Matthew Birdzell

Predefined game stories or write as you go.

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How do most game devs create their narrative rich games? Is it combinations of predefined narratives before production? Or do they write as production goes, making refinements and edits along the way, until they arrive at what they think works best?

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2 hours ago, Tom Sloper said:

It depends. Some games began with a story in mind. Some games had the story added later.

The best story games start with a well-planned story. Some changes likely evolve during development.

That's how I see some yeah. 

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I'm no expert, but I'd imagine the story has to be complete before development starts on the game. Maybe something gets tweaked here or there song the way, but I can't see the approach being to write as production goes, or at least not to invent the story as production goes

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Seems each have different experiences.

In my experience, the games focus first around the core mechanics, story afterword.  The thing that is fundamentally fun or compelling about the mechanics.

For example, when we had the Hasbro brands opened up to us we were asked to create pitches on many different products.  One line of games focused on the Tonka Truck lineup, where the first thing we did was get a sandbox with assorted toys along with all the trucks to figure out why playing with the things is fun for kids in the first place. The mechanics of building things and destroying things, both individually and with a partner, were fully explored. That line was very nearly greenlit. Another line was Nerf, and we experimented with what was so fun about having blasters and a pile of bullets; it isn't the trigger pulling aspect, but instead the comedy and quirkiness of the guns and darts. The game designs explored mechanics of weighing things down with many heavy darts, striking unexpected targets for odd reactions, massive guns that slowly explode with a truly epic foam dart, and small machine-gun style guns that feel more like firing a squirt gun than a real weapon.  Yet another line was the Littlest PetShop lineup, where we focused on unexpected moments of delight as the fun little animals had social interactions while frolicking in the world.

People will play a fun game even if the story line is stupid.  "I'm a plumber saving a princess while eating mushrooms". Or "Save the world from the Evil Alien/Foreign/Terrorist invaders!". "Pigs stole the eggs!".  

 

Said differently: People haven't spent all those hours on League of Legends, DotA2, Angry Birds, Smash Bros, Guitar Hero, Tetris, and Minecraft because they had amazing story lines.  

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Touche.. But OP asked in the context of "narrative rich" games.  The idea I had in mind was.. Telltale games, or something like "The Last of Us".  I'd imagine the story development process in games like those is more robust, no?

(Admittedly, I'm going off an assumption that could be off-base)

Edited by masskonfuzion

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22 minutes ago, masskonfuzion said:

Touche.. But OP asked in the context of "narrative rich" games.  The idea I had in mind was.. Telltale games, or something like "The Last of Us".  I'd imagine the story development process in games like those is more robust, no?

(Admittedly, I'm going off an assumption that could be off-base)

I might have worded this better haha.

I also mean narrative rich games that strike a balance of fun and quality writing, not just purely narrative. Its all very tough to do, no doubt.

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5 hours ago, masskonfuzion said:

Touche.. But OP asked in the context of "narrative rich" games.  The idea I had in mind was.. Telltale games, or something like "The Last of Us".  I'd imagine the story development process in games like those is more robust, no?

The story in The Last Of Us was written by the Creative Director. As the name suggests, they have a lot - probably the most - influence over how a game is made and what goes into it. So they have the luxury of arranging the game somewhat to fit their story. In cases like that, you can see how the story structure is planned in advance, and probably constantly refined as the content is created and feedback from testing comes in.

Nobody will be writing out a complete script before development starts, because too much of the story will depend on technical issues that come up during development. Most likely they start with an outline before development, progress to a treatment during early development, and then write out detailed dialog and shooting script details for cutscenes along the way.

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I have created a working minimum viable product for my game and I have roughly outlined the story for the main portion of content. I am now realizing that I can't continue working on content or level design, because I have a story driven game -- I have to write my script. I guess it makes sense though if you compare game development to movies: You never start shooting a movie without a completed script. In story driven games, the script helps define what the scenes need to look like, who the actors are going to be, and ultimately, dictates what assets need to be created to properly tell the story. If you are working on a budget or tight timeline, writing the script first will help you gauge the scope of the project and the amount of work required. There will be constraints that the creative narrative needs to work around (unless you've got millions of dollars and years of production time), so it's better to identify the major costs early and either adapt the script to work around it, or plan and prepare ahead of production. Anyways, I think the costs of script writing and adapting are much less than production costs, so you should try to write your script as soon as you can and know what constraints you're working within and adapt the script accordingly.

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34 minutes ago, slayemin said:

I have created a working minimum viable product for my game and I have roughly outlined the story for the main portion of content. I am now realizing that I can't continue working on content or level design, because I have a story driven game -- I have to write my script. I guess it makes sense though if you compare game development to movies: You never start shooting a movie without a completed script. In story driven games, the script helps define what the scenes need to look like, who the actors are going to be, and ultimately, dictates what assets need to be created to properly tell the story. If you are working on a budget or tight timeline, writing the script first will help you gauge the scope of the project and the amount of work required. There will be constraints that the creative narrative needs to work around (unless you've got millions of dollars and years of production time), so it's better to identify the major costs early and either adapt the script to work around it, or plan and prepare ahead of production. Anyways, I think the costs of script writing and adapting are much less than production costs, so you should try to write your script as soon as you can and know what constraints you're working within and adapt the script accordingly.

One way to go about it. 

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On 9/7/2017 at 4:47 AM, Matthew Birdzell said:

How do most game devs create their narrative rich games? Is it combinations of predefined narratives before production? Or do they write as production goes, making refinements and edits along the way, until they arrive at what they think works best?

even if you say you're going to have a 'pre-defined' story rarely doesn't one stick to its roots till the end. I usually go with a template I created early but its bound to change as the dev proceeds. this is because we always tend to a see a little bit ahead of us while we write and sometime we do forget our limitations.

Pre-defined is always the way to go because you will have a certain depth to your world and you won't fill like you're blankly filling in the gaps. 

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