This guide is taken directly from Blade2k, thus i hold no credits AT ALL!
|| RPG Storylines, And How To Make a Good One ||
When I ask many people in the RPGMaking community to give me their personal definition of a good RPG storyline, the answer always seems to be the same. No overused aspects. Now, to a degree, I can agree to that but not entirely. Despite popular opinion, sometimes it’s good to use things that have been used in the past. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not talking about total plagiarism or the use of the knight-saving-the-princess-in-a-tower-protected-by-a-dragon. I’m just saying that you can still have a good storyline, even with clichés. In this tutorial, I will not only be going through clichéd RPG aspects when it comes to storylines, I will also ramble on about other storyline techniques that you may find useful if you’re interested in creating an original and satisfying RPG. Now, let us begin!
|| Part 1 – Clichéd Stories, and What to Do With Them ||
Often when viewing the Projects section of Blade2k, I come across a storyline that is bland and uninteresting. Why? Simply because the same ideas have been used countless times in the past, and having played quite a few RPGs, such concepts are just irritating. However, don’t fret if one of those projects is yours, because you can turn the tables quite easily if you just put in a bit of effort.
Writers often use a technique when establishing the outlines of their stories that could prove quite useful to RPGMakers who have a hard time creating non-cliché storylines. To put it quite simply, they take a cliché idea, like the knight-saving-a-princess routine, and brainstorm ways in which they could add a fresh, new edge to it. This may sound hard, but sometimes it could be as simple as having the princess as the rescuer instead. Probably a bad example, but with more development perhaps it could work. Here, let’s use this cliché story and transform it into a better, more interesting version.
Hiro is an elite member of the Royal Knights, and upon discovering an ancient sword – he becomes the one person who can save the world from the demons that harass the world of Kurroa.
Heard something like that before? I’m sure that, like me, you have on countless occasions. But you know, this simple, overused story could quite easily be turned into something quite interesting and cool. How about switching the roles of the main character? That might be fun!
Veinea, one of the infamous black demons that harass the world of Kurroa, has been assigned by the Lord of Shadows to retrieve the ancient Sword of Legend before the chosen one prophesised by the Seers obtains it first.
That’s already a bit better, the protagonist is normally described as the ‘good guy’, but that is not the case at all. The protagonist is the main character, put simply, and can be a bad guy if you so wish it to be. The antagonist is the obstacle the protagonist needs to get through in order to achieve their goals. So now we have something a little bit less annoying, but there are still some parts of it that need changing. Things like the Sword of Legend and ‘prophecies’ are vastly clichéd now, and so perhaps we should find some way of substituting those with other things. Doing so could in fact change your story entirely, and if you do it right the changes will be for the best.
Veinea, a member of the infamous terrorist organization, Daraku, is assigned by her master to retrieve a data crystal that contains blueprints for a magical weapon with the power to locate, target and destroy anything in the world using a mixture of scientific and magical processes. She must get there before a government-supported anti-terrorism agency does and destroys them all.
Well, now our story has a futuristic/modern setting and only because I substituted a few things with other things. The ‘data crystal’ is still valuable and powerful, the protagonist is still the bad guy and the antagonist is still the good guy. We have a workable storyline now, but we must add one more thing! To add the icing on the cake, we will add a ‘twist’. A single event that triggers a drastic change in the story. For example:
Veinea, a member of the infamous terrorist organization, Daraku, is assigned by her master to retrieve a data crystal that contains blueprints for a magical weapon with the power to locate, target and destroy anything in the world using a mixture of scientific and magical processes. She must get there before a government-supported anti-terrorism agency does and destroys them all. However, upon meeting one of their agents, she and him begin to understand each other’s differences and refuse to surrender the data crystal to either organization – leading to a bounty on their heads.
