I have some small amount of experience writing stories, some great amount of running rpg’s, but no experience writing games.
So my question is to those of you who have. How do you go about writing a computer games ‘story’?
As I see it from my neophyte view there are a few approaches feasible.
1) Write it like it’s a normal story to be followed in a linear fashion, then figure out a way to keep the player on the right path…
2) Write it in a branching format so the player has a couple ends they can arrive at, depending on their decisions along the way.
3) Write it more open, creating environments and characters, then determine their motivations and goals work out a system by which their interactions can be determined in the game creating a free flowing story.
Obviously the first allows far more control and ensures the story you envision is the one seen/experienced by the player. But it is also the most confining for the player.
The second seems a good compromise, especially if you have several branches allowing for multiple endings and perhaps even allowing players to determine their role as antagonist or hero.
The third would leave the player with the most freedom by far, allowing them to go in any one of several directions, but perhaps not giving enough direction to them. For some players this is perfect for others it would be hell. The challenge to the writer though is immense. You have to so fully understand and flesh out the elements that the game can handle a multitude of possible outcomes along the way, yet at the same time try and ensue that things proceed in some sort of fashion leading to something other than pure chaos.
Am I missing any major categories? And does anyone have any opinions as to which method is better for particular game types or story genre’s? Thoughts? Anyone?
Pick up the book "Developer''s Guide to Computer Game Design". Contrary to what the title says, the book in nearly completly about writing interactive fiction, since that is what the author is most into.
That said, I think your points are valid. When you branch in your story, make sure each branch is meaningful. The best example I can give is in FF3(US) when your given the choice of waiting on the ninja, Shadow, in the mountain area, or leaving him so that you don''t die. If you leave, he won''t be available through the rest of the game.
Good luck with your writing. Hope it turns out well.