in that game that I played, or movie,...."

And I read book on game design and writing, and they all said that your story must be something original, and groundbreaking. But my main problem is finding a good reason for betrayal.

 

 

As for the game it's something like Max Payne, with a strong plot, with levels that aren't all too much linear.


Edited by Noddy92, 06 February 2013 - 05:27 AM.


#14 Woland   Members   -  Reputation: 371

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:08 AM

Whichever idea you choose, it will always sound like a cliche if it's summed up in 2-3 sentences, so I wouldn't worry about that. Look at Final Fantasy V plot summary for example: there are these 4 warriors that find 4 crystals with powers of the 4 elements. You can't be more cliche than that, yet the story was considered really deep and engaging.

 

I would gladly help you some more, but I know too little about the game - "TPS" isn't exactly the description of mechanics and these need to be taken into consideration when writing a story. Think twice what narrative means you want to use for this game and how story-heavy you want it to be when you are having doubts when putting together a very, very general plot.

 

Remember, that even the worst movie can be sometimes saved by a good actor. Even most cliche story can be saved by a well-thought of character. If you are having a problem developing a main hero, treat it like an RPG - decide on the gender/class/skills/attributes and all that stuff. Do all you can not to make the character OP, give it some faults (just don't make it a bearded alcoholic - Raynor and Payne pretty much stole the show here), also try to give a chance for the player to identify with at least some of your hero's characteristics. For example, f you make it 100% cold-blooded bastard people might find it too abstract.

 

Good luck!


Edited by Woland, 08 February 2013 - 03:09 AM.

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#15 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:07 PM

So I have been working on the story and the characters, and here is what I created. In game you assume a role of Michael Porter a criminal who has been betrayed. I wrote the story, (its synapsis) so here goes:

 

 

"Owning 150,000 dollars, to the Mafia, Michael Porter made a plan to rob a payroll van. With the help of his girlfriend Sarah Johnson, and his friend Shane Brooks, he managed to rob the payroll van smoothly. There was almost 250,000 dollars, which was more than enough. When Michael finished packing his share of the money, Shane said that he would never payoff that debt. Then he pointed his gun at Michael and explained that if he kills him he would do Mafia a favor, and also would make a name for himself. Michael tries to pull his gun out, but Brooks shoots him twice, and leaves him to die.

After spending six months recovering, Michael gets a gun from his stash and starts looking for Brooks. Sarah tells him that she was tracking Brooks for three months, before he went silent. Now he is nowhere to be found, like he just disappeared. The last she saw him was in the “Archer Hotel”. Michael goes there, only to be ambushed by the mafia that knew his was coming. After the shootout, he finds letters addressed to Brooks with his new address. He heads there when he receives a phone call from Brooks, who tells him that he has Sarah with him and that he is waiting in Michael’s apartment. Michael storms the place kills three goons and finds Brooks pointing his gun at tied up Sarah. Michael enters the room, but Brooks shoots Sarah, and escapes through the fire escape. Michael tries to save her, but she is already fatally shot. He goes through the fire escape and starts chasing Brooks. He eventually corners
Brooks, asks him about the job, and he finds out that he didn’t had choice, and that the mafia ordered him to kill them both. Michael learns where the mafia key people are, and then he massacres Brooks. He first heads for the bosses right hand man Johnson, who he finds in the mafia owned bar. After a shootout and chase he finds out from Johnson, that the boss is the man named Marvin and that he will get to him. Michael shoots him in the leg and picks up his car keys. As he leaves the bar he is captured and taken to the “Archer Hotel”. There he manages to get free and learns that the Marvin is in the top suite. Michael manages to get to the top suite where he confronts Marvin and shoots him. He takes the money from the safe, and in that moment the police arrives and arrests him."  

 

I need you to tell me what you think about this, and give me some feedback. Please be as honest as you can, so I can learn on my mistakes. And also this is my third, or forth draft, just so you know that it's not final.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Noddy92


Edited by Noddy92, 10 February 2013 - 04:10 PM.


#16 Woland   Members   -  Reputation: 371

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:47 AM

There are some elements that make me wonder about the overall game design: "Michael shoots him in the leg". Why in the leg is not important. What's important is that it most likely will be a cutscene. There's maybe nothing wrong with that, but when I read the synopsis again, I find out that pretty much everything you wrote there is like a movie script and I am having a really hard time seeing where the player gets to actually do something or decide something as trivial as shooting in the leg or somewhere else...

 

Really hard to help you here, without knowing even the basics of the game's design and how much story-driven it is going to be.


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#17 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:55 AM

You're right it looks like a movie script, but it's because I don't know how else to write it. I looked at other game design from other people, like Doom Bible, or Fallout, and the story synapsis was always like a movie script. You know what I mean, like when you open wikipedia about a game, and there it is plot, shortened so that everyone can understand. This game is going to be strongly story driven, just imagine Max Payne from a diffrent perspective.

 

But did you liked it? Is it too cliche or not?



#18 Woland   Members   -  Reputation: 371

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:03 AM

Game scripts are usually really basic and cliche, so I wouldn't worry about it. However, if the game is going to be strongly story-driven, then in my opinion you will have to squeeze in some more original elements. Something people saw only dozens, not thousands of times. Something that will make them stop for a while and think or some turn of events they weren't anticipating or at least wasn't obvious. As a base, your story can be worked with. Depending how you lead it with dialogues and character development, it can either become crappy or nicely told.

 

I don't want to say whether I liked it or disliked, as my opinion is strongly biased. I generally don't like story/dialogue-heavy games. I prefer designs like ICO or Dark Souls, where the story is told by gameplay, not by cutscenes.


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#19 Noddy92   Members   -  Reputation: 185

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:21 AM

Thanks for the advice, man. I really to like when the story is told through the gameplay, but I guess there is nothing wrong with a couple of cutscenes. I'll go now and work on the game and its story. 

 

Once again thanks for your time and advice,

 

Noddy92



#20 ShiftyCake   Members   -  Reputation: 531

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:43 AM

Ahhhh, you see I'd like to tweak your story a bit. You know what I love seeing in scripts such as this? not the classic "friend betrayal", but rather a betrayal within a betrayal.

Let's do this on Sarah.

Up to the point where Brook gives you  phone call, I won't change. But after that yes.

We'll start with the phone call.

Have Brooke's (you don't know this, it's a mystery man) say something along the lines of "

Here the story will progress where upon he goes back to where his girlfriend is, only to be jumped on by three men who knock him unconscious  He gets blindfolded and taken, and when his blindfold is taken off his girlfriend is standing there.

Except she's standing next to the Mafia Boss (whom you know by now).

At first you are confused, but as the betrayal finally sinks in you scream in agony, where upon someone knocks you unconscious again.

Then the mystery man comes to save you, yelling at you to hurry and leave with him. Soon after that you discover he is Brooks, and learn that it was Sarah who betrayed you all those years ago, and that he had escaped with you and gone into hiding. About a month ago his place was discovered, and he saw the hospital surrounded by mafia. He left, in order to find a way to help me.

Then they get surrounded etc., and find out that letting me live was a way to catch my friend.

 

Don't need to continue, but you get the idea. This twists the plot further, you could take it even further but there is no need.


If, at any point, what I post is hard to understand, tell me. I am bad at projecting my thoughts into real words, so I appreciate the knowledge that I need to edit my post.

 

I am not a professional writer, nor a professional game designer. Please, understand that everything you read is simply an opinion of mind and should not, at any point in time, be taken as a credible answer unless validated by others.

 

I do take brief bouts of disappearance so don't worry if I either don't reply to you or miss certain things. I am quite a lazy fellow.





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