Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby qubodup » 28 Feb 2011, 15:26


I'm playing with the idea of suggesting an approach to developing PARPG's plot/story by defining key elements of the story in the order in which it is likely to be experienced by the player character, then adding connecting bits and plot.

I know nothing of writing though.*

Does anybody have experience with writing plot/story for video games? How to get started?
Can anybody share their knowledge about writing plot/story in a team? In a team that is connected digitally only?

*this is probably the only thing I know about writing:
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Re: Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby Julius » 28 Feb 2011, 17:34

First thing for a FOSS game... think of a story more or less impossible to do in a commercial game ;)
I mean...if we have the freedom to chose controversial, artistic, philosophical etc. topics we should use it for the advancement of human thought!

Death to stupid commercial mainstream story lines :D
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” - Philip K. Dick
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Re: Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby KroArtem » 28 Feb 2011, 18:21

I could suggest you asking kalimgard about story writing (he is a story writer for Summoning Wars project, you can find him on their forum or in irc channel: sumwars (freenode))
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Re: Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby amuzen » 28 Feb 2011, 18:24

I'm still learning but my current sentiment is that if you want to write a decent story, the conflict of the story is of utmost importance. The conflict has a major role in defining the objective of the game, what themes there are, how the tension will build, what kind of characters exists and what motives they'll have. I think that it's one of the very first things that you should decide and document.

Another thing I consider important is to think why things happen. Why does the conflict exist? Why do characters act like they do? Why should the player complete the objectives? Showing the reasons and motives behind events and actions can add to the depth of the story. The reasons and motives, in addition to the conflict as a whole, also relate to what kind of additions will be consistent so I think it's important to document them well if you want your teamwork to work.

I can't say that I have done cooperative writing but my gut feeling is that that you should put a lot of effort into documentation. If you don't provide sufficient details to others about why you chose to take the story to a particular direction, it'll be hard to extend the part of the story or smoothly connect other parts to it. Similarly, if you don't document the personalities of the characters in detail, you risk them losing the personality as no one is sure how they should behave. Finally, failing to document the conflict would likely lead to a situation that no one has any idea what's happening. :p
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Re: Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby xahodo » 31 Aug 2011, 20:41

First you want to figure out what your setting is and what's going on. After that you want to figure out who the participants are and what their stake is in the story.

After you've figured out the basic story, you start off by fleshing out the setting.

Think about things like: tech level (transportation, weaponry, construction and communication), magic (how strong?), telepathy (how strong?), environment, society and economics.

Once you've got the setting fleshed out, you can flesh out the entities that have a stake in your story. What do they want? Why do they want it? What are their means to achieve it? And what hinders them from achieving it? What is their personality? Appearance? What is the entity's relation to the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s)?

At this point you can start writing your "triggers" for all the entities in the game. It should also be obvious what their attitude is to the PC under certain conditions.

It would be handy to define certain settings in which you are sure the character can be encountered. Scenes should develop quite easily and naturally at this point.

Final hint: In the first scene, you put the gun on the table. In the second scene you pick it up. In the third scene you fire it.

btw: this comes from an experienced gamemaster (p&p rpg's) and who has written and run stories for RPGs.
A few things I learned there:
  • Think of 5 solutions and your players will think of solutions 6, 7 and 8. Allow 6, 7 and 8 to be implemented too... somehow.
  • Don't overdo it, keep things clear and simple, but do challenge your players.
  • Don't rush it, unless the story requires it.
  • Give the players the idea they are in control (don't railroad).
  • The world should have events independent of the players, this creates incentive to act.
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Re: Team-based Game Plot/Story Development

Postby eugeneloza » 22 Sep 2014, 21:25

Hmm... I do not have experience in plot-writing teamwork. But I can suggest that even more than a personal plot-writing it will require a 'universe'.
A 'universe' in my idea is a set of near-game concept art. That is from "what this world is" to "what this specific item do". This can easily be done in a team if roles are distributed wisely.
There are two different ways of developing a 'universe': deductive and inductive.
Inductive method will go up from details to some general conclusions. The problem of this method is that it creates inconsistent or contradictory stories.
Deductive method will descend from global concept to required details. The problem of this method is that it requires a lot of 'unused' lore work which steals efforts from the game material itself.
I prefer combination of the two. To have a good overall 'global' idea of what the universe is, some major history (deductive path), which are usually low on detail. And an inductive part at the detail level I need, which then grows into some upper-level conclusions. This path often requires re-evaluation of the 'global' idea as new details show up, but it creates interesting and not very consistent (as the life is) stories. Some motives and events I deliberately leave unexplained in the concept, however this is rather an exception.
As soon as there are some global entries, team members may separately work on each of them i.e. writing fictional background for characters, describing items, modelling locations.
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