Help with plot developing

stoovan

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I wanna work on a game. But I don't know what the plot should be about. I wanna make something that isn't based around the typical rpg maker cliches (Such as an anime artstyle or a story where a all loving good guy defeats a all hating bad guy who wants to destroy the world). And if you think using an online generator would help, your dead wrong. In fact, it actually makes it worse.
 

Milennin

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When not knowing what to write:
-Find/make a random graphic of your MC. Then find/make several more for what will be side characters that somewhat match the theme of the MC.
-Looking at the graphics of your characters should give you an idea of what kinds of personalities they'll have.
-Having their graphics and knowing their personalities, you can now make a background for each of them, and connect them to each other (who are the MC's friends, family, coworkers, enemies etc).
-Come up with a conflict for a reason for the story to exist (maybe a guy kicked the MC's kitten, and now the MC wants revenge on that guy).
-What drives the MC forward? What are the antagonist's motivations? How does the MC plan on solving the conflict?
-Work the side characters into the story so it all fits.
You're done.
 

megumi014

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I guess a good way to start would be thinking what kind of story would you like to play. Rpgs don't necessarily have to be fantasy themed, but even if you do: do you want to play a scary/dark fantasy game? Solving a misery/kidnapping? Would you rather play a comedy? Or something with romance?
For me usually the kind of setting/story comes first, or answering the question "what do I want to tell?" and then characters and motivations follow it, first the ones I need and then the ones I add secondarily to expand the plot little by little.
 

bgillisp

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Cliches are not bad. Start off your story with one and then once you have it done, figure out how to remove them. The very first story I ever wrote that was any good (I had a few bad ones before that) was the classic find the 7 pieces of the Macguffin to defeat the Foozle (aka the find the pieces of the artifact so we can defeat the bad guy story). From there I improved it in iterations to...well, what we have now.

And understand that some stories will just be garbage. I had one that ended "And then aliens invaded" as I realized it was just bad and I decided to nuke it into sheer absurdity at that point. And yep, that was an RPG story that had gone so bad I just had aliens end it all.
 

megumi014

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And understand that some stories will just be garbage. I had one that ended "And then aliens invaded" as I realized it was just bad and I decided to nuke it into sheer absurdity at that point. And yep, that was an RPG story that had gone so bad I just had aliens end it all.
You just reminded me of the old games Aero Fighters and In the Hunt xD "It was aliens all along" is how they summarised any resemblance to a plot back then lol.

But welp, an alien invasion could even work if it fits the plot (I'm thinking about Persona 2 Innocent Sin, not exactly an alien invasion but quite similar, and it was done seriously).
 

Kisai

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Cliches are not bad. Start off your story with one and then once you have it done, figure out how to remove them. The very first story I ever wrote that was any good (I had a few bad ones before that) was the classic find the 7 pieces of the Macguffin to defeat the Foozle (aka the find the pieces of the artifact so we can defeat the bad guy story). From there I improved it in iterations to...well, what we have now.

And understand that some stories will just be garbage. I had one that ended "And then aliens invaded" as I realized it was just bad and I decided to nuke it into sheer absurdity at that point. And yep, that was an RPG story that had gone so bad I just had aliens end it all.
You just reminded me of the old games Aero Fighters and In the Hunt xD "It was aliens all along" is how they summarised any resemblance to a plot back then lol.

But welp, an alien invasion could even work if it fits the plot (I'm thinking about Persona 2 Innocent Sin, not exactly an alien invasion but quite similar, and it was done seriously).
Kind of reminds me of StarTropics. That's basically how it ended. Aliens.
 

atoms

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Well you'd have to think of a certain element or combinations of them and make a story from there.

For example, who do you play as, who do you meet, what are the relationships like, are there heroes and villains, all that goes into designing characters section. (Making Characters).

Then you have things like a world to explore or go on an adventure in, what are the dungeons going to be like, what about the towns, that's the areas and the locations. (Making Areas/Locations).

Third you can see what's going to be explored in the story? That becomes things like themes. (Making Themes)

Lastly you can create some backstory and history with what you've got. (Making Backstory and History).

