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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Making a Video Game - Part 4 - Writing a Plot Guide

By David.

A lot of people ask me, "David, what the hell do you do in your spare time besides feel sorry for yourself?"

I work on our plot guide!

Now that Alvin and I have agreed on the main characters for our app game and are both happy with its general plot, it's now my turn to work on a more comprehensive plot guide. My screenshot won't be as interesting as any of Alvin's work, but here's a snippet of what a draft version of a Night Time Brothers plot guide looks like:

You'll notice that it says, "Diverted path 1..." blah blah blah. That's because our game branches off into several paths, depending on what choices the player makes. My job is now to write, in detail, what happens when the player makes every decision.

So how do you make a plot guide?

If you do it how we did, then it's easy (well, it's "easy" if you're doing it small scale like us). Firstly, you have to define what a plot guide is. To us, a plot guide is something you write as an aid for you and the team to understand not only the overall story of your game, but also the personality of its characters and the scenery that holds them; it also provides a more detailed essence of the story in comparison to what you would normally find in a general summary. It also makes the script a lot easier to understand.

The tedious part of plot guide writing comes when you're someone like me. I like to make sure everything is clear, so that if Alvin or our future developers can read it and think, "Yup, I agree with that," or, "Fuck off, this is wrong," and there will be no confusion and we can discuss the issue with peace and love and man love. In the plot guide, I make sure to have:

  • a table of contents that makes reference to each and every path of the game,
  • a diagram that shows all plot variations and finally,
  • a detailed plot guide (like in the screenshot above) that sort of reads like a novel: it includes a more detailed story, it includes the subtle mannerisms of the game's main characters with snippets of their dialogue, it sets the mood of the scene; it also sets the background of each event. 

Of course, writing a plot guide in this format is only applicable if you're doing a more story-based game like Alvin and I. If you're creating the next Fruit Ninja, then you better forget everything you've just read.

After the plot guide, I'll then be writing the game script and narrative script. But more on them on later posts. Then Alvin will be illustrating the whole lot! Yey.

Time to get back to it. Bye!


And now a word from the bros:

We're building an awesome video game app, so we need cash bad! Please help this nutso project of ours come to life by making a small PayPal donation. With your donation, you'll be able to help us hire developers and put a bright new game into phones and tablets worldwide.

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