A story allows a user to become more engaged into a game. There are many things that take part in making a great story.
Depending on the theme, a story can be either light or complex. It is important when making a complicated story, to not confuse or bore the player.
Of course a story is balanced together with the game play, some games don’t require a deep story if the game play is fantastic. But if you create a game of which the game play isn’t very great, then a good story can save this game.
A story should follow the same rules as in book writing.
You start out calm, you follow the action curve and the ending should be understandable. Plot holes should be left out, unless you wish for a sequel, or if you want the player to figure out the ending themselves. This isn’t to be advised though, just take a look at what happened to Mass Effect 3.
A good story has characters that are easy to relate to.
The protagonist (= the hero) can be your every day person or someone who has to gain power to defeat an enemy. He doesn’t have to be super man, he can be your average Joe who has to gain power, in some sort of way to defeat his/hers greatest challenge. Every game has their own story for a hero, if it was all the same it would be boring.
The antagonist (= the bad guy) is an important factor too, without them/him/her there would not be a real story.
Most games I played make them the same old boring “I am the bad guy muhaha”. However I do enjoy the more intelligent, not so bragging bad guys who actually do deserve respect.
Not all games, however, focus on saving the world or kicking the bad guys arse and that makes it refreshing. A good example would be: MineCraft or The Sims.
Some games choose to follow a linear storyline. That’s fine as long as you can’t guess what will happen next. A story that is too obvious will become boring quickly.
You don’t always need to tell the story to the player word by word. Remember the Metroid Prime series? There the player had to explore the world to figure out what was going on. It added a mysterious element to the game.
To create an element of surprise is always challenging. Imagine you play a game and the story is linear and suddenly something unexpectedly happens and CHANGES the entire plot. Let’s say if A wasn’t saving the world but really destroying the world or if you have to gather money and suddenly you end up getting hunted can create a great surprise for the player. For example in “Oddworld a Strangers Wrath” they really twisted the plot around during the game. This can make a story very exciting.
Another game with a really good story was “Xenoblade Chronicles”. There were a lot of shocking plots that twisted the game around at least three times.
Final Fantasy 13 is another good game with story twists. Story twists work well if you want to surprise the gamer.
The ending is just as important as the beginning, if not even more important. We all expect the ending to be fulfilling and to mean something. Either you have the classical ending where the day is saved and all is good or you lost and the whole world is destroyed (bad ending). As long as the ending makes sense and sums up the journey you have created, than it is a well created ending. If the hero lives or dies or made a sacrifice, then so be it.
Do not leave plot holes!
Leaving an open ending where nothing got answered is lazy and bad writing, unless you plan to make a continuation (sequel).
Leaving open endings can hurt the players or leave them with a bad aftertaste of your game.
Fall out 3 is a good example of that. The player HAD to die to win the game. In the end they published the DLC: Broken Steel, to fix the ending differently and to be more fulfilling for the player.
The Game Mistress
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