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Article - 'The Storyline Creation Process' by Terin

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Jan 14, 2004

Blurb

A basic article that will show you how to make a decent storyline, and keep it all together.

Body

So, most people wonder, "Where do I begin?" Always, of course, begin with an idea on what happens and occurs in the game. For example, don't just say, "I'm going to make a game," say, "I'm going to make a game about the end of the world and it's survivors." This 'apocalypse' game idea will be used for the remainder of this article as an example.

We need to first identify a Background Story. What time is it? Key political figures/nations? Trends, people's feelings, what? For the 'apocalypse' theme, we'll say that...


Background Story:

The world is in an economic slump. Anarchy is breaking loose in several countries, and times are at an all-time low, perhaps even passing the great depression that the world experienced in the 1920's. The year is, of course, 2012, and in an attempt to reform the world's economy, Christian Belmeyer, a suave, British philosopher, attempts a new economy plan for the world nation. Following several years, the world unites as one, and the economy seems to be recovering. People believe that the world is finally making it towards true peace and prosperity for eternity to come. However, Belmeyer appears less and less, and every time he appears, he seems to gradually have more greed...


So, we've identified a key player -- Christian Belmeyer. He seems to be a pretty nice guy, and wants to fix the world, and everyone, whom were previously suffering, seem to be heading in the direction of new prosperity. Does that give us a little bit of information what happens prior to these events? Sure does.

The next section outlines the Characters. Who are our main people inside this story, and what purpose do they serve?


Characters:

Name: Alfred 'Al' Mozart
Age: 34

Al, whom was unemployed prior to the great world slump that was fixed by Chrisitan, still has had no luck in finding a job. Being a descendant of the great Mozart, a wonderful musician, Al has a gnack for music, and has been playing music off and on at bars ever since he dropped out of College.

Name: Christian Belmeyer
Age: 28

Belmeyer was a business graduate of Cambridge as the valedictorian of his class. Since then, he has done consulting for several major corporations, all of which barely made it out of the horrible era of poverty. However, Christian is the person who caused the economic collapse, and is slowly being used by an evil source to destroy the world.


Well, Belmeyer is a pretty spooky guy, isn't he? We also identify Al, someone who's living in the world. Obviously, Al hasn't had the best of luck, and Christian happens to be a nerdy-type business guy. In most modern settings, enemies should either be related to Religious Entities, Business Tycoons, or Military Personnel. These are usually the easiest things to pick from.

Now, the next part of this is to identify the Storyline. We need to know what occurs... For our apocalyptic-themed game, I'll write a quick little storyline. It'll make use of the characters we named, and follow/go after the background story. Note that most of these documents for outlining everything in a story should be roughly 100 KB+ in a basic, plain text file. Meaning, it can only be saved as a .txt.


Storyline:

Al, following a night of performance is walking back to his cheap apartments. In this time, he reflects on how the night went, and his aspirations for the future. In the middle of his walk home, the billowing stormclouds finally all rain to pour from the sky. Something is different about the rain -- it is blood.

Immediately worried and panicky, Al runs home, only to suddenly experience several earthquakes on his way, and the only building that seems to beckon him is the large, black tower, which seems to be even darker than before, the headquarters of the Unified World Nation -- the thing which Christian Belmeyer had created.

Al's a pretty smart guy. His apartment is on the other side of town, and the tall building seems to be looking like a good place to hide, as it is only a few blocks away, while Al's apartment is on the other side of town, close to fifty or so blocks away. In any case, he begins to run, seeing several people start moaning, turning into zombies and beasts.

In this time, he'll fight through the beasts roaming the streets, only to end up at his destination -- the tower. As he arrives, he notices that the tower ascends higher into the sky, and looks to reach up endlessly. The base of it seems to be old, and he notices something carved into the side -- The Tower of Babil.

He goes inside, unexpectedly and fights several more monsters, finds treasure, etc.

.
.
.

Al finally meets up with Belmeyer, who admits that he is the embodiment of the greatest evil the world has ever faced. Al, whom has done his best to survive through the tower and the destroyed city, recognizes that Belmeyer is no longer himself. Belmeyer continues talking, explaining his plan to end the world, and cause hell to reign over Earth.

After a bleak showdown and Belmeyer crawling out of his Human skin to reveal a demon, Al is successful in destroying the demon. The earthquakes cease, the lightning and brimstone halter, and the raining blood ends. All calms down and seems to be a normal night.

Wounded and desperate, Al attempts to make his way down the stairs to the bottom of the tower, which is falling apart, as the wrath of God is inflicted upon it. Unfortunately, Al cannot escape and finds himself falling.

As he reaches near the ground, a sudden swooping is heard, and he feels himself being lifted up by two angels -- one per arm. They tell him that his deeds have saved the world and for such, although he is soon to die, he will be admitted to heaven and all pain shall end.

The story ends as he sees the pearly white gates, and meets his end.


I went through everything. (except for where I decided wasn't neccessary) Notice that I didn't actually write the dialogue in. Never stay solid on one set of dialogue, instead, write what is supposed to be accomplished in that, and it's all good.

Finally, we need to do sidequests, which I will not explain. Sidequests are a nifty way to bring out hidden features and more storyline. Some may choose not to have them -- others may make a story entirely of sidequests. One important detail remains to those who choose to make a non-linear storyline -- there must be several sidequests that actually add up to something happening that could cause the game to end, or plot to build, etc.

Follow the format:
Background Story
Characters
Storyline
Sidequests

and you're sure to be on your way to making a game. The background story is a must before actually continuning on. It needs to establish what's going on, so you have a WORLD to make your game in. It creates the environment that you will go off.

Anyway, this should help a few people get through making games -- this happens to be my own technique for writing storyline.