Who wouldn’t want to design games? It’s creative, rewarding, and with constant advancements in technology, pretty exciting too. We have all painted a picture, doodled a sketch, written a story, or made a wobbly piece of pottery at some time in our lives, so why not embrace the art form of Game Design. Making games can definitely be rewarding and even fun at the same time. One of the mostly commonly agreed starting points is the story itself, which makes a lot of sense, without a story you would really have no game.
The best way to setup the basis for your story is to break it down into its main components:
One of the central elements in story-telling is presenting a theme that will reach the readers on a deep, personal level. Themes have the power to change how people think or live their lives. However, it is best not to directly point out the theme. You should hide it well within the story; so that it’s something the reader eventually discovers though their own efforts.
The plot of the story, the majority of the time, includes conflicts of some sort. And, typically, the protagonist is the one most affected by this conflict. The conflict can be with another character, like a captured princess or endangered love interest (Mario, Zelda, etc.), or a family member (Mother 3); It could be about what is going on with the world around the protagonist, like a country run by a corrupt leader or government (Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy XIII); Or it could be a conflict within the protagonist, like feelings, a split personality, or a demon sealed within (Devil May Cry, Dirge of Cerberus).
The protagonist should win in the long run, but should come to lose something at the same time. To really mess with the reader’s emotions, make disaster strike for the protagonist, such as the death of a loved one, or the loss of a home or something dear. The theme of the story is often portrayed by this element, since the protagonist seems to learn from it or be changed in some way. However, watch out for clichés as they will lose the readers focus.
After the disaster, make the excitement build gradually as it reaches the climax. After that, lessen the tension, as you present the resolution. This should be the point in the story where everything is resolved, as they say in fairy tales, “everyone lived happily ever after.”
Before you begin writing details to the story itself, you should make sure you have your characters down right. If you don’t, then, most likely, you will have to do a lot of editing later.
First of all, make sure your protagonist is someone the reader can feel for. At the very least, make them likable. If the reader isn’t interested in the protagonist, they probably will not read further. However, never make the protagonist Mr. Perfect! If they’re perfect, the reader will almost never find them interesting. So make sure they have some noticeable flaws.
Next, take care of the support characters. Make sure they’re likable and interesting, for starters. If they are completely and utterly uninteresting, the reader will think that they have no point in being included in the story. Many good stories include a love interest that the reader could even fall for. Similarly, many stories include a character that the readers despise. It’s this kind of character development that keeps the readers reading. Remember, just because they are secondary doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have personality.
Lastly, make sure you have a well-developed antagonist. Give the protagonist a reason to be entangled into the story’s conflict. The antagonist should be on the opposing end of the protagonist. Of course, you should try avoiding clichés as always. Make the antagonist your own. Give the antagonist a motive. Maybe they have a loved one who was killed, so they seek revenge, by any means necessary. Or, maybe they are merely following orders. Try to avoid the old clichés of ruling the world or gaining the ultimate power, though. However, if you do use a cliché, make sure you execute it well, so it doesn’t seem too much like what has already been done.
The Story’s Structure
Ever take a writing class? If so this may sound very familiar. Stories need a good beginning, middle, and end. Think of it as an inverted check mark. The beginning is the set-up to the story. This typically introduces the protagonist, and often, where you jump right into the action. The middle arises after the first crisis. Throughout the middle, you should increase the tension more and more, as you approach the climax. In the end, you should resolve everything, resulting in the tension going back to its starting point.
Think about what point-of-view you want to be writing in.
If you are telling the story, and you only use the pronoun “I,” your story is in first-person. This is usually what you use for school essays, in which you recall a past event in your life.
If you tell the story as if it’s all about other people, and you use other pronouns, such as “he,” “she,” “they,” or “it,” your story is in third-person. This is the most widely used form.
If you tell the story as if you were a god, narrating for more than one character, as if you knew everything that happens and everything the characters are thinking, your story would be Third-Person Omniscient. This is used mostly for epic stories, such as Lord of the Rings.
Rarely, but not never, has second-person been done. This would be where the protagonists are referred to by a secondary narration, and uses the pronoun “you.” An example of this would be a story in which a narrator is telling you what you are doing, like “you give your reasoning, and you wait for an answer.”
Of course, you should probably go with a form of third-person…
If you chose third-person, you should tell the story through the eyes of one character. This is usually the protagonist. If you want to, flip over to another character, and tell something through the eyes of them.
The Story’s Setting
Make sure that the story is set in a time and place that the reader would be interested in. Your story could take place in the far-off future, on other planets. Or, you could create your own universe, where the sky’s the limit. There are many different settings to choose from. Just make sure you know your audience first.
Don’t forget to tap into your readers emotions…
Clichés are ok, as long as you add a new flavor, so that it doesn’t seem too much like what has already been done.
This post was written by Patrick Barnhardt