Heavily Story-driven game

Hyouryuu-Na

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Hello. Hope you're all having a good time. I just wanted to ask, what's your thought about a game heavily dependant on a story? Like, almost all of it is just conversations, uncovering secrets and things related to the story more than gameplay. Sort of like a VN but the player has more control. They can walk around, collect items and use items. Make decisions and get endings. Note that the game is very text heavy. When the player has no control over the character, they will have to go through long cutscenes. I know it's been done before countless times but those are made by professional game companies. Now if I, a noob were to make it in MV (not the best kind of engine for these sorts of games)... Will you gladly play it if you like the story?
 

Kokoro Hane

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I myself make heavily story-driven games in RPG Maker, probably due to me more accustomed to making VNs. If it's something you'd like to tackle, I don't see why not. If the story is very interesting, you'll easily draw in players. I do recommend, however, to start with a small scale project before venturing into a huge epic. Try something about an hour, maybe two at most, of gameplay straight through as a sort of practice or prototype. See how it is received. Experiment with ideas. etc.
 

watermark

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Sure. I would...if the story is very good. I would view this more as paying for an online novel than a game. You will have to market the "game" as a book would I think.
 

TheoAllen

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The story probably one of the few aspects I'm going to consider before playing it. At the first impression, I will look if the developer is not neglecting the gameplay aspect. The dev could fool me by using the game screenshot as if the game also focuses on the gameplay, even though it turned out to be mediocre gameplay.

That said, I did have a good time playing a game that has an interesting story to follow but with mediocre gameplay. It probably least expected from me that I stayed because I want to see the story unfolds. But I won't complain as long as the gameplay is not frustrating and hinder me from progressing.
 

standardplayer

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As long as you were up front about it, I think that would be ok. That and, of course, the story has to be really good.

But as far as being up front, there are so many games to play that nowadays, a too-long intro cutscene/dialogue sequence will stop me from playing a game. Not because I don't care about story, I do, but I like to get into gameplay first, or at least almost right away, to see if the only good part of a game is the story.

If your audience doesn't know ahead of time, they might think everything is just taking too long to open up to more gameplay.

Easily avoidable with advertising/descriptions and other stuff
 

rue669

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As long as you set the expectations for your game that it is mainly just story, then that's fine

And then hope to God you know how to write and tell a good story. Which is not just dialogue, but how the scenes play out, their direction.

I also find that these are a bit niche games. You can definitely have your breakouts though (like To The Moon).

My game is heavy on story, but there's also a ton of gameplay, mainly because I like games that feature both. Though some days I wish I just did the story aspect and called it a day! haha
 

gstv87

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don't "Heavy Rain" and "Life Is Strange" fit into this category?
I don't remember them having significant "combat".... if any at all.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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@gstv87 Yes! But those games are enjoyable to play because they're 3D and the graphics, the storytelling, the music and the whole vibe are just so good that they draw the player in. That's not something a lot of us can do... but I guess it's worth a try. After all, everything I do will be free so I'm not exactly losing anything (if people don't enjoy it but I hope they will) XD I actually have a story sitting on my phone and I just feel like it'll be a waste to just leave it like that. I can make a short VN with that but VNs are a bit boring to me idk why so I figured it'll be VN type but not exactly that.
 
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The Mighty Palm

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Short answer: Yes, a heavily story based game can work.

Less short answer: I don't think a bunch of long cutscenes are the way to go about storytelling.
You want to give ample breaks from the story and allow the player to feel as though they are the one
making the story progress and not just that they are there for the ride.
Gameplay is the very core of any video game just as music is the core of a musical. If you take the focus
off the gameplay too much, then you have to ask why your medium even needs to be a game.
 

cabfe

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I read a lot of Visual Novels, so I have nothing against a game that even has zero gameplay, as long as the story is good enough to keep on reading it.

I'd rather watch a long cutscene than having dumb QTEs to "keep the player awake".
It's like those games that include combat sequences for the sake of being a "video game". They're often badly executed and detrimental to the game eventually.
If you do that, either you're doing your game wrong or your target audience is not interested in the story of your game.
 

CraneSoft

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The game you described basically screams Corpse Party, (heh) which is a perfect example you don't need 3D or AAA commercial-quality graphics for a good story-driven game.

So yes it works as long as you find the correct balance between story and gameplay, and the rest is all about how to distinguish yourself from the fierce competition who all wanted to make story-driven games.
 

Zreine

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I love story driven games, so I'd probably play it. It a risky move though, your story needs to be really good if there's not a lot of gameplay. A story that's just "okay" won't be enough to keep the player invested if there's almost no gameplay in my opinion. Also I think that since you're using a game as a medium to tell your story, you should really priorise the "show don't tell" aspect, over the text heavy dialogues. It may be harder with RPGM MV, but it's not impossible.
 

