How to start your story?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Jomarcenter, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. Jomarcenter

    Jomarcenter jomarcenter-MJM Veteran

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    Ok With your feedback how do you start a story?

    Now a games have a story but if a player pressed the new game button how it will start.

    Do you put your player in a empty place and let's them explore until it's started, Or a very long (and sometime annoying) exposition, or immediately a battle with a boss and lose the battle on purpose to really start your story, or an tutorial that isn't really the start the story?

    A Story won't happened if there is no start right?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Start from introduction obviously. What exactly is going on your game. 

    Explain the world on the fly while you're explaining what's going on.

    And of course, you need to put skip intro option because as you already mentioned that it will be annoying sometimes.
     
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  3. sokita

    sokita Crawling back to the surface Veteran

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    Starting with a sentence like "once upon a time" and then cutscene will happens. Personally, I would limit a cutscene (where player can only see what happen) to just 3 minutes max. The most important, no text wall.
     
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  4. Ms Littlefish

    Ms Littlefish Dangerously Caffeinated Global Mod

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    You know, sometimes it doesn't sound very helpful. But start from the beginning. 

    What does that mean necessarily? What it means is don't start us out with 10 minutes of back story and prologue that the character we're controlling isn't even there to witness. That can be very confusing and it won't be as meaningful to just be told something rather than to see it. Start us where the character's story begins and work your way backwards or forward in due time.

    If you have a lot of back story, let us find out as our main characters find out. It gets us in the action sooner, is more suspenseful, and feels more like we're experiencing something. I like to play now, ask questions, and get answers later.

    A lot of games just toss you in, and that's OK.
     
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  5. mlogan

    mlogan Global Moderators Global Mod

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    To me, it does not sound like you are asking "how do you start a story?" but "how do you start a game?". They are very different questions.

    And really, I don't think there is any set answer. It depends on the story you have for the game; how you want to unravel that; what the player needs to play the game - do they need a lot of backstory right away or can it wait?; the mehcanics of your game and how they need to unfold. 

    There are so many factors that there is not one general way to get started in a game and reveal the story.
     
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  6. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    It's very effective to drop the player right into the middle of some type of action, without any kind of specific introduction or expository up-front.  But this requires you to be talented enough with narrative to allow the player to piece together the background as they go, and also requires you to be talented enough with design to allow the player to intuitively understand what they're supposed to do in these first few scenes without lengthy tutorials.

    I don't have enough confidence in my narrative skills to do this, so I keep my game introductions relatively short (under 5 minutes), using them to firmly establish the characters and the framework of the plot.  And I make sure to show everything visually - I feel that text-only intros should be avoided like the plague if you want to engage your player.
     
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  7. Caitlin

    Caitlin \(=^o^=)/ Kitten shall rule the world!!! Veteran

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    How to start a game in a game?  I would say that it depends on the sort of game you're making.  For example, my game "Cat and Dog" has an introduction with them being lost and how they got there.  It, also, has a small tutorial about how to survive as you find  your way home.  But another one of my games had the birthday party, where his friends were killed and you escape from the house as a short what he remembers before you go back into the house to find answers a couple of years later.  But I think that the best examples is to look at game made by professionals from earlier periods to today.  You had one game with a tutorial dungeon, Wind Waker, where you find Tetra and your sister is taken to get you into the action much quicker.  Tales of Phantasia had a battle in the very beginning (that turns out to be your parents defeating the bad guy)...

    A good beginning should help you see what the person had or is fighting for, and what caused this person to leave his normal life to fight the fight he is fighting.  Sometimes, you can have that part be an interactive part of the game, but other times, you might see things from that person's point of view. 
     
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  8. Patryk

    Patryk Best in the World Member

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    I like to just write down what's happening. Nothing better explains the story and the world you're set in than a good old reading. Of course, I keep it short enough to not be annoying, with an option to skip it. And with appropriate background, and some sort of cool and also appropriate BGM to set up a tone for my game. But In the end, it just depends on what sort of game we're making. If the game would require an epic introductory scene, I would make an epic introductory scene. If the game would require subtle, and mysterious story telling, I would make it so.
     
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I respectfully disagree.
     
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  10. Ms Littlefish

    Ms Littlefish Dangerously Caffeinated Global Mod

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    Me too. While an RPG game is an excellent way to deliver a more text driven game; the wonderful and exciting thing about a game is there are far more ways other than words to tell the story.
     
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  11. RainbowGrenade

    RainbowGrenade Paint Princess Veteran

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    Personally, I prefer games that drop me right into the action, giving me the story in increments as I go along.  Sometimes, you tell it with dialogue or cutscenes, or other times, you can sneak in backstory and foreshadowing through NPCs or readable books and whatnot.  All I know is that blocks of text bore me to death.  You've got to either break it up or just keep it concise.
     
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  12. Patryk

    Patryk Best in the World Member

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    Sorry, maybe I could use a better word than "nothing is better than". I used that word because in my current (and only so far) game, there is so much story bits that couldn't be told in any other way. Some parts of the introduction are way to dramatic to do them in RPG Maker, it would be just way to cheesy. Same with for example narrator. And if I wasn't total greenhorn when it comes to art, I could do some pictures to try to visual the things told. But I would need to be really good to tell the dramatic bits of that intro correctly.

    Sorry again for being confusing.
     
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  13. Mihel

    Mihel Veteran Veteran

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    As a player I like starting stories with a short to medium-length cutscene where something interesting or at least unusual happens, and then being in control of my character within five minutes.

