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Unnamed Game - Plot Discussion

Discussion in 'Theory & Development' started by PixelMister, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. Hello everybody!

    I've started to get back into RPG development again; and I just wondered if I could get critique on my preliminary story introduction?
    The Creation:

    In the beginning there was only a churning turmoil of chaos. At the heart of this chaos where all things became one, a small ball of light appeared. Having tumbled from the darkest depths of the void, the light gave birth to the Original One, our creator.

    From itself, three beings the creator made. Time started to spin, space began to expand and balance was created from nothing. These three concepts morphed into the goddesses of our world. Locuco, the goddess of Space, Aevusia the goddess of Time and Nihillia the goddess of the Void. The goddesses created, the Original one took to an unyielding sleep.

    The three goddessess created our world, using magic gifted from the Original One. Locuco created the land, Aevusia created the Sea and Nihillia created the Soulstream and therefore balance. They then combined their powers to create the worlds diverse inhabitants.

    Needing rest, the Goddess Triad wanted someone to watch over the world in their place and created Erueres - The First Being. Their work done, the three Goddesses returned to their resting place, a magical realm unreachable by the likes of men.

    The Ancient Battle:

    During the first era of the Goddess Erueres, the world was in a natural state. Wanting to hasten development and watch humanity grow, she split the land into three - each with its own microsystem. The worlds inhabitants travelled to these lands, building new civilisations. These people after many years diversified and became the races we know today - SIlex (The mountain men), Nemus (the forest folk), Harena (the sand people) Lympha (the water people) and the Latro (the Nomadic Humans). Many hailed Erueres as the Harbinger of life and statues of her and Goddess Triad were made.

    However many people were enraged that Erueres had meddled and not let civilisation find their own way through the land; and began to pray to an imagined force, a false deity. Eventually enough hatred sparked a new disturbance in our world; coming from the depths of the planet, channelling the power the Soulstream to create an appearance. They called her... Malumagus.

    Malumagus attempted to take over the world with demonic powers, calling forth demonic creatures called hellions and natural disasters plagued the world. Many were killed, and those who were left were called by Erueres. Those willing to fight were transformed into mystical beings called Summons and the others were sealed in the Temple of Erueres. It was the last defense of man, and a massive war was waged. Malumagus nearly won, however Erueres used her last remaining strength to call forth the Goddess Triad.

    The Triad manage to seal away Malumagus in a void, but cannot destroy the miasma of their world. In desperation they call upon the power of the Original One, but no answer came. With no other option; the triad use their last remaining power to create another world in which inhabitants of this world of transported through the Soulstream.

    Erueres was also on the brink of death, and sealed herself in the forsaken world in a frozen state to prevent the miasma spreading, sends her essence into the new world in order to be reborn.

    Many millennia have passed, and the world has changed greatly - and no evil has taken form, until now.

    20 Years Ago:

    An evil spirit, awakes in the Forest of Archaos and takes on the form of a magician named Ethrie, who begins to drain power from the Forsaken World (the original world) and begins to travel the Soulstream to reach the New World.

    Five Warriors, elders from each of the five races sense a disturbance, and travel to the Soul Citadel (the centre of the world) and find Ethrie trying to reach into our world. Seeing this the Five Warriors give up their lives to seal him in the Forsaken World.

    One of the warriors, leaves behind a child - you.

    Any criticism, no matter how small - would be greatly appreciated!
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  2. Mega cliché, this is pretty much the backstory for 90% of all RPG Maker games.

    It would be a bad idea to explain all this to the player in a game's introduction. The first impression of the game would be minutes of exposition and complicated names that mean nothing, then all that information is thrown into the trash with "20 years ago" and then it's a little closer to something the player would care about.

    A back-story writes itself as you develop the plot of the actual game, You should not be thinking about origins of the universe as your starting point, you should be thinking of the player's starting point (the first thing they see when the game turns on) and the player's ending point (the last thing they see when the game is over). The history of everything writes itself as you come up with justifications for the details you write between the start and the end.

    Every good game is written like this, including RPGs that you think have in-depth, massive back-stories - these back-stories are made up on the spot as justification for all the cool stuff the player goes through in the actual game.
  3. #3 Aiedail, Oct 10, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
    While I do think that some of this is a bit cliché, things only become cliché because they've worked in the past. And while I agree with the Other Guy in regards to the backstory being sensory overload for the player were it all to be explained at the beginning of the game, I think that so long as you unravel the history of the worlds at a slow and natural pace, without dumping too much information at one time and risk confusing or boring the player, then you have nothing to worry about.

