When Writing Your Fangame...

Hi, guys. I got in a bit of an analytic mood, so I wrote this thing up for consideration when coming up for your fangame's story. Just a few things worth keeping in mind when you craft your big masterpiece of a game!

1. Is the game more focused on complicating the plot than coming up with something that’s thematically satisfying?

Meaning: you think that the most interesting story you can tell involves connecting dots perfectly together, or hiding big twists that have no real purpose other than to surprise. The big bad of the evil team is in fact the person you’d been trusting throughout the entire game! The good company turns out to be the evil company! Your character, or your rival character is in fact related to various different other characters that we are already familiar with, or the big bads, or good guys!

Even if your plot does not fall in line with those specific examples, think about why you’ve chosen different details. Is it because you just want to surprise, or because you think those details mean something?

2. Does the narrative break the mold?

Meaning: 8 gym leaders. 4 elite four members. 1 champion. An evil team. Arceus being important. How much of these things does your game tick? Okay. It’s fine to have all these elements. For the most part, that’s what makes your game a normal Pokemon game. But why does it have all of these elements? It’s not just because those are the familiar elements of a Pokemon game, is it? Why do you need an evil team? Why do you need villains when you can instead use a more interesting, more dynamic, or even funner kind of force to drive the story or make the player move along through the world.

Heck, Edge Rising could have dropped its gym leaders entirely for the sake of a plot involving the Big Pokemon. Team Rocket was a side note in the original Pokemon games. Why not bring different elements of the world up the forefront to tell a more interesting story with the creative freedom you have?

3. Are Pokemon relevant?

Meaning: Are you telling a story that takes place in the Pokemon world, or a story about the Pokemon world? How intertwined are Pokemon in the daily lives of this story’s citizens? Why are they driving your adventure? They aren’t just a part of the gameplay mechanics, are they? One thing I’ve found with a lot of fangames is that the stories are just about the humans that do stuff in the Pokemon world, and not so much about the Pokemon in that world.

Kanto was all about the awe of the Pokemon adventure. Team Rocket was just a side note.
Johto was all about exploring the Pokemon world. Team Rocket was just a side note.
Hoenn, Sinnoh, both about the world - the climaxes involve the evil team, but once you get back to business, it’s still just about learning how this Pokemon world works.
Unova was all about the relationship between humans and Pokemon.

It’s not about the complicated stories, it’s about your adventures, your player-created experiences with the Pokemon, and the world of Pokemon.

So, if you’re going to tell some sort of complicated story, how do you make it as much about the Pokemon as you do the humans? How are you going to make your world feel distinctly Pokemon, and not just a game where Pokemon you like might be in this route and you can catch it and raise it until you’re done with this fangame and move on to the next. Make your game stick out. Make the adventure with your Pokemon memorable and meaningful. Make it about the Pokemon, no matter how subtly.

4. Are you passionate about your story?

Meaning: It may just be a Pokemon game, but if you’re not having fun writing the story, or the story doesn’t mean much to you, it won’t mean much to anybody else. I find that writing stories that personally mean something to me are the ones that tend to reach others the most. Even if it is just a small little Pokemon fangame, you can make this experience stand out if there’s something in it that’s distinctly you.

Keep all of these things in mind when crafting the story for your fangame.

Just figured I’d leave some thoughts for all of you about this. I’m excited to see what everybody can come up with! Good luck, everyone!
 

Dragonite

Have they found the One Piece yet?
Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2017
Posts
258
Disclosure: I do not write. I either pilfer plotlines from other sources or have other people do the writing for me. I like the rest of the work though.
1. Is the game more focused on complicating the plot than coming up with something that’s thematically satisfying?


I wish more people would consider this. Side characters and sidequests should be there to enhance the original concept, not turn it into a knot which you can't figure out how to untie. Plot quality isn't a summation of all of the stuff inside it.


2. Does the narrative break the mold?

A while ago (I think it was on the old forum) there was a Fan Game Bingo thread. It was immensely silly but at the same time it was a pretty good test of how closely (or distantly) your game follows the Standard Model.

3. Are Pokemon relevant?

I don't think making Pokémon not relevant is a death knell or anything but if you're just going to include Pokémon as an afterthought it's probably easier (and legally safer) to just make your own game.

4. Are you passionate about your story?

I hope so.
 

HollowGap

How am I still alive
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Aug 8, 2017
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51
From my first post in Relic Castle:
"In the midst of Pokemon smuggling operation, a trapped eyewitness must fight her way out of the seemingly endless syndicate territory."

I'm still polishing the storyline, but mostly it's done so I'm ready to set up the dialogues. This premise was from August. So I've noticed that the first idea and the last draft turned out to be quite different. No, I'm not expanding the premise at all. I even slapped the other idea I intended for second project, getting off the burden of making two games when you can make just one.

1. Is the game more focused on complicating the plot than coming up with something that’s thematically satisfying?


Given that the goal is simply to "escape from danger", I was worried that it would result in monotone challenge. As an example, I would like to compare Pokemon Fable and Attack on the Space Station. Both are good games and I noticed how both handle challenge differently. I find Fable is not giving as much variation as Space. In Space, you have separate rooms with different puzzles and pokemon theme, while Fable differs in landscape yet the NPCs are still generic, which makes it somewhat monotonous. You keep encountering the same thing you know how to deal it with.
So I end up with giving more complication in hopes to make things more interesting. The final product won't be as simple as "MC fleeing from the syndicate". Thematically satisfying... I'm not the one to judge that. Although, when I discussed the plot to get feedback, I received fairly okay comment about it.


2. Does the narrative break the mold?


I guess so.

There is also this concept of not having little to no healing point (like, the setting is in the middle of nowhere). Instead, you get items for every battle you've won. I don't know if player will like it or not. Maybe it's a matter of difficulty curve. We'll see.


3. Are Pokemon relevant?


Interestingly, pokemon isn't receiving the main spotlight in typical Pokemon games. In PMD, you get to role-play as a pokemon. But in console games, you play as human that rarely interacts with pokemon in meaningful way. The current gen seems to try and fix this issue, giving us Amie and more flavor texts (but removes pokemon companion, sad). So I think fangames should explore pokemon aspect deeply and give them personality.

And that's what I hoped to achieve. I haven't received any comment on this, so maybe I should try better.


4. Are you passionate about your story?

Passionate enough to not switch ideas. To be honest, I don't really want to do a survival plot (the first idea). It's just an excuse to make a shorter game than your typical 8 gyms journey. But there's this one character (the other idea for future project) that I really want to make it happen. They fit quite well.

Maybe I can get another feedback or two.
 

XXTheMichelXX

The Bird Keeper
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Mar 9, 2020
Posts
66
Similar to first point, I think stories esspicially in games, should to try less like dramatic (and try to be simple if possible) because it can kill fresh feeling of playing as we have experience in official Pokemon games, it feels like it's part of our life. I'm not saying dramatic is bad, you can have it at some point of game espically villains. Or even whole game if it's necessary esspicially on Jams.

Note: I have a less experience on making games so I might not be 100% correct.
 
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