Sign in to follow this  

What Makes a Great Story Line for a RPG Game?

This topic is 3921 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

Moving to Writing For Games.

I'd suggest that you might want to ask a more detailed question or give some ideas of your own if you want to attract some good quality responses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You truly should be more clear on what you're asking.
It depends completely on what type of rpg you're planning on writing.
Guessing that you're thinking of some fantasy with elves and gnome I would have to go with:
Major war or treachery going on in the background is always cool(WoW)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A great storyline for an RPG has not yet been written. I'm not sure if a great storyline "for an RPG" can be written at all... it should emerge from the players actions in the world or else it's not very suitable to "role-playing".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
It depends on the type of RPG you want to create. For the most part, there's the story RPG, and the sandbox RPG. The story RPG is one where you generally have less freedom, but a stronger story. On the other hand, the sandbox RPG doesn't usually have as much story, but provides the player with more opportunities to create their own stories.

Of all the RPGs I have played, I feel that Planescape:Torment has had the best story line so far. However, it did have a lot of text, which may have put of some players. But, it may serve as a jumping off point.

You could always look at some piece of literature you enjoy, and modify it to suit your needs. A lot of television shows have done this at one time or another, and I don't see why it couldn't work for a game.

Here are a couple links that may prove useful, as possible places for ideas, and for some things to avoid:

http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article255.asp

http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html

http://www.io.com/~sjohn/plots.htm

http://www.igda.org/writing/InteractiveStorytelling.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Every good game with a story contains at least one plot and one traitor in each side.

Uh, I think this is false. Not only can you have a great plot without a traitor, it tends to be kinda hackneyed. What I think you may be referring to is the reversal and realization elements, which are more general. These coupled together are used to great effect in greek drama, and the whole traitor/plot thing is simply a specific, overused instance of it. All you really need to jerk the player is some type of extreme reversal coupled with a realization. IE Happy married man finds his wife gone and a note saying she isn't coming back. Not only does this completely reverse his life, the abruptness of the realization magnifies its affect on him/the player. Shock and effect can be achieved without falling into the rut. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Traitors are a must.

But in all seriousness, anything can make a great storyline. Sandbox games also have their own storyline, and yes someone did have to write it. Fallout was a sandbox RPG, but it did still follow a story, and someone did have to write those stories. Same for Morrowind / Oblivion.

Anything can be a great story. If the game doesnt immerse you into that story, then it probably wont make a great one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Nathan Baum
+ + + =


Hah. If only all stories had pirates, ninjas, zombies, and the occasional monkey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My favorite storyline for any game is that of Geneforge 2. It goes far, far beyond the typical 'good or evil' choice and asks some very real questions that are from black and white. Not only that, but it provided a great setting for a game and role-playing. Play this game if you want see what a great role playing storyline is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ahh well :-) Here we go.

At first I need to admit that I'm a huge fan of the Western RPGs Planescape: Torment and Fallout (2). So depending on if you're more into:
1. Western RPGs
2. JRPGs (Japanese ones)
3. Hack'n'Slash (Blizzard's Diablo, Bethesda's Oblivion)
you'll find my opinions to be more or less suited.

I think the real question is not the question of the storyline itself but how the player can influence and change it. There are some general gameplay rules that can help to improve every storyline to transform it into a better RPG experience IMHO.

1. The most important basic principle of a good RPG to me: choice and consequence. It's useful to seperate between the player who plays the game and the alter ego who gets played by the player. The game itself should feature enough possibilities where the player can decide between different options (choice), but the choices the player has should be restricted by the stats / skills of his alter ego. I'll explain this in more detail later to show you how this could work out in different situations.

2. Dialogue options. The player should be able to actually play his character in dialogues with other NPCs and even members of his party. Depending on his intelligence or similar stats that could influence the way the alter ego can communicate with the world he lives in, the player should get different options in dialogues. An alter ego with rather low intelligence / wisdom / communication skills should not give the player the same dialogue options than a rather smart one.

Fallout implemented this quite well where you've got "stupid dialogue options" for alter egos with intelligence <= 4. This way the quests you could get by other NPCs were restricted but there were a few places in the game where a dumb alter ego could have more dialogue options because he was talking to other NPCs with low intelligence.

Most important: the dialogue options should be real options in the way that they lead to real consequences. I don't see the point into giving the player a lot of options in dialogues if these options can't lead to different results. The player should be able to provoke other NPCs in dialogue so they would attack him.

For interaction between the alter ego and his party NPCs, check out how this was solved in Planescape: Torment.

3. Don't enforce combat. The vital quests to finish the game should be solvable with a diplomatic approach (too). So the player of a rather high intelligence alter ego should be able to talk himself out of the most tricky situations. That's important because a player who decided to play a diplomatic alter ego usually didn't push his combat stats. You can of course have quests that can be only solved with a fighting approach, but these should be optional side quests.

4. No stupid mini-games. Not the player's skills should decide how the storyline developes but the player's choices and the alter ego's skills. A good example of how this could be done wrong is the lockpick minigame that can be found within Bethesda's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This minigame depends on the players skill, not on the lockpick skill of the alter ego.

An alter ego with a low lockpick skill should not be able to open tricky locks by lockpicking at all. Despite the game should offer alternative ways to open the lock, depending on the skills of the alter ego: destroying the lock with your weapon (high strengh required), use of magic, talking somebody into opening the lock for you (high intelligence / communication) or even recognizing a little detail of the lock that allows you to open it with another method (high perception).

Unfortunately I'm out of time for today :-/ Here are some other important ideas, I'll hopefully find the time to write about them tomorrow:
* Combat: Turn based combat instead of real time / real time with pause.
* Factions: Choice of factions should be restricted. The alter ego should not be able to become the ringleader of all factions. There should be rivaling factions.
* NPCs: No simply black / white characters. All NPCs should have different basic principles how they live and see the world they're in. If you want to go for good vs. evil, add at least the classical D&D system of lawful & chaotic to it. Though there is of course much room for improvement.
* Different outcomes of the main storyline. Always play the good hero who saves the world? How boring :-/ How about destroying the world by joining the forces of the darkness?
* Deep storylines influenced by major philosophical themes:
** What is the good?
** How can this good be achieved?
** Can this good be just achieved as an individual or is it just possible to find it together with other human beings?
** How does guilt influence the game world? (Check out Planescape: Torment for an excellent example how this could work out)
** Do the characters belief in a god or do they think that the problems of the world can be solved with rationality?
** Do they characters believe in equality of the beings or do they follow elitist concepts?

Last but not least you should check out this thread from RPGCodex. It is the best discussion about what RPGs should be that I've found on the net:
RPGCodex on the philosophy of RPGs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In almost all cases, RPGs are simply re-creations of reality. But, these re-creations go under a transition in this process. The transition is when conflicts are given different causes but retain their principles, and characters are given different names but follow the same philosophies. So odds are, if it's a compelling story in our reality (Darfur crisis, Iraq war, globalizing economy, etc.) then it can make a fluid transition into a fantasy/sci-fi world. Personally, I feel if a moving (don't forget massive, size tends to matter with RPGs) event occurs in reality, it can inevitably be turned into a great story for an RPG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic is 3921 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.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this