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Bakkerbaard

Adventure Game Story Writing

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Hello!

I am in the process of writing (read: kicking an idea around untill it submits) a story to be turned into an adventure game and looking at the flowchart I'm building in my own special way, the whole thing is starting to look a little... "talky". I mean, lots of conversation and by comparison very little puzzling. While all this conversation still serves it's purpose, it brings to me the question: How do I determine how long a scene, or section, lasts?

I am aware that on a bigger scale the length of the game will depend on how much time it takes before someone grabs a walkthrough, but my set scenes should always be the length it takes to sit through them. How will I know that length?

 

While I'm at it: I'm doing this flowchart in draw.io. I chose it because it does flowcharts and is free (I'm not against paying for software, but I am against paying for something that doesn't have a high life expectancy) and I was pretty much done looking. If there's anything out there that would be better and still free I'd like to hear about it.

Also, I know there's a specific section for adventure game writing, but since my crowning achievement in adventure game development is "I finished Monkey Island without a walkthrough!" I figure For Beginners would be the best place to post first.

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4 hours ago, Bakkerbaard said:

Also, I know there's a specific section for adventure game writing, but since my crowning achievement in adventure game development is "I finished Monkey Island without a walkthrough!" I figure For Beginners would be the best place to post first.

That's arguable and reasonable. Nevertheless, I'm moving it to Writing. You'll get the best answers from the writers who don't visit For Beginners.

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Posted (edited)

There's nothing wrong with talky as long as it's fun.

Here are some thoughts:

For pacing, consider 20-minute sequences (puzzles or story events), give or take. (Notice that RPG side quests are usually this long.) Ultimately, make it just long enough to engage the player, give them a sense of challenge and accomplishment without dragging on, and entice them to tackle the next sequence.

You could structure it like film (although games are not film), where each sequence has its own setup, conflict, and resolution, and is composed of a handful of scenes, each of which moves the sequence forward by introducing a meaningful change, and where each scene is composed of beats, which are individual decisions such as picking up a cooking pot or climbing into a cannon. In a game, player actions drive most beats. Unlike film, you'll have to get a feel for how long the player will take on each beat. Similarly, test your larger-scale puzzles so people can solve them within 20 minutes to keep them from reaching for a walkthrough.

 

If you ever decide to invest in a paid product to replace draw.io, take a look at articy:draft. It's really nice, and it comes with a few example projects including a Maniac Mansion-style adventure game project. (It's also 30% off on Steam right now.) You could also try Twine, which is free. Twine is a branching story tool, but you can use it like a flowchart program.

Edited by Tony Li

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17 hours ago, Tony Li said:

...such as picking up a cooking pot or climbing into a cannon....

Yeah, I got that reference alright.

Thanks for the tips!

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