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Custom Writing Software - Opinions Needed!

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I'm currently creating a writing utility to allow Game Writers to format their Chapter, Level, Story data to make it easier to handle and also easier for the programmers to work from. Since I am no expert on processes and a lot of writers on these forums have their own desired methods for creating design documents and story lines etc... I am looking for your opinion since I would like this program to be a general program that would benefit us all. Download Limited Prototype Download the "Shakespeare v0.0.1.zip" file and extract it if you have java enviroment variables installed click on the run if not then you'll have to locate your java directory and run the WritingUtil class. Supports all versions of java starting with jre 1.1 May run with deprecations. Some of the features that I would like to include are: - Character Builder - Dialogue Builder - Arc Builder - Outline Builder - Timeline Builder - Map Builder I would like to know what you want in a Writing Utility to help you keep track of your Story data.

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Maybe have spots for concept drawings in certain things?

So a concept artist could attach his drawing for the location they are currently at and the characters in scene.. This way the 3d artists could benefit from this also.

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I've played with several of these how-to-write software and the most important feature you can give the user is the ability to override the program's templates when they don't fit with what you want to do.

Other than that, any kind of graphing utility that could show character conflict over time would be really helpful. That might be more complex than you want to do, though.

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Good suggestions! Keep them coming and please feel free to let me know of any common GUI and layout preferences because really I am looking for as much detail as you can give me on how things should look and feel as well as what they should be able to do.

Arkantis: I am going to add a Graphics section to the Program where any and all graphics can be included and the program can keep a list of those graphics files and animations with specifications and descriptions for searching sorting and inserting into the ARCs/Maps/Characters or even the story if it is desired.

SnS: I will make sure that my Templates do not limit the user. I will try to make a quick and easy template creator which will allow you to determine what gets exported and in what format. As for the Character Conflict Timeline. I can create a Character Relationship State Diagram and the states will have times and reacurrenses based either on game timing or on a simple sequence of events. I can also make it so the State Diagram can be viewed as a Timeline of reltionship states and transitions.

But of course all this will take a bit of doing and from the little I have now it might take a while but I hope with your feedback and help with features I can move along at a good pace and have something for your use in no time-at-all!

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Have you looked at Dramatica, NewNovelist, StoryCraft, StoryBase, StoryWeaver and some of the other software already available? About half of them have free demos so you can download and study them. Dramatica's Demo

As for the character conflicts, what I was thinking is that the player could define some themes which would be explored through the story's conflict. Each theme would have a positive side, a negative side, and a neutral point in the middle, and you could set each character's position on the issue at the start of the story. Then the graph would show how the characters encounter one another, and how this affects their positions on the issue.

For example: The theme is force vs. persuasion. Character A wants to use force, while character B wants to use persuasion. Now if character A and character B have the same goal, they will argue about whether force or persuasion is the best way to accomplish the goal. OTOH, if A and B have opposite goals they will use their force and persuasion against each other. In either case, the author uses the conflict to make a statement about the effectiveness and morality of force and persuasion: that one works and the other doesn't, or both are necessary, or neither is necessary, AND that one is good and the other bad, or both are good, or both are bad. As a result ofthe conflict, the characters may have changed their positions on the issue. A may have switched to persuasion, B may have switched to force, both may have switched, or one character may have been killed, eliminating their opinion on the issue. The idea is that each character is a vector, and the vector theory of physics can be used to graph their collisions and resultant changes in the vectors.

Well, this is just what I have been thinking about recently because I read a book on the subject: _Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama_ by Cynthia Joyce Clay. Like I said, it may be too complicated.

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The Story Arc Builder was intended to be a type of story board state diagram. For instance an Arc or State will contain say one possible set of Characters, Items, Locations, Goals, etc. and from that state a player may have the option or depending on certain conditions the player may move to another state of the story or in this case I am calling them Arcs.

You could think of them as either Levels or Chapters.

For Example:

Take for instance your game starts off with your character stranded on an island
and he has to complete some tasks in order to either get off the island on a boat, a balloon, or on a griffin.

The story arc builder would allow you to create new levels or events to different ARCs in each case. Of course this isn't going to be an RPG generator so I was just going to give you a graphical representation of where each state is and a way to organize and keep track of what is in each
Arc or Level or Chapter

If there is a more commonly used term then I'll change what I call it.
The ARC builder and view is sort of an overall High Level depiction of your story and where the player can go within your world.

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I would definitely call them levels, not arcs. To me arc means plot arc, which means a complete cycle of: initial incident -> rising action -> climax -> resolution. But I do think a Level Planner is a great idea, especially for more adventure-style games. A flowchart of the player's possible actions and game's reactions within each level is a pretty essential piece of a game design doc, so it would be awesome if this software guided you through making them.

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Sounds good. Are you planning to make a Wizard to guide people through the process of using your software to create a game design? If so, you will need to use some instructional text. Feel free to use my game design textbook-in-progress, just give me credit for it somewhere. And if you end up selling this program I'll want a cut. ;)

Also, I know a guy named Kristoffer who is also working on a how-to-write program, although it's not game-oriented. Would you like his email so you can talk to him?

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