Plot design tips

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Captain_Wrathbow
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Plot design tips

Post by Captain_Wrathbow » August 15th, 2010, 5:15 pm

No doubt, some people have figured out from the hints I've dropped in various places that I've been making a campaign. This project is in fact almost done, and as I'm polishing it and squashing a few more bugs before I release it, I'm planning my next campaign.

In my first one, the story ended up being rather weak, and I know that this is because I was attempting to wrap a storyline around my ideas for interesting, innovative scenarios, instead of making scenarios to fit a good, well-written story. I'd like to improve this in my second project, though.

So I'm looking for tips and ideas for creating good storylines. I'd like to know what tricks or strategies you use for planning plots and making everything fit together well. I want suggestions for how to have strong character development and personalities.

I'm not much of a writer, but I'd really like to improve that ability and do a good job in the writing aspects of this campaign. Any help is welcome! :)

Note: I'm looking for storyline-design strategies and tips, not actual plot ideas.

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thespaceinvader
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by thespaceinvader » August 15th, 2010, 5:31 pm

www.writingexcuses.com

Your one-stop shop for all your writing needs.
http://thespaceinvader.co.uk | http://thespaceinvader.deviantart.com
Back to work. Current projects: Catching up on commits. Picking Meridia back up. Sprite animations, many and varied.

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Simons Mith
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by Simons Mith » August 15th, 2010, 5:35 pm

esr's campaign design howto takes a lot of beating:

http://www.catb.org/~esr/wesnoth/campai ... howto.html

And if you need, um, encouragement to get you going, see Write or Die:
about: http://writeordie.drwicked.com/about.html
main page: http://writeordie.drwicked.com/
 

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Captain_Wrathbow
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by Captain_Wrathbow » August 15th, 2010, 6:31 pm

thespaceinvader wrote:http://www.writingexcuses.com

Your one-stop shop for all your writing needs.
Hm, interesting... :)
Simons Mith wrote:esr's campaign design howto takes a lot of beating:

http://www.catb.org/~esr/wesnoth/campai ... howto.html
Woah, where did you get that? :o I didn't even know it existed... I'll have to read that, looks useful. :D
Thanks guys. Looks like I have some reading (and writing) to do. :)

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jaimeastorga2000
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by jaimeastorga2000 » August 22nd, 2010, 3:01 pm

If you are looking for a set of tips useful for good writing that are readily applicable to Wesnoth, I cannot recommend Watt-Evans' Laws of Fantasy strongly enough.

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boru
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by boru » August 22nd, 2010, 6:46 pm

Captain_Wrathbow wrote:No doubt, some people have figured out from the hints I've dropped in various places that I've been making a campaign. This project is in fact almost done, and as I'm polishing it and squashing a few more bugs before I release it, I'm planning my next campaign.

In my first one, the story ended up being rather weak, and I know that this is because I was attempting to wrap a storyline around my ideas for interesting, innovative scenarios, instead of making scenarios to fit a good, well-written story. I'd like to improve this in my second project, though.

So I'm looking for tips and ideas for creating good storylines. I'd like to know what tricks or strategies you use for planning plots and making everything fit together well. I want suggestions for how to have strong character development and personalities.

I'm not much of a writer, but I'd really like to improve that ability and do a good job in the writing aspects of this campaign. Any help is welcome! :)

Note: I'm looking for storyline-design strategies and tips, not actual plot ideas.
As esr suggests, start with the story. Don't start writing WML until you have the storyline written out.

Write about characters and situations that fascinate you, that obsess you. If you're not obsessed with your story, no one else will be.

There are limitations to this form (writing Wesnoth campaigns). Your character is on a journey of some sort, and he or she has some kind of power that lets him recruit an army. And he has enemies, lots of em. All these must be integrated into your story. So you can't just write about some alienated youngster who is seeking his fortune. He is a leader (of one kind or another) and he has definite concrete goals, goals that can easily be explained in a sentence or two.

Make your characters real with unique details. A dark sorcerer with no particular love of anything is boring. A dark sorcerer with a family he cares about and a home village he yearns to return to, is a character we can empathize with - we may not like him, but we want to know what happens to him.

People change over time, so if your inscrutable and wise general is just as inscrutable and wise at the end of your story as he was at the beginning, then something is wrong. Characters need to grow. They don't have to undergo a dramatic metamorphosis, it can be something as simple as a lesson is learned, or something they took for granted is lost.

In my opinion, all this is really secondary to a good campaign. I'd rather play a game with interesting battles and a dumb story than one with dumb battles and an interesting story.
“It is written in my life-blood, such as that is, thick or thin; and I can no other.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

My campaign: Swamplings - Four centuries before the founding of Wesnoth, the first wolf rider emerges from a tribe of lowly swamp goblins.

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Captain_Wrathbow
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by Captain_Wrathbow » August 22nd, 2010, 8:06 pm

Thanks!
boru wrote:In my opinion, all this is really secondary to a good campaign. I'd rather play a game with interesting battles and a dumb story than one with dumb battles and an interesting story.
:lol2: Same here, but that's just a matter of preference, and there are plenty of people who would prefer it the other way, so why not try to do both? *shrug*

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Hulavuta
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by Hulavuta » August 22nd, 2010, 8:38 pm

IMO, it's good to have an interesting story, but gameplay SHOULD take preference over it. Although it'll look extremely weird that there's a battle everywhere the player characters go to, it's going to be very crappy if there's just a level where you walk through a valley and not fight anything.
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Simons Mith
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by Simons Mith » August 22nd, 2010, 10:01 pm

Wesnoth is getting to the point where the writing is the weakest point remaining, in my view. OTOH it's significantly less work to fix compared to the extraordinary amounts of effort that go into unit animations and portraits. So I feel we owe it to the rest of the game to get the writing up to the same standards as everything else. Edit: OK, things don't look so rosy if you include the time the translators spend on it. Still, that's a good reason to get it right first time, isn't it?
 

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jaimeastorga2000
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by jaimeastorga2000 » August 22nd, 2010, 11:47 pm

Simons Mith wrote:Wesnoth is getting to the point where the writing is the weakest point remaining, in my view. OTOH it's significantly less work to fix compared to the extraordinary amounts of effort that go into unit animations and portraits. So I feel we owe it to the rest of the game to get the writing up to the same standards as everything else.
I agree with this. Wesnoth's writing (not the background details in unit descriptions, but the actual dialogue and narration that occurs in the campaings) is an aspect that currently lags behind the impressive graphical, musical, and technical accomplishments of the game. I was shocked when I played AOI (a mainline campaign) and found that the main villain spoke only twice and said extremely generic stuff on both occasions.

IMO, to talk about whether gameplay or story should be given preference is to miss the point - it is perfectly possible to have both a good story and good gameplay, and that is what should be aspired to.
Last edited by jaimeastorga2000 on August 23rd, 2010, 4:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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johndh
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Re: Plot design tips

Post by johndh » August 23rd, 2010, 2:13 am

I can't make it through a long campaign if the story isn't convincing. I gave up on HttT fairly early because it just didn't interest me or motivate me to do anything. UtBS, on the other hand, could have been 50 scenarios long and I would have played it the whole way through (okay, actually I'd still be working on it) because it was what we'd call "a real page-turner" if it were a book. It kept me interested and I really wanted to see how it was going to turn out, and I was not disappointed. Of course, UtBS also had awesome gameplay... so yeah...
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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