CZEPTA//TPRA JRPG Development: Writing (Part 1)

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If someone were to ask me what the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do was, writing a structured and coherent story that matches my intent would be it. It is so easy to watch a million films and read a thousand books and believe that you are a master of story analysis, but when it comes down to creating a good story from scratch, that is what really separates the dreamer from the realist.

There are so many elements that must be mastered and woven together in an elaborate embroidery, where not a single thread is superfluous or out of place, that writing a complete story that is concrete and complete becomes a mammoth undertaking. Writing a story is akin to attempting to paint a Michelangelo jigsaw puzzle but having to paint the individual pieces in a completely random order hoping that once they are connected together, will reveal a detailed and coherent image. The problem is it is really hard to see what pieces are missing, which ones do not fit as part of the painting and those who are just uninspired and not worthy of the incredible story you are hoping to tell.

I’ve spent most of the last year just focusing on writing a decent story for my game. I believe that a solid story is the foundation of my entire game. Without that foundation, I may as well not bother going to all the immense amount of effort of painting hundreds of backgrounds, modelling and animating characters, programming gameplay, scripting events and creating music and sound effects. To me it is all about the story and is why I am making a JRPG to begin with. In my experience there are only two game genres that really express story well and they are JRPGs and Point and Click adventures. The reason I’m going for a JRPG is that the story I wish to tell revolves around characters doing battle with each other using magic. A JRPG is basically 50% story and 50% battles whereas Point and Click would be 50% story and 50% puzzles. Although it is possible to omit story all together in both and it has been done, I’m not interested in that. If there’s no story count me out.

In order to write a complete story, one needs to know about story theory. There is a lot of theory… After doing hours of study I feel a little less in the dark than when I first began. The most useful theories/resources I’ve found so far would be: Dramatica, Story, The Writers Journey, L.A Writers Lab, Narrative First and Scriptshadow. I definitely recommend checking them out if you are struggling with your own story, in particular Dramatica which is incredibly complicated at first glance but once you understand it, really clarifies how and why good stories work and how to construct them yourself.

I have written hundreds of pages so far trying to solidify my story idea but sometimes it still feels like I am grabbing at air. It is frustrating that you can spend weeks or months writing something only for it to become irrelevant when you find a better direction to take or even when you just realise you’ve been going in the wrong direction all along and have lost sight of your original intentions. But as they say, the journey is the destination and the story comes from the writing. Hopefully if I just keep going I will create what I’m looking for.

To all the struggling writers out there, I feel you. Here’s some inspiration:

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  1. MikeNZ says:

    Sounds like a taxing but valuable learning experience.
    Remember you don’t have to travel it all on your own :-)
    The best journeys are shared ones where you catch up with family, meet new friends & work with others to achieve outcomes that only together could be successfully done.

    Thinking of you both.

    P.S.

    Contrast the stories of these epic voyages:
    http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/History/Ernest%20Shackleton_Trans-Antarctic_expedition.htm

    http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/franklin-expedition/the-franklin-expedition.asp

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