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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Story writing tips for games

Story telling is very important in games. A lot of award winning games these days, such as the Mass Effect, Bioshock and Fallout franchises, Heavy Rain, Alan Wake tells great stories. And of course, to tell a great story, one must also design a great story for it too.
You can’t just depends entirely on the “awesome gameplay idea” you thought you had for your game and ditch out the story elements. Which was a huge mistake that I just realized a while ago while designing Second Sights.


One big problem with the current design of Second Sights is that, it has no story. The only part which I’ll ever consider to be a story is the prologue cutscene, which kinda design to tell the story of the origins of the main character through a series of comic panels and BGM. As soon as the prologue cutscene finished being play, the game will start and the main character’s sole mission is to escape the facility where he’s being held at… and that’s all.

I’ve done some research on the topic of writing a (good enough) story for your, and here’s an article by John Sutherland, entitled: “What Every Game Developer Needs to Know about Story”. Link from Gamasutra: http://bit.ly/tZK2a

And here’s a little tip on a the basic structure of a game story that the author thinks everyone should keep an eye on:
  • First, there’s a protagonist, a hero.
  • His or her world is thrown out of order by an inciting incident.
  • gap opens up between the hero and an orderly life.
  • The hero tries the normal, conservative action to overcome the gap. It fails. The world pushes back too hard.
  • The hero then has to take a risk to overcome the obstacles that are pushing back.
  • Then there is a reversal. Something new happens, or the hero learns something she didn’t know before, and the world is out of whack again. A second gap has opened up.
  • The hero has to take a greater risk to overcome the second gap.
  • After overcoming the second gap, there is another reversal, opening a third gap.
  • The hero has to take the greatest risk of all to overcome this gap and get to that object of desire, which is usually an orderly life.

So the new story of Second Sights will be redesigned based upon this… which I thought was actually quite good, because that’s exactly how most game stories are like.

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