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Article - 'Secrets In Your RM2K/3 Game' by Matinee

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Sep 3, 2004


Help with intertwining secrets / sub quests with the main story of your game.

Body first article. Alright, let's make it a good one.

OK, secrets in your game. What are they? Normally they're hidden things that the player has to go out of the way of the story in order to discover. They could be anything from hidden boss monsters to hidden items that you need to do something, but whatever they are, they often add believability to a game and make it a lot more fun to play. So, let's start with creating your basic secret.

1. Basic Secret Creation

First off, you need an idea. Not just any old idea will do, for instance nobody wants to go through a hidden dungeon or fight a really difficult hidden boss just to find a stupid useless NPC who says nothing helpful. Which means you need a reward that the player is going to get through this secret.
Let's look at a sample story.

Bobby McBig has to go through the Hidden Caves of Doom in order to find the Orb of Light which will cure his friend's illness, not mandatory to the story but giving Bobby an extra and uberpowerful magic spell.

Now, this type of secret is OK, but it doesn't have much story backing to it. Bobby has to find his orb, but why? Just to cure a friend's illness seems a bit mundane. So let's try adding a little story motivation, shall we?

2. Adding Motivation

In the War of Age, Bobby McBig's great great great great (ad nauseum) grandfather fought, and contracted a rare form of Mantoya Disease which is only caught in a certain family. Bobby's friend has that disease, so there is clearly something she is not telling him. He goes through the Caves of Doom, which incidentally are where the Mantoya tribe first contracted the disease, and discovers the Orb of Light.. He is confronted by a ghost of his past-Granddaddy-who fights him, and turns out to be the one who originally contracted the disease in the first place. He takes the orb back to his friend, and as soon as she is better he demands an explanation. She gives him a pretty terrible one, and just as he is about to leave through mistrust, she begs that if he is going to hate her, then please kill her. He is reluctant, but she gives him the Flare magic spell, which is UBERDOOM and kills anyone. He uses it on her, and as her body is turned to ashes, Bobby gains the permanent use of Flare, but loses a friend.

As you can see, story motivation adds a lot of background to the secrets that you add. OK, the story backing I added was completely lame, but hey, it's a story background, and it's better than just having a separate secret with no story.

3. Secret Places

So say that the secret you want is not a boss or item. Say it's a place. Fine, but you have to think of story motivation here as well. Secret places are all very well and good, but nobody builds a village of 6000000 IQ so-clever-it's-dangerous people in a secluded forest without a reason. No, don't say Rokkaku. Just don't.
But, here is a typical secret place:

High atop Mount Alean, Bobby discovers a secret mountain village full of monks. These monks have been hiding from Evil Dude because he trashed their village years ago so they had to build a new one.

OK. Right. All very well and good, but boring. Let's add some proper story motivation.

Mount Alean has been home to the Monks of Yang for some time now. This is because thirty years ago, their chief challenged Evil Dude to a fight in a foolish bout of bravery. Evil Dude accepted, and Chief Whatever and Evil Dude battled to the death. Chief Whatever lost, and Evil Dude burned down the village as a victory condition. The monks cast Chief Whatever out with a deep disgust, and Chief Whatever crawled to Evil Dude for assistance. Legend has it Chief Whatever was last seen in Mount Alean's caves, near the new Monk

Now Bobby needs motivation to go and find Chief Whatever. Let's give it to him.

Bobby has to find Chief Whatever because he is the only one who holds vital information to the illness of his friend Rosia, who has the declining disease of Mantoya. Chief Whatever can tell Bobby where to find the antidote.

See how the secrets are all interwoven in one large plot? This is one of the ways to implement secrets into your game. So that's the secret-implementing process in three fairly easy steps. No coding, but that is because you have to code your own story, I'm just helping you along the way. Bye!