You can do any of these in any order but see what inspires you. Perhaps brainstorm ideas. Do you think of some sort of interesting setting and concept for a place in the game? That's making Areas/Locations. Do you think of a certain character you like with a certain personality? Or perhaps a relationship you want to explore in the game between two people. Can be lovers or friendship. Can include more people. That's making Characters and Themes. Do you want to have a world with a lot of history perhaps stuff happened in the past and has changed a lot since and you're getting ideas about that. That'll be making Backstory and History.

Just see what flows for you, what can inspire you.

Music for some people works to inspire them. For others they can look at other ideas in games they played or movies or books that can inspire them.

You just have to try stuff and see what works for you.

There are also a list of plot ideas on these two websites below, they may help you come up with something too.

1.
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MasterPlots

2.
http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/plots.htm
 

Wavelength

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Not all games need a plot. Some of the most beloved games of all time have only a theme, without any explicit story.

And - I mean this respectfully - between your very imperfect writing style, your overwrought examples, and the fact that you called "anime artstyle" a plot cliche, I don't think you're the type of game maker who should be thinking about story first. (I am the same way, in fairness.) The advice you'll find above are good tips for writers, but you have a ways to go before you can consider yourself a strong writer.

Instead, just start building up some content and gameplay that you think will be fun to have in your game. Place it in whatever kind of atmosphere you think would be cool to play it in. From there, either an idea for a plot that kind of brings all of it together will formulate from the pieces in your head, or nothing will come and you can make the game a light, arcadey, plotless experience with some cool environmental elements to provide theme. Either way, a great game could come out of it.
 

bgillisp

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tetris doesn't have a plot, and it's a great game.
Good point. So why not start out with a simple idea and make a game around that? For example, your game could be one where you need to escape a dungeon. That's it. Ultima Underworld 2 started with that as the premise, and it went from there. And you can argue Ultima Underworld 1 did as well to a degree. Maybe playing both of those for ideas would be a good idea? Or some of the other 90's games with very basic plot ideas, just to see how minimal plot can be fun too.

In fact, I still like to fire up Doom from time to time due to how minimal the plot is (demons invaded, stop the invasion, go blow things up now), as I can just check out and relax. No deep story to figure out, just basic simple gameplay.
 

atoms

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Tetris isn't an RPG type of game. If you want to make that type of game in RPG Maker, then sure that's fine and I agree.

If, however, you are making an RPG with RPG Maker, even ones that are very short and limited on plot, I think they all could still do with some sort of story.
 

Hyouryuu-Na

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I've gone through this before :) when I was 13, I played Ib, mermaid swamp, the crooked man and others and I really had an intense urge to make a game myself. I even got vx ace lol but I couldn't think of the plot. Eventually I got busier with studies and totally forgot about the game. Later when I was 15, I started writing poems, novels and oneshots. I started reading a lot too. So Slowly, my capability to imagine the plot became better. Now I'm writing and planning out my whole game in the form of a novel.

I think what you should do is:
1. Play lots of games. You can get ideas from other games, but you can add more to those ideas by using your imagination.
Instead of playing games, you can watch movies, read books, comics etc.
2. Start jotting down ideas you get into a notepad or writing apps. That will help you to connect two or more ideas and eventually make a plot for your game.
3. Think of the stuff that you'd like to see in a game. Cross out the things that you'd hate to see in a game. Use the remaining ideas to plan your story.
4. Start small. Don't try to think about making a plot that will blow everyone's heads off! While you keep making games, eventually your imagination power will grow and you will be able to plan better plots. My game is taking sooo long because I didn't follow this one
 

Finnuval

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I tend to Just start building A world and find interesting story bits as I go along. Jelling them together Into a single cohesive story is where the challenge lies for me but trial and error usually fixes that
 

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Have you written a game before? Because the usual advice for newbies (disclaimer: I am one) is to try to design a smaller game. So, don't go for anything world-spanning. Make the central problem a smaller one.

Like: four people have been kidnapped as slaves by evil beings that live in the depths of the earth. They have to escape and make it back to the surface. That involves making it through several layers of caves (that's your dungeon) and fighting the ferocious demon they keep at the doorway to the outside world (boss monster). Is it deep? No, but an interesting battle system and good art would do wonders for the concept, and besides, you'd have a completed game. That's a lot more than some people have.

