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Opwiz

Member Since 05 Apr 2004
Offline Last Active Nov 23 2014 11:18 AM

#5187475 Planning a Complex Narrative

Posted by Opwiz on 16 October 2014 - 02:27 PM

I recommend using a program like Evernote for organizing your work. It helps you organize a bunch of notes using tags etc. it loads and switches between documents fast which is good when dealing with a large amount of notes. As for organizing the narrative I think you should at the center have some kind of unifying theme - something that ties all the story-lines, events, scenarios, character developments, world developments together. E.g. lots of things happens in the Lord of the Rings - bunch of different races, power-struggles, various battles, various disputes between characters and groups of people, but at the center is the ring that symbolizes this dynamic of unity / domination, it's about uniting against evil. Tolkien didn't put all that complicated stuff (multiple races etc) for random world-building reasons, they served a purpose for the narrative.

 

Your Baccano! quote suggest you are looking for a theme that is more open-ended, but you'll still have some kind of theme. What is the game about? Where does it take place? What can the player do? What can't the player do? What paths can the player take and how does the player progress? Think about your choices and preferences and how they might tie into some kind of theme. 

 

The more open-ended your theme is the less you actually need to organize your story-lines and scenarios. E.g. if it's about "power-struggle" then you can just let the game mechanics of the game tell the story - different factions battling, different ways to influence factions, to gain power, etc. You don't care so much which event takes place in what order, the direction things are going, just how they influence the power-dynamic. In that case you just need to have certain parameters in place for a certain event/story-line to be triggered, e.g. if faction X controls castle Y and you are from faction Z then you can do story-line C which on completion changes the parameters and potentially opens up for new story-lines.




#5046874 Would people enjoy a hardcore story-based strategy game?

Posted by Opwiz on 26 March 2013 - 08:49 AM

Most games have one beginning, one ending/conclusion and progress in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end (with bubbles of freedom of action along the way).

 

It depends on what you actually call the 'Game'.

 

Let's take Starcraft 2 as an example. The 'Game' is an archetypal RTS with resource mining, army building etc. The 'Story' is the single player campaign, which is essentially a string of 'Games' with a bit of extra scripting, with a bit of exposition in the form of cutscenes holding it altogether. There are also some minor interactive components here, like the ability to choose which map to do next, or which research upgrades to buy or whatever, but nothing that really makes any difference to anything. 

 

Playing through this kind of 'Story' is a bit like watching a short and slightly disjointed movie which pauses every so often and requires you to win a game to continue. If you're lucky, some chapters of the story you can choose to watch in a different order. Or to look at it another way, it's like playing a sequence of scripted single player maps, except between each one you have to sit through a bunch of cut scenes. 

 

The success of this formula depends on a lot of factors. The 'Story' will have to make some concessions to justify the sequence of games within it, and to avoid annoying the player with over long cut scenes and exposition. These concessions can render the narrative irrelevant.

The 'Game' will have to make some concessions (usually via the scripting) to the story, often in the form of scripted events, limitations, and special victory conditions. These concessions can sometimes lead to some really enjoyable scenarios. However, they can also utterly destroy the gameplay, paring the options back to such a degree that you're just clicking your way through a linear script. 

 

In short, I don't think this is a particularly great way to incorporate story into games. It often suffers from exactly the problem I originally spoke about, where both the story and the gameplay can suffer as a result of their combination. For me, this model only works if the gameplay remains intact - as a general rule, if the gameplay is there, I couldn't care less if the story is rubbish, so long as it's skippable. Sacrificing gameplay for story on the other hand, is a big no-no.

 

I believe much of the success of the Starcraft-franchise wasn't just about the actual game-mechanics. What got me exited about Starcraft 1 was much about the whole tone/setting/atmosphere of the game. Starcraft 1 did this nicely, a few alien-esque cut-scenes, a pretty well-written and cool back-story (if you bothered to read it in the game manual), and a simple story goal of unifying against a common threat. Everything in the game mechanics, the gory deaths, the voice acting, music, etc. played into the narrative. We have a game where the game-mechanics playing into the story and vice versa. 

 

If you removed those story-elements and just have 3 random races battling each other with no context or feeling of anything being at stake (the human race), I dare to say it would not be as successful of a game. 

