Author Topic: How I Write Plots [Guide]  (Read 80 times)

Offline 7grant2

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How I Write Plots [Guide]
« on: June 11, 2013, 03:35 pm »
I see, every now and then, people confused on how to approach making a plot for their game. They aren't sure how the story line should go and what direction it should take once the basic premise is down. Some aren't even sure what premise they want, or how to start writing a plot in general.

Personally, I consider Legend my greatest plot driven game to this date, and I've learned a lot before, during, and after making Legend so that I may give a word of advice to those who wish to make a plot with depth and interest.

[1] Think of Themes you would like to Show
By themes, I mean different core ideas on what your story focuses about. Before you even begin writing your plot, you need to heavily consider the tone you want it to convey and the meanings behind it.

Lets say you want to explore the idea of a weak person becoming strong; you will want a plot that shows that the current character is weak and show how he progressively gets stronger. 

Lets say you want to explore the idea of that war is a bad thing. How would you show that theme? You would think about adding much tragedy to the character and to those around him to really give war a bad look.

Knowing what kind of theme and ideas you want to base your plot around will help you create the foundation for your plot.

[2] Tie Gameplay in with Plot
The worst, the absolute worst way to give plot is by placing a bunch of words in the description box and say "this is the plot!". By doing this, you are telling the player of the game what the plot is, you aren't showing them.

In order to show them, you have to tie in gameplay with plot because the two connected very strongly. Instead of saying "we are in a jungle", PUT the player in the jungle by placing appropriate scenery around them. Look at the first level of Legend and you will understand how I managed to do that.

Now that we have lots of potential with the Platformer and other game creators, you can do this much more effectively. The key to a great game is to use as few words as possible when describing the plot in game. If you tell the player what is happening all the time, it breaks the immersing nature of a game. If you can guide the player to show what is happening, that will make for a much more interesting plot-driven game.

[3] Give a reason to Care
Ok, so now that you have the foundation of your game, including themes, you will want to give the player a reason to care about such a plot. You must need tension to attract attention. If a plot goes no where and stagnates, it leaves the player of the game to completely disregard the plot and just play the game as nothing more than that.

To create tension, you have to introduce the player to your game-universe. There are LOTS of ways to do this, and it doesn't have to mean that the player has to care about the main character either. Give the characters a reason to be there other than to be there.

[4] Start with a Bang, end with an Explosion
Think about the latest movie you watched, what do you remember? Chances are you remember the beginning, a few scenes here and there in the middle, and the end. The beginning and end are the two most essential components to your story.

The beginning should have a hook of some sorts and should introduce the entire tone, mood, and feeling of the game in an extremely short amount of time. It should have a resounding impact for the rest of the game as its the first impression a player recives when playing the game.

Here are some examples of the first lines in great literature: http://blog.shmoop.com/2010/07/13/best-opening-lines-literature/
In a very short time, these books introduce to how the book is going to play out, whether you recognize that immediately or not.

If you give off a bad impression, people might have too low of expectations to continue a game. If you give off the wrong impression, people will have different expectations and be disappointing in what you give them. In other words, don't mess up your beginning.

The ending should have a considerable profound impact upon the player. They have faced your challenges, they have overcame your obstacles, and they have crawled to the final depths of your game; what do you give them? This is your game, and you should end the game how you believe it should it, but you want it to be very dramatic; so dramatic, that when the player finished it, they sit there staring at the computer screen in silence, just soaking in everything they played as though they finished a massive buffet.

By "dramatic" I don't mean it has to have explosion and hot women and money falling from the sky as the character rides Raptor Jesus. What I mean is that the ending should be like the conclusion of an argument. You gave your points, you listed your reasons why, you fought for them, and now you must wrap up your essay. Conclude your game as though you would conclude an essay - making it appropriate to everything the game already has offered.

I'm not sure if many of you caught it, but Legend has an very, very, very impacting ending. [SPOILER] There are 2 ways you can beat the game; if you made some choice earlier in the game, you will fall down a giant pit that seems to last a long time. If you make the other option for the choice, you will leave the tunnel into a bright sky, climbing stairs into a white door in the sky. [SPOILER END]

Without even placing words at the ending, I, in my eyes, managed to conclude the game exactly how I imagined it, being dramatic in its own way.




[5] Start off with an Idea - Let it Grow
Fun Fact: Did you know that Legend's original plot was going to involve the character stumbling across hidden powers in a cave then battling mercenaries then going into a massive spaceship that threatens to destroy the Earth with those powers?

This is a simple one, as time goes on, you will have new ideas for your plot during making your game - do not ignore them. If you stick to your original plot and don't stray from it, it will be as though you are starving it. Continue to feed different ideas into the plot; grab your eraser, change things around, and eventually you will create something that you consider a masterpiece.

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This guide is still a bit rough, but I hope it helps those out who read it!