With the way technology has expanded making games a lot more detailed
than their retro counterparts, the practices that go into actually designing and
producing a modern-day Triple A title is a lot different to the methods used
during the golden age of gaming.
With the experiences being delivered looking and feeling more realistic, a
game with a good story will help the player relate to the content that they are
seeing. A game with a well-written story is a game to be remembered.
That’s not to say that story was completely absent from games in the older
generation. Due to the hardware being a lot simpler than the PC parallel
consoles, a lot of the story devices relied on a lot more attention to detail in
Consoles in the late 80’s and early 90’s were
very simple, and their use of ROM cartridges
meant that developers were restricted for
Because of these limitations, designers had
to opt for things such as:
Backstory presented on title screens or
Simple Graphic/Text combinations in-
Ambiguous story left open to
interpretation by the players themselves.
A group of ambitious developers at
Japanese company TECMO managed to
find a way to work around these limitations,
and had detailed pixel art cutscenes in the
1989 hit pad-breaker Ninja Gaiden.
SAVES THE DAY
Technology matured, and cartridges were
slowly phased out. SEGA’s Saturn and
Sony’s PlayStation opting to use discs
gave developers roughly 630MB of space
to play with. This jump in new 3D
3D graphics, and complete control over
the camera for cinematic cutscenes.
CD quality audio, allowing voice-acting.
Playback of video files, allowing live
action video or pre-rendered 3D FMVs.
It’s these advancements that allowed new
games like Metal Gear Solid to work as
well as they did when they were released.
HOW IS A GOOD STORY
The main problem with stories is that they need to be solid and believable. If
a story is littered with plot holes and poorly developed characters, the entire
experience will fall apart quickly.
There are a number of different things that a good story needs, such as:
A world for everything to take place in.
Strong characters with backstory, and room to develop more as the story
progresses. Character Progression makes characters memorable.
An storyline that isn’t overambitious. Big ideas that aren’t thought through
properly could cause problems later on if holes in the plot develop. Plot holes
become very difficult to cover up.
A WORLD TO
When creating a world for the game to take
place, there are numerous factors to take
into consideration to make the world
believable, and for the characters, liveable.
Deciding on the size of the world. Does it
take place in one country, or an entire
world? Is the world based on real life?
What era is this world set in? Is it past,
present or future? Do they have access to
What state is the world in? Is there any
war or conflict? Has an apocalypse just
When these things are taken into
consideration, the world provides the game
with an engaging setting.
Creating characters is very similar to
creating your world, but a little more work
needs to go into it. Things like:
A backstory. What was their life like
prior to the game? This can be linked in
with the world’s development, too.
Personality. What are their traits? How
do they act around others?
Skills. Are they good at anything in
particular? This can also be linked to
Room to grow. If a character develops
over the course of the game, they’re
going to feel more human.
Now that the lore of the world is finished,
and you’ve got an army of strong
characters, it’s time to decide how to link
them all together.
Decide who your main character is, and
determine their end goal.
What are the problems stopping them
from getting to this goal?
How will they overcome these issues?
Will there be a massive twist?
Consider length. A story that drags on
without any real progression is more than
likely to outstay its welcome.
With everything in place, the game is
ready. It’s now time to decide how the
player is going to be delivered all of this
information. There are a number of
different games that all employ story in
different ways; each as effective as the
Will the player have direct control over
the titular character? From what
perspective is the story told?
Will they be able to make their own
How will their decisions impact the rest
of the game?
Many games have seen success in the
industry through story alone. The way
they handle progression gets people
hooked, and wanting more.
The Last of Us was winner of numerous
awards, including Best Storytelling, and
Best Voice Acting.
Telltale’s adaptation of The Walking
Dead is notorious for having choices
make a lasting impact on the story. It has
snagged a number of Game of the Year
Final Fantasy VII and its mysterious
plot made it popular in the 90’s. It still
holds on to this popularity today, making
it a timeless classic.
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