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Storygames Do Not Equal Video Games

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 8/5/2019 2:00:17 PM

Storygame = Video Game?

There have been a few instances that I've seen involving people coming onto CyS and thinking, "Hey, I would love to make this idea I have for a video game come true, let me write a storygame, which is entirely text based to see if people would like my idea which needs a player interface, graphics, etc."

As we all know this always fails horribly and generally gets a few laughs and jokes before the next noob comes along trying to breed apples and oranges.

However, there is a way to do this, for those of you who are aspiring to create some type of video game or some other media.  The thing is you can't just go and publish some manuscript and expect that it will somehow translate into being able to make a video game very well.  In fact it will not at all, however there are some things you can do to still give people a sense of the type of game you are looking to create.  

It is best to start with focusing on the things that will translate over well if you come here looking for feedback. 

TL;DR at the bottom


Here is a big one, the plot of the story.  The majority of the time the folks coming here looking for feedback have little to no idea what the actual story is of the game they would like to make.  Generally any offers of help on molding and shaping the story, plot points, and overall arc is met with an answer such as "yes, I need your help.  Please write the entire plot, story, and manuscript [insert vague barely thought out plot detail here], thanks!"

The first thing to do is to sit down and figure out: How are the events going to build up to the climax and other points in between?  The prologue or first chapter or whatever generally introduces the problem and is the springboard for starting the rest of the plot.  Unless your game is just a little puzzle game that requires moving some pieces around or something, you need to figure out all the cogs and pieces that will make shit happen, if you will.

Actually, if you're into puzzles, think of all of the plot points as little pieces in that puzzle that need to be just in the right spot for your game to work and make sense.


While the plot is the sequence and the little pieces that make the events in your game flow in the intended order, the story is what actually happens within this sequence of events and why.  Is your protagonist madly in love and looking to get with their future Mrs. or Mr?  Has the Dark Lord smited their parents, friends, and pet dog?  Are they a mad man on a quest for power, revenge, or figuring out how to make their neighbors dog stop shitting in their yard?

You get the picture.  The story of your game needs to be compelling in order to get your audience invested in the events, world, protagonist, and even the side characters if you make them interesting enough.  This can also include themes, character arcs, sub plots (things that happen along the way to improve character development and make the story more interesting other than: then Billy walked here, then there, then here, then there, then beat the Dank Lord with a stick, stole his lunch money, and went home to buy some ice cream).

Is the protagonist having issues with their lover on their way to fame and glory?  Or along the way did their best friend betray them or vice versa?  Did they get drunk and chop their dick off before throwing it into a blender?  

Enough about sub plots, any ways.  The story is your games icing on the cake, or the seasoning to the pasta.  It makes the story unique and interesting.


Stories and plots are often driven by characters.  What this means is generally, a good story tends to have their characters in an active role seeking out their goals: Does a side character act out against the protagonists wishes or before they are ready?  Does the protagonist go and seek out the dark lord (active character, more interesting), or does the dark lord always happen to wander into the protagonists path (passive character, boring and not as interesting).  

Now what do these have to do with video games? Everything if you're looking to tell the best story you can while giving your patrons a fun and enjoyable experience that isn't just buying a new skin or loot box every other week or month.  

A story and plot can be good and well done, but generally if the characters suck and have no life of their own, they will generally bring the rest down with it because stories are quite often based around the people they are about, who tend to drive the plot and make it interesting.  They will also make your game more interesting to play if it seems the protagonists traits and motivations are well thought out, as well as the side characters.

Are the other characters just little plot pieces that live only to serve the protagonist, or do they have their own wishes, desires, and autonomy?

Text to Game

Now that you have that shit all figured out, it is time to sit down and put together all these little seams and pieces.  No one will hate you if you put in a disclaimer such as "Hey, this is an idea for a game I am working on, and this is the free text version of it.  I am looking for feedback on the plot, story, etc.  Please let me know what you think."

Generally, we're all nerds here who love video games and reading, so you will get plenty of feedback.  You can even test out and get ideas for game elements in the sense that, using the scripting and variables here, you can make your storygame have some mystery or puzzles (even if its sneaking past some guards, that can be a puzzle). Because obviously, there is no way to test someones hand eye coordination like video games do, but you can still test their problems solving skills, and you can still make choices that when your game is complete, would still seem like minor decisions for solving a minor dilemma.

For example, say in your game you want to let the players prioritize between stealth and melee.  Well, you can still as mentioned earlier, make sneaking past some monster or some guards a little text based puzzle to try and figure out how you can use that same basic idea into your game. 

For example, in the storygame version you give them the option between a dark hallway, but there are some strange noises coming from it.  The other option is to try to sneak by a wall with a torch, but there are no strange noises.  This will seem weightier in the storygame, but when making the video game version you can still make this innocuous seeming choice have consequences when the player hears the guard shout "Oi, whomst be this?"

Or they go down the other hall and have to fight some tentacle beast.  Likewise in the storygame version you can give the player stats that will help determine combat outcomes or speech outcomes.  Which if you're still figuring out the game mechanics themselves can give you an idea on how you might want to structure the stats and such.  

Generally, as I have been told, when making a video game you want to have the user interface and basic mechanics figured out first but you can still sort of use the story game as a foundation in multiple ways.


You have the visuals and such figured out and just want feedback on the story itself, in that case there is the first half of the post.  You could always, post some concept art somewhere in the forums for feeback or suggestions, or if you have a video clip of your gameplay, post that.  

Anything except posting a storygame while just simply stating "I hope this means I can make a video game now" and expecting to get all kinds of love and accolades or asking someone to do the background work for you.

Discussion, Comments, Throw Poo at Me

Anyways, this is all I can think of right now, as you can probably tell I'm more focused on the writing and story aspect of things as opposed to all that technical jazz.  But if anyone has any suggestions, comments, or anything they would like to add to the discussion on storygames somehow magically equaling a video game, please feel free to post.  

Tl;Dr Go back up to the top and read the post and stop being lazy.



Storygames Do Not Equal Video Games

11 months ago
I, too, rated the Dark Elf "video game" a 1. I get the impression people who publish drafts of their video game here really have no idea how to make games, so they use the simple text approach the site provides. Funny how you never see a strong scripting element to their games either. It's probably just the work of 15 year old loners who play too much Fortnite and have personalities too small to stream, so they end up posting their "great" idea of a video game here. I agree, it's lazy.

Storygames Do Not Equal Video Games

11 months ago
Dunning Krueger is a hell of a thing.

In a way though I guess it's like a much more extreme version of all the people who used come here like 'yes I'm going to write an epic fantasy about two kingdoms at war and yadda yadda, here is a text wall summarizing of 5000 years of the world's history, please critique my non-existent plot and characters' with not a word or a single thought given to how they're going to turn any of that mess into a plot made of pages with choices that you click.

For anyone who's even halfway serious about creating a "REAL vidyagaem!!!" the writing is literally the last thing they need to worry about and the part that requires the least specialized skills. A way to create a UI, how the game world will actually be navigated and how information will be delivered to the player, a functioning combat system, reliable artists, composing or at least purchasing music, all of that has to come first or there can't be a REAL vidiagaym!!! in the first place.

Honestly there's probably even more to it than that, but a few minutes of using a search engine or reading some beginner game dev stuff on reddit seems like the kind of thing the REAL vidauagam!!? person should have to do, not me.