Information and Backstory

Do people like to read about the backstory and rules of the in-game universe?

I have been trying to find a good moment to explain things such as how magic works, religion, backstory, etc.

I tried to explain things when they are used, such as magic, but that didn’t work very well, because it breaks immersion.

Right now, I have stored all this information in the stats screen, but that made me think, do people actually read that stuff?

When the player clicks “Show Stats” on my game, this is what happens:

After clicking “Show Stats”, the player was taken to a white room filled with floating text, red and blue bars, a fancy bookshelf, a small couch and a table.


Then we have the stats screen, and some options

  • Examine the Bookshelf
    • Read the red book called “A Guide to Religion: Ramblings of a Mad Priest”
    • Read the blue book called “Magic for dummies”
    • Read the green book called “History of the Four Kingdoms”
    • Walk away slowly, maybe the books won’t chase you
  • Inventory

I need some honest opinions, is that a good way of showing backstory and stuff like that or should I just mix everything with the gameplay?

By the way, the game doesn’t take itself seriously all the time, so I felt like this could work.

A lot of games just ask you straight out if you want to know more about the lore and backstory of the game, giving you the option to just skip it if you wanna just head straight in (which some players prefer). I do like your approach to lore though i feel it would be less of a chore if it was presented in this way.

I’m the type of players that likes to know everything about everything if there the option to find out more 9 times out of 10 i will do because there are some times where i tend to skim read sections and i could miss out on vital background story if all the information was mixed into the gameplay . Basicly i think it’s best of to just include the backstory, as different players have their preferred way of understanding the game.

The main reason why I’m trying to use this way of showing lore is because most of the time it is hard to make a secondary character tell you this information without screaming INFODUMP.

Personally, I like to know everything about the universe of a game (so many hours wasted reading books in Skyrim :sweat_smile:) , but I know that some people just want to jump right into the action.

I got a skyrim feel from this :smile: i too have suffered from endless hours of reading the books of elder scrolls so much so i forget i’ve read them in game and think it’s from a book i have lying around. But anyways the system you already have seems great good luck with you game.

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Why not do both? Because, y’know, sometimes the author has to push facts onto the reader or else they’ll never understand anything about your world, in which case the game that doesn’t take itself seriously all the time might run the risk of it not taking itself seriously at all.

If the author is sly, they’ll sprinkle story information throughout the game. Backstory is in the design of your buildings, the clothing of your people, the society and their ideals and values, that sort of stuff. You know this.

Morever, if the author is confident and knows how to create a ‘stand-still’ atmosphere (in which the characters aren’t in a rush or are doing pratically nothing for the time being), they won’t be afraid to info-dump since they know now is the time to do so. It would help to have the object being talked about to be somewhere in the room. For example, in Ghost in the Shell, the author explains what cyborgs are as he shows you an image of a cyborg in-the-making. Visuals help in keeping the reader’s attention, as well as sustaining immersion. (In your case, you would have to describe the object and have someone ignorant ask what it is/how it works. Well-read individuals will see what you’re doing here, but if you do it right, they won’t have much to complain about.)

In the case of explaining an idea, such as religion, well, there are so many ways to go about this without breaking immersion! Your method didn’t work very well because you’re doin’ it wrong. If magic is used, you don’t ‘explain’, you toot your horn, ridicule/critcize magic, and create dialogue, not monologue. Monologue is only safe between a know-it-all character and a truly ignorant character—actually even then it’s not safe. Or is it? I don’t know. Depends?

Ah, anyways, it seems you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that info-dumping is a sin, when it’s not. It’s just boring sometimes, but if you’re explaining an interesting topic then it shouldn’t be that bad. Then again, not everyone finds magic interesting. I suppose what I’m trying to get at is to get over the people who can’t appreciate (this is an innappropiate word) info-dumps, although you shouldn’t do it too much unless you’re going maximalism.


The main problem that I have encountered is the fact that the MC doesn’t talk to other people very often, so the only person who knows everything about the universe AND is available all the time would be the narrator.

It may get kinda silly, but I was thinking about making the narrator talk about things when they demand explanation (like a tutorial).

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I usually don’t see the need to if the narrative is fine. Some things like magic, shouldn’t need to be explained, leave it mystical and magical. Sometimes, revealing the rules kinda makes it a bit useless, especially if the description sounds ‘majestic’ in the author’s head but really is some half-baked idea that has already been done thousands of times before.

Where I do want extra information there’s two ways about it that I particularly like;

  1. Optional scenes - An example is EndMaster’s Eternal, you could take or leave these scenes, some were character building moments, others were detailed bits of history or propaganda that shed extra light on the scenes. If you skipped them, you might come across a name or a situation that you may not be fully clued up on, but that’s your choice.

  2. A constantly updating codex - I use ‘codex’ but really you can use anything. This could be the main character’s knowledge, so things like, jargon, terminology or even the history of the land and people that he encountered would be detailed here, maybe in far more detail than you might want to put in the actual story itself.

Alternative uses of the codex system, is that you can detail countries, landmasses, historical events, even maps and so on that is left for the player to read up on, either in-depth or to refresh their knowledge as they get further along into the story, - provided, of course, that you have such a lengthy story to justify this.

Often, I have played a game with several characters with similar names and whatnot that I wish there was something like this codex, especially for recurring characters who go missing for long stretches of time. Usually I’m so engrossed in the ‘now’ that when I encounter them again I’m left wondering just who exactly that person was (again!)

As for your idea, that’s perfectly workable, just don’t fall into the trap of only putting critical plot elements in that section and not actually explaining them in the actual narrative. We don’t need another L’cie fiasco.

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I like the idea of a constantly updating codex, it might work with what I have in mind.

(When you meet a new character, it would list what the MC thinks and knows about that character, and the same works with misc information)

Of course I don’t plan to just dump all the critical plot elements in the stats screen, I was talking more about extra information about the world.

I hear you, and that’s an issue, because if the reader is too lazy/not interested enough for the tutorial, then what’s your other solution? I would simply have the narrator refer to and describe things instead of ask for the cherished player’s permission. It doesn’t have to be silly, but I played your game before (this is all about Chaos Element, right?), and it has a silly tone overall.

At any rate, if the narrator refers to ‘everything’ the character doesn’t know about, then I can imagine why info-dumping is something you’d rather avoid as much as possible. However, are you really info-dumping, or are you just pointing something out in a sentence or two?

Can you not describe magic in less than a paragraph? Or religion? Readers only need the basics to understand. If they’d like to grasp the whole idea behind magic and religion, then you can leave a brief ntoe saying ‘More info about magic added to the codex’. Would that help?

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Seems like explaining the subject briefly and then adding more in-depth information in a codex is the best way to deal with it, thanks for the ideas :smile:

I’m going to use that, but if anyone else has any other opinions about handling information feel free to share them!

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Yay! Good luck with your game!

Personally, I blow through the game without reading the codex or whatever on the first playthrough, since I want to experience the game without interruptions. The second time I play, however, I take time to read all of the codex stuff, so I like having it there, I just won’t visit it on my frist playthrough.

If you want to place critical world info in the narrative (like the kind of stuff the player can’t finish or understand the game without), then you could add an option to toggle that stuff on and off. So the first time they play, they read all that stuff, but afterwards they can turn it off since they already know it.

By the way, I like the “Walk away slowly, maybe the books won’t chase you” line. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, I knew that some people would simply skip through walls of text :wink:

Going to try to make it interesting without using the “Show Stats” button too often.

I never read the backstory, how much I want to, I just won’t do it for some reason.

I do love writing information and backstories though as your imagination can go wilder than a duck on drugs.

How the hell does a duck gets drugs?