(There's no game design forum, so pitching this tent in WW)
Hey, after my first work I'm doing some reading up on making better storygames (bias towards the game side), and came across these articles. If you'd like to share good resources / discuss these, please feel free to join in.
Standard structures/patterns in Choice-Based Games
Puzzle/Challenge types possible in Storygames
Plot structures (of particular note: the formats segment)
//Lots of articles aimed towards writing shorter interlinked stories Failbetter style, but still relevant for other formats
Statistics tracked in a larger game
Twine - great for route mapping for CYS stories
Ink & Inform 7 two advanced yet relatively simple looking story engines
Linear rendition of the Devourer in twine (the story itself uses conditionals to enable/disable options, so this isn't a true rendition of the choices you'll have access to during a particular playthrough)
Saw this and have to say, awesome!
Thanks a heap for sharing!
Thanks for the support everyone, if anyone has additional design resources they'd recommend, it'd be highly appreciated. Tagging a couple of people who I suspect would know a thing or two @mizal @Steve24833 @IronPanther @EndMaster @Killa_Robot @ISentinelPenguinI @Bannerlord
Strange, the tagging didn't seem to work...
Anyways, here's some resources I found:
(Create choices that match the outcome)
(Learn about other IF stories that have been produced.)
(Puzzle and location design.)
(Branching narratives and alternatives.)
(Conversation and character behavior.)
(Beta test the game yourself and have other people do it.)
(Have other people to provide encouragement.)
(Control vs. empathy, giving the player control of the situation versus making them feel during the situation.)
(Believability vs. playability, making the characters have their own ambitions versus making the characters easily manipulatable for story or game purposes.)
(Agency vs. plot, non-linearity versus linearity.)
(Tools for creating storygames.)
(Read or play media that is similar to the style of the story you are creating.)
(Branching out pathways.)
(Make realistic characters.)
(Character building from dice rolls.)
(Amount of player choices.)
(Reward the player for making clever choices.)
(Choices changing non-player characters vs. choices not changing non-player characters.)
(Lay down structure & variables.)
More helpful resources can be found in the Emily Short blog.
Thank you for that list, it's got me back into diving for articles. Will add a few here after I've finished another two dozen tabs or so. In the meanwhile, I'll add a list of unique games that should help designers in this field think out of the box
Great thread idea and links you posted. I'm swamped with work through Sunday, but will try to gather up some resources next week.
Wave 2, based on Bannerlord's links I dove back in and found these. A lot of articles were very old, I had to refer to Wayback machine often. As of now, the best resources I've found in general have been (in descending order of utility): Emily Short > IFwiki = Failbetter's writings = GDC Vault > Gamasutra > Choice of Games > everything else
From the makers of King of Dragon Pass, who are now working on its sequel (Six Ages), an extremely interesting article on the use of tags to guide event activation, options, and resolution. Highly recommended
Excellent article on Quality-Based Narrative, along with conversation network maps. The interesting thing to read between the lines here, is that if you look at it just right, don't the conversation maps look exactly like dungeon rooms to you?
Really solid analysis of what leads to breakdown in game development, and very helpful options on how to get over it
Two page article from some of the industry's greatest side-quest developers about side-quests (Including thoughts from The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, and Blizzard)
How to make stories engaging > By the plot, or by the mechanics
While most of the context is lost in the PDF, do try to find the two shapes in the PDF, a good design exercise
Along with Emily's QBN, this further delves into the act of building interesting NPCs into the story
Ignore the title, it's a good list of free/paid resources (fonts, art) that can be used in design
36 common plots, good to get ideas if you're stuck on what to include
An interesting look into building stories as graphs
A lot of the links I'm sharing lean more towards the game than the story elements in the storygame creation process, since there's a lot of good story related resources here already. However, even a pure CYOA that's all story with no special mechanics has a degree of a "game" to it also.
