The Creative Process

How does one initially start tackling the process that is creating a game?

First before any writing is done. You need to think about what your going to do. after that you need to build a foundation which you can build on. Everything else will fall into place.

@Colonel_Sanders What would you define a foundation as? A basic idea?

Foundation is what your skills are going to use, how you will incorporate those skills in your game, how your story will progress, and the world your story is in.

That is what I think is a foundation.

Oh neat, especially since the skills I have thought and how they will be used tie in with the central theme with the game. Still working on those other two things.

The basics (for me) before I start actually writing (which comes before I start coding) are: A setting (Time/Place/If not Earth, how the laws of physics are different) and an outline of the main plot (Not detailed, not even really an outline, with 8thrones it was: You become a warrior, end up a count/duke/I can never remember which is which, and then out stuff happens :-p).

From there I basically have the materials that are going to become the story, so it’s just a matter of ‘banging it out’. I start with where the PC starts, and what challenges they face at first, then, when I reach the end of that section, or while I’m actually making it, I start drawing up the full length of the plot. The major events which lead to one another, and major tangets (love story, ect.). From there it’s just filling in the pieces as I need them.

(For me, what variables I’m going to use are just drawn up as I think of them.)

I start off with the kind of experience I want to create. With Samurai, it was like this:

  1. Hmm, this cat thing is too complicated.
  2. What else do I like and would like to see which isn’t already here?
  3. Well, I do like historical epics so I think I shall make that.
  4. Setting? I think Sengoku Japan would make for some interesting stories.
  5. There are a few ways I can go about this. Seeing how my favourite Kurosawa films are Kagemusha and Ran and they’re dramatic as opposed to Yojimbo and Seven Samurai which are more actiony, I think I’ll make a samurai drama.
  6. You know, sexism has no role in my samurai epic drama fantasy. Sure I could have the female character fight the system but no, I’m going for fun with drama.
  7. Hey, Throne of Blood and Ran didn’t reference actual historical battles and clans anyway.
  8. That’s it then. I’ll just set this in a world where patriarchy never happened. This shall also free me to create awesome female NPC. And no one can accuse me of being historically inaccurate, but I shall nevertheless try my best to reflect samurai in the Sengoku Era. What would be the point, after all, if I didn’t?

So yeah, what I was trying to show with the example is that the initial idea is not always structured. Things can just fly out of nowhere and influence your direction. It is from knowing what experience I was trying to create that I can then decide on plot outline and setting. In this case, the setting is pretty much made for me but simply requires a reimaingation to accomodate my choice for a non-sexist world. The plot outline (rise from low rank and get in the thick of war and romance) would also be a lot different if I had decided to go more Yojimbo and less Ran.

As a note, Furin Kazan (AKA Samurai Banners) has taken over as core influence but this might not have happened if I had decided while brainstorming to go more Yojimbo.

Plot points and worldbuilding done, it is time to fill in the meat. During this process, a lot of surprises can happen. I had to drop a lot of ideas because I realised my skill level isn’t enough to bring it out (well I could do so but have fun waiting years) so a lot had to be cut back. On the flipside, as I write and flesh out the characters you meet, I would discover a significant detail I really like and would reference my previous notes to see if it fits. Sometimes, new characters can be formed in this process.

Like Reaper, most of my variables come as I go.

TLDR: Start with a theme and work from there. Make a skeleton and fill it with meat. Be warned, you may have to rearrange the bones but that’s part of the fun.

I come up with an idea and then attempt to make a general outline of it first. This involves writing out the beginning immediately and then having a general idea on how I want it to end. This doesn’t always happen, but usually I have major endings already planned out, though they are always subject to change depending on how the middle part is working out.

Then I try to create a “timeline” where certain events will occur to the character, or not happen to the character depending on what choices were made. I basically see it as creating alternate timelines to the original one I thought up. Other characters, events, places may be affected as well. Basically I don’t “tell the whole story” in one major branch, which means you don’t get all of it unless you go through the other ones on a different play-through.

