Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Calabi

How to write for Games?

This topic is 4389 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I was thinking about this and havent really seen much about it in the forum but should not stories for games be different from either movies or books. Its all very well coming up with lots of details and back history for a game but most of the time I find them boring and annoying depending on how it is delivered. Other times in a game I want more information and all I'm given is a description "This is book is full of fantastical creatures and weird technology presented as if it were true". How could a story work in a game so that they arent so intrusive. So that they are told to the player but do not get in the way of the players enjoyment of the game. Surely the main pull of any game should be that you play it, the story no matter how good should come second. Its funny, most of the games at the moment, the story seems to be the only pull to play them, and yet they mimic movies, which are mostly derivative and predictable. Have people thought of ways of making a story which is able to change and adapt to the players actions. I have some ideas but was wondering what other people thought. You could have events (which i think is the way most games do it) whereby you have something happen and you give the player a preset choice of what they are able to do. Or you could have npcs with actions, which result in events, and the player is able to influence the npcs actions, which can then result in a changing of the events, or doesnt result in an event at all. This would be way more complicated but could be interesting to try writing for. [Edited by - Torquemeda on July 28, 2006 12:10:23 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
The problem is, different types of players enjoy the story to be presented in different ways. Personally I love FMVs but some people hate them. I like to know all the interesting worldbuilding stuff unless it's cliche or makes no scientific sense. On the other hand histories, especially histories of wars, bore me to tears but other people love them. I prefer games where the story comes first, but you say you would prefer games where the story comes second, and other people prefer little or no story. There is no game story creation strategy which will please everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah but thats my point, I think with games it is possible to get a story in game that will please everyone, with stories and movies they are stuck forever in exactly the way they are created, but with games the player has control over it and can choose to partake of it what they will. For instance the Rpg Baldurs Gate had loads of books scattered about it with all manner of histories and stories, I can choose to read some of them all of them or none of them. Somebody likes Fmv while another person doesnt, all you need to do is give the player the option for it.

It possible for the same story to be told in several different ways, one example is the game Torment in that depending on how you distribute your stats on your character, that influences your choices and general depth and scope of the rest of the game.

A game could have a detailed an intricate story, but a player might not notice it at all, as long as you give the player the choices, of what they want to know and what they want to do.

I dont prefer games where the story come second I love playing Rpgs where the story is first but its like most games are made with tunnel vision and you must know what the developers want you to know and once thats gone their isnt anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Torquemeda
Yeah but thats my point, I think with games it is possible to get a story in game that will please everyone, with stories and movies they are stuck forever in exactly the way they are created, but with games the player has control over it and can choose to partake of it what they will. For instance the Rpg Baldurs Gate had loads of books scattered about it with all manner of histories and stories, I can choose to read some of them all of them or none of them. Somebody likes Fmv while another person doesnt, all you need to do is give the player the option for it.


I believe that trying to please everyone will result in various audiences getting a little of what they want, but not enough to make their specific tastes happy. If you did not intend everyone to mean quite literally, everyone, then forget this paragraph.

In your first post you mention that stories in video games should be different from the stories in books and movies, however you state in this post that you enjoy the books scattered through Baldurs Gate. If you're not interacting with the stories, even if they are presented within a game (like books), then all you're doing is reading a glorified PDF. Stories in video games are different because they require input from the player to propel the story forward. For a movie or a book, a person needs to only be passively aware for the story to progress.

The pick-your-own-path and statistical-good-or-evil approaches have been used to determine how a game's story plays out, but I feel that such strategies for making a player feel as though they are actually part of the story actually lower the immersion factor by encouraging the player to go out of character and consider the ramifications of his actions from a non-story-related stand point.

Fable for example, used a ridiculously black and white (har) system for good and evil and it was very easy to see how choices would impact the character (kill my sister or take the weapon, hmm...).

I much prefer the illusion that a well written linear story generates: the path is already set but the way that the game is designed, the player honestly feels as though he is the one making things happen, he is the one making the difference, he is the one making the decisions.

Half 1 and 2 are fantastics examples of this sort of story telling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Simple answer, there's no way to please everyone. I think there's even a saying about that or something. Let me refer to the example for a better analysis. Child A likes playing his 'Hot Coffee' mod over and over until the cows come home. Child B (Child A's brother) dislikes any form of sexual content and hopes one day to become a very celibate monk.

Now you may ask, how, oh great gaming guru programmermattc, would this effect my situation? And I would reply, how doesn't it?! The fact is to create a game that facors to each player, you would have to write the story for every type of characteristic between Child A and B.

