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FridgeRaider

things you should and shouldn't do when writing stories

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Not having actually completed a game yet, I could be just talking out my ass here. But here's a few of my ideas on the subject.

- If you create the story before figuring out all the nitty gritty aspects of actual gameplay, don't be afraid to revise your story to fit better. (Aerys or whatever her name was in FF7 for instance. HOW many times did she die during combat, and then suddenly this one dude's able to kill her forever? Get real.) View your original story as a starting point, and be aware that you may have to add/subtract/change aspects of it at some point along the line.

- I personally think it's entirely possible to collaborate on a story and have it turn out good. Sometimes other people think of twists and turns that you wouldn't have imagined in a million years, that end up making it better than what you could've produced alone. You should DEFINITELY know the person you're trying to collaborate with though...if I like intricate plot twists and deep philosophical questions, and you like zombies eating everyone's faces, we're probably not going to produce anything good, even if we can keep from arguing long enough to produce anything, period.

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if would perhaps refine rule 2 a bit. it is ok and often very helpfull if you know the basic gameplay you aim at before you go into the story. it does not help much to think of characters and their abilities if the game later on doesn't honor this. i would think about both in the same time instead of one by one.

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Maybe we should put all those good things (and those sticky) into an article or something, here on GameDev ?

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Original post by onyxflame
- I personally think it's entirely possible to collaborate on a story and have it turn out good. Sometimes other people think of twists and turns that you wouldn't have imagined in a million years, that end up making it better than what you could've produced alone. You should DEFINITELY know the person you're trying to collaborate with though...if I like intricate plot twists and deep philosophical questions, and you like zombies eating everyone's faces, we're probably not going to produce anything good, even if we can keep from arguing long enough to produce anything, period.


Lol, is that a comment on the collabortive game design project?



Boolean and Ahw - I'll sticky this thread if it gets more good suggestions, I don't think there's quite enough material here to justify a sticky yet. Anyone who is moivated to write an article, by all means go for it. :) I wish I had the energy and inspiration to write some articles myself, but there doesn't seem to be much demand for writing about writing - the whole time I've been a moderator here, nobody's requested me to cover any topics in my developer journal or in article format.

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Quote:
Original post by FridgeRaider
Do:

-Things that you should do when wanting to create a story for your game.

1)The first thing that you should do is think of what kind of story you want to write. You should make it a story that you will have fun making whether its a knight & dragon world, or a mafia type setting.


The storyline I've been working on is completely different. I've come up with a ton of characters and basis of the storyline, but I'm not sure if I should have it on Earth or on a "Earth-like", alternate reality planet. You don't need to figure out your setting. You need to figure out what you like, what you want, and start from there. If that means you start by writing characters, so be it.

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2)Next try to get some movies, games, or even books and try to go through them. This will usually sparks things in your mind and will give you some ideas on what you should do in your game.


Agreed.

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3)Another thing that i highly suggest to ppl is use a spellcheck. I dont know how many home-made games ive seen where someone has misspelled words like how and accidently put hoe instead. It brings the overall image of the game way down and will thus run the story, yet again.


You, uhh... Might wanna look into one, too, dude.

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Dont:
1)The #1 thing that i cant stress enough to ppl is dont just sit down and try to think up a story in a day. The greatest stories ever written were molded in time and thats where the best results will come from. (To counter this please see Do: # 2)


Um. I usually do think up a story in a day--the basic premise, at least, and a bit about the protagonist.

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2)Dont start making your game until you atleast have a rough-draft of your story, if you dont your story will be wasted by you trying to get the story done real fast in hopes that you can put your game out to the public soon.


Well...I understand this and sympathize somewhat. But I would tend to recommend a fluidity of storyline, at least, in case the game can't handle part of the plot.

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3)Dont ask anyone to help you on creating yuor story unless your absolutly positive that the person your working with thinks just like you. If you let someone else make up your story for you it will only be half-ass. Think about it who in there right mind would help you create a story for a game when they could do the same thing for themselves. Also, letting someone else do it will remove the passion that you could've put in it thus ruining the story, again.


