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How to write down open world Story?

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#1 tortelini66   Members   


Posted 01 November 2013 - 03:35 PM

Hey Guys,

this is my first post in this forum, so please don't be too strict with me. Also I hope that you can understand me, english is not my native language and I am still learning it.

I hope this is the right section for my topic. If not, I hope someone can move it to the right place.

But now my question.

I finished a few little game projects in the last years by just taking some notes of what the game should be about and other key data. That worked out perfectly, but now I am working on a much much bigger project. It may be a little too big for me, but if I can't finish it, that is not so bad, because I am doing it to learn things.

So this is the first time I have to write a full Game Design Document. And I am struggling at the Story part. The game is an open world game, and the player starts with nothing than a little hint that leads to the main story. But the Player don't has to follow that hint. He can talk with other npc's experiencing other adventures. He can even turn into a bad guy so I don't know what the player will do and when he will do it.

So how the hell do I write that story down? Is there a common system for Storys like mine?


I hope you can help me.


Best regards,


#2 sunandshadow   Members   


Posted 01 November 2013 - 04:02 PM

Usually there are multiple quest chains or plot threads.  Skyrim is an example where the quest chains can be seen in the wiki, complete with the internal numbers of the different steps.  Typically the chain gets a number, then each step gets a number, like: AR550.110 Usually each step is tied to an NPC or other interactable object, which in turn is tied to a location (unless it's a random loot a monster can drop).  So, you can group the quest chains by where they can be started if you need some way to organize them.  If there is a linear overall plot or one with only a few branches this can be considered the first quest chain, and it's used as the game's basic timeline.  As the player accomplishes steps in this chain it often changes things in the whole world, from what NPC's gossip about to what monsters spawn where and whether a setting uses version 1 graphics or version 2 graphics.

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.

#3 DecadeDesign   Members   


Posted 06 November 2013 - 04:44 PM

Figure out your main quest first, the main story line. If it is very very big, then the rest of the world will likely somehow be involved. Ie, if the story is about evil monsters that have been coming down from the mountains lately, nearly everyone will be trying to do something about it. Maybe you have a quest line about a guy trying to open a mine in order to sell iron for armor.


So first, figure out your main quest. Then figure out all related quests that might occur because of this. 


Then make your map with all your locations. A lot of side missions will be locations specific. 


Write outlines of al different quests separately and choose a location for each. Some quests will be dependent n having completed previous ones. Others will not. Any conditionals like that need to be written down.


Write everything!

Solve puzzles and defeat enemies by creating Life.


Sprout's Tale- 2.5D Platform Adventure



#4 AaronWizardstar   Members   


Posted 13 November 2013 - 06:56 PM

In your typical open world game there are several triggers" (people, signs, etc.) scattered around the world that the player can use to start a plot thread, or "quest" as many would call it. The quest's plot would be advanced by the player's actions. Some quests could have branching, where the player can do different things to do get different outcomes in the quest's plot. Quests may also change the world some way, which may include the availability of other quests.


For your example, you would write several stories, each triggered from a different place in the world. One of these stories is the main story, and the player finds it by following the hint given at the beginning. One other story/quest may be the one that starts the player on the path of becoming the bad guy.

#5 randisking   Members   


Posted 01 December 2013 - 10:29 PM

Write a skeleton of a story that suggests the story given the player sticking strictly to the main story path. Then write diverging trees off of this path to indicate other choices the player may make at given intervals in the story. Then you can decide how "open" you will allow the game; will you let the player completely skip the main story or will there be some point at which you hand over the reigns to them. As can be seen in a game like Skyrim, sometimes too much choice and freedom can actually slow a story down. Does it still make for an enjoyable game? Sure, but there is something to be said for pulling the player back into a story at a certain point, as even Skyrim attempts to do at times with events such as a dragon coming down from the sky to pull you into conflict.


I'm not saying it's wrong to make the story optional, but I'm saying think about how much you will allow the player to stray and adjust your game's story accordingly.

#6 Gedalya   Members   


Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:54 AM

Learn from game design: "if you cant describe a game in one sentence, its too complex" the same applies to a story. You need to know your genre for both, and if you want to write a story, you need to first read a whole hell of a lot of it.


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