Games & Design > RM[XP/VX/MV] and Game Design

How to start making a game narrative?


Whew! It's been a while since this section of the forum has been active. It's super late at night and I have no idea where this post is going, so bear with me. :P

I recently started using RPG Maker (XP) after a year-or-so-long hiatus. Although I've had it for three and a half years, I still haven't finished making a game. I've started making a joke/meme game, but I've been revisiting an old plan which ultimately was why I got the engine. Here's a rambling backstory which I put in a spoiler since it's long and drags on and on...
Spoiler: show A few years ago, during my junior/senior years in high school, I became interested in RPG-maker horror games, after watching some Let's Plays. The two main games I was interested in were Ao Oni and The Crooked Man. While Ao Oni doesn't have much of a storyline (except for "group of kids goes to a sketchy house and a spooky monster starts going after them"), The Crooked Man had an intricate story line, and had lots of meaningful symbolism and plot twists. This was the game which really made me want to start making an RPG Maker horror game. In terms of mechanics, both of these games (and all RPG Maker horror games which I have played since, such as Ib) have no battles (at least in the conventional sense), and you need to solve puzzles and survive chases. However, after getting RPG Maker XP, my "creative spark" started to fade away, and I started feeling a lack of motivation to create a game, which persists to this day. (this wasn't because I got RMXP; there were several factors, which I could probably fill a whole post with :P ).  2-3 years ago, once I got RPG Maker XP and entered college, I started working on-and-off in RMXP, experimenting with many ideas which fell flat, the one which sticks out the most being a stereotypical "guy trapped in a mysteriously abandoned small town". These ideas died pretty quickly, and had little to no narrative.
 type of game with no real narrative. 
However, in recent weeks/months, I've come up with an idea for a horror game which really resonates with me and I think I might be able to make a convincing game out of: Nostalgia. Specifically, nostalgia for happier times and, more significantly longing to be the person I (or the player :P) used to be. For simplicity's sake, I plan on making the player character (more or less) similar to myself.

There is an Extra Credits video on starting a game narrative; however, the main message from that video is "Think of an idea and decide the mechanics, and build the story from there" (at least that's what I took away from it). Not that I disagree with the message of that video, but I think it should be taken with a grain of salt when using an engine such as RPG Maker, since the engine limits mechanical possibilities. And although I have thought of a few mechanics (such as one in which the player character interacts with his own memories in a way similar to TtM), but I feel like they depend on the storyline, rather than the other way around.

So, here's the main question: What are some ways to come up with ideas for narratives? Here are a few possible ways that come to mind (keep in mind that I know absolutely nothing about game writing :P ):
1. Wait until a good idea randomly pops into your head (In case you can't tell, this hasn't really been working for me :P)
2. Take an already-existing plotline, make it fit the theme, and iterate upon it until it becomes a new, "original" story (This might be a good idea, but it feels like cheating a bit)
3. Draw upon personal experience to create a new storyline (Once again, sounds like a good idea to me, but I'm not sure how to transform personal experiences into compelling game narratives).

What do you guys think, any suggestions?


--- Quote from: TheFlyingMarlin on November 21, 2017, 01:17:50 AM ---2. Take an already-existing plotline, make it fit the theme, and iterate upon it until it becomes a new, "original" story (This might be a good idea, but it feels like cheating a bit)

--- End quote ---

Nononono, it's "inspired by the book". Ideally one nobody has heard of before but the author of which has a smart sounding name.
Or you take TWO plotlines and mash them together

The third one is definitely a Reives-style approach, but not sure if it would fit a horror game unless you have had very scary experiences! Suggestion to turn into compelling narrative? You would have to think about your your experiences relate on a larger scale, to other people as well as your own life. They probably should not be point-for-point your actual experiences, but mirror the emotions mainly, and similar actions/behaviors. Aka making the protagonist obviously you is probably not a good idea unless it's autobiographical; needs to be accessible to a wider audience.


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