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Stavros Kokkineas

Ideas derived from existing games

7 posts in this topic

So, this is part of a procedure I do quite often so I can learn the basics about writing a videogame story (I've come to call it "Story Testing"). The idea is mainly about taking the theme (meaning style, gameplay mechanics etc.) of a game and the story (which means characters, general story or even dialogues) and think about interesting ways of how you could tweak or improve these elements to make a better game (obviously this is very subjective and a good story can differ greatly from person to person). 

 

 

 

For example, I've been looking at some trailers for The Wind Waker HD (which will be released in October) and I've been thinking that a pretty cool character that's been missing from the game is the romance of Link's sister. I imagine him as a kind of a goofy guy (kid really) that after Link's sister has been taken he embarks on a journey of his own to save her. Link could meet him at certain points in the game (for example at Windfall Island) and he could act as a funny "wanna-be-of-help" character but that could give Link viable info on certain occasions.

 

 

 

Another idea, I've had since childhood, is a game where Wario (instead of Bowser) abducts princess Peach and asks a ransom from Mario to set her free.

 

 

 

Over the years I've had a great number of ideas of how a game's story could improve and I think it's a great exercise to think "outside of the box" and in the process become a better writer yourself. So, I'm posting this topic as an "inspirational ground" where we can use existing stories and characters to learn the essential principles of writing. If anyone else has some ideas that he thinks would make for a(n) (more) interesting game, or has some feedback for ideas already posted, please set your mind free below.

Edited by Darklink_
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I think that most game designers can think of at least 20 different what-if outcomes of already existing stories in about 1 hour. The clue is to try to come up with an entirely unique storyline from bottom up. I think your procedure could be a nice way to find those stories though, like first thinking about existing games and alternatives within that, and then create something unique based on it.

 

- What if Link and Ganon were actually the same person and Link realized this at the end of a Zelda game?

- What if the Ganon that Link fought was actually Zelda in disguise, as a puppet under the control of the real Ganon. So he makes you kill the one you're trying to save.

- What if Link is actually Zelda, and in reality it's Zelda trying to save Link from the King, and Ganon is her benevolent father? and Epona is a dragon smoking a pipe.

 

One of the great qualities of Quentin Tarantino, for instance, is his ability to take the viewers expectations and turn it completely upside down.

He's a master of the "WTF moment". smile.png

Edited by Malabyte
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I think that most game designers can think of at least 20 different what-if outcomes of already existing stories in about 1 hour. The clue is to try to come up with an entirely unique storyline from bottom up. I think your procedure could be a nice way to find those stories though, like first thinking about existing games and alternatives within that, and then create something unique based on it.

 

- What if Link and Ganon were actually the same person and Link realized this at the end of a Zelda game?

- What if the Ganon that Link fought was actually Zelda in disguise, as a puppet under the control of the real Ganon. So he makes you kill the one you're trying to save.

- What if Link is actually Zelda, and in reality it's Zelda trying to save Link from the King, and Ganon is her benevolent father? and Epona is a dragon smoking a pipe.

 

One of the great qualities of Quentin Tarantino, for instance, is his ability to take the viewers expectations and turn it completely upside down.

He's a master of the "WTF moment". smile.png

 

Well, no offence, but I personally think that none of the three proposals would fit in the Zelda Universe. Irrelevant to that, though, I think that it's generally kind of oblivious to decimate the central character like that at the end of a game when all the psychological attachments between the player and that character (which are the most important) have beed developed and solidified. Perhaps a Butterfly Effect or or a Tarantino videogame would be more appropriate for that kind of stuff, although I still think that watching a movie for 2 hours is completely different than controlling a character for 25 (also what would happen gameplay wise?). Tastes differ though so there could be some audience there for you.


As for the topic (deriving ideas for stories from existing games) I believe there's no better way for someone to learn or improve himself as a writer, than by analyzing stories of famous and successful videogames and trying to improve on them. This is just a place where one could come and get inspired in ways to make his stories better.

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We all have moments in video games when we wish things didn't go that way but everything outside the game is nothing but fan fiction :) I think taking existing stories and trying to reshape a bend somewhere is pretty cheap way to spend your talent or demonstrate your creativity.

 

It's like trying to improve Mona Lisa. The artist has made it that way for whatever reason so it's faux-pas. But you are fee to paint something on your own with similar themes if you want to take on the challenge of topping the original.

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Well, no offence, but I personally think that none of the three proposals would fit in the Zelda Universe.

Not in the Zelda universe, no. I'm talking about how you can use existing ideas and twist them around as a basis for a new plot in your own game. As ShadowFlar3 pointed out, you wouldn't want to remake an already existing universe. ;)

Edited by Malabyte
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So, this is part of a procedure I do quite often so I can learn the basics about writing a videogame story (I've come to call it "Story Testing"). The idea is mainly about taking the theme (meaning style, gameplay mechanics etc.) of a game and the story (which means characters, general story or even dialogues) and think about interesting ways of how you could tweak or improve these elements to make a better game (obviously this is very subjective and a good story can differ greatly from person to person). 

 

I accept the post you wrote as a quite ok and I 'agree' to that.  Personally I am a programmer not designer but I am also player and sometimes (If I play really long in some favourite game) I do such thinking you write but not only about the story but about the whole game, what would I add or change to improve it (I rarely do some thinking about stories though maybe i should (IM overworked got to small amount of time to some activities))

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"There is nothing new under the sun."

 

I have to keep telling myself that when I start comparing whatever project I'm working on to everything else out there that is similar.  Most of the Taco Bell menu is the same 7 ingredients prepared in different ways.  (shell/tortilla, lettuce, beans, cheese, meat, tomato, and onion)  Taking inspiration from another product is pretty much expected.  Add a mechanic or twist to the idea and give it a different coat of paint so it doesn't look too much like the original, and you're fine.   Yes, you will be called on it, but as long as you are honest about your inspirations and don't try to insult people's intelligence by claiming it's "original", then it's all good.

 

Big example:  Snake from Metal Gear Solid.  BIG ripoff from Snake Pliskin from the Escape From NY/LA movies.  In MGS, Snake is even deployed to the hot zone by torpedo like in Escape from LA.  The difference between a "ripoff" and an "homage" is in whether or not the remake is honest about its source material.

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Analyzing existing games and also non-game stories like anime, movies, and novels, is indeed an important design technique.  The goal is to take apart those stories, figure out what patterns organize them and what elements populate those patterns.  Put the patterns and elements you like into your own mental toolbox.  Then when you begin to design your own original story, you can say to yourself "Oh I really liked when game X has that plot pattern of a bad guy who does a heel-face turn and the player can choose whether to kill or save him.  I want to put that kind of pattern into my game."  But you can switch it up by using a different character archetype for the bad guy, and giving him or her a different motive to change sides.  Not to mention, perhaps the original game was fantasy and yours is a western...

 

Stories are like sentences.  Yes, there are only so many valid sentence structures and so many words in the dictionary, but the number of unique sentences you can generate is infinite.

Edited by sunandshadow
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