Interactive Storytelling for Video Games


Interactive Storytelling for Video Games (2011) .. by Josiah Lebowitz & Chris Klug


Contents

Special Thanks … xi

Chapter 1 Game Stories, Interactivity, and What Players Want … 1

The Importance of Stories … 1

Stories in Video Games … 5

Interactive Stories vs. Traditional Stories: The Great Debate … 8

Summary … 11

Things to Consider … 12

Chapter 2 A Brief History of Storytelling in Games … 13

The Beginnings of Game Stories … 13

Text Adventures and Interactive Fiction … 16

RPGs, Adventure Games, and the Growing Importance of Stories … 18

The Cinematic Evolution of Game Stories … 23

Game Stories Today … 26

The Limits of Storytelling in Games … 34

Summary … 37

Things to Consider … 38

Chapter 3 The Hero’s Journey and the Structure of Game Stories … 39

Types of Stories Best Suited for Games … 40

The “Best” Story Types … 43

Using Nonideal Stories … 45

The Hero’s Journey … 46

What Is the Hero’s Journey? … 46

Structure of the Hero’s Journey … 47

Modifying the Structure … 56

Common Themes and Cliche´s in Game Storytelling … 61

Common Cliche´s and Themes … 62

Why Cliche´s Are Used … 65

When to Use and When to Avoid Story Cliche´s … 66

Summary … 68

Things to Consider … 69

Chapter 4 The Story and the Characters … 71

Story Flow and Progression … 71

The Importance of Proper Flow and Pacing … 71

Don’t Neglect the Little Things … 74

Keeping the Player Engaged … 76

General Pacing Do’s and Don’ts … 78

Character Development … 81

Common Character Archetypes … 81

Advantages of Using Archetypes … 84

Disadvantages of Using Archetypes … 85

Making Characters Believable … 88

Character Actions and Decisions … 89

How Much to Tell and Not Tell Players … 94

The Importance of Backstory … 95

How to Tell the Backstory … 96

Deciding What to Tell … 98

Sometimes a Mystery Is Best … 101

Summary … 105

Things to Consider … 106

Chapter 5 Making Stories Emotional … 107

Connecting with the Characters … 107

The Fine Line Between Drama and Melodrama … 110

Making the Player Cry … 111

Summary … 115

Things to Consider … 116

Chapter 6 Defining Interactive and Player-Driven Storytelling … 117

What Makes a Story Interactive? … 117

What Makes a Story Player-Driven? … 119

Interactive Storytelling as a Spectrum … 119

Fully Traditional Stories … 120

Interactive Traditional Stories … 121

Multiple-Ending Stories … 121

Branching Path Stories … 121

Open-Ended Stories … 121

Fully Player-Driven Stories … 122

How Stories Are Classified … 122

Games Without Stories … 123

Summary … 123

Things to Consider … 124

Chapter 7 Fully Traditional and Interactive Traditional Stories … 125

Fully Traditional Stories … 125

Fully Traditional Stories, Video Games, and Why They Don’t Mix … 127

Interactive Traditional Stories … 130

Creating Interactive Traditional Stories … 134

The Strengths of Interactive Traditional Stories … 140

The Weaknesses of Interactive Traditional Stories … 144

Summary … 147

Things to Consider … 148

Chapter 8 Multiple-Ending Stories … 149

Creating Multiple-Ending Stories … 151

What Types of Endings Should

a Game Have? … 151

Choosing Where to End the Game … 155

How Many Endings Does a Game Need? … 159

Determining Which Ending the Player Sees … 163

Multiple-Ending Stories and Sequels … 166

The Strengths of Multiple-Ending Stories … 171

The Weaknesses of Multiple-Ending Stories … 175

Summary … 178

Things to Consider … 180

Chapter 9 Branching Path Stories … 181

Creating Branching Path Stories … 184

Types of Branches … 185

Deciding Where to Place Branches … 190

How Many Branches Should a Story Have? … 192

Japanese Visual Novel Games … 192

The Strengths of Branching Path Stories … 197

The Weaknesses of Branching Path Stories … 200

Summary … 203

Things to Consider … 204

Chapter 10 Open-Ended Stories … 205

Creating Open-Ended Stories … 209

The Main Plot … 211

The Branches … 212

The Distractions … 212

The Strengths of Open-Ended Stories … 217

The Weaknesses of Open-Ended Stories … 220

Summary … 224

Things to Consider … 225

Chapter 11 Fully Player-Driven Stories … 227

Creating Fully Player-Driven Stories … 231

Creating a Setting … 231

Creating Rules of Interaction … 232

The Problem with Fully Player-Driven Stories in Video Games … 234

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) … 237

The Strengths of Fully Player-Driven Stories … 242

The Weaknesses of Fully Player-Driven Stories … 243

Summary … 244

Things to Consider … 245

Chapter 12 The Argument for the Supremacy of Player-Driven Storytelling … 247

The Evolution of the Art Form … 248

Giving the Writer Greater Freedom … 249

Strengthening the Player–Character Bond … 250

Giving the Players What They Want … 250

Summary … 253

Things to Consider … 254

Chapter 13 The Argument Against the Supremacy of Player-Driven Storytelling … 255

The Fine Art of Storytelling … 256

Time, Money, and Player Interest … 257

The Added Time and Expense of Creating Player-Driven Stories … 257

Adding Interaction at the Expense of Other Elements … 257

Who Is Going to See It All? … 258

Keeping the Story Interesting … 259

Story Structure and the “Ideal” Chain of Events … 259

The Problem with How We Think … 261

Trying to Correct a Mistake … 262

Loss of Impact … 264

The Illusion of Control … 265

Giving the Players What They Want … 266

Summary … 266

Things to Consider … 268

Chapter 14 What Players Really Want: The Most Important Issue … 269

Do Players Know What They Really Want? … 271

The Survey … 272

How Important Are Game Stories to Players? … 272

What Players Say They Want … 273

Story Preferences by the Numbers … 274

What Players Really Want … 275

Further Analysis … 277

Do Stories Sell Games? … 278

Summary … 283

Things to Consider … 284

Chapter 15 The Future of Storytelling in Games … 285

Stories Then and Now … 285

The Key Arguments … 286

What Players Want … 286

Looking Toward the Future … 286

The Most Popular Types of Storytelling … 287

A Future for Everyone … 290

Things to Consider … 292

Glossary … 293

Appendix A: Game Writing Groups and Other Useful Resources … 295

Appendix B: Survey Data … 297

Bibliography and References … 309

Index … 315