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Reddit Gamers discuss RPG Storylines
 
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Terry
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Joined: 16 Jun 2002
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Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reddit Gamers discuss RPG Storylines [quote]

I came across this at random on Reddit and thought it was interesting enough to share! A reddit user is working as a writer for a PS3 RPG and he asked for some advice on what gamers wanted to see in RPG Storylines - the discussion was surprisingly perceptive and useful! Some of it is fairly obvious I guess, but worth keeping mind none the less. Recommended reading for anyone who's coming up with an RPG plotline.

Here are a few of the more interesting posts (it's a very long thread):

Quote:
1) Leave out any objects of "power" or "light" or any element. Do not make weapons like that, or quest items, or anything. If you're going to make the players quest for the heart of a dragon, make sure it's because there is a dying dragon that needs a new heart, not because the heart of a dragon contains a "great force of powerful strengthness."

2) Clever missions/quests that will forever be remembered as unique. Don't make the players escape from a prison, desecrate a graveyard, storm a castle and so on. Make your players collect two hundred foreskins from an enemy village, freeze themselves for a hundred years in a magical contraption, and kill a mountain that has a face.

3) Be smart with your underlying themes and messages. If there is an ethical dilemma, don't make the players choose between good, evil and funny. Make them choose between virtuous, utilitarian and egotistical. If your story is about an invasion by outside forces, have collaborators and espionage and a battle for the hearts and minds of the populace. If there are going to be kings and warlords fighting for power, have them boast about the merits of their parliamentary system, or their meritocracy.

4) Have really good companions. My favourite games have really strong companions. Make them have a strong philosophical view that is relevant to the plot. Make them hate/love/be jealous of each other. Make us like them.

5) This one is something I would personally enjoy: After the final big boss has been destroyed, reward the player with a massive insanely destructive rampage in which they blow up hundreds of enemies that were previously a challenge to defeat. Let the player scorch half the planet if they want. This is obviously something of a design decision, but if they let you write it in, please do it.

Can you imagine if other games let us do that?

"I beat Oblivion."

"Oh, yea? Was the ending any good?"

"Yes. After anti-climacticly closing the gates and saving the boring royal family, I was bestowed with the power to destroy any enemy with the power of my mind - but banished to Oblivion forever. You get to kill about ten thousand enemies and destroy a few dozen of those towers before the whole fiery plane of existence collapses in on you and the credits roll."


A simple, but I think essential point:

Quote:
Also, please, please, please don't rely on a stupid MacGuffin. So many RPGs are all about "Oh, damn we have to get the diamond. ONOZ! The diamond was fake! Must do x instead!" If you want the story to engage people, give us an objective we can care about. A great example: Half Life 2, Episode 2, when Alyx gets wounded. You're playing to defend a character you care about not just to get magical weapon x.


Quote:
Oh, one last tip: a character who wants something really badly is always compelling, no matter what she wants and why she wants it.


Quote:
I love character development in the "villain" especially. When you feel sympathetic to the bad guy in any sort of story it really makes everything deeper. When there is a mutual respect between the Hero and the Villain, and the idea that there isn't really that much that separates them, it makes the experience much better than a clear-cut "right/wrong" type of gameplay. Imagine battling the villain to the death at the end, but part of you doesn't want him to die because you have so much respect for the character.


Quote:
Throw me a curveball or two. Kill the main character (no bringing-backsies) and make me play as the formerly secondary character for the rest of the game. Have me play alternating characters, and force me to kill a close friend of character A when I'm playing as character B. Establish early on that the story isn't going to be the same story as every other RPG I've ever played, and I will love you forever.

I really like the alternating character idea. If possible, the characters could have different personalities and play styles, and you could differ the story by slanting the amount of time you spend playing each according to how you play. Also, it would allow for some really cool scenes.

SPOILER (Chrono Trigger)

I LOVED how Crono gets killed towards the end of Chrono Trigger. I know it's not really what you're talking about because you can bring him back, but it's such a great moment in the game because when it happens you realize how much you'd gotten into the game and the characters. I felt just as frantic as the other characters when he died and that caused me to become as determined as them to bring him back.

Plus, if you choose not to bring him back, you get this fantastic bitter-sweet ending.


Quote:
>What would you like to see?

A strong female character my daughter can look up to. Brave, curious, intelligent. And not there to be arm candy or ridiculous over-busted male interest.

Spanning multiple lush environments, from something like the Sahara to something like Antarctica to something like the Amazon to something like the Caspian Sea.

>What would you NOT like to see?

Archetypes of all kinds. Fantasy. Post-apocalyptic wasteland. (I'd take Waterworld over another one.) Zombies. WW2.

Oh, screw it. Make a steampunk game, either Jules Verne or Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age style. Can you get a White Wolf license for Changeling?


Quote:
My #1 complaint with RPG stories is that your starting characters are complete dweebs in the beginning. By far, my favorite RPG stories are games wherein you start off as a bad-ass:

-Okami (you are a God)

-Deus Ex (fresh out of training, but you're already more skilled than almost everyone you know)

-Planescape: Torment (You are immortal but amnesiac)

Secondly, make your story internally consistent. I don't care if there's magic or whatever, just don't leave players with a confusing plot hole. (I'm looking at you, 2nd half of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.)

Third, emotional scenes are the best, but they have to be emotional because the player cares, not because the game claims it is an emotional scene. Having all the characters in the game get super-worked up over another character's death comes off as dumb when you didn't care about that character in the first place. For example, Aeris' death is a shock not because your party freaks out about her dying, but because most players cared about her at that point in the game.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.