Then I attempt to write one major branch from beginning to end, then go back and fill in all the premature endings after that, though if I already know what I’m going to do with it, sometimes I’ll write out a premature end before finishing up the main branch.

When the major story branch is complete I go back and do it all over again with the second, then the third, etc.

The whole time I’m doing this I’m usually keeping multiple notes of the various characters and places along the way so I can easily remember where to place them in the alternate timelines and how they’ll be affected, if they show up at all.

I also tend to make a separate set of notes solely dealing with history or character backgrounds if I’m making something really complex.

If I come up with a good idea that I can’t immediately use in the story, but it’ll work else where in it, I tend to write it out just so I won’t forget it.

I also try to concentrate on one story at a time. Doing two at the same time gets distracting and I find that it can hurt both stories since I’m not as focused, or at the very least I end up forgetting something I wanted to put in. I wouldn’t even want to attempt three stories at a time.

However sometimes I still have ideas that pop up that I think would be good for stories, so I just keep notes of outlines of those ideas and sometimes even beginnings of them and save them for when I have time to work on them properly.

So the general consensus seems to be “outline, then details”. I quite like that, it’s making organization much easier.

Now I just have to learn how to use choicescript with a modicum of finesse.

@13ventrm Choicescript is easier than the writing. Plus you have all of our support. Vendetta was reluctant to use choicescript and now he has one of the most technically advanced games out there.

For ZE, I created a setting and came up with characters I thought would be entertaining and then threw them into a pot, jumbled them up, and submitted to CoG for publication.

That’s an oversimplification but I generally like not to outline too much and just write and see where it takes me.

With ‘The Race’ I had a clear path ready made for the main path. The path was the same as the one I took myself when I went to Peru a few years back. In terms of writing, it was easy to plan as I knew where each section would end. Then, it was a case of padding the game out and adding the alternative story-lines.

With ‘Blackraven’ I’m taking a very different approach. I’ve spent most of my time so far creating the engine of the game - the living prison where you will spend pretty much the entire game. Having just the one setting has allowed me to be creative and add lots of randomness. While every day goes through the same basic pattern, no two days will play the same thanks to differing weather, food, random character meetings and events. The multiple story-lines in this game are more the problems you have to overcome to complete your eventual goal.

“Choicescript is easier than the writing.”

I second that. *Beats head with a hammer* Words, come out!

@ScarletGeisha ive heard thats how Twilight was written :stuck_out_tongue:

But i find choicescript very easy. Took me a little while to figure out how everything worked. but now that i get it its way to easy. (could be me complicated but i like it easy)

D’aw, you guys are giving me confidence that I might actually be able to traverse the arcane and foreign world that is programming.

Don’t think of it as programming, but rather marking up. The hard bit is all done for you via the interpreter (the thing that makes choicescript code “work” in browsers).

That’s what so great about it, even non-programmers can learn choicescript with ease, it takes some getting used to indentation and stuff but I’m certain there’s not a member here incapable of making a choicescript game solo :wink:

@13ventrm As CJW says, don’t think of it as programming. I’ve spent the last quarter of a century dealing with programmers and their programming, all wrapped up in a supreme logic beyond the grasp of poor, befuddled me. I despaired of ever understanding more than the absolute basics of what they all seem to understand with no great effort on their part . . . To me it has always been just so much mumbo-jumbo.

ChoiceScript, on the other hand, uses very simple logic and a limited range of commands and other basic “rules” (such as indentation requirements). Any person of reasonable intelligence is capable of learning at least this much–it really is that simple, given a little time for trial and (inevitable) error.

And when you get stuck on something, there’s always the forum. :slight_smile:

Back on topic–I outline broadly but generally find myself drifting away from this to quite an extent, often just going with what “feels right” and as the mood takes me. Ultimately, however, it’s definitely useful to have an overall plan / outline to follow, if only to bring things back on track now & then.

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I would not say is easy to learn, non programmer here. But its not complex, I still strugle sometimes, but great group here that is more then happy to hold our hands and walk us through the rough parts.

I find it a great creative tool. The scripting itself serves as a writers prompt at times