    I don't like backstories at the beginning, but I like a little bit of context. Am I the captain of a sinking space ship? Am I a prisoner about to escape my musty cell? Am I a double agent infiltrating some military base? The how/why/when/whom can be answered at a later time.
     
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  14. Alexander Amnell

    Alexander Amnell Jaded Optimist Veteran

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    Coming from someone who has redone their game's introduction 14 times and tried 4 different main characters perspectives as the focal with which to view said introduction; I can tell you what worked and didn't work for me, though the helpfulness of such advice is subjective at best.

    1. Less is always more: players won't know anything about what is going on to begin with and showing them an exposition of important characters before they start playing probably isn't going to do anything for them. Once you get people interested in the game is the time to really start building up the world, give them enough to know what to do next but don't try to fit the protagonists entire life of experience into an introduction.

    2. Optional conversations are awesome: not everything that doesn't advance the current plot is useless information, but not everyone will appreciate that. My game starts from the perspective of a mercenary captain and the men and women in his troop. (Six mercs + current client) during a job to hunt down and capture a dragon. Within the game world these men and women trust and respect each other, but no amount of 'plot centric dialogue' will be enough to portray that correctly to the player, thus friendly tavern banter and roadside comments are engrained into my game at this point, most of which are interesting but none of which are required to progress the game.

    3. Make npcs useful: what better way to immerse players into a made up world than to give them colorful characters and interesting sidequests to interact with? Injecting lore and information on the game worlds past/present into npc and quest giver dialogue/objectives works twofold, it gets your information out and typically prevents sidequests from turning into 'fetch quests' though it's also a lot of work to organize.

    4. Keep the long exposition, just don't put it in game: at this point I've got over 500 pages of just exposition and lore building about my current game world (though the game was originally born as a 326 page novel) and I look back on it when necessary and keep it all organized with a timeline, but it doesn't clutter my game. That way the ideas are there to be used when applicable, but without having to force any of it down players throats. A lot of the information needed to create a believable world isn't even stuff that needs to be in game, but it's good to have to make sure everything is consistent throughout the plot.

    With these thoughts in mind the prologue I've finally decided on and am happy with unfolds thusly: start around a table at an inn, approximately two-three minutes of dialogue telling the player who these people are and what they are doing; then a tutorial tip singling out one character that will provide tutorials on gameplay if asked and suggests speaking with everyone else as well. Player then assumes control, can chat with party members to get a feel for who they are and how they feel about each other, they can spar with the newest recruit and learn what my game had that is different than standard fare or they can walk out the door and advance the plot without participating in the world buildingaspect, instead only dealing with more plot-centric information (though I wouldn't recommend it since the game is pretty much character driven, the point is though that they can get to the action and come back to soaking up all the rest at their leisure.) so the introduction to my game can take as little as 5 minutes or as much as 40, depending on whether the player is actually interested in learning about the characters and their motivations or is just interested in getting to the gameplay.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2015
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  15. wigglyfingers

    wigglyfingers Villager Member

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    To me it depends on the type of story. If it's one with a lot of action then I don't mind being dropped straight into battle, if it's a horror or a mystery then I'd like some back story to go with in the beginning. The most important thing I think is, is that you should capture the players intrest within the beginning and let them be curious and want to find out more. 
     
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  16. Heretic86

    Heretic86 Veteran Veteran

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    Let the players experience and become a part of the story, dont just throw walls of text at them and expect them to enjoy it.
     
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  17. captainproton

    captainproton Dangerously Nifty Veteran

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    My own game starts with a very brief cutscene establishing the MC, Duran, as a storyteller and apprentice Sage, and name dropping a couple of characters to come. Then, you're left to explore the first map, where an NPC tells you to go talk to the head Sage of the shrine. You talk to her, and she gives you your initial quest, dropping a bit of exposition, and some hints on gameplay. More bits of exposition pop up as you go along, revealed by the plot and dialogue.

    I also use Modern Algebra's adventure log script as a diary system. As events are encountered, entries appear in your diary, with notes on people, places, etc, and also reminding you of your quest, all written as journal entries.
     
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  18. Naridar

    Naridar Giver of omnomberries Veteran

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    I firmly believe that a long wall of text before anything happens only serves to alienate the player and confuse him/her. (S)he won't know which parts are important, which ones aren't, etc.

    Look at how some great and successful RPGs begin

    - Final Fantasy VII has not a single word in its' opening FMV (well, apart from "Final Fantasy VII"), yes greatly conveys the general tone and setting of the game. That the city shown is named Midgar doesn't matter at that point, what Aerith's heritage is doesn't interest anyone and when actual gameplay begins, the first battle establishes who the bad guys are and even gives a clue about the protagonist's past all without a single line of text.

    - Chrono trigger's opening sets the general situation up and gives control to the player almost immediately. The general situation doesn't differ from reality that much to require an explanation. Things are only explained when they come up and begin to have an effect on the actual story (human-monster war, time traveling, the royal family, etc.).

    - Mass effect 1 has a very short text-on-black screen before letting you actually play. You can jump right into battle and get information as the game progresses, or you can take your time to read the codex and talk to every NPC. Even when deciding not to, the game can be understood fairly well.

    - The elder scrolls IV: Oblivion has the initial few steps of the plot happen during the tutorial (which aren't holding your hands and let you slightly explore the dungeon). The background is learned from books, NPCs at the player's discretion.

    Many RPGs on the other hand decide to tell the entire lore before you even get control of your character. It's just boring, you have nothing to relate or feel attachment to and you likely won't remember even half of it because you have no idea what to relate it to.
     
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