Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Make Sure All Requests to the PC are Valid
This is one of the most often violated rules for RPG writing and one that's the most
easily fixed. Simply put, you shouldn't ever ask a noble paladin to take a break from
saving the world to kill a bunny rabbit. The RPG genre is strewn with terrible,
pointless quests that not only make little sense dramatically (who is this random
peasant and why is he approaching an armed warrior about some missing apples?),
but they also fly in the face of the fiction surrounding the player character, usually a
great hero. In the world of video games, it's just as easy to model a dire rat as a sewer
rat, a dragon as a lizard, a great wizard as a peasant. So don't sell the player and your
story short out of pure lazy writing. Think of something dramatic, action packed,
and worthy of the player's attention. Then ask the player character to go do that.
If Writing Dialogue Trees, Keep Player Character Dialogue Broad
When writing for the main character, it is vital to remember that this is the on-screen
representation of a thousand different fantasies. One player sees himself as a smooth
rogue, with a ready wit and a charming smile. Another player sees herself as educated
and well-heeled, ready for any delicate situation. Therefore the player character's
dialogue must be carefully written to avoid too many particular parts of speech that
denote class or temper. A simple line of modest vocabulary can be read in many
different ways, with many different inflections. The exception to this rule comes in
the increasingly likely event that there is full voiceover for the PC. In such a case,
lines must still be kept broad where it's possible, but an interpretation of the lines
must be made.
2.6 Conclusion
The only way to create vibrant, immersive, high-quality RPG stories and dialogue
is to first take both the subject matter and the art form seriously. If you approach
interactive storytelling the same way you would approach traditional fiction, it will
show. This is a new art we have on our hands, less than two decades old and ripe
for revolution and experiment. In this new space, the place of a protagonist has been
removed, and player agency and world consistency must be the primary narrative
concerns. The tools of the interactive storyteller must therefore necessarily be differ-
ent. Creating choices that matter, keeping players in the moment, and reinforcing
a player's personal fiction are the first steps. After that, it's practice, patience, and
belief that giving a player control of a story can create a different and fantastic form
of storytelling.
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