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anttoo

RPG Story/Atmosphere

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Hello.

I am currently writing an RPG that is set in a dungeon. I am having issues currently with how I am going to give the player an idea of purpose/objective. I have the folling Ideas and would like a little feedback on what you think of them (and how important they are relative to the others):

1) Text at the start of each level and throughtout by the player reading 'books' found in the levels. These will progress the story and give the player background and objectives.
2) A voiceover at the start of the game setting the scene with text throughout the game.
3) A short film at the start and end of the game with text throughout.

Are there any suggestions of other devices I could emply to get story and atomosphere across to the player that won't take up to much time/artistic effort? I hadn't really though about this but it's actually going to be a really big part of the game!

I have attached a little demo of the game that may or may not work to give an idea of the current game and quite how all this would fit in. You have to run oalinst.exe first to get the sound going. EDIT: this wouldn't add, it didn't like RAR so forget this for now. EDIT: WORKING!

Also: Would it be hard to find people to do a bit of voice acting for free?

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Should this be in Writing for Games...? Anyway, I'll try and answer a bit. First off:

[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2]Are there any suggestions of other devices I could emply to get story and atomosphere across to the player that won't take up to much time/artistic effort? I hadn't really though about this but it's actually going to be a really big part of the game![/size][/color][/quote]

You might want to think about it more. There isn't much in the way of 'cheap tricks' for engaging narrative delivery that you can just chuck on as an afterthought. The world you play in needs to be consistent and well thought out, especially if it is a big part of the game.

[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2]1) Text at the start of each level and throughtout by the player reading 'books' found in the levels. These will progress the story and give the player background and objectives.[/size][/color][color=#1C2837][size=2]2) A voiceover at the start of the game setting the scene with text throughout the game.
[/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]3) A short film at the start and end of the game with text throughout.[/size][/color][/quote]


All three of those are perfectly viable. I personally don't like narrations or establishing text at the beginning of a game; I prefer all the information you need to come from the game. Also, the best option will depend entirely on the story and the situation. For example: why are your characters in a dungeon? Have they been sent there? Are they trapped there? Are they alone or with other characters? This last one (additional characters) might be a good way to do it. Plot progressing through dialog and interactions within the game world are, generally speaking in my experience, more immersive and believable than a bit of text at the start. It's all very well hitting new game and a narration begins: "For 15 years the free land of Gysmrk has been at war with the tyranny of King Solomon the XIIth of Varsak, and resources are growing thin blah blah", but why should the player care?

If you're going to have introductory story just before/after dungeon areas, have you considered writing it like you would a book? Not just rattling off a history lesson about your world, but writing character interactions, maybe discuss what they get up to between dungeons and what they think about..tell tales of events in your world that way. I've been playing SpaceChem lately which does that and it's a reasonably nice way of doing things in between puzzles.

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[quote name='anttoo' timestamp='1311185138' post='4838072']
1. I am having issues currently with how I am going to give the player an idea of purpose/objective.
2. I have attached a little demo of the game that may or may not work
3. Also: Would it be hard to find people to do a bit of voice acting for free?
[/quote]
1. This is a Writing question, so this is moving to Writing.
2. It didn't.
3. That is a business question, not a game design or writing question, to which the answer is "depends." You should ask business questions in the business forum, not appended to writing questions in the game design forum.

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Personally, I find initial character and story exposition stands out like a sore thumb. Unless I'm already in the mood that you're trying to establish, I find it painful and annoying when it's crammed down my throat. However I still want and need that sense of purpose and direction so my preference seems to be to have something that I can come to when I'm ready. I guess it's the difference between discovering something on my own and having something shown to me.

Personal opinion aside, each of your options sound good and fairly common. Idea 1 & 3 sound fine to me assuming that reading the books at the beginning is optional, that the short film can be skipped (and viewed again later if needed). For idea 2 and the voice over, I wonder a little about for if the player either misses what's said or if the player ends up replaying the level repeatedly for whatever reason. Things like that can really pull a person out of the atmosphere that you're trying to set and back into the chair that they're sitting in. When I'm playing an RPG and I hear a character (or narrator) tell me something once, it's cool and immersive. When I hear it again, I'm reminded I'm playing a game with a set number of outcomes.

As for finding voice talent for free, I would bet that it's as hard as it is to find anyone that will do anything for free.

Also, I"m not seeing any attachment or link to your game.