The game aspect of a classic CYOA comes in the form of things like: how you reward players for their time based on decisions, with additional reading and choices. If you instantly kill them whenever they choose the "wrong" choice, this is a very unsatisfying result. It also makes it feel linear to those who replay it. One goal should be making a "loss" feel like a satisfying experience, enough so that either they'll read through it again for a better ending or at the very least they'll move on from it with a positive experience.
With that said, always go into the CYOA writing process with the assumption that the reader will only read it once and that they'll read the absolute weakest path in there. As the writer, you'll generally know which pathways you put more or less attention into, and readers will pick up on this too. You can write something amazing, and half the people wouldn't know it if it's hiding in a bunch of early death links or short side paths. You have to give a lot of attention to all pathways, to ensure that no matter where they go, they'll have an interesting experience.
Even better, is when a person reads through it a few times and it rewards them by giving them insight into different parts of the world/character/etc the story takes place in. A common element of all the best storygames on this site is that people come out feeling satisfied no matter the pathway. Even if there's flaws, the strengths heavily outweigh them.
You can skip over most anything that mentions audio or visual design. Keep in mind though, even with text, simply how you format something is a type of visual design that can make it easier or harder to read. For example, a giant wall of text vs. small paragraphs can change the experience of the same story. Here's a few things worth reading for those who are interested and have time:
Behavioral Game Design:
The Elements of Player Experience:
The first hour experience: how the initial play can engage (or lose) new players [For a classic CYS, this can translate to hooking the reader on the first few pages]:
Dimensions of Games – Pacing:
Game Design Theory Applied: A Layered Rewards System:
Four-step puzzle design:
4-Layers, A Narrative Design Approach:
Choose Fairness Over Balance:
Better Gameplay Balance: Gaming the Numbers:
Alright, finally had time to go through all that. Thank you for the excellent links!
I agree wholeheartedly on focusing on making every path in a CYoA worthy of the player's time, even though that puts more strain on the writer.
A few more resources I'd recommend
// Mental modeling
This was raised in one of the articles, and I'm a fan of both modeling the mind of the player (what do they understand of the game), and how you want the player to feel (narrative/emotional design). This is a list of a large number of mental frameworks that are useful in everyday life, of which I'm sure a good deal can be baked into games. I may not agree with all of them, but they're a great starting point for someone who wants to understand the concept better.
// Leading players astray
This is a great talk on how great narrative design works to entice the player into taking the road otherwise not taken, one that would be mechanically less rewarding but experience wise far more so. Also touches on choice and consequence via design in CYoA frameworks.
// Choice, Consequence, and Complicity
This is a classy one, check it out.
Amongst literature, I highly recommend (note none of these books are 'light' reading, they'll require a certain level of rigor in thought to appreciate)
/ Sapiens by Harari | General overview of life
/ Antifragile by Taleb | It's secretly a book about stress - read it, it'll change your views on a lot of things, and you can use stress mechanics in a much more compelling way in your games afterwards)
/ Quiet by Susan Cain | Linked to stress, this has a lot of interesting considerations for long form design, the most interesting imo being the nature of sensitivity, and how it's misclassified as introversion/extroversion
/ Thinking, fast and slow by Kahneman | The holy grail of behavioral research. I recommend this to anyone, not just game designers, though it has brilliant implications for our kind.
Here's an old blog that has more than a few in depth posts about designing a storygame. I'll just post this example since it's a lot to go through.
Thanks for sharing. I've read his entire blog now, there was one good stand out article, others mostly covered topics already discussed above or not in enough detail to be different.
/ Options for building in consequence of failure
/ Articles worth a glance
Alright, for higher level stories where you're building a region, these tools will be helpful
An excellent collection of resources to build fractal worlds within certain parameters, along with NPC and Store Generators. Really cool resources here, everything's free.
Campaign Creator 3 a paid resource, but may be interesting for people who want to show off their procedurally generated maps and don't have assets to add to them
I've not really been impressed by route visualization tools till now, and Twine becomes cumbersome after time. I came across this hidden in one of Emily Short's blogs footnotes, and it looks interesting. Sharing the link to the article and the software (it's Open Source).
Article: Working with puzzle design through state space visualization
itch.io download link