How do you go about story-writing for a fan game project?

plugdev

Rookie
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2
#1
Would you create scripts, storyboards? What would be the most efficient and effective way to create an unforgettable story, in your opinion?
 
#2
I don't think how you structure your writing for a game's story will really affect the final product that much. (At least, beyond how it helps an individual writer keep up with their work) You'll always end up breaking down the game's plot into event commands, and that's all the player will see. What kind of chart or structure

I do think that storyboards aren't very well suited to a fangame. Storyboards are generally used for film-based stories, because it shows poses and shots that might not be clear through just text. But fangames are always in top-down shots, and sprites limit the sort of poses that characters can make. And actions and emotions displayed could just be written in a script format, since you're gonna be coding them line by line anyways.
 

Involuntary Twitch

Pixel Artist & Writer
Member
#3
When writing a plot for a fangame (or anything really), I try to keep my thoughts organized in tiers of detail and granularity.

(Keep in mind: this is just a process that works for me. There is no "right way" to create!)

On the top level, the Macro Tier, I include things like: story themes, general motifs, and major characters. Many of the best stories have a hidden theme that ties them all together. Most official Pokemon games have the central theme of a coming-of-age story, where the main character & friends grow over time, through hard work and overcoming adversity. With your Fan Game, you may want to borrow that theme if you are going for a classic Pokemon game feel, or maybe you want to do something different, like writing a more mature protagonist, or a smaller-scale story. But the theme helps you conceptualize the entire game on a broad scale: where is your main character at the start, versus the end of their story? What is standing in the way of them achieving their goals? Keeping this in mind will keep your narrative tied together nicely.

Also in the Macro tier are motifs. Motifs are like the symbol that makes your story unique; it should probably be in the title of your game. For example, in Pokemon Gaia, the major motif is the Earth and what lies below. In my game Pokemon Uranium, the central motif was Nuclear radiation, which defined both the main conflict in the story as well as the color scheme. Your motif could be anything, from Time Travel to Glitched Corruption or anything really. Try to incorporate your motif as much as you can, and the story will be stronger for it

Finally, in the macro tier I put a list of the major characters in the game. In standard Pokemon terms this includes the player character, their rival(s), mentor(s), family members, main antagonists, Gym leaders, etc. I would put careful thought into these characters, because again, they are a big part of what makes your game memorable. Give each one a unique name. If you like, try giving each character a motif of their own, such as a particular Pokemon type they like to use.

Next is the Middle Tier. This includes stuff like: The backstory leading up to your game, the Region design and layout, lore, etc. You don't need to go too in-depth with this stuff, but having a rough framework of locations, like "A peaceful town surrounded by flowers" or "A dense network of underground tunnels dug by Pokemon" will give you a general sense of what to put in your game. Again, don't spend too much time on this, but do think a little about how your region's map will be structured, where different types of Pokemon will be located, as well as any new game mechanics you want to include, and how you will incorporate them.

Finally, the Micro Tier, is ironically where you will be spending the majority of your time writing. This tier contains the actual dialogues and content that goes into the game, such as trainers' teams, item locations, puzzles, etc. When writing story dialogues, I do actually write it out like a movie script, with "stage directions" for events that take place around the dialogue tags. Of course, this step is optional, as you can simply put these in RMXP, but I find it does help to write them out in a document first before inserting them. That way, you can read it over with spell check and catch typos and awkward phrasing before it goes into the game.

One final tip. When writing dialogue, keep it short and sweet. The in-game text box is small, so short sentences are better than long ones. Players will also pay better attention if you use fewer words but keep them impactful.
 

Dragonite

Have they found the One Piece yet
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Posts
238
#4
So some time ago (for something outside of relic) I did a Hail Mary and opened up Notepad and just started brain dumping everything I could think of related to characterization and the setting and the time period and whatever - except for the plot. It worked better than I expected, I noticed some contradictions and connections between things and holes that ought to be filled that I probably would have missed otherwise. Probably important to note that I didn't delete anything if I didn't like it until after everything that I could think of was on paper, if something didn't feel right I just marked it off with a ???????????????? so I could decide its fate after there was more information.

That's just for writing in general and you asked about fan games though, probably had a lot more to say on the matter.

Also in the Macro tier are motifs. Motifs are like the symbol that makes your story unique; it should probably be in the title of your game. For example, in Pokemon Gaia, the major motif is the Earth and what lies below. In my game Pokemon Uranium, the central motif was Nuclear radiation, which defined both the main conflict in the story as well as the color scheme. Your motif could be anything, from Time Travel to Glitched Corruption or anything really. Try to incorporate your motif as much as you can, and the story will be stronger for it
That seems pretty clear, I'm surprised I haven't thought of that before reading this. Stories that try to nail down one or two main ideas and have all of the other things tie back to it tend to turn out better than the ones that just try to throw as many themes at the wall and hope something sticks. Also, I'm stealing this if I have to re-take that creative writing class.
 

Poq

Elite Trainer
Member
Posts
119
#5
Probably important to note that I didn't delete anything if I didn't like it until after everything that I could think of was on paper, if something didn't feel right I just marked it off with a ???????????????? so I could decide its fate after there was more information.
This is excellent advice. No piece of writing (or bit of dialogue or event sequence) has to be perfect or complete the first time through. Sometimes you just need a bit if material to work with, even if it's pretty crappy. A bunch of question marks is better than a blank page (or screen)
 
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