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Article - 'Creating an Rm2k(3) game II' by Craze

An item about Game Design posted on Apr 8, 2004

Blurb

Craze's second article of his series. This article focuses on the game's storyline, characters, and title.

Body

This is the second installment of a series of articles on Making a Good RM2K(3) Game. I hope you will (and have) found this series informative!

Today, we will focus on the Story, the Characters, and the Title of a game. While you can use this for any sort of game (FPS, RPG, SBG...) this is made for RPGs. So, grab some Doritos and soda, and read this. Or your eyeballs will fall out.


A quick recap on the first article;
In the first installment, I talked about the three main Genres (Fantasy, Real-life, and sci-fi), the many types (such as humor, thug, mecha...) and a quick look at styles (high detail games, Zelda-style, etc.).

Now, let's get on with this article, shall we?

-Titles-

The Title of your game might just be the most important thing. If you made a great game, it might have been flawless, looked great, had a CBS and a CMS, a great story, everything, but you might of named it Fred, after the main character.

Eww.

Other the other hand, the game could of been called Fred's Great, Wonderful, Amazing Adventure full of Dragons, Gems and Money and Full of Cameos from my Best Friends!!!!11111, or FGWAAFODGAMAFOCFMBF!1 for short. Yet again, eww.

Let's say this 'Fred' game was a Epic Fantasy. First off, the main character should have a better name then Fred, but we will discuss that below. A good way to name a game is to use a 'template'. Not much imagination, but effective.

[Name of World] : [Descriptive Word] (example: Frin:Bloody)

[Arcane Word, Character Name, or name of a Monster]: Adventures in [Name of World](example: Hydra: Adventures in Frin)

[Character Name] [Adjective] [Noun] (example: Gremlin's Great Adventure)

There are alot more, but this is a brief example. Try to turn game names into templates, and go from there. That's what I did here.... Bonus Points if you know what games!

Or maybe you want something more imaginative? Maybe something that doesn't have anything to do with your game (Like if you made a game about scientists, and called it Lantern) or just a little bit about the game (Secret Window, for example (movie, not game)) or all about the game (Pirates of the Caribbean(again, Johnny Depp movie...)). A title can explain the whole game, or just a twinge of it.


-Story-

Before I get in depth about your story, you need to know one thing.

Cliche is NOT bad.

Of course, you might THINK that cliche is bad, and it can be. But cliche is also fun- I mean, some of the greatest games ever were cliche, such as kill the bad guy, get tons of gems/rings, Kill everything in sight, etc. But aren't they FUN?

Yes, they are.

But some cliche games are just....bad. So don't think that you're making a cliche game gives you immunity from me. But now I have my rant about cliche out of the way....so read on.

Your story can be anything you want, be imaginative! To get some ideas, browse forums, read books, play games, and listen to music. To get a grasp of some ideas, read the list below (all are game ideas on the GW forum.)

-Evil creates monsters, Good makes monsters but are too powerful.

-Boy gets lost in a cave

-Real Life simulators

-Character goes to moon

-Hero gets lost in an alternate reality

Those are just some ideas...they range from cliche to western to bizarre!

But now, what makes a good story? This is mainly a rhetorical questions, but differs from person to person. Some strong points in a story are:

-Plot Twists
-Developing Characters
-Evolving Evil
-Lot's of Characters
-Dark, Mysterious Past
-Some Form of Mass Destruction

You may have your own preferences, but those are the footholds for some very good games.

Another way to make good stories is to make an outline, such as

1. Introduction/Prelude

2. Beginning of Story

3. Introduce Something (character, evil, item, etc.)

4. Middle Part of Story

5. Plot Twist

6. End (or cliffhanger for sequel)

Now, let's fill out that outline; I'll use the basis for a game I was going to do...


1. Introduction/Prelude
Vizar, the evil lord, has started to take over a small island, and is now the stronghold and guardian of the entrance to Kling, an alternate reality where all evil spawns. A Blacksmith is suddenly teleported to another island nearby...

2. Beginning of Story
The Blacksmith meets a mage, and they journey together for awhile, until they meet a thief. His friend, a werewolf, attacks the mage and blacksmith, and they kill it. The thief, scared, joins the other characters, and they set off to destroy the person who caused the werewolf transformation in the first place, Vizar, so they could bring the werewolf back to life.

3. Introduce Something (character, evil, item, etc.)
A ghost of the thief's mother appears and tells him that something small will bring good tidings. Later, as the characters approach a forest, they find a small fairy caught in a bush.

4. Middle Part of Story
The fairy turns out to be able to have the power to destroy Vizar, and they go off and get to the Island where Vizar is.

5. Plot Twist
They kill Vizar, and the werewolf is brought back to life in a crystal ball. They get it out, but it is evil, and goes out to kill everything, acting like Vizar's servant.

6. End (or cliffhanger for sequel)
The werewolf learns a spell that makes the characters go to Kling, where they have to survive...

There you go, a small story. Not to hard, but defines quite a bit. You can understand the story, then change it, comment on it, whatever.


-Characters-

Now, the last part of the article.

Characters are most likely the most important part of a story. Without good characters, everything falls apart. They need to be diverse, unique and different. You need to be able to know what they would do in every plausible situation...

To make a character, it is easier to plan them out, and get ideas as the write. It is very easy, once you get the hang of it.


The basic layout for a character is;

Name:
Age:
Gender:
Occupation:
Sexual Orientation:
Magic:
Pets:
Weapons of Choice:
Physical Description:
Mental Description:
Soul/Heart Description:
Background:
Other:

Now, as above, I’ll give you an example of a good, well rounded character.


Name: Grimlet
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Occupation: Warrior
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Magic: None
Pets: None
Weapons of Choice: Axes
Physical Description: Grimlet has huge muscles, and likes to show them off. He wears tight, black shirts and leather pants. Has also has a skull necklace. He is bald, but black symbols are painted all over his head.
Mental Description: Grimlet hates the stereotype that warriors are dumb...he can do calculus, write poetry and is very good at geography.
Soul/Heart Description: Grimlet is kind, but rough. He has a heart of pure gold, but doesn't go out of his way for everything and everybody. He likes to know people before he trusts them.
Background: Grimlet was a normal boy, and liked sports and school. At age 15, he started to go Goth, but no one knew why. Eventually, he let out the secret that he had killed his brother, who had died earlier. His brother had been beating him, forcing him to do his work and steal for him.
Other: Grimlet has tried to change his ways, but goes crazy when he hears about slavery.

There...another outline. This character, Grimlet, (which I just made up) is well rounded, and believable. Some things are unexplained, but all the better for plots...

Another thing about characters is there names. Let's take Fred from above. Fred is a hero, so we'll just say he's a warrior.

Warrior names usually have the letter G in them. No idea why. So let's name him...Grimlet. So, you see, you have a better title, and a much better name.

Now...cliche characters.

Some cliche is good. Not all. See the Easy-Quest Trilogy for more on that. (great games by the way). But some things are oxymoron's, or just don't make any frickin sense. Such as a clumsy thief. If he was clumsy, why would he be a thief? Doi. So think about your warrior guy that always misses before you put him in the game.

And so ends my second article. I hope this will be useful for all your people/things/Frogs out there!

Next up, graphics, Part One!