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ShermanOaksGames

First time writer here.

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Posted (edited)

Hey everyone!

First time writer here. It's also my first time posting on this forum.
So basically, what's been going on is that I decided to make a game with my friend and we're getting way in over our heads. We're making a game about choices and we want them to have a great effect on the outcome of the story. Is there anyone here who has a lot of experience with this? I started writing out possible outcomes for scripts, but I feel like I'm going to have to write scripts the size of books if I keep splitting up the storylines. 

Thanks in advance!
Matteo
 

Edited by ShermanOaksGames

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3 hours ago, ShermanOaksGames said:

I'm going to have to write scripts the size of books if I keep splitting up the storylines. 

That should tell you that you shouldn't split it up too much. And now you're finding out why most story games give users limited interaction options - why some dialog choices bring the user back to a limited number of through-lines. 

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Hi Matteo,

A local library (or Amazon) should have some Choose Your Adventure books that you could check out. If you flip through them you could pretty easily document how many storylines they used to get some general ideas. Like Tom said, very often they route to the same set of pages. Since your game is not on paper and you have plenty of storage available, you could re-use some storylines and modify small parts of them to cut down on the writing load.

Also keep in mind that while you may end up writing scripts the size of books, that could be what keeps your players going back in for more. Once they're routed to a storyline they've already experienced, you run the risk of them abandoning it. 

Good luck!

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You may find Sam Kabo Ashwell's Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games useful.

It explains structures like this:

timecaveb.png

versus this:

bottlebranch.png

and others.

Choice is often an illusion. You can enhance the player's feeling of choice by adding "decorator" or side-note nodes that acknowledge the player's past decisions and then immediately return to the main thread.

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Thanks for the advice! The basic idea of the game is that we have different endings. As it is a short game, we want people to play it over and over to get every ending. I wouldn't want people to stop playing because I reused some storylines. I'll have a long think about it, though, because it would be way easier to use to second structure mentioned above. What do you think? Would you play a game a few times if you knew you'd have some parts that are the same?

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1 hour ago, ShermanOaksGames said:

Would you play a game a few times if you knew you'd have some parts that are the same?

Sure. I've replayed sandbox games that have the same story every time, just to see how my player actions affect the emergent nature of the game. And plenty of people replay games like Bioware's RPGs multiple times to romance different companions even though the main storyline is basically the same.

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Some parts the same, yes, but it really depends on how frequently they show up. You said it's a short game, so if you're seeing the exact same stuff 25% of the time, that's a lot. Small variants to show that something you did had an affect on the story (like Tony Li mentioned above) would go a long way in keeping the user engaged.

If it's a challenge of coming up with different storylines, maybe consider intertwining some from different points of view. For example, in one playthrough, you could get in an argument and shoot someone - then grab a hostage and go on the run, deciding whether or not to explore a relationship with the hostage. In another, your best friend was shot and the girlfriend you were about to break up with was taken hostage. Same story, so there would be plenty of writing overlap - but shown from different points of view. That would cut down on the amount needed, and also make for some compelling replayability. 

If it's just a matter of writing a ton of content being a daunting task, I'd just say that the more you write, the better it will turn out and you'll be very happy in the end with any extra effort put in. 

 

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5 hours ago, ShermanOaksGames said:

Would you play a game a few times if you knew you'd have some parts that are the same?

Yes. I did that with Beyond Two Souls. Wanted to see all the endings.

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I like the multiple points of view thing a lot. However, we want people to really get involved with the main character. We've discussed doing multiple points of view, but it's just too difficult for the programmer to do at this point. 
Also, we've decided to use a points system. That means that when you talk to people or interact with the environment, you get awarded points when you make the right choice. You can also get points taken away from you. In the end, that decides if a person or thing will like you/help you out/not be in the game anymore. You get a few points for a small choice, but a lot of points for crucial choices. 
Thanks for the response, guys! I really appreciate it. 

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It reminds me of Monkey Island, for example. My advice is to play games like that for a while. They will bring you a lot of ideas to work on it.

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