Storytelling...the beginning


Ah, so lets dive into video games further. This time, I would love to tell you about stories and plots and how they are woven into the gameplay and the overall gaming experience. This area of story writing and storytelling may seem a bit daunting at first but once you know how to break the story’s structure, it just becomes very easy. A lot of the body coming up is sourced from Chris Bateman’s Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames. This post is not meant to plagiarize or to demean anybody, the following content is for educational purposes for fellow game designers, developers and basically everyone who would like to know more about it.

Before writing a story, we must always decide on the characters. They are the ones that will bring life to your games. It is true that some games don’t need a story but if you want to convey an idea or a message, how would you proceed? Bioshock is a very good example of this. Characters come to life with Ayn Rand’s philosophy and the dialogues are perfect to set the tone that the game wanted to convey. Here the characters were of paramount importance. Whether it be You, the Player, or the antagonist Andrew Ryan and others.  Once you have the characters envisioned, you can proceed with what is known in the industry as the Hero’s Journey Model.

Most heroes follow this model. It begins with the Departure or Diesis- which basically is the introduction of the hero, the setting etc. Followed by the Crisis Point or Peripetia- this is the exciting part as the Crisis Point puts in motion the hook of the film. People start to ask questions such as Why this, What then, How come. It is the point where you should present the most exciting part which will compel players to actually finish the game and find the answers. Which brings us to the Resolution or Lusis. This is the climax, the end of the film. This is where you can choose what to do with the emotions of a player. You can provide them with the answers or you can leave them with cliffhanger.

Between these three major points, there are numerous minor points that you should know of- Departure->Ordinary World-> Call to adventure-> Refusal of call-> Meets a mentor-> The first threshold-> Threshold Domain-> Initiation->  Roads of Trials->  Allies and Enemies->  Innermost cave-> Crisis Point-> Return-> The Road Back-> Resurrection

Once you have mastered this model you can always add and iterate this model based on your requirements. The Crisis Point may not have to be in middle if the audience is already familiar with the character.

Talking about characters, lets begin with Archtypes

A threshold guardian is the character that must be defeated and bypassed in a hero’s journey, so that the Hero can enter into the other world and begin down the Road of Trials- A threshold guardian can be the lover who forces the hero in a “you will have to choose between your quest and me”

The Trickster is a after a character who could be on the side of good or evil, but is most often working his own benefit.

The Herald is the messenger that (according to the adage) we are not supposed to kill.
The news maybe good or bad, but whatever the Herald brings often sets the Hero down the road, or introduces a reversal as a plot point.- In the Hobbit, Gandalf first function as a Herald for Bilbo, later as the wizard (mentor) in both the hobbit and the lord of the rings.

The shapeshifter is the character who “went over to their side or came over to ours”, the undercover agent and the betrayer/Traitor. They build tension into the story as we, the audience are never sure what role they really play until the denouncement climax of the story, film or game.

The Shadow is the bad guy. Some of these might have no depth at all but some might be complex due to tragic character flaws.

Well that’s it for today folks, I have to do research for a game I am making.

Next time I would like to talk about Structures and Progressions system in videogames. Later :)