1. Kor
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    Kor New Member

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    Writing for video game (sci-fi story)... not working for us very well. Any help?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Kor, Feb 2, 2016.

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to write this, but here is my/our story :)

    So, I'm one of the guys on the team and we develop games and release on Steam (not giving any links, because don't want it to look like spam). So, for our first game we wrote an extensive story, lots of dialogues, everything. But the bottom line was "alien invasion" and the press basically said "how many times can aliens invade us? the story is crap!" :)

    For our second game the situation was quite similar, again, the press was like "boooring". So, we learned our lesson, I guess. Programmers, artists and other people are not writers and should not attempt to write :) Well, that's understandable, I must agree that the story was quite predictable in both cases. There were some unexpected developments in the story, but it wasn't enough.

    So, now we are developing our third game. This time we want to make this right. So, I was thinking just HOW can we pull this off... there is no chance that we ourselves can write a decent story. I did, but it again involved cliches I heard before, I guess I'm just unoriginal.

    Anyway, that's the reason I'm posting this here - maybe someone would be interested to help us with the story? I will provide you all information about our team and previous projects in private message as well.

    But just a short description about the setting: sci-fi, cyberpunk, anti-utopia, etc. There are some novel ideas we want to implement, but without proper story it would be just a waste of time again :(

    So, I would really appreciate any ideas or help!

    Looking forward to your replies here :)
     
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  2. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Free idea :
    War on robotics where the only effective way to combat robotic military is to manufacture more robot soldiers. About a human protagonist transcending into a information-based lifeform.
     
  3. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Well guess I throw in my opinions.

    As a gamer myself, I agree with you that programmers and artists shouldn't be ones writing the story. It's visible by the number of people dedicated to writing and in smaller teams, you can't even find the dedicated writer but instead, game designer does most of it and other people help out and throw in ideas. Games are a craft where multitude of different creative fields collide, all of them being very different, and it is odd writing as a craft is put down. Then reviews shoot down the story. Not surprising when team lacks writers, but guess that is the area where money is saved by not getting a writer.

    Everyone should have ideas, and many of them. If you don't have any, it's time to brainstorm. An idea doesn't pitch, if it isn't clear you can pull it off.

    Not sure what you mean here; do you say that you have some ideas but you are unable to put it in the shape of a story?
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's crazy but it just might work...

    Well, maybe not, but how hooked are you on sci-fi, cyberpunk, anti-utopia ?

    My own leaning is more historical (think GoT but real life)...could you/would you like to try a different scenario?
     
  5. Kor
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    Kor New Member

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    Yeah, that's the point of my post. It just doesn't work :)
    To write a good and compelling story requires some talent, well, different kind of talent than the one artists and programmers have.

    Oh, I mean we have some mechanics that we must use, some engine restrictions/possibilities that we must adhere to, etc. Now with what we have we need a great story to tie it all together. So, the best way to put all of that in would be in a sci-fi setting. We have a general idea for the game, but it requires some actual story. Good example of similar works would be system shock 2, it has an amazing atmosphere, dialogues and story. And the story is quite different from any other sci-fi works, especially in a way it put together.

    Alas, but with what we have available as well as restrictions placed upon us we really have to go with sci-fi in this case.
    I'd love to go into more details and explain everything, but I would really prefer to have that conversation over skype or in some other way that is not public. So, if you'd be interested - please send me some ways to contact you directly. E-mails would be perfectly fine.

    Edit:
    I just realized that it may seem like I'm here just begging for someone to help us. Well, it is partially true, I am hoping to possibly find someone who would be interested to work with us, but I am here for conversation, not just to solicit help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  6. Theoneandonly99
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    Theoneandonly99 Member

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    Hmmm... the best I could do for you right now is list down some games with (in my opinion) very stellar writing/stories. Maybe you could check them out somehow?

    -Persona series (3 and 4 particularly)
    -Bloodborne
    -The Dark Souls series (as well as Demons' Souls)
    -BioShock
    -Red Dead Redemption
    -Dragon Age: Origins

    Though only BioShock here falls under Sci-Fi, and the rest are Fantasy, I still strongly suggest checking out that game out along with Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series. All these three have very dark atmosphere/themes that are pulled off very well, and I assume from your post that the story you are vying for will be the same. For Bloodborne and Dark Souls, you can check out Vaatividya's channel on YouTube. He provides very well written videos about his interpretations of the stories in these games along with a bit of gameplay footage. I think that should give you some ideas! Good luck!
     
  7. Kor
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    Kor New Member

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    Thank you for the suggestions! In fact I played some of these games and I agree that they have very good narrative (not just story or writing) I think they manage to tie the story and gameplay together to create something very engaging. But, having to see other people do it doesn't help much with doing it ourselves even close to that level :)
    Though, I think in our case it will be a bit easier since we probably prefer to convey most of the story through the dialogues.
     
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  8. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    All games are cliché in some way.
    If the press is not liking your idea, its probably because you have not shown them how you game will be different from the others.
    We can't really help you if we do not know what type of game you are doing. Is it a first person shooter, real time strategy, turn-based, etc.
    You need to show them how your mechanics move the story along.
    I am a little shocked they said it was cliché. They are making a new Masters of Orion 4 that is basically an updated late 90's game. It will probably be number one when it comes out and its about as old school as it gets.
    Making a video game today is very difficult. Most games have been dumbed down so much they are not even worth playing.
    Shocks me that they think that is cliché when every other new game coming out is crushing candy or bubbles or whatever.
    I am a gamer, and would love to see a new alien invasion game.
     
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  9. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    If directly telling the story isn't your forte, I'd like to suggest implying the story. For a simple example that can be beaten quickly: http://jayisgames.com/games/imperil/ The gameplay is by far the most important factor, so the story is never really explained, giving just enough information to indicate that there is a story beyond what the player sees.