Quote:
Play with morality and consequence. In Ultima IV they forced you to live according to the 8 virtues in order to win. So we finally had an RPG where you couldn't just walk into every store/house and take whatever you wanted.

In KOTOR they didn't force you to be good or evil but they did track your actions and allowed you different abilities, story and endings based on your deeds.

Games like Morrowind, Oblivion, GTA, etc... let you do anything you want, good or evil, but almost completely miss the consequences of performing those actions.


Quote:
Don't make the story revolve around saving the entire world.

It'd be great to see a character who fights to protect a select few people--the people from his home town or something--whose backgrounds are given enough focus that the player actually feels some obligation to, and wants to protect them.


Quote:
>Female protagonist with a lesbian love story.

I'd like to expand on that. Make a homosexual character. Seriously. I don't have the deepest video game history knowledge but I can't name one game with a gay character or supporting character. Don't make it pronounced. I don't want to see goofy lesbian sex scenes. Don't insert gay joke here. Make it real. Make it honest. Don't go crazy with it because honestly ... you might lose the "I dun't wanna play a game wif no gays" crowd. Do you know how much character development can happen around that one single item alone?


And some less sincere ones: :P

Quote:
You should make it all about how a young prince's life is put in upheaval when he is sent to live with his Aunt & Uncle in a far away land after battling a group of rapscallions. The story would follow Prince Willam's new life in the Banks estate with his uncle, Magistrate Phillip and family and his misadventures with his bard friend Jeffery.


Quote:
no fucking amnesia!


Quote:
THINGS I WANT TO SEE IN YOUR RPG:

1) A gun that shoot missiles, when the missiles explode a shark flies out and eats the face off your enemy.

2) A gay alien hero from the future that quotes Clint Eastwood movies. He has travelled through time to save his love interest.

3) A society of futuristic aliens that are worship Clint Eastwood.

4) A fusion plot of steam punk/fantasy/eskimo peyote dream

5) Sentient narwhals that talk like vikings.

6) A cute and lovable Ewok type character that gets kill by evil Narwhals early in the story.

7) The gay alien hero's love interest (a narwhal) will be played by Ben Afleck or Vin Diesel.


Quote:
tanks vs mummies

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Ninkazu
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:15 am    Post subject: [quote]

Agree, and chuckles at the last section.
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DeveloperX
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:02 am    Post subject: [quote]

HAHAH! I've read that before somewhere...might be the link you posted.lol!

I think the author has some great points there.
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Hajo
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:05 am    Post subject: Re: Reddit Gamers discuss RPG Storylines [quote]

Quote:
1) Leave out any objects of "power" or "light" or any element. Do not make weapons like that, or quest items, or anything. If you're going to make the players quest for the heart of a dragon, make sure it's because there is a dying dragon that needs a new heart, not because the heart of a dragon contains a "great force of powerful strengthness."


I feel uncertain about this. Fairy tales all work with magic power, why is this suddenly bad for games? Maybe "power" is too generic. Angband had monsters that were susceptible to light (reasonable since they live in dark caves), so a "light" elemental damage made sense in the context of the game.

Dungeon Master had a set armor with the attribute "dark" that made players take more damage from fireballs, most likely due to absorbing nature of dark elements ...

Even if light is meant in the sense of "holy" here, it still seems sensible, if the games world has gods and a distinction of "holy" and "unholy".

For me the distinction of fire, ice, lightning and the magical/undead damage type in Diablo II worked well, while the 11 or so elements of Ragnarok were too many for my brain.

A heart transplantation for a dying dragon looks quite odd to me, and if the heart has to be stolen from a young dragon, it even looks ethically questionable. Not sure how this is better than the standard fairy tale stuff, except that it is a new mix of modern medicine and ancient creatures with the "organ theft" topic from current movies ...
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RedSlash
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:58 am    Post subject: [quote]

So if we're questing for the heart for a dying dragon, then it only must mean that the dragon we're saving is really bad ass and has a great force of powerful strengthness.
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Nodtveidt
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:14 am    Post subject: [quote]

My wife and I are developing an RPG featuring a lesbian protagonist.
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DeveloperX
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:31 am    Post subject: [quote]

Nodtveidt wrote:
My wife and I are developing an RPG featuring a lesbian protagonist.


I hope its tasteful! XD lmao!
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Captain Vimes
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:22 pm    Post subject: [quote]

DeveloperX wrote:
I hope its tasteful! XD lmao!


I hope it's not.

Just kidding.
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Verious
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:03 am    Post subject: [quote]

I think it would be interesting to see an RPG that encouraged the main character focus on the needs of the few over the needs of the many.
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Nodtveidt
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:24 pm    Post subject: [quote]

DeveloperX wrote:
I hope its tasteful! XD lmao!

It's a goddess story. A goddess falls in love with a human woman and takes her for her wife. There are no lesbian love scenes (sorry people), but all the characters wear very little clothing.

Verious: in my RPG "The Wrath of Sona", the main character doesn't give a damn about anyone but himself and his mission. The player is presented with several choices throughout the game in which he can help people in need or keep going with his own agenda. No world needs saving. :)
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RedSlash
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:00 pm    Post subject: [quote]

All he characters wear skimpy clothing but no action ever happens? This must be some sort of torture!
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DeveloperX
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:11 am    Post subject: [quote]

RedSlash wrote:
All he characters wear skimpy clothing but no action ever happens? This must be some sort of torture!


You mean the.. ;) and yeah..that is torture..rotflmfao!
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