Whether you're writing a story for a video game, a mobile game or even an escape game, creating a story is imperative in order to be successful! Over the past few months Time Race Co-Founders Jason Walshaw and Daniel Mahoney have seen this more than ever and now they're here to share their top 5 tips for writing a game story, with you.
Tip #1: Inspiration Is Key
Whilst we do not condone ripping off other games, we have found that taking inspiration from other games, movies and elements of popular culture is a fantastic way to get your story's skeleton as well as proving a market opportunity for your game. For us, a great example of this is how we took inspiration from a number of post-apocolyptic movies and games, such as Fallout, Mad Max and I Am Legend. By drawing inspiration from these sources, we were able to create an overview of the world within which our first room - Vault 17 is set.
Once you've got an idea of your game concept, spend some time watching films and playing games that tie in to your concept. But when you're watching/playing don't be zoned out and relaxed. Pay attention to what's going on and most importantly, take notes!
Tip #2: The Details Matter
Now this one depends upon the complexity of your game, but it is important to remember. Getting the details right in the background isn't just about giving the right information to your players, it allows you to build a rich story line. So far we've written 5 room stories, with 2 already under construction at Time Race. For each of our rooms, we started in the same way, creating a detailed backstory. From the history of the world in which the game is set, to quirky details about individual elements, characters and locations within the game world.
We really believe in delving down into the details as this let us get to know our own world and truly immerse ourselves within it.
Tip #3: Don't Be Afraid To Have Fun
Players want to play games to enjoy the experience, so there's no point in being all doom and gloom constantly. Even in our wickedly evil horror room planned for our third escape game in Bury, we've got some humorous notes. Laughter and humour doesn't take away from the story of your game and in fact it adds to it by creating an additional emotion amongst your players. Make them laugh and you're on to a sure thing!
Tip #4: Don't Get TOO Clever
We know from experience that sometimes imaginations can run too wild and that can result in alienating your players. It's often the ideas that seem the most amazing due to their intricacy in your mind. But you have to remember, players need to be able to make sense of your game.
We found discussion not only between your team, but with potential players in your core market is the best way to get a judge of if an idea works. If you can't explain it in under 60 seconds and have the players understand it, it's probably not going to work. That's not to say you have to scrap the idea though. Instead you can simplify it and rework it to continue your concept, whilst ensuring that players will understand and enjoy it at launch!
Tip #5: Easter Eggs Are Great...If Done Right
Every gamer loves a great easter egg. But lets face it, they aren't all great! When executed right though, easter eggs can become a thing of legend. One game development house who seem to always get it right is Rockstar, with their notorious eggs such as San Andreas' very own Bigfoot.
Rockstar's easter eggs work so well because they provide context to popular culture, capitalising on pre-existing awareness without being too brand focussed. We always try to work eggs into our game designs, but we never force them. If it doesn't work, move on! We won't give any spoilers away, but if you can find them, there are some great little nuggets of joy in our Vault 17 Escape Room for the avid video gamers amongst you.