Delving deeper into the idea of a story conforming to the player, you'd have to create hundreds of endings. Why hundreds? Game's have already been done where there are 10+ endings and these games still don't have enough endings for some. Say you create one spectacular ending with multiple scenes before that ending changing based on the player. In this scenario the only people you will find that will play through all these multiple scenes are hardcore gamers.

And onto my final point, you could create hundreds of endings and thousands of scenes that all change based on player interaction and what you'll find is many people (Joe Schmoe for example) will run out and buy it because of the hype gamers make of the game. Joe goes home and plays the game for 3 hours and BAM, never touches it again. While you're making lots of money selling it to poor ol' Joe, you'll have spent plenty of time working on all those story parts. Time = Money and this is even a bigger contraint for a game that (with many plot twists) may not sell as well as you would think.

Final comment? Changing stories are a good idea and I'm a big fan of them but you gotta ask yourself, 'Is the juice worth the squeeze?' Now think up how to create a game that you can release patches that automatically patch to the game and main story and continue adding parts (like Half-Life 2: Episode One) but don't charge anything (save for the core game) and I'll bet you'll get almost more downloads than sales of EP1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Of course you couldnt literally please everyone because of genre types and all that, but a game like grand theft auto does get pretty close, because in that what you do is up to you, and it wouldnt be too difficult to cut out any sexual content and/or tailor it to many specific tastes.

Mainly I'm talking about two different ideas. One is a variable edited story whereby the player picks and chooses either before or during what their preferences are and then tailors that story to them. A simple way is to just have a large body of writing and then edit that down and cut parts out as the player wishes.

I dont know if its just me but I am tired of trying to figure out how to do things they way the developers want me to do them, like for example figuring out how to get a letter out of a crazy persons cell, the only way to get into the cell, is to feed them a dead rat, which causes them to kill themselves by banging their head against the wall, now I never went to crazy school nor do I have detailed knowledge of biochemistry so I didnt have a clue about the effects of dead rats on people with schizophrenia, and of course opening the cell door before proffering the dead rat is completely out of the question because the developers said so.

As for halflife I think they are a clever joke by the developer to get us to act like chickens as in we play to get to the other side and experience the vacuous story. Games and movies seem to love doing condundrums where heroes have to make choices which arent really choices at all.

Anyway as for making non linear stories what about forgeting making multiple endings which people are only going to experience once anyway and pad out the middles and make multiple ways of getting to the ending. Now I'm learning programming at the moments so dont know much about it but what about instead of trying to predict all the possible outcomes that can occur from certain situations why not try to create solid elements which can be behave semi autonomosly, (if you catch my meaning:-).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Torquemeda
Mainly I'm talking about two different ideas. One is a variable edited story whereby the player picks and chooses either before or during what their preferences are and then tailors that story to them. A simple way is to just have a large body of writing and then edit that down and cut parts out as the player wishes.


I think that programmermattc was spot on with his arguement that a game with multiple endings is really just creating content that a lot of players won't see.

Ever read a "pick your own adventure" book? They suck. A well written linear story with one well crafted ending is much more enjoyable than multiple half-ass endings, to me anyways.

Quote:
I dont know if its just me but I am tired of trying to figure out how to do things they way the developers want me to do them, like for example figuring out how to get a letter out of a crazy persons cell, the only way to get into the cell, is to feed them a dead rat, which causes them to kill themselves by banging their head against the wall, now I never went to crazy school nor do I have detailed knowledge of biochemistry so I didnt have a clue about the effects of dead rats on people with schizophrenia, and of course opening the cell door before proffering the dead rat is completely out of the question because the developers said so.


This sounds more like a design issue than a story issue.

Quote:
As for halflife I think they are a clever joke by the developer to get us to act like chickens as in we play to get to the other side and experience the vacuous story. Games and movies seem to love doing condundrums where heroes have to make choices which arent really choices at all.


It's the suspension of disbelief, the illusion and immersion that those movies and games generate. Sure, Half-Life might not have a ton of characters all with their own personalities and witty remarks that they display on air-ship cut scenes, but you can't deny that Half-Life is immersive and that the linear direction is well disguised by brilliant level design and gameplay.

Quote:
Anyway as for making non linear stories what about forgeting making multiple endings which people are only going to experience once anyway and pad out the middles and make multiple ways of getting to the ending. Now I'm learning programming at the moments so dont know much about it but what about instead of trying to predict all the possible outcomes that can occur from certain situations why not try to create solid elements which can be behave semi autonomosly, (if you catch my meaning:-).