Now the possibilities that can arise from this are almost infinite, depending on your level of imaginations. But do you see what I mean? We took a bland, uninteresting story and completely changed it in three steps. Step one, add a fresh edge. Step two, substitute overused elements with less-cliché concepts. Step three, add a story-turning twist. And there you have it! Try it with your story if you’ve had comments on it being cliché! I do have one thing to add, however. I changed the timeline, but that doesn’t have to happen. Check it out:
Veinea, a member of the infamous assassination agency the Scarlet Thorns, is assigned by her master to retrieve an ancient manuscript containing blueprints for a magical weapon that was used during the Celestial War (war of the gods). She must obtain it before the knights from the kingdom of Celena do, for they have been trying to hunt the Scarlet Thorns down for years after their king’s son was assassinated. However, upon meeting one of the knights, Veinea and the young man begin to understand what really happened and decide not to surrender the blueprints to either group. Now the hunters are the hunted.
Still works! Okay, that’s all I have to say about cliché storylines, but there are other techniques we can use to help make our stories better.
|| Part 2 – A Story is Nothing, Without a Good Storyteller ||
This is an issue I’ve wanted to address for a long, long time because many times have I seen someone advertise a great storyline for his or her RPG, only to have it butchered and killed because it wasn’t delivered properly. This doesn’t mean things like bad grammar and spelling, though sometimes that does play a part, it means bad dialogue period. And not only dialogue, but also the sequence of events and the way these events are presented – it just throws a perfectly good idea into the can. In this part of this rather lengthy tutorial, I will explain how to deliver your storyline properly so that you’re not making people sick.
First I’ll go through dialogue, because that is probably the easiest to explain. Dialogue (and monologue) is a vital aspect of RPGs, and if you play games like Final Fantasy X with thousands and thousands of lines of it you will see why. Could you imagine playing that game without any talking? I’d probably have thought that Yuna was lesbian with Lulu, and Wakka was getting hit because Lulu hated men! Dialogue is one of the tools RPG designers use to tell the story – probably the main tool in most instances.
Kamau, the creator of the Legion Saga series, holds the record in my personal books for both the worst piece of dialogue in an RPG and the best piece of dialogue in an RPG. Let me take you guys back to an event in the first Legion Saga game (not LSR, the original):
Eva: “Come on, Durane, let’s go.” Durane: “No… I will turn my back on my country because that ditzy chick said I’m the leader of some rebel faction I’ve never heard of, and because Kamau is going to force me anyway! Rawr!”
Okay so maybe it didn’t occur like that. But basically, this ‘twist’ was delivered so poorly I coughed – TWICE! Though Kamau did try to question Durane’s loyalty in the earlier events of the game – he did not do this properly, and I was sure that Eva would have been the one to join the rebellion, not Durane. If someone is going to turn their back on something they feel is their entire life and joy, why would they without a good reason? In LS1 (not LSR), this brought its respect value down tremendously. However, in Legion Saga 3 – there was barely any dialogue that didn’t fit. Of course, there was some here and there, but compared to most other games that I’ve played – LS3 has some of the best dialogue I’ve seen in an rm2k/3 game.
Dialogue should be able to be read natural too; people do not talk like robots. A good tip is to read through the conversations that you’ve written like it was a script or something similar. That way, if you sense something that seems out of place, or sounds choppy, you can change it.
Gary: “Hello Stacie.” Stacie: “Hello Gary.” Gary: “Do you have my wallet?” Stacie: “Yes. I will go get it.” Gary: “Okay.”
Okay now that would make me throw up! But such dialogue can be improved with a wave of your magic… brain. =P
Gary: “Hiya Stacie, did I leave my wallet in your room last night?” Stacie: “Yes, honey. I was going to bring it around but you beat me to it. Wait here while I got get it, okay?” Gary: “Thanks, I almost thought I lost it!” Stacie: “Nope, I was looking after it. I spent all of your money, though.”
Ignore that last bit – but how much better is that? I’m sure you get my point now, don’t you?
|| Part 3 – Help, Seek and You Shall Find ||
To those who are having trouble using the above concepts and techniques, or want some help with their storylines, characters, world design etc then you are free to send me either a BMS or an email at email@example.com I’d be very glad to help you. Until next time, good bye!
