Game Development Reference
game is played could have an outcome on how each scene pans out. Creating
conflict and drama when the player is in control is more difficult, but with
very careful planning it can be made to work in your favour if the characters
react to the different choices of the player in a way that builds a richness and
makes the characters seem fully rounded. If the player can talk to a character
about a cat, a missile and a burger, you must write each small section of the
scene so it makes sense if one player chooses to ask about the missile, then
the burger, then the cat while another player talks about them in a different
order. Writing in this way at the same time as keeping the scene interesting
can be a real challenge.
Motivation of the antagonist is important, too.Without it, they will come
across as shallow and you run the risk that the climax of the game will fall flat
because there has been no proper setup for this character. It is important to
give the impression that the villain is working on their plans even when they
are not on screen, otherwise it can feel like they have simply been waiting for
the player character to turn up each time they encounter one another.
We see too frequently in games, situations where the player character -
and the player - know nothing of the villain until the end of the game when
they are suddenly presented in the final boss battle.This hardly ever works if
you want to create a strong story, so consult with the design team to find
ways to set up the main antagonist as early in the game as possible.
It could be that discovering the antagonist is part of the story and game-
play, but that does not mean the character cannot be setup before this
discovery. He could be one of the other characters in the game that, once the
facts fall into place, makes perfect sense. You could show the mind of the
antagonist by the trail of victims they leave behind and the clues the player
must piece together to reach a final showdown.
Just as conflict and reward must be balanced, pacing is also an important
element helping create that balance. Unfortunately, because of the inter-
activity involved, controlling the pacing can be a problem. How often plot
information is revealed or how regularly the player character gets to speak to
other characters depends on the route taken through the game and how
quickly the player moves along that route.
There are always ways to maximise the pacing of a game and there will
always be some optimal path that most players will follow. Build the pacing
to play to the strengths of this common path, but think through the other
possibilities to ensure that there is no over-concentration of story and
character conflict in small areas.