Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
This week, we're going to look at the first in a series of tips for writing for games. We'll talk about character development, world building and more. So let's get started!
Often times you'll find characters that appear to be really badass. Characters who seem to be able to handle whatever comes at them without even breaking a sweat and yet we don't like them. So why is it that we can't seem to connect with a character who is basically able to do anything? Why don't I feel for this character or even admire them?
Simply because I can't relate to a character who doesn't struggle. This perfect character who always wins doesn't feel real to me simply because they don't exist. When it comes to a character, I admire the character for facing up to their fears. Even if they fail, the fact that they stood up to something that normally they would run from is what really makes them a badass. So, when it comes to writing your characters, keep in mind not just their strengths but what their weaknesses are and how they can encounter them in game and deal with them. How can you convey to the player the importance of such an interaction to the character.
A good way of doing this is to clearly establish what the character is good at and comfortable with. Then we introduce a change. We build up a routine of normality for the character then throw a sudden change at them introducing an element that directly contrasts what they are comfortable with. Now we see how the character copes. However, keep in mind that it's ok to allow the character to fail in this encounter. We relate more to a character that tries. They may fail. They may fall. But it's this interaction that makes us root for the character.
When I'm writing the story for a game, like most game developers it comes in bits and pieces. With that said once I have the general idea for my game story down, I tend to focus on the ending first. While this may seem strange to some, what you'll actually find is that endings are very hard to write. They not only have to make sense to the player but most importantly, they have to feel satisfying to the player. So, spend a lot of time early on figuring out your ending and have it working in a way that makes sense and feels gratifying. Your ending is what most people will remember about your game so make it a good one.
I've lost count of all the times I've scraped stories over the years that I wasn't happy with. As time has gone on I've learnt that as a creative, I'm never truly going to be happy with what I make. I'll always see the flaws and what I could have done better. That's simply because I'm too close to it. My advice to you is don't throw out your story just because you don't like a few aspects of it. The reality of it is you're never going to like it completely. Such is the nature of being a creative. Finish your stories. Learn from them, move on to the next but in doing so, take what you have learnt and apply it to the next story. Improve and become a better writer.
Look at some of your favorite stories and pick them apart. Try to understand what makes them so great. See what works and what doesn't. Try to understand the type of writer you are. Do you excel at writing character or do you prefer to write fantastical worlds that appear clear as day in your mind. The most important bit of advice I can give you from all this and I speak from experience is just write. Don't worry about it being messy at first or even being good. Put it on paper, write it in MS Word. Write it however you want, just write it. Don't leave it up in your head as an idea. Until you start putting it out and making something tangible of it, it'll never develop beyond just an idea in your mind.
That about does it for the first in this series of writing tips. I hope you enjoyed the post and as always feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch.
Until next time!