    That said, I vehemently disagree that "every good game" has a backstory that is "made up on the spot." Frankly, that's just bad writing. While spontaneously written excerpts of a story can fit in quite nicely with the overall design, a plot, even backstory, needs structure and planning; you can't just make stuff up whenever you feel like it. The plot of the game is more important than the backstory, yes, but the backstory is the foundation upon which the plot lies, and without a stable backstory, the plot either won't make sense or it could just feel plain lazy. And the last thing you want your players to think about your backstory or plot--with the exception of thinking "it's stupid"--is that the writer of the story just didn't care about it. Because that's what you are, whether you're crafting an RPG, a screenplay, or a novel, you are a writer.

    Also, the Other Guy does bring up a valid point: The player's starting point is more important than the beginning of the universe. However, if you have the time and dedication for a full-blown backstory, go ahead and start at the beginning of the universe; there's nothing wrong with doing it that way. When it comes down to it, an RPG--or any game with a story, really--is just like a book or movie: Some content needs to be cut to make the story less complicated, more linear, shorter, etc. That doesn't mean that part of the backstory never existed in the first place but that it just didn't make the final cut. And when you're starting at the "origin of the universe," there will be a lot of history to sort through, and you probably won't want to give all that history to the player, and if you do decide to, you can always do that through side quests or miscellaneous lore items over the course of the game. Additionally, a full, detailed backstory is a must if you ever decide to do a prequel, and prequels can be tricky because they need to fit with the original backstory and also the future story line of the first game. (Imagine trying to come up with a plausible story for a prequel if the so-called "backstory" of the original game was just spontaneously scribbled down for "justification.")

    So, in summation, I think your backstory is excellent, though admittedly a little cliché, and that so long as you don't drop all that knowledge at once on the player, you're good to go. And, personally, this sounds like a game I'd be interested in playing.
  4. #4 Xilefian, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Being able to make up a back-story on the spot is not bad writing at all; good or bad writing is mostly subjective but is fundamentally pinned on the whole picture (the whole experience).

    Anyway, you've just called out that many, many games have "bad writing". A lot of the Final Fantasy series (including Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII) had their back-story made up ad-hoc (on the spot) to justify and add context to cool game ideas. Final Fantasy VI had this treatment in regard to some of the character back-stories (Shadow and Setzer are the prime examples). Same deal with the Tomb Raider series.

    So unless you're willing to stand up to the crowd and say these Final Fantasy games have bad writing (and there are some arguable points to that claim, I personally think back-story is not one of them) it would be unwise to say making up a back-story on the spot is "bad writing".

    DOOM 2016 is another famous modern example of this, I consider the writing in that game to be very, very excellent - but the average gamer won't see this, good writing is far more subtle than an average person realises (it disappears as everything makes sense). Its story was written roughly a month before launch.

    It's only in the past decade and a half where games have started off with developing convoluted, Hollywood style plots. Final Fantasy XIII was very guilty of this, but there were some development issues that probably made this approach necessary.

    In response to the idea that the cliché works (and is therefore okay); the reality is that the cliché is easy, everyone can write the cliché because it's something we've seen hundreds of times in past works and some people may assume that the past works are excellent because of the cliché, when in reality it is the way they handled cliché as a tool of their writing arsenal that made them excellent, not a dependency on the cliché.

    An easier way to look at it is; if this cliché story about the universe and everything is so important to the game, then what's stopping someone else from having the same cliché story about the universe and everything for their game? What makes their game different to yours? The answer should be "the game-play" - at which point, why value the cliché story so much? It's clearly worth nothing when others can so easily write the same thing (and have done time and time again, particularly in the RPG Maker community) and you're forced to pin your game's value to the game-play experience.

    Story overall is far less important than people believe, it's a fallacy born out of the audience's inability to identify what they enjoyed about a game experience (as that is usually a combination of things), so they talk about their feelings and emotions during parts of the game, and the common experience between all players there is the story, so the story gets credited for why the game is fantastic. This is never at the cost of good writing, if anything this is because good writing has married everything together.
  5. #5 Aiedail, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
    Very good argument and not one I can really counter, because you made your points very well.

    I suppose all I can do now is concede that your approach isn't wrong and that both of our approaches are simply different ways to go about crafting a story. As a novelist and hobby gamer myself, I suppose it's obvious why I prefer plotting everything out beforehand. And while I personally think that writing so much content spontaneously is a bit sloppy, there are clear examples of when it works or doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of the game, because, you're right, the gameplay and emotional experience are more important than the story.

    I don't really have anything to say in regards to cliché bits of story; I'm a fan of cliché, other people aren't. Sometimes a new take on a cliché story can be fun, sometimes it's too cliché to stand on its own and just blends in with the background of other similar stories.

    As long as everyone has a good experience, developers and consumers, what's the big deal, right? :)

    Also, I apologize for being a butthat in my original post; I get cranky after midnight.

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