Planning Your Story / Game

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Max Palmer

Jun 8, 1994, 6:06:17 AM6/8/94
I don't know about anyone else but I used a similar method to the one
outlined below to design my adventure ...

(1) Think up a reasonably realistic story, ie. know your starting
conditions and eventual objective(s) ! (No surprises here)
(2) Roughly sketch a map of the kind of terrain your adventure is going
to take place in. Think up what kind of politics might be involved if the
map involves countires / governments. Add some history and background to
the world.
(3) Think up some general puzzles and write them down (any will do as
long as they're decent / not too obscure). KEEP doing this whenever an
idea strikes.
(4) Start to plan the initial stages of the game, i.e. first 20-30
locations. These are crucial and often make / break the game.
(5) Divide your game terrain up into zones with 'blocking gateways'
between them. Gateways are single locations that link larger, heavily
connected areas or zones and form some kind of natural barrier that may be
overcome once a number of puzzles in a neighbouring zone have been
completed. These provide player goals and should have just enough
tantilising hints / snapshot views to 'beyond' to keep the player hooked
causing he/she to think, 'I wonder what is beyond that heavily runed
encrusted gate in the Garden of Souls ? '
(6) Enhance your plot by implementing sub plots / characters to start to
fill in the gaps and add realism to the world. Bare in mind the terrain
you have. Note, some scenery characters are also useful to add realism as
not everything in the game should be there just for the sake of solving
the game - this would not (IMHO) be a natural scenario.
(7) Start to get an idea of the linearity of the game or possible
branching that might occur (i.e. how is the storyline delivered to the
player and how much leeway are they allowed when moving through the game ?).
Prioritise the game zones into a loose order if applicable but bear in
mind that the player should have more than one course of action available
at any one time if at all possible.
(8) Add details to your map and then start to allocate those puzzles you've
been writing down to suitable locations so that they appear
natural. If possible start to link some puzzles to create some chaining
puzzles that lead to possible gateways.
(9) Map in detail the zones that come into play during the 'early' stages
of the game.
(9.5) Decide on approximately how many locations the completed game is
going to have. This stops you going mad (and continually expanding the
game) once coding has started as you will know roughly how much work lies
(10) Now start coding ... and modify whenever necessary. Continue to
enhance the plot down the line and map higher zones in detail.
(11) Finish the game on paper (should be completed when about 10-30% of
the coding for the early sections of the game has been done)
(12) Endure the long hard slog ! ... however, remember that nothing is
completely fixed though you should restrict yourself to modifying the plot
only when you think it's absolutely necessary or when bugs/inconsistencies
appear that need to be smoothed.

Well, that what I've learnt from writing my game ! The order here is
subject to a degree of alteration / interpretation but it feels
reasonable to me.

BTW I know the feeling when you get up and subliminally know that you
have to get X locations done by the end of the day. If you are not in the
mood then have a quick stab, if nothing is flowing then stop. Forcing
locations will usually result in bad prose.

50 locations a day ! : Are you kidding ? ;-) I'm on a very good day if I
manage to do 10 ! Hummm ... maybe that explains why it's all taking Sooo
long !

And suddenly it all became clear .... !



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