Friday, September 16, 2011

Game Design - Story from a Player's POV



[ Two of the new Runners coming to join your cause in Cyber Knights Elite RPG ]

Having "a story" is something that Trese Brothers sees a lot as a request for our games in comments on the forum, or a 5 star comment "awesome story." The disparity between the comments ("needs a story!" and "awesome story!") got me thinking about, from a player's point of view, how can you break down what is seen as a story?

To take it back to creative writing classes, a meaningful plot can be grossly boiled down to something changing in a significant way (we turned the heat up high and dumped in a lot of oil, and this is what was left... something changes).

Ok, that's a novel. But in a game or RPG, I think there is a twist. The player wants to cause a significant change to something or other. See the world change on its own is fun and can be extremely engaging, but without the ability to make your own changes, I think you could argue that a story is lacking.

But... change what? Changing your equipment or getting a new cybernetic implant may be very significant for your character, but that isn't the type of change that a story is concerned with (usually, unless it involves special or unique items). The player wants to cause a change to the external world, not just to his own internal character or group.

I can sign on to that. But, having played some competitive games on the Android market, sometimes I feel like the changes I am able to make are dictated, like my character has been bolted to a railroad car and is just cruising down the track. I don't want my changes scripted! Therefore, I believe the player wants freedom to cause many changes to the external world, and to make a myriad of choices about how to approach, interact with, or manipulate his or her world.

Finally, I want my RPG to feel real--like a story or a novel. I want to choose my path, but as I do, for reality's sake, I want other paths to close to me as I do so. Therefore, as a serious gamer, I want freedom to cause many changes to the external world which open and close other paths to change within the world. This raises replay-ability, increases my immersion in the game world, and lets me know that my choices are individual and special.

I've tried to dissect my approach to gaming, to understand what I think a "story" is in an RPG, and to try to figure out when I think a story is "good" in an RPG. Does your thinking follow mine? Do you want other characteristics in your gaming experiences?

2 comments:

  1. I completely agree with your statements sir! The best thing for a roleplaying game is to allow the player to take the role of his character and make it his/her own. If there are story bits here and there to provide you with choices that adds to the game. If you make those choices mean something to the world around the character, both positive and negative, you have succeeded as a story teller to bring the possibility of conflict, which really should be central to any story. Without a conflict a story falls on its face, its just a world without flavor, the characters just exist. Survival is at the heart of CK, but there are lots of opportunities to make more conflicts in such a world given the multitude of enemies and friends. The descriptive story serves to immerse the player in the world, while the conflict story drives the character to perform whatever feats are possible. So I think some combination of those is what you should be aiming for with CK, that said you are already well on your way to having a great deal of flavor and immersion. I'm waiting for the real bosses and their agendas to step forward. :D

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  2. @Unknown - thanks for being patient. I am glad you agree with our concept (which I was having a fun time building piece by piece in that blog post) and soon you will have a chance to see the implementation in our upcoming stories.

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