    (Honestly, it would be helpful to see one of your games in action. There are a lot of different things that could have potentially gone wrong with how you told the story.)
     
  10. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Game of Thrones is real life...
     
  11. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    This is a pretty fascinating discussion...I agree with @IlaridaArch that game design is "a craft where multitude of different creative fields collide", or as I think of it, a craft which is still really in its infancy. I don't think there's any commonly accepted definition of what a video game is even supposed to be; we all know basically what a novel looks like, or a TV show or a movie. But is a game (much less a good game) supposed to look like some $50 million studio prestige project? Or some Angry Birds-type thing someone made in their spare time?

    The upside of this is that it means there's still room to be wildly experimental in game design. Like in the early days of movies, when a feature film could be only 40 minutes long, or could be released serially in 10 minute increments. No such thing would get a theatrical release nowadays, because we all know that movies are supposed to be ~90 minutes or more and relatively self-contained stories (barring trilogies or whatnot).

    The downside is that there's no really reliable criticism of video games. So critics can decide that a "good" game needs to have an original, engaging story (so Angry Birds isn't a good game then?), and then the next day they can decide no, quality of gameplay or replayability or whatever is most important. And no one can call them out on this duplicity (spoiler alert: TV, film and lit critics all do the same thing to some extent, so maybe I'm being too harsh here).

    So this is all a very long way of saying: it may be a problem with the critics, not your story, because the critics don't really know exactly what grounds their criticism should be based on. Which doesn't give it much credibility, perhaps.
     
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  12. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    Roberts post above hit it right on the nose.
    Critics today are looking for what they think makes money. Just seems like they dumbed down every game. Fallout 4 is basically Fallout 3 with different art. The first two fallout games were awesome, but they were turned based and the industry wanted to move more towards first person shooter.
    They are good games, but the hardcore Fallout fan from the beginning still longs for the old style of play, even though they are never going to get it. Its all money now. They want a million games sold, why make a game that will only sell 350k copies.
    Sad, but that's the world.
     
  13. Defender
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    Defender Senior Member

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    well, if you are going to do an invasion theme it should be for a very interesting reason, i myself am going through similar issues, and a good question someone asked me is, why are they invading, we all need something to work off of, do you guys have a sample we can look at or a summary of the game plots so far? i don't think we can do much with such limited intel
     
  14. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I think you are going to have to give up something that the collective can work with. Like what type of aliens are invading (or robots, or cybernetic ducks), and what are their capabilities and flaws? What are they invading a ship, a planet, a galaxy, grandma's underwear drawer? What about your protagonists, what are their strengths and weaknesses? Why is there an invasion happening to begin with? I understand you can't really be specific on open thread, but a little bit of context might get you a tad farther than being so vague as to be hammered with questions.

    Oooh, I got it. The United Earth Force has to fight of an invasion of cybernetic ducks, that are hell bent on going on a global panty raid. :D
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Kor -

    Could you do the invasion from the point of view of the aliens?

    That might set up some interesting moral issues - they need resources in order to live, but they have to kill to get them.

    You could have the protagonists be humans in the future, invading an alien world, or, if you think you've got a market for something that dark, have the aliens invade Earth and kill humans.

    Or have future Earth be taken over by robots, or Aliens A, with the few humans hiding and struggling to survive, and then Aliens B arrive and have to work with the humans to beat up Aliens A and then share Earth's resources. Players could have the choice of playing either a struggling human or an Alien B. Or, again if you're willing to go dark, players could play Aliens A.

    I have no idea what kind of time commitment you're looking at, or how your business model is built, but I'd be interested in working on those ideas, I think - no experience with game design, but I play them, and have lots of experience writing. PM me if you want.
     
  16. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    My suggestion would be simply: Get a writer or 2.
     
  17. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you heard of Wasteland 2? Or Pillars of Eternity?


    Anyway, responding to the OP. The reason games tend to have poor stories is a misunderstanding of the medium. Every form has its quirks. with games its the interactivity. This creates a couple of unique quirks:

    Cutscenes are, in my opinion, one of the worst things you can do. To take the players hands away from the controls are a bad idea as it removes the primary method of engagement from the player.

    The player has control of the pacing, they can take things as slowly or as quickly as they want. This means that small pieces of level design and hints through it can be truly rewarding.

    The player can interact with the world. This is a feature that games do not take advantage of enough. In a film the protagonist cannot stop to talk with every character. This is the greatest blessing of games. why have exposition dumps when you can talk to characters?

    The best game for story telling in my honest opinion is Dark Souls 1. A perfect marriage of mechanic, plot and world design.

    By the way, I am interested.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  18. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alien invasion but with a novel twist? You could use 2 cliches to build a new-ish story;

    Flying saucers emerge from outer space and surround the planet, declaring that the alien species on board will take the earth and its inhabitants for their own purposes. Slaves, resources, food - you decide what they're here for.

    While trying to find a way out, humanity stumbles over another alien species - one which claims to have been living among us for decades, laying in wait for the threat - they offer to help us for a price.

    The protagonist in your game could be searching for the truth while learning how to use the weapons on offer from the friendlies who are arming and training our soldiers.

    The ultimate truth uncovered at the end of the game could be that both alien species are in on it, going from one civilised planet to the next and defending each planet from an "invasion" in return for a huge share of the resources.
    They COULD take what they want by force, but they don't want to risk too much bloodshed.
    With their secret uncovered, will the aliens flee or try to silence us? Is our hero ready for what happens next? What will happen next?
     
  19. Death2ignorance
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    Death2ignorance Member

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    I'd be interested in helping. Sci-fi is my favourite genre, and I enjoy a good challenge so working within your limitations could be fun. You said you had more information? Feel free to message me.
     

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