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J-Ray

Greatest Game Story Ever

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Hey guys, I'm a big believer that great story is the future of linear, single-player games. My new site VG Story Design is a blueprint for developing stories with the narrative power of film, TV and literature. This isn't a beginner's guide to game story, but an advanced method for combining great story with fast and furious action. I'm looking for feedback on the ideas, design and presentation. Also presented is a script and design doc for Iron Hearts, a sci-fi episodic shooter that aspires to be the most story-driven FPS ever. It's a big dream, I know, so any and all comments are welcome and appreciated. Later

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No problem, I have only had a chance to read a little of it, but you seem to have captured how to compliment story with gameplay and vice versa - and that they should be a unified beast rather than one as a vehicle to deliver the other.
You understand when to get the player playing, and when to have him spectating...
I will definitely try to read more of it when I can...

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From what I've read so far, it seems like you're pushing for one approach to incorporate better stories in video games. Namely, extremely linear video games. While I agree games sure could use better stories, and I for one usually enjoy good stories in video games much more than the FPS/action-gameplay (i.e. shooting stuff up) itself. I'm not sure if you imply it or not, but I don't think a highly linear video game is the only way to mate it with a great story. I think it should also be possible to create an immersive, fun and interesting environment without making it as linear as a movie.

What I'm trying to say is that I believe there are other way to accomish your tasks (of integrating better stories into games). Your approach seems to be based on the idea of making video games more like movies/books/other forms of NON-interactive media. And I'd like to think that's not the ONLY way (but I don't know for sure, it's just my intuition talking... I've never thought about this in great detail yet).

I think one other approach I'm sort of hinting towards would be the very opposite of yours. :)

Edit: Now I see you sort of mention this in the "Environment Vs. Story" section.

Other than that, it seems like a nice read and I like the website design. I just wish you had tooltips for those video game characters you use, as I only recognize about 70% of them and would love to know what games the other 30% come from.

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At first glance (just because of the title) I thought this was another n00b post from someone thinking he has the best story to sell to a game company.
But I clicked anyways. I'm glad I did.

I'm now reading your webpage, it's amazing. I'm a programmer, but also a gamer and I'm really happy to see someone who finally has common sense (something very rare on these days, even on movie films) about how a good game story should be written. So far I read, I agree with you at every aspect.
Sadly, though, you're interested in FPS, which is not my genre.

Good Luck
Dark Sylinc

Edit: wrote <n>common sense</n> instead of common sense

[Edited by - Matias Goldberg on June 10, 2008 2:22:31 PM]

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There are some things that I agree with and some that I don't (evidently we won't agree on everything [wink]). You mentioned that multiple endings and blank slate characters are the bane of storytelling and I just can't agree with that. You use the choose your own adventure novels as an example as to why they are bad. Books and video games are a different medium and the stories don't always translate well from one to the other.

You also mention the multiple endings are boring. Well maybe if you only write a single good ending and you botch the others. What if you spent an equal amount of time on all endings? I refuse to agree that there can only be one good ending. If you're a good story teller I'm sure you can have multiple outcomes that are all of good quality.

On the subject of blank slate characters. You give examples to star wars and how they all have rich histories. It's true that a rich history makes for a more interesting character but it doesn't mean a blank slate character needs to have no past*. You'll usually see amnesia used to present the world to the player to keep him from being overwhelmed with details. Once the amnesia is cured who says you can't go deeper into his history and give him new motives? I think KOTOR did this pretty well with the protagonist finding out that he's really Revan.

You also pick on "choose your own adventure" in the blank state character with the R2D2 and cocaine example. If that was a choice to be made in the game than the writer wasn't very good at what he did. In those two examples you offer a good choice or a ridiculous one as an alternative.

Now aside from those two points I agree with the rest. Very well thought out site and it looks like you did a lot of research into the subject. Kudos to you and I will be returning to see your updates [smile]

*I know "blank slate" means empty but it doesn't mean that the character *has to* start existing in the world when you pop the game in the tray.

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Quote:
Original post by Matias Goldberg
I'm now reading your webpage, it's amazing.
...Sadly, though, you're interested in FPS, which is not my genre.



Hey Matias,

Thanks for the compliment!

Actually, I'm interested in all game genres that lend themselves to story and character. I chose FPS for Iron Hearts simply because the majority of games with stories are of the shooter variety. I originally envisioned it as an rpg...

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Quote:
Original post by Matias Goldberg
At first glance (just because of the title) I thought this was another n00b post from someone thinking he has the best story to sell to a game company.
But I clicked anyways. I'm glad I did.


I'm glad you posted, because I didn't click the first time through.

I don't agree with all of the points (all games have multiple endings, making the 'bad' ones funny/entertaining ala disgaea helps the hurt of losing); and I think a story is only gravy to gameplay, but that's a pretty great site. Maybe we can get a sticky for here or the 'writing for games' forum?

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Quote:
Original post by Gazillion
There are some things that I agree with and some that I don't (evidently we won't agree on everything [wink]). You mentioned that multiple endings and blank slate characters are the bane of storytelling and I just can't agree with that. You use the choose your own adventure novels as an example as to why they are bad. Books and video games are a different medium and the stories don't always translate well from one to the other.


Yo Gazillion,

Glad ya liked the site! Yeah, no worries about not agreeing with everything (I barely agree with myself) -- hashing out these ideas is what's most important.

In regards to multiple endings and blank slate characters, I'd revise my comments to say they're the bane of GREAT story (not story in general). Sure, you can have multiple endings, but there's always one best ending, right? Not only are multiple endings a bitch to write, but if the goal is to give the player the most rewarding narrative possible, why even offer them "bad" endings in the first place? Just give them the gravy.

Blank slate characters could, if crafted perfectly, work in great story (though I can't think of any amnesiacs in the Western canon of Drama). In terms of writing, I think it's simply easier to create game motivation out of a character who is actively doing something, like in Star Wars and just about every other classic. Also, all blank slate characters are virtually the same in the beginning, right? A bonk on the head followed by hours of running around. It's only when we discover their backstory do we learn the traits that make them a unique personality (and a great character).

But this is all up for debate. Even talking about great story in games is a move in the right direction :)

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