Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

 
Advanced search

1358998 Posts in 63135 Topics- by 54983 Members - Latest Member: Veizyr

April 18, 2019, 11:14:45 AM

Need hosting? Check out Digital Ocean
(more details in this thread)
TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallForum IssuesArchived subforums (read only)CreativeWritingRPG Writing
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: RPG Writing  (Read 2742 times)
Elsaess
Level 0
**



View Profile
« on: January 06, 2016, 03:57:11 AM »

I'll be starting a new RPG project in the coming months. Could we get a pool of posters talking about methods of scriptwriting for this genre? Any good guides?

I'm turning a novel into an RPG, so my characters and plot points are laid out. It's the RPG format, in particular, to which I want to transliterate.

<3
Logged
Dinghai
Level 0
**


Have you seen it?


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2016, 10:04:10 PM »

The answer is to get a notebook, and make it up as you go along. As you write the dialogue, also draw out the maps that form the game world. Eventually you'll like what you have and if you don't you will start over again and again.
Logged

I like games.
Elsaess
Level 0
**



View Profile
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 06:21:35 AM »

Simplest advice is often the best! I will do this.

<3
Logged
Jordgubben
Level 2
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2016, 07:29:51 AM »

This is an interesting topic. In practice there are "RPG" genres. Is this an "eastern" (linear plot, teenagers kill god with the power of friendship) or "western" (sandbox, cannibalism perk) RPG? Your approach to story crafting is  going to vary a lot depending on what your making.

(I am not sure if I just prevented or started the obligatory JRPG/WRPG debate  Shrug)
Logged

WheatThinEthan
Level 0
**


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2016, 06:24:26 PM »

I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but I use Notepad++ for my script writing. You can change the language settings so that you can collapse text into sections, which really helps for dividing out NPCs and story pieces, not to mention the organization benefits in general. It's not like true script writing, that's for sure, but I found it to be the best resource nonetheless.
Logged
arzi42
Level 0
**


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2016, 12:13:38 AM »

Is is a published novel? Are you targeting your game at people who already have read the novel? If so, you're going to run into trouble is potential spoilers or just the player already knowing the story, which can be a problem in a narrative heavy genre such as RPG. If not, are you sure the novels plot really fits the needs of an RPG? Traditionally you need a lot of combat in an RPG, and in a novel that maybe a problem. You also can't take agency out of the player's hands and it's usually not a good idea to make the main character do stupid things, which is a common plot device in novels, but probably frustrates the players in a game. Have you considered taking the characters and the locations from the book and using them to tell a new story?

RPGs are too different from each other to for any very specific advice to be applicable, but usually you'll want to avoid too much text in a single screen. You'll also need to figure out how to make everything fit with the art budget. You'll probably need to take care to not have too many characters and locations and not have the story involve events you can't show visually. I always wanted to have a steampunk dragon in Rimelands, but we didn't have the budget Sad

In Rimelands I also tried to write too intricate a story, which we didn't have the resources to portray properly, and it left the resulting narrative crippled. Keep it simple and work with the needs of the gameplay.

As with any other elements of a game, you can't really judge how well the story works until you see it in the game - and there will be things you need to change. You'll need to work out how to deal with the need to change, add or remove characters, events or locations during production. Watch people who know nothing about the game and the story and see how they understand it.

I'm sorry if this sounds too negative, but writing RPGs is HARD. But it's also really fun, so good luck!

Logged
Elsaess
Level 0
**



View Profile
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2016, 05:41:16 AM »

Some really good points here.

With regard to arzi42's first point, I did end up taking a specific set of characters from the novel and drawing out a new, more RPG-friendly plot.

My first run around I tried to directly transliterate the novel into a series of RPG situations, but it became a bit unwieldy.

Right now I've got something much smaller, but more focused.

Very good point that characters in literature tend to do stupid things, whereas that would be frustrating for a player.
Logged
JWK5
Level 9
****


A fool with a tool is an artist.


