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Article - 'Building Your Game To Success, Part 1: Storyline' by lithium

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

Want to build on your storyline, but you can't find out where to start? Lithium writes a short piece for you about getting your storyline off to a good start.

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Building Your Game To Success, Part 1: Storyline

In this article, I will cover the basic of what you need to make a successful storyline in RM2K, and not have yours turn out to be a 1/10. Here, I'll describe you can achieve RM2K gold with just some hard effort and alot of coffee. So, without any futher ado - on with the article.


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STORYLINE IMPROVEMENT
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Gameplay is hard to improve on because so many times it is nessicary to have good RPGMaker 2000 programming skills. In essence, what you really need to improve on gameplay is the storyline. Let me clue you in on something - VARIETY has become a major scoring issue in my reviews for the soul purpose of trying to keep RM2K games fresh.

First off, you might want to sit down before you create the game and lay out some creative ideas. The first major step in creation of a game is easy to guess - characters. Your characters are the lifebed of the game, spend some time on them. I suggest that you sit down with a notebook and bring your imagination to life - don't go "OMG U R ALEX TEH GRAT", have fun with your character - give him a background, and a personality that trails through the game. It is no fun when a dark, brooding character in a game becomes happy and joyful all the time. This strategy is your best bet for two reasons - one, you don't have to worry about developing a character on the spot - two, you can build a good story around that character. Alot of games I review get low scores because the hero character is "thrust into a world-saving adventure with people he's never met nor should have any assocation with in the first place", you'll do better if you develop the story around the character instead of developing the character around the story.

Second, let's talk about some variety. Most of RM2K games lack this crucial part of storyline uplifting. People, (especially in this community) are fed up with the normal "U R TEH GRAT MAEN NOW GO SAV TEH PRINCES PLZ?", they urn for a different type of game. One of the best routes to take now is finding another prefix to the game other than "someone is trying to destroy the world". Effort must be applied here because you are basically changing the ideal to almost every RPG game. For the firsts, Front Mission (a very good RPG sim) involves military conflict rather than a nuclear bomb headed toward the core of the earth - this story basis was hard to pull off, but with a little effort, it can be done. How about some liberal democracies in an RPG? I'd love to see a game where I could vote for the leader and certain things in the game would change (this would GREATLY improve replay value and enhance suspense, which is always a good factor in an RPG game). How about a dictator state that wants to rule the world (not destroy it entirely), only to find out that the leader was possessed by a demon? I know, sounds a little FFVIII, but it works. The point is, nothing is done wrong by trying to switch your game up a little - in fact, in most cases, it works in the authors favor.

Third and last, one of the best attributes that give to a great storyline - audio. Now, reading that sentence might have made you go "Eh?", but it is true. The best enhancer of a storyline is the music that creates the enviroment that surrounds it. Now, there is a clause. Games like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Earthbound have excellent audio - but it is all used too much in RM2K games. Custom music is good also, but alot of custom MIDI makes fail to guide the game in the right direction simply because the music is based to much on simplicity and not effort. Basically, if you want to create a good storyline enhancement - you have to go with music that sets the mood. Let's just say that you are in a boss area - the best music for you to choose would be a somber, slow mix that encorporated soft drumming but allowed a little erry "I'm gonna get you" kind of tones. On a world map (now this is different from if the world is healthy and living versus the world is rotting away), you sound use uplifting tones that encorporate some good melodies promoting life. There is nothing better than hearing and seeing a good story unfold before you.

Now, I hope I tought you a good lesson in storyline improvement kiddies. Now, go back to your tea and wait for Kaze to burn your house down.

-lithium