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I have made several games but they have all been space invaders or mario style.

Following my last question (thank you for all the great answers) I am trying to write out a plot line and a plan for the events that will take place.

The problem I am having is that my story's tend to resemble things that already exist like films or other games I have played.

The events to feel like a mix of various other games I have played.

So apart form become a more creative person does anyone have any advice. Has anyone written a fairly lengthy story for a game and have pointers or does anyone know any good books on the subject.

Any thoughts would be welcome, story of event ideas to.

FYI the game has a final fantasy style battle system and a pokemon catch/raise system.

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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

As someone who's written a great number of novels, I can tell you one closely-held secret of writing: It involves reusing elements (characters, plots) from other sources (games, movies).

Most of my novels start out with a macro-level plot (eg. boy saves world by defeating sword-wielding maniac), from which I brush out details -- characters, elements, etc. One of the best ways to build a story is to borrow elements from other stories/games/movies, then tweak them and tweak the world they're in.

For example, in one story (eight volume fantasy genre), I had elements borrowed from Chrono Trigger, Berserk (the anime), Wheel of Time, and bits and pieces from everywhere. But mixed in all together, with everything tweaked to fit the world, it turned out pretty unique.

So I would say the process that worked for me was:

  • Start with an overall plot
  • Pick some characters/villans you want to see
  • Pick some elements you want (eg. pokemon)
  • Start detailing the plot with events
  • Keep subdividing to add story details until you're happy with it

Just tweak it until you're happy with it. A lot of your story will be backstory; it's harder to figure out how to make it appear in-game.

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In combination with what Ashes says here, I think it might also be well worth remembering that plot and story in games is in many ways completely unique. Because I can't think of a better set of terms to use I will use the ones in the title. I see story as the more traditional variety of storytelling with defined arcs and major story elements defined. Plot on the other hand, is what I see as the players domain, if indeed they have any effect on the game story. In my opinion plot is best told through the players options and the game environment. –  Aerathis Apr 7 '11 at 14:11
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I think Stephen King's On Writing is a good resource for any aspiring writer in any medium and genre.

I have not read Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling but I have seen several recommendations for it. Crawford is a vaguely divisive - or at least confounding - figure in game development, but regardless of which side you take it's probably worth reading what he has to say.

The IF Theory Reader (free PDF download) is a recent book. It covers primarily writing for interactive fiction, which is a small subset of games. Some of the topics won't be relevant for FF-style games, but I think at least half of the Craft section essays probably have useful information, and the entire thing has a depth of analysis rarely found in game development book.

(Disclaimer: Despite years of on-and-off attempts I am still a horrible writer.)

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As long as you're not copying any one story or game outright then I shouldn't be too much of a problem. It practically impossible to write wholly original stories anyway. For example "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story" are essentially the ancient Greek myth of "Pyramus and Thisbe".

It's all about adapting, combining, and reworking elements from different works to make a new story which embodies the ideas you want to convey.

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