Interactive Story: The Outline

As examined in the earlier posts, game writing is a component of a whole. It takes a lot of work from many different people to craft a narrative, and collaboration with the other members of your design team is crucial if a game is to have any hope of becoming a satisfying ludic experience. As such, there are a few things required of you before the writing begins.

The Pitch

Generally, this is the first thing to nail down. Your pitch should be a summary of the plot point of your proposed story, and its just as nerve wracking as it sounds. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to write these. Sometimes this is the only thing written by you that your other team members will read. The pitch is crucially important, but also need to be delivered in as succinct a way as possible.

Important Locations

Firelink Shrine, Dark Souls
Firelink Shrine, Dark Souls

In video games, place is often more important than character. Get together with your teammates and flesh out the world and its quirky areas. If the writer, designers, and artists band together to nail down the scope of the game’s environments, and get a rough idea of how much is needed and how much is feasible, the narrative will be all the more powerful.

Detailed Outline

Now that the other members have some idea of where the game is going, now is the time to write a detailed outline of the plot. Be as thorough as possible to avoid confusion. Include descriptions of settings, quests or other objectives, etc. This outline will probably change of the course of development, but its important to have a firm foundation to start with.

Characters

Tingle, Legend of Zelda
Tingle, Legend of Zelda

Finally, right? This part is pretty self explanatory. Make a list of the characters you need. Who are they? Which ones are important movers of the story and which ones are just run of the mill NPCs? How does each of your characters contribute to the narrative? Ask yourself questions like these when making your list.

As a background for this post, I read a very helpful Gamasutra article called “A Practical Guide to Game Writing” By Darby Mcdevitt. Very helpful.