What bothers me the most about this is proposal is that the choices "aren't really choices at all" because the end will always be the same no matter what the player does. A fork in the road is pointless if the roads meet again only to continue in the same direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Torquemeda
As for halflife I think they are a clever joke by the developer to get us to act like chickens as in we play to get to the other side and experience the vacuous story. Games and movies seem to love doing condundrums where heroes have to make choices which arent really choices at all.


That's definately true though every single game ever made are made for you to get 'to the other side,' (usually titled 'Level 2' hehe). (Pong it would be to get that next point)

Too bad you aren't a modder. I had an idea awhile back to fork the level in multiple ways and each end of the level leads to a different next level. On top of this branching story and level idea it was a mod based on puzzle solving also. This would mean you could script a door to open if you got the right code and everything else would open the other door.

I think the idea of a branching story, plot line, or even settings needs to be more applied to the modding community than a commercial game. Maybe there are mods out there that use this but I haven't seen them and/or they've never been completed.

Grand Theft Auto, while allowing you to do much between missions, really doesn't change the story based on your acts. This is a big difference between changing the story. It's the difference between free-roam and an experience. Roaming you can run around in a pre-built, pre-storied world. An experience on the other hand would contain characters that react to you differently based on your actions. I think a game that really could have benefitted from this is 'The Godfather' That game is quite open (as in GTA) though has such unique characters that wouldv'e been nice to see how they react to you if you kill random women for fun or kill mobsters for business.

Once again I got back to the cost of producing a game. If you have these ideas of an expanding story during the middle with the same ending, have the ideas written up during design time, and schedule it so the extra content only take 3 weeks to a month then by all means go ahead. Remember to sell your game to hardcore gamers because the majority of gamers are (for lack of a better word) dense. We sit here on forums discussing the in's and out's of programming and game development and many of us forget many gamers sit on the couch, smoke drugs, hang out with friends, and play a random session of whatever game is handy. It's an extremely useful thing they teach you in writing/ speech class; Write to the lowest level (level meaning intellegence level).

Finally, taking a chance. That's what the developers and producers do on new, novel ideas. While this isn't a huge new idea, it could be enough for a company to pass on the project idea. I'd want to see some game (like Halo 3) do this idea because you know people are going to buy it simply because it's tagged Halo and thus cashing in on this idea. I don't think the idea of multiple story twists based on player interaction is something that would cause everyone in the world to run out and buy the game.

Lets summarize (lol), good idea/ needs to be implemented in a more innovative way. More content == more time == big chance on publishers part == possible loss of game contract.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah your probably right most people wouldnt go for games with multiple choices, I think its more a symptom of society at the moment, we have everything telling us what to buy what we should do and how to behave. The trouble is developers do seem to be obsessed with lengthening corridors, and not bothering to present the player with any choices. Of course I know that is difficult but it would be nice if they stopped trying to make games like movies, so that each player can get a different experience from the game.

As for the endings I think I heard somewhere that the majority of people dont even complete most games, so I dont think most people play games to be congratulated then watch the credits. But if they have multiple middles people might be more inclined to play it through to the ending.

I know I have trouble deciding what to do in games some of the time (mostly I chose whichever gave the most exp, which usually happened to equal the good options) games like that are like moral preachers looking down on us if we choose the wrong choice. They could get round that by being less judgemental on the options that they give adding a little grey into the black and white and giving near to equal rewards for different choices.

Yeah I know thats the one problem with Grand Theft Auto it would be great if you could decide "Hey I dont want to be a gangster" and open an Orphanage and start cleaning up the town. I dont suppose you've heard of an old game on the playstation, Sentient, in that you could approach things your own way and talk to npcs and basically try to figure out how to save the ship from falling into the star. Its flawed and annoying (I never could figure it out) but it does have lots of good ideas one of which is it gives the players lots of tools with which, its up to them how they solve the mystery. A game like that presented in a more palatable way could sell(possibly ^ ^).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, it's widely known we live in a fast paced society of people who want to finish the game but don't want to spend the time to play it lol. This is why we get those people who don't finish games. I also think this is a contributor to the increase in game prices. While they create better content people are buying less and less games as compared to back when Playstation, N64 and even when PS2 came out. These systems (although not extremely revolutionary other than controller styles and 3d) actually sold millions of more titles than the current Xbox 360.

Everything in the video game market is being geared more towards gamers which is why us gamers are getting shafted by prices for better content. Companies say it's because the content is better which is bull because in reality its because only gamers are buying these systems and games. Games have better development kits than ever to harness more power to create that content which should even out development time. But I digress and this is a complete new debate for a complete different day. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!