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2016, 08:42:02 AM »

You're probably going to want to write it all out more akin to a comic script or movie script, where your primary focus is establishing what the artists and programmers need to know to render the scene. If you're handling that part yourself then you can pretty much cobble it together in any manner you like (I basically like to write mine out in a mangled mess of storyboards and comic panels with graffiti and notes scribbled up the sides). Unless you're working with a company with specific ideas on how they need things written out, really all that matters is laying out what it is that needs to be known in a manner that is easily understandable for whoever it is that needs to know it.

The main thing is to realize that with writing a traditional RPG (JRPG or WRPG) you're not really writing a full-on story so much as you are writing "pockets" of story between spits of gameplay action. The story itself primarily gives context to the action (and ideally the action in turn lends context to the story). You're going to want to write in a more reactive manner, where the plot and story are happening in response to the player's progress rather than dictating it as you would experience it in a novel.

Maybe a good way to think of it is "key frames" in animation. You create the major events and have the "game" fill in what happens between.


Here's some old game notes and guideline stuff of mine, maybe they will be of use:



Logged

My Art Tutorials:
 Here

"Today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over lesser men." - Miyamoto Musashi
Elsaess
Level 0
**



View Profile
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2016, 02:15:46 PM »

JWK5, this is extremely helpful. Thank you for posting this Smiley

One struggle I experienced was bringing in player agency to what had been a static plot. Like you say, a novel dictates what happens; a game requires player input.

My original solution to this was to include branching dialogue, but I scrapped this because it felt like a tired device. I think of games like The Last of Us, which was emotionally resonant despite not giving the player any choice in the development of Joel and Ellie's relationship or in the plot. Therefore I decided to allow agency in a way that would not affect the outcome like it would in, say, a Telltale game.

I am still developing the player agency, but so far it revolves around empathy and allowing the two major characters to share emotions. This was heavily influenced by the games of Robert Yang, which I really recommend. They often deal in issues like boundaries or care.
Logged
JWK5
Level 9
****


A fool with a tool is an artist.


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2016, 02:29:24 PM »

We are social creatures, we primarily look for validation in the people around us. Whether or not the player has 50 dialog options or a dozen ways to change the plot at any given time is almost irrelevant in the face of whether or not the player feels like what they've done resonates with the world around them.

Think of how many RPGs turn you into an errand boy and you really could care less about the task outside of the cheap rewards it offers because it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's not like helping the NPC has any real meaningful outcome on the NPC's life, he just spouts a "thank you" one-liner for the rest of eternity and that's that *cough*Skyrim*cough*. It's those parts in the story where we've done something and we see it has a powerful impact on not just the story but the characters themselves that we really feel the weight of our actions.

For being an early SNES game, Final Fantasy 4 (2 US) had a lot of emotional punch thanks to the way we are given little moments of vulnerability that reflect the gravity of what we are doing. Rosa shows concern for Cecil and the dark path he is being drawn into, Cecil himself begins to doubt the things he is doing and expresses worry to Kain. There is a whole dynamic that develops between the three. Cecil feels guilt for what he's wrought upon Rydia and feels compelled to protect her and we see her blossom into a capable hero herself. The game makes sure all our story-centric actions carry an emotional, palpable weight. We see humanity reflected in our efforts again and again in the game and it all feels very personal even though we are largely locked to a set path with little option in the overall outcomes.

Choice is best when it puts a person's humanity into question and reveals who they are through the reflection of themselves they see in the consequences of their actions. Whether you give a lot of choice, a little choice, or no choice at all consider heavily what the stakes are. If the stakes are too low or impersonal chances are the player will not care, it will just be another grind for rewards and that's it. Let the stakes resonate for a while, the more ripples we see our actions create the more meaningful taking action is going to feel in the game.

This is an interactive medium so you should be writing a tale about meaningful interaction if you really want the player to take away something meaningful from it all.




