1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Writing for a Game

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Roddy, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    G’day folks. Brand new to the forum, first post. Like many writers, I have many projects on the go, a major one for me is this: a good friend of mine, a programming and IT guru, has been working on creating and developing his own epic fantasy game for the last 4-5 years. About a year and a half ago he came to me and asked if I could write the full storyline for it. Obviously it’s always a work in progress, but I finished a first draft, kinda in treatment form, about 3 months ago. I had, and continue to have, an absolute ball working on it, and we are both extremely happy with what we’ve come up with so far.
    Obviously we’ve got big plans for it, I have started planning the novelisation of it, we’d love to do a movie of it etc etc.
    I was hoping there might be people out there who write story lines for games, who may have tips and strategies on game story development, what needs to be done to work the story into the game and the game into the story, and anything else I might need to know. I’ve written a debut novel, with a second one on the way, I’ve written many short stories, I’ve written screenplays, one of which was made into a short film, and I have a second short film on the way, but this is my very first game.
    Anyone out there?
     
    Devor likes this.
  2. MrBrightsider

    MrBrightsider Apprentice

    17
    13
    3
    Hey Roddy! Welcome to the forums. I'm pretty new myself, but I'm a huge fan of storytelling in video games, and figured I'd at least drop my two cents.

    One of the MAJOR advantages to telling a story via a video game is that the player is controlling the story. They're actively advancing it, and are personally responsible for the outcome. Whereas a book you're sort of a ghost experiencing a story, with a video game, you're making the story happen. That gives creators a lot of room to impact the player with their story twists, reveals, and messages. I can't honestly site a better source than Undertale, where, despite its horrible fanbase, the game was able to move thousands of people--including me--to manly (or not so manly) tears. There's something about being in control of the protagonist that puts you that much more inside their head, knowing that you are responsible for the actions they take. If you haven't played Undertale, and want a quick 5 hour crash course on how to make your player feel real feelings, I'd highly recommend it. Final Fantasy 10 hit me hard as a kid, too, because unlike a novel, you as a player are physically investing time and effort into the story--when the protagonist loses, you lose too. When the protagonist fails, you fail also. If it turns out that the protagonist's works were all for naught, it means that you, the player--all the work and effort and time you've spent trying to directly help the protagonist achieve his goals--your work is also for naught. And if your protagonist wins at the end of the game, it's your victory.

    I can't speak for game story writing directly, as I've never done it, but nothing, nothing is more satisfying than when, at the end of the game, the protagonist's goals and my goals are perfectly aligned--and then achieved. It's an incredible feeling.
     
    Black Dragon and Roddy like this.
  3. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    Excellent tips and info, I’ll keep that very much in mind, thanks!!
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,258
    2,803
    313
    The biggest challenge to telling a good story in a video game is the way it has to interact with the gameplay mechanics. The decisions represent a constant series of tradeoffs. Players want to get right into the gameplay. So if the game involves fighting and spellcasting, the story has to provide ample reason for them to do it pretty much right away. The more that players get to create their own character, the more it chips away your freedom in giving them a backstory. If they get to pick their own gender, that affects their romance options and dialogues. If they get to pick a skin color, suddenly they're orphans, to explain why it doesn't match with their parents (or they don't have any family or backstory). If they pick their own "class" or skills or however it works for this game, it waters down your ability to involve training and development as part of the storyline.

    But what kind of game and story are you creating?
     
    Roddy likes this.
  5. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    This is exactly the type of discussion I wanted to get into here. How do you overcome these challenges?

    It's a violent, bloodthirsty combat game, with a disparate band of warriors with super powers, undertaking an epic mission across two worlds, and coming up against all manner of difficulties and vile creatures that try to stop them.
     
  6. yli

    yli Acolyte

    8
    6
    3
    Game writer here:

    First, I'm obligated to warn you that writing for games sucks, and that you should immediately cease all work on whatever game projects you're involved in, or plan to be involved in. In my experience, nobody should have to suffer through the torture of writing for games.

    But, I doubt I'll be able to convince you to see reason, so here are a few pointers just in case you decide to stay on this path:

    - Make sure to regularly work with the other members of your team. The artists are a given, since they are the ones who will make your narrative come to life. You will also have to work with the programmers and game designers to make sure that any narrative elements are within the technical capabilities of the game itself, and won't somehow interfere with gameplay mechanics. Lastly, you need to work with the game's producers to determine the game's budget, which will in turn, determine the scope of your narrative.

    - As other have said, you want to keep your narrative loose and free of constraints, since your medium is interactive and you want to give players a choice. However, don't make everything too open ended. While freedom and sandbox gameplay is nice, you significantly increase the game's budget every time you fork the narrative.

    -Lastly, you're writing for a visual medium, so be sure to include environmental cues in your storytelling as well. A very basic example would be to make horror games very dark and dimly lit, to increase the foreboding atmosphere.
     
    Roddy and CupofJoe like this.
  7. yli

    yli Acolyte

    8
    6
    3
    Will this be your first game? Is this game the first one the producers are developing?
     
    Roddy likes this.
  8. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    Firstly, thank you so much for the tips, it's muchly appreciated. Yes it is my first game. My mate has done a number of smaller games previously, but this is the first of this magnitude for him. He's been working on it alone, for probably an average of 50 hours a week, for more than 5 years. And he's nowhere near finished. He is completely obsessed. At some stage he will probably have to farm some of the work out to others, but he doesn't feel he is at that stage yet.

    We are best mates, we live 10 mins walk from each other and we played in a band together for 6 years too, so we get together on a very regular basis to work on it, and are in at least weekly contact on email and Messenger. It's working well so far. Whenever we get together, the creative juices flow like a mighty river, it's really quite astonishing. I am LOVING the process. Whether it actually goes anywhere, commercially, is an entirely different story altogether, of course. We're not too bothered about that, we're just enjoying the ride.

    I understand your warning completely. The thing is, the entire skeleton of the story of the game, end to end, is done. Plus we have been adding a fair wack of meat to those bones in the last few months. Our (pipe?) dream is to make an entire world and even universe around it, the game, then sequels, like I said I'm writing the book, obviously we'd love to make it into a movie one day, and so on and so forth.

    It's funny you say that about the visual medium, the entire premise of the story is based around the fact that one of the worlds on which the story is based gets plunged into perpetual darkness and cold, so it is a very dark, forboding and bleak setting naturally. Then the characters travel to a new world which is the complete opposite, in perpetual daylight, very bright, sunny, green (which of course causes issues of its own) and so on, the contrast is headspinning.

    Thanks again. Any more information would be amazing.
     
  9. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    The very first thing I did when he asked me to write the story was draw a map. This is what I came up with...
    (I did it scratched out on paper and he rendered like this. We've added further detail to it now. He has put this up on a few game-development sites and forums, and people have made comments like 'wow, I will play the shit out of that game when it's ready!', which was obviously very encouraging)

    upload_2019-2-2_11-50-9.png
     
    Annoyingkid likes this.
  10. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    Do you work off a template and/or a flowchart? If so, which one?
     
  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,258
    2,803
    313
    Roddy likes this.
  12. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Mystagogue

    310
    106
    43
    Don't listen to doubters. You're already ahead of 99% of writers who want to write for video games by having a game designer friend and by actually writing instead of just talking a good game. At the end of the day, do we want the creative industries to grow at the indie level or not? If we do, lets tell people to rise to the challenge, not to quit and do something else. Alot of comic writers get this warning too and it sucks!
     
    Roddy likes this.
  13. Roddy

    Roddy Apprentice

    10
    2
    3
    Great stuff, thanks folks!
     
Loading...

Share This Page