Video game story telling techniques

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What makes a good video game storyline?

 
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From what I have seen you need a multi level story; something that you can follow easily, but if you concentrate enough on the actual story you will have a much more in depth feeling to it.

This is fairly hard to do however if done right, people that are only there to play the game and do not care abut the story will also be able to follow the jist of what is happening, but the ones who care about the story and accord it time will also have everything they wish for. Of course however this depends on the style of game.

An action frenzy game, or a bullet hell will not need as much story as a hardcore RPG; So what makes it good will depend on your writing style, the player and the style of game. So there is no " set in stone" ‘best’ storyline style for video games as it all depends on too many variables, one of which you can do nothing about.

 
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I’d say immersion and relate-ability.

Extra Credits – Narrative Mechanics

 
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Damn, someone got to EC before I did.

Anyway, like stated in the video above, immersion goes a long way in storytelling in video games as it is something that most forms of media lack, and that’s what makes gaming so special as a medium. Right now, we are mostly telling story through scripted cutscenes, some being interactive and while others seem like a poorly made movie.

Let’s take Portal 2 as an example. This may contain some SPOILERS. When you are going through the old ruins of the Aperature lab after you replace Glados, you get some nice narratives from Cave Johnson, the president of Aperature. Not only does it tell a story, but it tells it in a way where in fits in smoothly with the gameplay, there are absolutely no non-interactive segments, and it’s pretty damn entertaining. Spoilers end

But in flash games, it’s a little different. It is still possible to make interactive cutscenes in flash games, but I find it really hard to pull off. Instead, I prefer to use dialogue. Just note, there is a HUGE difference between dialogue and cutscenes. Dialogue allows the chance for interaction, character development, and plot progression, and it’s much more simple than cutscenes too, as long as you know how to write or tell stories properly.

And of course, all the other things in the story core like relate-ability, structure, progression. I highly recommend you look up the term “Monomyth” or just “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” as it has some great plot structures that cry for video games to use, especially RPGs.

 
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If the user becomes aware that you are telling a story, you have failed to tell a good one. Cutscenes sacrifice deep and immersive gameplay for story. Find the balance and make sure to only include cutscenes where necessary.

 
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Also IMO cutscenes should be generally protagonist-based. Only include cutscenes that are not focusing on the character when necessary. Don’t include them unless there is something the player may want to/must know.

 
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I think one way to make sure your game has a good story line is to write your story before you write your code. In other words, I think that if your narrative guides the game mechanics, rather than your game mechanics determining the narrative, the story will be a much higher quality as a result.