P.S. I actually love Skyrim but its quests do all blur together after a while.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 02:38:05 PM by JWK5 » Logged

My Art Tutorials:
 Here

"Today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over lesser men." - Miyamoto Musashi
Elsaess
Level 0
**



View Profile
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2016, 02:32:01 AM »

JWK5, another excellent post. Thank you Smiley

I think you're right that choice has to be meaningful, so fewer choices and smaller spaces might produce more of a sense of agency than large/plentiful sets of choices.

I'd like to discuss the idea of making a player complicit in a character's actions.
Rather than give a player choice, if the only choice the player has is to validate a character's actions, does it draw the player into the internal world of the character? How should one go about achieving this effect?

One example is

SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US:





The end of The Last of Us, when the player must make Joel do, well, what he does. There is a feeling of the player being complicit in this, and the player feeling guilt.






END SPOILERS FOR THE LAST OF US



Another game that deals in this is Fitz Packerton. The player has only one choice. It is not clear what the context for this choice is, but the player knows that they must perform this action.

As the context becomes clearer, the player now realises that they have been complicit in this narrative, in this character's actions. Rather than the player molding the character after their own ideological leanings, therefore, the player becomes drawn into the mind of the character. The player's own personality no longer matters, except perhaps to feel guilt or joy at joining the character.

If any of this is unclear, let me know.

An idea I'm working with in the game now is to ask the player to identify fully with the character. There is no character naming, and no choice in the narrative. There is no traditional "good" or "bad" path, only what makes sense for this character.

Does anyone have any interesting methods of drawing the player into this sense of being complicit? Forcing the player to click on certain things, or say certain things is one method.
Logged
loottheroom
Level 0
*


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2016, 10:45:19 AM »

Quote
The main thing is to realize that with writing a traditional RPG (JRPG or WRPG) you're not really writing a full-on story so much as you are writing "pockets" of story between spits of gameplay action. The story itself primarily gives context to the action (and ideally the action in turn lends context to the story). You're going to want to write in a more reactive manner, where the plot and story are happening in response to the player's progress rather than dictating it as you would experience it in a novel.

That's a really useful way of looking at it, and very clearly phrased. I'm primarily a fiction writer and making the jump to writing for games has been something of a challenge. You just opened my eyes a little bit, so thanks.
Logged
JWK5
Level 9
****


A fool with a tool is an artist.


View Profile
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2016, 12:33:22 PM »

Does anyone have any interesting methods of drawing the player into this sense of being complicit? Forcing the player to click on certain things, or say certain things is one method.
More so than any other Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy 4 (2 US) has a funny way of having the "right thing" turn out to have very questionable consequences.

Because the game allows you to move around fairly freely (while still gating you in pocket areas with only a handful of things to explore at a time) you feel like you have a certain degree control over the characters and feel like there is some degree of personal investment involved.

The game uses this personal investment to fuck with you. Cecil tries to uphold his honor in service to the king but right from the outset questions the things he is asked to do and feels guilty. The next task he is asked to do, apparently making a simple delivery, turns out to be unleashing destruction upon the town he delivers it to. After the devastation he rescues a girl from the town only to now have a conflict of honor and compassion, and making himself an enemy to the throne to keep her safe. It goes on and on throughout the game, where every shred of salvation leads to misery and every misery leads to salvation. It's a nonstop emotional roller coaster.

It's been my experience complicity is delivered best when the player has just one hand on the wheel (i.e. they move through the game horizontally while the story moves the game along vertically, the player is like a car swerving to and fro as it speeds down the road). Because you are still in control of Cecil, and almost always have a few avenues to explore, you feel like you have at least one hand on the wheel at all times and that is why when the vehicle crashes you can't help but feel a bit uncomfortable about your complicity in it all. The game is not the most deep in terms of storytelling, but I've not played many games that carry the same emotional punch it does (especially for the time in which it was created).
Logged

My Art Tutorials:
 Here

"Today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over lesser men." - Miyamoto Musashi
Nitorin
Guest
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2016, 06:34:04 PM »

You're probably going to want to write it all out more akin to a comic script or movie script, where your primary focus is establishing what the artists and programmers need to know to render the scene. If you're handling that part yourself then you can pretty much cobble it together in any manner you like (I basically like to write mine out in a mangled mess of storyboards and comic panels with graffiti and notes scribbled up the sides). Unless you're working with a company with specific ideas on how they need things written out, really all that matters is laying out what it is that needs to be known in a manner that is easily understandable for whoever it is that needs to know it.