Perhaps. Collaboration is, imhoe, a good thing, as long as all participants share the same understanding and respect for the power structure, which should be clearly defined.


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Do:
1)The first thing that you should do is think of what kind of story you want to write. You should make it a story that you will have fun making whether its a knight & dragon world, or a mafia type setting.


The basic premise is more important than the genre or setting, naturally. My novella, "In Service to the King", started with a premise of politics and revolution, quickly adding a subgenre of fantasy without magic.

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2)Next try to get some movies, games, or even books and try to go through them. This will usually sparks things in your mind and will give you some ideas on what you should do in your game.


Knowledge helps. Too much knowledge stifles creativity. If you can, you should probably imagine the whole of the society and the main characters in as much detail as you think you'll need, then predict where each character will move and how. Then you review each step for realism, first within that world, then in contrast to reality. Make sure that all unrealistic elements are deliberately placed and don't involve sociology or psychology. People are good at predicting how people should act; don't mess with it.

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3)Another thing that i highly suggest to ppl is use a spellcheck.


Much more importantly, proofread your work! Spellcheque (sic) doesn't care if words are spelled correctly but used wrong.

Here's my writing process, for comparison:
- Idea
This occurs randomly to me about once a week. Most ideas are forgotten; some I write down; a few of those actually receive consideration. When I attempt to draw one out, it usually eludes me. An example of an idea is "medieval politics", "magic war", "kidnapping rescue", and so forth.

- Premise
This is what the story is about, in two sentences or so. The words "the protagonist" must always appear somewhere in here. Examples: "The protagonist must recover the Amulet of Yendor to gain control of all of Lower Earth and bring world peace, in the face of bitter war." "The protagonist is an FBI negotiator working on hostage situations and must use verbal wit and patience to rescue the kidnapped kiddywinks."

- Characters
Yes, the characters precede the plot. That's just my opinion of how things should be; I highly prefer character-driven plots. Others have plot-driven stories or character-driven stories. (An example of the latter is Jhumpa Lahiri's short story anthology "Interpreter of Maladies" -- most stories lack something that could traditionally be called a plot. Lahiri usually introduces the conflict within seconds of dissolving it, and rarely does she include a climax between rising action and denouement. It doesn't work very well with any sort of campaign, though you might use something similar with a relationship game.)
Anyway, you need the protagonist and possibly an archrival, along with the chief allies and enemies, at this point. Since you have a world built right now, you can fill in the histories of each rather well. Or you could use their histories to shape the world, as I did with "In Service to the King". That may be a sloppy way of writing, but it saves work.

- Conflict
What trouble or change besets your protagonist? In Nox, the protagonist is sucked through his television by a wormhole of some sort and lands in a strange world. Other methods that are commonly used are the sudden appearance of an alien force (zombies, a division of infantry from Canada); a family disturbance (protagonist disowned / family killed); or the completion of some form of training, which naturally involves the inheritance of some other conflict, such as a war.

- Plot
Now you can begin writing. I recommend that you do--at least, that's what I do. Since every word and phrase and every tilt of the head can affect the protagonist's course of action--and other people's actions--you might want, as I do, to play it through your head like a movie, not planning, simply writing as you go. Or you might want to plan a few moves ahead and keep the rest fluid, or plan everything and fill each scene to support that story, only changing it when there's a serious flaw.
If you don't begin writing now, you make the plot first and then write it. These two activities are pretty much inseparable; you'll have to revise the plot as you write, and perhaps even the world and the characters. This might necessitate rewriting the entire story.

- Story revision
Once you've written, analyze everything for believability and consistency. Get a second opinion. And a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. Then again, for arrangement, point of view, and so forth. Then one last time, for style. Then you get to proofread! Best have a friend do that with you, too.

More later, I hope.

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When planning storyline ideas I find it is important to maintain consistancy in the flow of action, or at least make the flow of story smooth.

Some games I have played have this exciting intro, some fun first bits, and then they plot sort of quiets down after several boring levels before picking up again. That ruins it.

Seeing as we have both auditory and visual media at our disposal aswell unlike books, there are many forms of symbolism and imagery we can explore to give the feeling we want expressed.

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