Leon27

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@gstv87 Yes! But those games are enjoyable to play because they're 3D and the graphics, the storytelling, the music and the whole vibe are just so good that they draw the player in. That's not something a lot of us can do... but I guess it's worth a try. After all, everything I do will be free so I'm not exactly losing anything (if people don't enjoy it but I hope they will) XD I actually have a story sitting on my phone and I just feel like it'll be a waste to just leave it like that. I can make a short VN with that but VNs are a bit boring to me idk why so I figured it'll be VN type but not exactly that.
And dont forget the excellent voice acting, especially LIS.

I also wonder, if LIS were a 2D pixel game with no voices, would it work as well?
 

RCXDan

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I am all for story-heavy games as long as you pace yourself correctly. That is, not wasting time on plot beats with stretched out dialogue or deliberately padding out your game for whatever reason.

"Show, don't tell" is another big thing too, like... if you can convey emotions through how characters react physically or without words, that'll grip players way more than a text box telling them how [x] character feels.

Also, giving the player the ability to skip cutscenes would help a lot even if you're more story than gameplay because what if the player messes up and has to do a sequence over again?

Being forced to go through the same content multiple times tends to lessen the enjoyability of any game regardless of genre, I've noticed. It's worse if the cutscenes are very long, because being forced to repeat them tends to add up lost time.

aka.

Being concise is good.
 
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a_a

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A good amount of some of the most amazing games are story based, and like a tv show a good story can make anything great. For example, lets think of FNaF (Five Nights at Freddys). The game has one of the most complicated stories Ive ever seen, and has an insane amount of story still to be uncovered. But just remember another part of the game that makes it great is the gameplay, the horror aspect is the main reason it first went viral, but the story is the reason people stayed. So remember a great detailed story helps a game, but add some gameplay aspects that are just as great even if its not a lot. Also sorry if FNaF is a bad example, I am aware it is a different type of story driven game based more on lore.
 

Quill-Hawthorne

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The important thing is to showcase your entire game as story-heavy because some people can come in, expecting something else.

I see the word "long cutscenes" and it makes me pause a little because that seems a little overwhelming for a whole game. Be sure to balance out gameplay and story because if you show that both of them exist in your game, players might get tired when they're watching scene after scene. Even if your gameplay is minimal, it's important to use them well, as ways to pace the plot. Every chunk of information needs a small rest afterward.
 

joepmeloen

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Not to be sarcastic or anything. If you want a story, write a book.
If you want a visual story write / draw a comic-book.
If you want to make a game, make the gameplay good if not fantastic...

Maybe its an option for you to create a story driven game that has: puzzles and minigames to keep it interresting. Like defeat the boss with a mini game or something.
 

cabfe

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@joepmeloen There are things that cannot be done with just a book or a comic book, like voice over, choices, music, etc.
Visual Novels, for example, exist for a reason. As do books.
Gameplay is not all there is to use a digital support to tell a story.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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@joepmeloen I do have it written in book format. It's just that I wanted to make it more interactive with choices and random routes the player can take depending on their actions throughout the game. I would've made a Visual Novel to be honest, but I think making portraits for every character will be very hard for me plus the reader would have to read a lot. This is the type of story that I'd like someone to go through slowly, while being interested and not feeling like "ugh more text to read!" Yes, there will be text but not in a lump as we see in VNs. And for those who are interested (lol. I'm pretty sure nobody will be) I may publish the book in wattpad or ao3 (does it take original work tho?) Or something...
 
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Chocopyro

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Well, yeah. Sounds like my kinda game, actually. There are ways to spread out the cut scenes and give the player things to do, if you're worried about that, but a well written and well directed chunk of character development to set an emotional tone and adjust the pacing between story beats? That's the kinda thing I love seeing in RPGs. So there's nothing wrong with that.

Actually, my own project kinda has the players delving into the world in search of legends, fairy tails, and information. I possess a tendency of making worlds that are filled to the brim with histories and sociological details, and it's a bad habit of mine to want to explain everything I find cool or interesting about the world. So here are a few things I do to keep me from doing that.

1: I have a world that is filled to the brim with details that are unnecessary for the plot. But I choose to only focus on the things that are important for the story being told. If this information needs to be exposited, then rather than do it all at once, they will uncover little by little through out the chapter. And in the future, this lets me make other games set in the same world where a different set of players could retread similar ground in search of very different answers.

2: The characters are ages 10-12. They don't have the attention spans to hold up long conversations with one another, and rather than explore their backstories, I get to show it instead. This ensures that the players aren't denied their agency.

3: Since a lot of the lore is shown, not told, there is a lot I still want to say about the world. So I have a Bard character appear in every tavern who could give context to certain regional stories in the form of cutscenes just in case the player wants to get the full story about why "That tower over yonder lies infested with redcaps" or "How the Hawkfall kingdom once became ruled by an owlbear by accident." The player will be warned ahead of time that some of these stories might take a while to be told, but it's a good way to put the incentive to learn about the world in the hands of the player.

I guess what I mean is, always respect the player's agency. Give the player a little hand squeeze here and there to let them know you haven't forgotten them. Trust them enough to have control over the way the story unfolds. I mean you probably already knew that, but I needed something to say to tie this post together. XD
 

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