Does world building add to your engagement of a minimal character driven plot?

How much world building do you want in a minimal character driven plot?

  • I'd rather assume a generic modern/fantasy/sci-fi structure and focus on the characters.

    Votes: 4 28.6%
  • I'd like to understand at least a general technological age (e.g. electricity, magic?)

    Votes: 8 57.1%
  • I'd like to know what drives the world at a 'world level' (e.g. countries/kings, monster farming?)

    Votes: 6 42.9%
  • I'd like to know the worlds history (e.g. were there always monsters, have countries fought wars)

    Votes: 6 42.9%

  • Total voters
    14

SwiftIllusion

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I'm currently conflicted while working on a project about how much time I should spend adding logic to its world.
I've thoroughly enjoyed games like LiEat, Eternal Senia, To the moon, etc, that don't really build a world outside of what the characters directly interact with.
However I can't help but try to build unnecessary logic into my world and I'm wondering if that is entirely unnecessary, or if it could add a meaningful amount of additional engagement to the plot/characters and the world they inhabit?
I'd greatly appreciate a vote on the poll and/or your thoughts on the matter.

For the poll, please choose either the 1st option, or one/any combination of the 2nd/3rd/4th options.
 

Garsto

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Very interesting! I'm new to the RPG Maker world but I can tell you what I've found more engaging. The actual lore of my new project is addicting for me. Creating just tickles a certain part of my brain and once I'm in it's like a rabbit hole.

If I were in your shoes I would immerse myself in my own game's history. That's kind of what I'm obsessed with at the moment in my own thing. Build it up, create crazy back stories and plots. Create bodies of people with different beliefs. Makes for a good game when it comes to playing it; having a story to look back at and study before even starting your adventure.

For the record: I chose option 4. ;)
 

RabbitFire

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Interesting question!
I think that detailed rule of the world should be keep as an easter eggs for the observant and the curious. As long as it's not intrusive, then another explanation and tidbits of lore is always welcome. There is nothing wrong with adding details to your world, in fact, I think it just makes the experiences even better! just keep the unnecessary ones at the sidelines, let people access it, but not to make it too important, then the game is gold for me.
 

Andar

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It depends a lot on what the game is about.
If it focuses on exploring, the background lore should be developed to the max, while the character stories might take second role.

If the game focuses on the adventures of a party, then that party needs to be developed and the background (at least where it doesn't touch the party) might be handled more sloppy.
 

NPC

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It truly depends on how you portray it. I'd love to see the world's rich history portrayed in the visuals, instead of just reading a book or listening to exposition. Not to say there can't be books or people who talk about the past, but games have the benefit of being audio-visual ventures, and often the hinting of history leaves stronger impact on the player than merely telling the player.

You want to trick the player into being interested by the world. Players will see something interesting, and wonder why it is that way. Say a funky piece of clothing is popular, maybe a vendor will give clues to why everyone wears it? Little things that amount to a detailed world.

Of course, this means more time spent on working the visuals, so it's completely optional, but I think in the long run it is more impactful than any amount of exposition.

Additionally, the focus of your game should determine how much history is portrayed in the game. If there is a large war that the player will be involved in, then some history to let the player know why they're fighting may be handy. If it's a personal struggle against inner demons, however, your world-building should be subtler, but not necessarily absent. I personally build all my worlds for multiple adventures to happen in them, if I so desired. Remember that if you don't tell the whole story, there's always another time to tell.

As backwards as it sounds, to get players to want to explore the world, they must first love the world, yet getting to know the world will make the players love the world. Trick the player, and they'll love you for it ;)
 

Hero_Claive

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Actively building a world (i.e. through quests, interactions, side-plots etc.) is beneficial to any game. It makes a game really feel unique instead of imposing the simple medieval world that most players immediately assume when they boot up an RPG Maker game. If you have the willpower and the imagination, there's no reason why you shouldn't strive to develop unique lore within your own game.