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[quote name='Fox89' timestamp='1311194754' post='4838128']
If you're going to have introductory story just before/after dungeon areas, have you considered writing it like you would a book? Not just rattling off a history lesson about your world, but writing character interactions, maybe discuss what they get up to between dungeons and what they think about..tell tales of events in your world that way. I've been playing SpaceChem lately which does that and it's a reasonably nice way of doing things in between puzzles.
[/quote]

I was thinking about how this text would be, what would you think of this:
1) Descriptive text within the game. e.g. "You open an old door", "You hear footsteps", "A gread demon laughs..." ect
2) A story for in-between the levels in
a) First Person: "I take the staff of the wizard and twirl it making fire apear"
b) Second Person?: "You take the staff of the wizard just slain, you begin to twirl it and summon fire"
c) Third Person?: "The warrior <NAME> takes the staff of the wizard he slew, he begins to twirl it and summons a great fire"

What would be more emmersive?

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[quote name='kseh' timestamp='1311200188' post='4838163']
Personally, I find initial character and story exposition stands out like a sore thumb. Unless I'm already in the mood that you're trying to establish, I find it painful and annoying when it's crammed down my throat.[/quote]
Yes. Play [i]Enslaved; Odyssey to the West[/i]. The game throws you right into the story and makes you really interested in finding out who these people are and what's going on. Very good technique.

[quote name='anttoo' timestamp='1311185138' post='4838072']
Also: Would it be hard to find people to do a bit of voice acting for free?
[/quote]
Professional voice actors: impossible (unless you're the favorite nephew or something).
People you know: should be dead easy (unless people you know don't like you much).
So I stand by my initial answer: "depends."

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Firstoff, nevermind immersion. The "play brain" will always "see the frame", looking at the numbers and metrics and strategies and rules. So don't worry about it and don't let it constrain you. The masters don't.

"[color="#1C2837"][size="2"](and how important they are relative to the others) ... [/size][/color][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]won't take up to much time/artistic effort[/size][/color][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]If you put it in, take it seriously...[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color][/size][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]it's actually going to be a really big part of the game"[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Know this, before all else and before you go on; it's not necessary. A game product will always be better with no story than with bad story.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Ditto voice acting.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]But let's cut to the heart of it. Never mind cutscenes and interruptions for a moment. If you want atmosphere, you have to treat this as a whole. That means minding the visual and auditory arts and the level design, interior design, etc.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Your post #5 asks about different tenses, perspectives, etc. But for what and where?[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]Is the game narrated? Does it need to be narrated?[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]1) Narration. Yes, this is the way to do it (but don't say "great demon", just say "demon" and only if the player knows it's a demon, otherwise just say "you hear a laugh". Emphasis on "hear" since that is the verb.)[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"][i]If there is one main player character, use second person.[/i][/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"] [/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]2) In between levels should match the other thing.[/size][/color][/size]

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[quote name='JoeCooper' timestamp='1311203375' post='4838179']
Firstoff, nevermind immersion. The "play brain" will always "see the frame", looking at the numbers and metrics and strategies and rules. So don't worry about it and don't let it constrain you. The masters don't.

"[color="#1c2837"][size="2"](and how important they are relative to the others) ... [/size][/color][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]won't take up to much time/artistic effort[/size][/color][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]If you put it in, take it seriously...[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]"[/size][/color][/size][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]it's actually going to be a really big part of the game"[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]Know this, before all else and before you go on; it's not necessary. A game product will always be better with no story than with bad story.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]Ditto voice acting.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]But let's cut to the heart of it. Never mind cutscenes and interruptions for a moment. If you want atmosphere, you have to treat this as a whole. That means minding the visual and auditory arts and the level design, interior design, etc.[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[color="#1c2837"][size="2"]Your post #5 asks about different tenses, perspectives, etc. But for what and where?[/size][/color]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]Is the game narrated? Does it need to be narrated?[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]1) Narration. Yes, this is the way to do it (but don't say "great demon", just say "demon" and only if the player knows it's a demon, otherwise just say "you hear a laugh". Emphasis on "hear" since that is the verb.)[/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"][i]If there is one main player character, use second person.[/i][/size][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][/color][/size]
[size="3"][color="#1c2837"][size="2"]2) In between levels should match the other thing.[/size][/color][/size]
[/quote]

Thankyou for your advice, I have taken it on board! I'm going to leave voice-over and concentrate on good level-based dialog with a start and end game cinematic.

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