If you want to go a little more in-depth on the story, and you're ready to make something longer, you could take one of those cliches you dislike and twist it around so that it's subverted. Rescue a princess from a tower! Okay, but she was the seal holding evil forces at bay, and now they're out, and you have to deal with them. The evil emperor had your home town burned! Okay, but when you get to him (and after you get soundly trounced), he says he never did any such thing, and makes you one of his knights to find out who really done it. The all-hating bad guy wants to destroy the world! Okay, but he's also your son, and you need to figure out what made him this way, undo it, and stop him from doing any more damage, all without killing him.

Which reminds me: you can rejuvenate some very tired plots by making the characters different from what people are used to. Instead of a brash young swordsman, how about a jaded old palace guard who sees no glory in fighting? Instead of an all-loving klutzy healer chick who serves as the default love interest, maybe the hero's grandmother knows how to cast Cure and decided he wasn't going adventuring in the world without her along to boss him around. True, some of the possibilities are better suited to comedic plotlines than serious ones, but they are literally endless.

Finally, don't be afraid to write bad drafts. Seriously. Writing badly is the first step in the process of writing well. Just grab a character, or a concept, and start putting words down, and see what happens.
 

bgillisp

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@Silversmith : Funny you mention that as my first game I finished here was 8 people are kidnapped by a demon, and they must band together to fight their way through 20 levels and find their way to the exit. Cliche yes, but I used it to test out my intended battle system and find flaws in it.

In fact, since the entire purpose was to test the battle system my dungeons were tiny even. 40 x 40 was the largest level. However it was swarming with monsters. So many it would drive most people insane but since the point was to test battles I needed a lot of battles. So that was the easy way to it.

Did it have a plot? Except for a 2 minute speech at the beginning there was nothing. The characters were mute outside of the initial "We gotta get out of here". But it did its intended job, which was 1) let me complete a simple game and 2) let me test out my battle system.

As it is, I never posted it. Maybe someday I'll polish it up into something more and post it as a non-commercial game on here...we'll see.
 

BK-tdm

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Try what i did a few times as a test: "Recreate" a game and "Fix"/tweak stuff to your liking, my first project ever on rpg maker XP was recreating Golden Sun (great game btw) using only the rtp.

The game, the plot, the puzzles, the skills, the systems... all was already made and to be honest, halfway trough the story it was no longer the same, it was a similar story but i ran with it and made it my own, if you want to work on something and have no idea what to do, grab something you liked and remake it, be it a fangame, a "sidestory" a tribute, whatever, if its for fun then nobody is gonna sue you (unles you make a Silent Hill).

Also you can make games of stuff you like instead of remaking ones, make a game based on a movie, comic, manga, anime whatever you liked, and "based" is a loose term, you can grab the plot spine and make up everything else.
 
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bgillisp

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@BK-tdm : Well, if they (the company) find out you are making it they can send you a cease and desist. But for practice only you might be able to claim fair use as it does allow for use for educational purposes. But that's another topic honestly.

I found an old video of my practice game with all the battles here. You'll see glitches, like someone having .2 HP, and animations being off, but I left those alone as they didn't affect what I was trying to test here. But that's what I mean when I say it still needs work before I could release it publically.

And yes, the entire thing was made using the MV RTP in MV version 1.1, with some ACE thrown in. The only exceptions were the icons and the image for the monsters, as I either made those or got those commissioned.

 

Silversmith

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@bgillisp Yeah, there's a reason why the "Escape from the Cave" plot persists—it's a good starter, and a great way to get a handle on mechanics.

@BK-tdm That's an excellent idea, and a great way to practice both writing and game-making.
 

BreakerZero

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All very good ideas, but let's say you want someone who you least expect to get the call (either for personal or categorical reasons). And then you end up with his best friend (who we later find to have the same inner limitations and a shared history at once). Then it builds from there to party members who themselves are all born with six distinct varieties of the same personal issue.

Basically you just ended up with a starring cast who all have the same problem yet they all end up on a collision course with existence under fire off the ultimate threat known to the divine... and still manage to beat the odds despite what you would normally expect of even the worst of your party on the charts. Again, using six distinct variations with six being absolute bottom-barrel that requires a serious case of innovation to even have a reasonable chance of success, and you end up with someone who clears academy and ultimately into the higher ranks in a meaningful methodology built almost entirely off innovation... and then some. But aside from that unique situation, everyone else is basically the same aside from the inherent advantages and limitations relevant to where they're ranked on the charts.
 
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