 

Again I think the idea of story "getting in the way" is more indicative of bad writing than that having a linear narrative and game-mechanics does not mix. Look at the most loved games of all-time and what they have in common: Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect, Half-life 2, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Portal, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, etc. They all have a strong cohesive, unified, engaging (linear) narrative as well as compelling game mechanics (and they go together). 

 

I'm not saying there is no place for games where the players makes their own story - in fact I think there is a place for it. I believe it can be done in MMOs and multiplayer games - you can have a place where players play a role in economical forces, power struggles, diplomacy, etc. set it up right and intrigues and stories will emerge just as in real life. I would love to see a game like that.




#5043781 Would people enjoy a hardcore story-based strategy game?

Posted by Opwiz on 16 March 2013 - 03:26 PM

What would you guys think if there was a more story based strategy game? Maybe a little more restricted in terms of choice but with more story options.


It depends.

To me, the idea of a 'story based game' is a bit of an oxymoron. A game may have a background story that provides some context and theme for a game, but if you try to shoehorn a linear concept such as a pre-written story into medium which is fundamentally non-linear, something is going to suffer.

Sometimes it's the story - the author is forced to try and think of every eventuality, and/or accept the fact that sometimes things will happen that don't make a whole lot of sense. In either case, the effort involved in writing the story balloons as you try and cover all the possible branches, often with the result that overall quality suffers.

Sometimes it's the game. In order to retain the sense of the story, the player is forced onto rails, with limited choice. The player can't even fail - there's no 'win' or 'lose', its more 'finish the story' or 'don't finish the story', usually with boredom or frustration being the cause of the latter. Or perhaps the game is interspersed with an excess of non-game fluffery, long text sequences or cutscenes with no TL:DR option. And once I've sat through the whole thing, what motivation is there to play it again?

Often, it's both, to some degree.

On the other hand, all games have a story - the meta-story the player experiences during his own path through the game. This to me is a far more dynamic and interesting area to explore than a fixed, handwritten plot. If you can establish engaging lore and backstory, and provide the players with the gameplay tools to do so, they will tell their own stories. And those stories will be unique for every player, on every playthrough.

So to answer your question: If you can make an engaging'meta-story' experience, I will definitely play it and enjoy it. Otherwise, I might have a quick play of your story based campaign, but the chances are, unless you can avoid committing any of the Strategy Game Story Deadly Sins, I probably won't finish it, and head off to multiplayer/skirmish instead.

 

I think you are right so far as you can't really have it both ways - you can't have an interactive story where the player has complete freedom to do whatever, and think you can have a cohesive, unified, engaging narrative. But I think you are wrong when you say that games are fundamentally non-linear. Most games have one beginning, one ending/conclusion and progress in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end (with bubbles of freedom of action along the way).

 

I believe the reason story and games don't seem to mix well is because of 1. bad writing (such as too much exposition, back-story and red herrings), 2. trying to incorporate branching story-lines and multiple endings (mass effect 3 anyone?), 3. story is an after-thought slapped upon the game-play.




#4939521 Global Player Ranking

Posted by Opwiz on 12 May 2012 - 02:20 AM

Hmm, good question. It's really got to be a compromise between fairness and player satisfaction. You want perfection to have a higher effect than levels played.


Experimented with some numbers (scores between 1-1000):

[Score1, Score2, ...] = Player Score


[500, 500] = 707
[1000] = 1000
[1000, 1000, 1000, 500] = 1802
[1000, 1000, 1000, 500, 500] = 1870
[1000, 1000, 1000, 500, 500, 500] = 1936
[1000, 1000, 1000, 500, 500, 500, 500, 500] = 2061
[1000, 1000, 1000, 1000] = 2000
sqrt (1000^2*99 + 500^2) = 9962
sqrt (1000^2*100) = 10000
sqrt (1000^2*99 + 500^2*5) = 10012

I'd say it works pretty well. Improving an average score to a perfect score is worth about the same as adding 4 average scores. IMO doubling your score should be worth more so I'll try to tweak it.

Just need to understand the algoritm Posted Image. So I found it's called RSS (root-sum square). What does it mean to take the RSS of the scores in this case? Any tips on how it can be tweaked?


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