Be mindful that this doesn't necessarily mean forsaking character development. Looking at games like Xenoblade Chronicles and FFXV, worldbuilding and character development exist in equal length. It's especially interesting because character arcs often coincide with characters learning more about the world (for example, Shulk's development in learning about Mechonis). There's a lot of interesting things you can do with these two elements. I, for one, would be disappointed to see a significant lack of either element unless you have a fully open-world non-linear game like Skyrim or the opposite in a game like FFXIII.
 

Tai_MT

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Ah, a topic about writing advice.

As a game designer, it isn't important to show the player all the logic and lore and internal consistency of any world you build. It is, however, better to have all of that as prep if you're doing anything remotely close to a story.

My current story only considers the characters and events that revolve around the protagonist. Other stories are relayed to him via his "friends" and "allies", but any number of which could be exaggerations, lies, or just regular misinformation. It isn't important for the player to know which is which. They're expected to operate under the same criteria the protagonist is. Namely, what information you have is what you've got. The character will never know about the history of the world at large, or of magic, or anything else. They'll be concerned with current events and nothing more.

That being said, it hasn't stopped me from creating a 25 page document (rough outline) of the history of the island the game takes place on, as well as the 3 major wars, every single faction, and various other bits and bobs (including how magic actually works, which will never be discussed). I even bothered creating two major religions, which will again, never be discussed.

I don't generally care, as a player, how much of the world you give me. I care that your story is coherent and makes logical internal sense with the world you're presenting me. Games like Destiny 1 have this problem where their "lore" isn't consistent at all with the story being presented. Meanwhile, other games like Final Fantasy X have these huge unanswered questions about the world and Sin and even their Summons and magic... But it all makes consistent sense with the world and story itself being presented.

So, even if you go light on story... So long as you have a story, you may as well world build so that it all ties together in a way that the player feels like it makes sense. Even when you don't ever tell them all the details of the world they're interacting with.

After all, I don't know all the details of the real world I'm interacting with. How does gravity actually work? No clue. Doesn't actually matter, either. It makes sense according to the world I interact with every single day.

That's all you have to do with your players. And if you run into something that may not make immediate sense to players... you've got that document where you built the world to fall back on. That'll help you if you get stuck.
 

LaFlibuste

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Honestly, and this applies to both games, movies and books alike, I don't necessarily need to have the full debrief on the world's history and everything. In fact, when there is optional text and stuff about the world, more often than not, I skip it entirely (in games that is). That being said, I need for the world the have been thought about and designed fully. When I feel there are logical faults within the world design or something has not been thought through or feels like cardboard pieces, it makes me cringe and I lose immersion really quickly.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really enjoy world building, but show it, don't tell it. Don't flood me with optional books and texts about that war centuries ago and the class system in your world etc., but make it impact the plot and subtly integrate it within dialogs and interactions. Of course you can still have the books, some people like those I guess, but if you have a ton of books about the universe and it never transpires through the main plot, meh. You might as well not have done any world building as far as I am concerned.
 

D.L. Yomegami

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The amount of worldbuilding needed for my enjoyment of a story (not just a game) really depends on the sort of story it is. If it revolves around trying to topple an evil overlord, then it'd help to know the general nature of the world and its history to give some context to how the evil overlord came into power in the first place and give some more oomph to it when (or if, if you're that kind of person) the protagonists take them down. On the other hand, if the main focus of the plot is running across a street to get a cheeseburger, than establishing the nature of the world at large probably isn't that important.

Likewise, it really depends on the game. If you're doing a wide-open RPG with tons of sidequests, then more worldbuilding is naturally going to be a requirement just to make sure everything makes sense (unless you're going for a mind screw). A smaller, character-driven plot could probably get away with establishing just enough to give the player a feel for what the world's like before getting on with establishing the characters and the plot.

For me personally, when it comes to writing I'm really not big on worldbuilding and would just rather establish the bare minimum necessary for the story to make sense before moving onto the parts I'd rather be working on. So I guess it also depends on what you personally like doing.
 

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