OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers

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Labyrinthine and Immersion Storylines

I've had those nights of writer's block before

This is a screen shot from the game. I posted it because it’s like one of the many nights we’ve all had with the dreaded blank computer screen when trying to post with writer’s block

I have just recently played a demo for a very interesting game created last year by Galactic Cafe and released on the Source Engine. The game was called the Stanley Parable. The Stanley Parable is completely based off of choice and decision where you only have a few controls. WASD to move, mouse to look around, and the mouse 1 button to press buttons or open the occasional door. The game features three main factors. Stanley, the silent protagonist of the game. The Narrator, the faceless man with the British accent that narrates the story and Stanley’s actions. And the completely confusing yet mind and world altering storyline that completely changes on every decision and I mean EVERY DECISION.  The gameplay is never the same each time you play it and you can change settings so it alters the gameplay even more. The demo of the game you do not even get to the game. But, you go through a Monty Python-esque series of events about you and the narrator trying to find the demo. But from watching videos on the Stanley Parable, it got me thinking. Storylines are the most important factor behind roleplaying, and you need to keep a storyline interesting. But how? By making them like a immersible labyrinth of life changing decisions of course!

No, not like David Bowie's Labyrinth

No, not like David Bowie’s Labyrinth

By labyrinthine I mean a story that can go in many different directions like a labyrinth. One way I would like to describe it would be a “fragile labyrinth.” By “fragile labyrinth” I mean that the outcome of the story can get changed with any turn. I want to bring up Stanley Parable again

7b28e84a54886234bdc59eba2d033f41-the-stanley-parable-explainedTake a look at the picture to the left. This is a comparison between a normal game and the Stanley Parable. Notice that the normal game will only go from A to B with a slight change in between. Then look below to the Stanley Parable. There is a number of ways the story can go with one storyline. An easy way to explain it would be that B is not your only destination. There is C, D, 5, Z, P, etc. So pretty much it’s a smorgasbord of ways the story can go. This is perfect to really immerse your characters and members of your game to really think about their decisions. And so I don’t leave it out and someone says “Why didn’t you reference it?” It’s like the red pill and the blue pill

Happy now?

Happy now?

But it might be hard to create a storyline like this. For a lack of a better word, more novice writers might find it a challenge to create something like this. When creating a major event in the story think of not just one way, but many ways how it can go right or wrong. Something like Phil was able to subdue the guard quick enough, or Janice forgot to disable the security system and you were found out, or Olaf stole the warden’s PB&J sandwich and he ends up selling the prisoners for science examination. This way instead of A and B we have C, D, 5, Z, and P.

diceThis means the game has to be a little bit based on decision making with an outcome like a dice roll if it needs to be. Sometimes it would be a little more mysterious [if it’s that kind of game] if it was based on a dice roll. If you don’t have dice don’t worry, there is an app for that!

This is a great way to add mystery to your games and posts. Not only will it enhance the gameplay it might enhance writing and improvisation skills as some might have to cope with the situation at hand. I’ve just recently made a game based on this and the Stanley Parable to experiment with the labyrinthine and immersion aspect. If you would like to try out the game I will provide a link. In the meantime I’m out! Keep Calm and Keep Ongoing!

Stalk me on twitter!: @TiberiusStudios

The Game: The Subconscious Parable

  • Daenelia

    A game that you play solo, and is repeatable, is way more interesting if you can alter the ending or storylines you follow. Which is why Dragon Age appealed to me so much!

    But in a collaborative story you can’t backup and retrace, and take a different corner, without undoing everything your writing partners have done.

    When writing with other partners the most important thing is to no always get your way! That’s where the twist and turns come from, when you have to adapt what you wanted to do, and figure out the most fun, or correct, or best, or worst!, response to what your partner throws you.