How to Make a Unique and Interesting Video Game?
Write Unique Gaming Script
Do not confuse the game genre and game scenario!
Often, the first thing you think of when you think of a video game is its script. Some even define a game by its script, rather than by its genre (above). However, the scenario is not essential to the video game: the proof, Pac-man, Tetris or Mario Kart do not have a scenario in the strict sense of the term, and yet these games are excellent!
But of course, with the trend of video games towards interactive cinema, the script becomes a powerful argument. With cinematics, situation twists and even scriptwriting, big-budget games propel us into savagely fictional intrigues : The Last Of Us, which tells The Story of a man and a teenager in zombie territory, Ni No Kuni, which follows the quest of a child who went to save his mother in a parallel world, or even Heavy Rain, which proposes a police investigation in a pouring rain.
And between the two, there is a category of video games where a small script sets the scene and gives the player a goal, without being omnipresent. That’s what we’re going to try to do on the little Video Game Factory !
Set the background of the game
Our game will be a “simple, nervous and addictive” game, according to the game concept that has been retained. So there is no need to start with complex tragedies and multiple turnarounds. The pitch of our game is already defined : the lubians help the main character to counter the attacks of many enemies.
The time has, therefore, come to decide who, Why, where and how! We need to find a simple scenario, which can, in one or two sentences (no more !), justify all these elements.
- The main character. Who is he? Why does he have to do this? What does he shoot enemies with?
- Why are we fighting? What happens if we fail?
- Who are they ? Why are they attacking ? What’s their connection to the main character ?
- The lubians. Why are they helping us? Why do we only get them as we go?
- Where does the action take place? When? Why are we progressing from battle to battle?
The financial scheme, a tool for the construction of stories
Remember your 6th grade program: the questions we have to answer are very similar to an actual pattern ! A little booster shot for those of you who’ve had it. :
The actual scheme
It’s typically the structure of a fairy tale. The King (destinator) asks a prince (hero) to fetch a treasure (object) to obtain the hand of his daughter (recipient). In his quest, the hero receives the help of his fairy godmother (adjuvant) and must fight a dragon (opponent).
But this pattern is not limited to fairy tales! It is found in many other stories, sometimes in a partial way (with some missing or merged elements, for example, the destinator and the recipient who are the same person).
The current pattern in the Lord Of The Rings
Gandalf (destinator) asks Frodo (hero) to destroy the single ring (object) to save the Earth from the Middle (recipient). He is helped by men, elves, dwarves and of course his Hobbit friends (adjuvants) and has to face Orcs, Goblins and of course Sauron (opponents).
The actual scheme in Zelda
Princess Zelda (destinator) usually asks Link (hero) to gather the three pieces of the Triforce (object) to save Hyrule (recipient). Link is helped by all kinds of allies according to the episodes (adjuvants) which help him to kill enemies and boss in the dungeons (opponents).
The actual scheme in Mario
Princess Peach sends a letter to Mario (hero) to ask him to come and save her (Peach is both Destiny and object). Mario was helped by the toads (adjuvants) and had to defeat the demonic legions of Bowser (opponents).
Of course, you don’t have to stick to this scheme at all, but it can provide you with a reasonable basis for thinking. Think about it if you’re having trouble making your scenario coherent :
- define who the hero is and what his or her goal is ;
- define who asks him to fulfill this quest (destinator) and for whom (recipient) ;
- the adjuvants, in our concept, are the lubians: define why they help the hero ;
- and finally, the opponents: who is opposed to the achievement of this objective and why?