- The Antigami
This post has been edited by Scorneo: Nov 21 2009, 09:54 AM
Great advice there, the ability to improve on cliche's is an essential skill in game making, for no game can avoid every cliche but you sure as hell can make them better
Five things I would tell other RMers: -Frankenspriting is really easy, anyone can have a go for great results. -What matters is not the script but how you use it -NEVER underestimate the power of events. -When using RTP remember Vibrato and recolours. -Use the wondereous substance know as paper (plan, note and sketch your work)
My most epic IRC moment ever:
* RyouKachi iniates a staring contest <+CaptainJet> you're gonna lose <RyouKachi> I WON'T LOOOOSE! <+CaptainJet> you already did <RyouKachi> Oh shit <RyouKachi> Damn you JEEEEET! <+CaptainJet> ;) <RyouKachi> I'm too psyched to give up I shall see through time itself and stare UNTIL I WIN! <+CaptainJet> well... <+CaptainJet> you lost <+CaptainJet> i see it already <+CaptainJet> in the future <RyouKachi> The future is not set in stone, I can change it! <+CaptainJet> no you can't <+CaptainJet> i also knew you'd say that <+CaptainJet> and i know what you'll say next <RyouKachi> Predictions cannot bind me I am RyouKachi. <RyouKachi> I am my own man. <RyouKachi> The future is shaped by ME! <+CaptainJet> nope <+CaptainJet> sorry to break it to ya bud <+CaptainJet> i set the future <RyouKachi> Then... <RyouKachi> YOU ARE IN MY WAY! <+CaptainJet> i am your way <+CaptainJet> :| <RyouKachi> INFINITE SOURCE OF EPIC I CALL APON YOU <+CaptainJet> upon* <RyouKachi> I DEFINE SPELLING <+CaptainJet> no, i do <+CaptainJet> since i set the future of the person who created english spelling <RyouKachi> GURREN LAGANN <+CaptainJet> :| <RyouKachi> Kick reason to the curb and break through the impossible! <RyouKachi> Who the hell do you think I am! <RyouKachi> GIGA <RyouKachi> DRILL <RyouKachi> BREAKER!!!!! <+CaptainJet> :| * RyouKachi is now known as RYOUKACHI <+CaptainJet> :"| <RYOUKACHI> Capital letters cannot define the epic <+CaptainJet> yeah, that's why i don't capitalize my name <RYOUKACHI> Rule of Cool: If it's cool then it's possible. <+CaptainJet> no... <RYOUKACHI> I am a human a living thermo-dynamic miracle, I can do anything. * Dissonance (~Dissonanc@93139DB9.3DF1602D.38BB7985.IP) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * &Touchfuzzy (~IceChat7@CABEB43A.693AA8F5.657E0562.IP) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * Shiro (Mibbit@synIRC-C777CA08.chi01.dsl-w.verizon.net) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * gonezoles (~bre@synIRC-2750A7DD.hr.hr.cox.net) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * &X (firstname.lastname@example.org) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * Snacks (Snacks@synIRC-77B9841.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * DeviBOT (~DeviBOT@D8C7C2CE.95BA9E12.3E68EF55.IP) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * boon (~boon@synIRC-71559BEA.range86-158.btcentralplus.com) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * @Mithran (Mithran@synIRC-19B73521.static.rvsd.ca.charter.com) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * +Jaeroll (~chatzilla@synIRC-9FE553DE.dyn.embarqhsd.net) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * +CaptainJet (~chatzilla@synIRC-FAC5E26A.pools.spcsdns.net) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * cyangmou (~cyangmou@synIRC-115AE74B.adsl.highway.telekom.at) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) * +InconspiciousBox (~chatzilla@synIRC-916B2F5E.dhcp.bluecom.no) Quit (naamio.fi.eu.synirc.net thoth.hub.eu.synirc.net) <RYOUKACHI> Wow <RYOUKACHI> I can do anything
And lastly I made a blog, check it out here: Ryou's Work Reports (Blog last updated on 09/10/2010)