Video games are not just about just the graphics design anymore. They have evolved to become more intricate and detailed than before. One of the added elements which have grown to be one of the essential details in game development is the storyline that affects the gameplay. Having a good story infused within a game makes us feel engrossed and immersed in a movie-like game. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a good story?
But we’d notice as the demand and popularity of video games have increased over time, games following similar themes have grown to be cliches. Post-apocalyptic, zombie outbreak, amnesia, destined for greatness or a tragic death are a few to name. In fact, there is nothing wrong with these themes as some of the best games follow some cliched themes. But despite following cliched themes, what has made them so different and successful?
(Read more about avoiding story cliches in game development)
Every game developer aiming to develop a game aims for their game to sell profit wise and grow their fan base. Thus, games aim to deliver a fresher and newer concept in their game design despite a common theme which we have seen from games like The Last of Us and Assassin's Creed. With that being said, here are a few elements to add to your storyline for the best gameplay:
In any narrative game, there will always be a character for the player to use, especially the one taking in the main role. Characters that the players can relate to are the ones that act human, even if they’re a robot, fantastical creature, or something else familiar. Character development should also be present. Give your players an idea of where their character comes from–is the character a survivor who experienced an apocalyptic downfall in society struggling to survive or someone who has experienced a tragic death and is out for vengeance?
It’s not only the main character that should have personality, but non-player characters (NPC) also adds to the making the game more enjoyable. Games like Assassin's Creed and Skyrim have made NPC characters and mods to make these non playable characters more interesting to interact with. Even with the famous Sims game, NPC’s characters have grown to become enjoyable to communicate with over time allowing players to experiment with the game more.
When creating a story or a game, you cannot avoid the fact that ideas will come flowing in and would tempt you to add more ideas. Describing your story in one sentence should explain your whole story. If you can’t do that, then you do not know what your story is about. As Matthew Luhn (one of the people behind the creation of some popular Pixar stories) said, “Keep things as simple as possible because once you start building a movie, game or whatever, it starts to get more and more complicated.”
Creating The World
Understand the world you’re building and the environment your character will be living in. Your environment and the people your character encounters will all be based on your story. This will be an overwhelming task, but you could opt to separate your world in different parts and put them together. You could separate them in the form of kingdoms, sectors, divisions, or whatever you think best fits the theme of the game.
Knowing Your Pacing
Know how you want the speed of your story to progress. Having your story too idle will make your players get bored. Likewise, having your story too fast will get make your players feel rushed. Pace your game accordingly to the story. This way, your players will be able to enjoy your game correctly.
The Main Conflict
Whether it is a book, movie or game, there should always be a conflict the protagonist has to face. Without it, characters would have nothing to fight for or have a need to develop. This is important to video games since your goal is to defeat the enemies that come your way. You know you’re on the correct course when you develop a story where the characters care about the problem and how it affects the world.
Another way of developing conflict is to have your protagonist is giving them an antagonist to face. But typical antagonists can result to your players losing their interest with the game. Designing an antagonist that has a more in-depth story and reason to his/her actions becomes more interesting than having no reason at all.
Game developers should aim to get their users hooked at the very beginning of the game. Using unusual scenarios or an exciting start are common in getting the players full attention to the game. Because of the enticing start of the game, players will want to know what will happen next which would lead them to keep playing the game.
Multiple Ways To Play The Game
Most games today offer a variety of choices for the game to be played. Allowing a variety of strategies to emerge during the gameplay, giving your players to play the game in any way they want. There are a lot of game developers that follow this concept for their game design, games like Dishonoured, Mass Effect 3, and Far Cry 4 are some of the few games with alternate endings.
Alternate endings will give a chance for your players to be able to play in different strategies. This could also increase the entertainment factor and the chances of your users to replay the game with the excitement in seeing how the game becomes based on how they play.
In the game development industry, it takes a lot of effort for game developers to develop a game that caters to great graphic design, gameplay and the storyline. Even if you’re following a cliched theme, keeping these elements in mind will help you think outside the box and allow your game to look fresher and newer. These elements as well will make your game more appealing, increasing the potential of the games fan base and sellability.