The main thing is to realize that with writing a traditional RPG (JRPG or WRPG) you're not really writing a full-on story so much as you are writing "pockets" of story between spits of gameplay action. The story itself primarily gives context to the action (and ideally the action in turn lends context to the story). You're going to want to write in a more reactive manner, where the plot and story are happening in response to the player's progress rather than dictating it as you would experience it in a novel.

Maybe a good way to think of it is "key frames" in animation. You create the major events and have the "game" fill in what happens between.


Here's some old game notes and guideline stuff of mine, maybe they will be of use:





I loved these guidelines. Thank you. Can I translate them do portuguese and show them to other devs?
Logged
JWK5
Level 9
****


A fool with a tool is an artist.


View Profile
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2016, 06:58:31 PM »

I loved these guidelines. Thank you. Can I translate them do portuguese and show them to other devs?
Yeah, feel free.  CoffeeToast Right
Logged

My Art Tutorials:
 Here

"Today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over lesser men." - Miyamoto Musashi
Sneaky_Seal
Level 0
***



View Profile WWW
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2017, 02:35:09 PM »

Let me put in my 5 cents.

The literary base of our game (Ash of Gods) is a novel by popular Russian fantasy fiction writer Sergey Malitsky.

He writes new chapters just as he would for a novel (you can find some of them published on our website https://ashofgods.com/ash-of-gods/story/) simultaneously with making of the game. The game designer then recreates the story in articy:draft.

These two parts of the process are influencing each other, and sometimes something can be changed in the novel if it's required by the game's plot. Or the opposite. Of course, such changes concern only the further chapters which aren't implemented in the game yet.
Logged

Ash of Gods - a turn-based RPG featuring Roguelike storytelling and an extensive online PvP mode!
If you've missed our Kickstarter campaign, you can still support us and get your rewards here.
soundofsilence42
Level 0
*



View Profile WWW
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2017, 05:57:26 PM »

I'll be starting a new RPG project in the coming months. Could we get a pool of posters talking about methods of scriptwriting for this genre? Any good guides?

This might be only partly-related but I wanted to post a link to Jeff Vogel's talk at Casual Connect on storytelling in video games, I think he does a great job of breaking down why it's important as well as the fundamentals of doing it effectively. I think for anyone who is approaching the challenge of writing for their games (particularly RPGs) it is an awesome talk to listen to.



Logged
Nana
Level 0
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2017, 06:50:55 PM »


One struggle I experienced was bringing in player agency to what had been a static plot. Like you say, a novel dictates what happens; a game requires player input.

Bringing the player to the story (having the player input) may go beyond only introducing choices to a game, but you already know that. I will take one particular game into consideration to raise this point.

Golden Sun is an RPG which shows you a sense of urgency in the very beginning of the game. People in the village will tell you that a catastrophe is taking place, and in the moment you are released from the (very briefly shown) story of the game, you feel like exploring the world and seeing why this is happening. This "world" immediately tells you that "these are urgent times, we need you!" and you, as the player, feel obligated to complete your task at hand. The people in the village NEED you, giant boulders are falling from the mountain (blocking your way), for god's sake, and the "explorer time" you were having is taken away. An immediate feel of being a part of all the despair on the village is instaured. You have to help everyone, and the game makes you feel inside that context very quickly.

