Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
two in tandem. Simpler—though sometimes deeper—stories usually contain only a
main plot, that being the situation the protagonist is trying to resolve. Some movies
spend their entire length developing the main plot, while in others, and certainly in
many of today's TV shows, a good portion is also spent developing the subplot. The
same situation could be said to be true for video games as well. A sandbox game
with no subplot is pretty much what we've been looking at so far. It allows players to
explore the world at their leisure and choose when to launch the missions. Therefore,
a sandbox story can certainly have only a main plot to deal with, but subplots can
make it so much richer.
Subplots are useful in that they allow a further look into the story world by
showing sides of certain characters or locales that we would otherwise not be able to
see in the main plot. They certainly aid in immersing the viewer in the story world,
and so too do they accomplish this even more so for video games. Although not
required, it is certainly my suggestion that you add a subplot or two to your sandbox
world, as the medium is certainly capable of supporting it. As a sandbox world
allows players the ability to roam freely in an open environment, it is valuable to your
game world's feel if all areas of this world are populated with story-related items to
If you want subplots, think of the secondary characters you've already created
and give them their own stories. For the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling spent a
lot of time detailing out all of the characters she had in her world, even giving them
their own histories and preoccupations that occurred during Harry's escapades—even
though you never heard of them in the topics. Think of the opportunities a sandbox
game then presents, where the player is now free to choose where to go and actually
see and deal with these characters a little more deeply.
Since in the main plot players are able to launch missions at their leisure, adding
subplots can then translate into the option of taking on side objectives, or “side
Sequencing Main Objectives and Side Objectives
Your story doesn't necessarily need to flow in a linear manner. Some objectives can
be done in any order, but you need to pace the game with the main plot. When
structuring story, a little dilemma with adding side quests is figuring out when to
make them invalid. The only reason you would want to make them invalid is when
the situation in the world has changed, such as the man you were meant to perform a
quest for has become your enemy or has died because of a scene in the main storyline.
To deal with this, some games “funnel” these side quests between spaces within the
main storyline. Therefore, before going on with the main quest, you'll have your
chance to do all the side quests you want. But going on with the main story nixes
the leftover quests. Other games just keep all the side quests open all the time and
won't include any of the characters from the main plot. Alternatively, some games
will take stances in between the latter two. You can take whatever position you like;
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