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Figure 10.2. Sample linear story structure di-
agram.
Figure 10.3. Sample “pot-based” story struc-
ture diagram.
sions. But only after working closely with the designers can you generate a diagram
that represents the skeleton of your story.
Sometimes designers will ask for a lot of input from you at this stage. Sometimes
they won't, and they'll show you the structure they're working to and ask you to fill
the allotted story sections with the appropriate content. It usually works out better
when there's a degree of give and take at this stage, with a structure developing along-
side the content. In these situations, a designer can find he's making contributions to
the story, and the writer making contributions to the design. Once a story context is
developed, it can be a tremendous aid to sparking design ideas.
Once you have something that might look like Figure 10.2, or perhaps like Fig-
ure 10.3, then you'll have a structure to bind your story around. There are more
structures you could employ beyond these, including ones where there is “no scene”
as such, but the story is wholly subsumed within the game action, or where narrative
tracks are determined by selecting different characters, or where branching and semi-
branching narratives are employed, etc., etc., but these two are intended to serve as
simple examples. Figure 10.2 shows a wholly linear approach, one scene feeding into
one (or more) mission. Figure 10.3 shows what I call a “pot structure,” allowing one
scene to “feed” a whole pot of missions that can be attempted in any order by the
player, but they are all unified by the same motivation or objective—for example,
“take out the bad guys,” or “do all these jobs and make enough money, then come
back and see me.”
I find creating a structure diagram essential, because I can't finalize a treatment
until I have a structure in place, and I don't ever like writing a script until I have a
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