This is a very easy way to make the player have a part on the story, even if they are just obeying what the game tells them to do (or just walking in the game). They are partaking on their main quest, and direct objective. This world around them is active and alive.
Logged

Pixel artist, Narrative designer;
Virgo vs The Zodiac
soundofsilence42
Level 0
*



View Profile WWW
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2017, 07:51:14 PM »


One struggle I experienced was bringing in player agency to what had been a static plot. Like you say, a novel dictates what happens; a game requires player input.

Golden Sun is an RPG which shows you a sense of urgency in the very beginning of the game. People in the village will tell you that a catastrophe is taking place. This "world" immediately tells you that "these are urgent times, we need you!" and you, as the player, feel obligated to complete your task at hand.

This is really interesting and is something I've wondered about before, because it also brings up the question of why the player should care. If you're demonstrating to the player that good salt-of-the-earth people are in need of a hero, that seems to be a natural kind of motivating factor for the player to want to take action. Other games seem to approach this problem from the angle of tapping into a primal sense of compassion or strong emotions by having a storyline that involves, for ex., finding your lost father or mother (Fallout 3) or son/daughter (Fallout 4). I think it can be challenging though to find storylines that leverage these kind of plot devices that don't feel recycled or cliche, since they are used so frequently.
Logged
Nana
Level 0
**



View Profile WWW
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2017, 11:47:07 PM »

This is really interesting and is something I've wondered about before, because it also brings up the question of why the player should care. If you're demonstrating to the player that good salt-of-the-earth people are in need of a hero, that seems to be a natural kind of motivating factor for the player to want to take action. Other games seem to approach this problem from the angle of tapping into a primal sense of compassion or strong emotions by having a storyline that involves, for ex., finding your lost father or mother (Fallout 3) or son/daughter (Fallout 4). I think it can be challenging though to find storylines that leverage these kind of plot devices that don't feel recycled or cliche, since they are used so frequently.

I think this Fallout approach, apart from being overly used, is somewhat forceful to the player. It's that point from the video you posted, the player have to care about your story, but there's inumerous ways to do it than to make it directly relatable. You don't have to always go into the obvious path.

This leads us to the "why should the player care?" question you mentioned. I've wondered for too long now to form a kinda of philosofy around it~

I'll take my game into consideration to talk about it now. My MC is the villain. She's Virgo, the Zodiac Sign, and she wants to purge all the other Zodiac signs because she thinks she's cleaning Astrology by doing so, as their world is in chaos and no one excepts for her seems to carea bout it. She's very righteous, but violent, and thinks that purging everyone will be a good solution to her problems. The beginning of the game goes all straight to the point that she has her duty, she have to go after Capricorn to purge her. The sense of urgency I talked before persists, but why the player have to follow this crazy lady? She's a very unrelatable character, very despiteful, but the fact that her goal is clear and straight to the point can make the player feel engaged anyway. Sometimes, you can catch player's attention just by making they become curious about the character or how odd the setting and the personality is. You'll mostly see it in games like earthbound, very praised by the story, where you can't really relate directly to anyone, but you care about them anyway. Everything is so unsettling and misfit, that you care about the story itself, it makes you curious. It makes you wonder, "what would I do if I were a kid and a giant thing just had fallen from the sky?" and there's nothing more compelling to the reader than to make they wonder.

In a game you can make them wonder by worldbuilding, or by character-rich, and by those two, I don't mean heavy-text based stories with dialogues who will only bore the player who just wants to go into a battle soon. You have to be able to tell stories being very careful about the timing. Where will you put this information? And how? You can do amazing story-telling only by writing items descriptions. Narrative designer is about the details. You can easily state that a NPC lost his wife recently if you make a letter on top of a table saying "The words I've never said to you", and make that same NPC seems depressed by the saying "Hm... Do you need anything? I don't think I can help you...", showing how he don't really believe in himself or in his existence after losing someone. You can reduce all your storytelling to little bits like this and still make a story-rich material for a game. The key is to make the player be the detective in your story, imo.
Logged

Pixel artist, Narrative designer;
Virgo vs The Zodiac
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Theme orange-lt created by panic