Plot Tuning and Thickening

Looking over yesterday's plot work, I'm still pretty happy with it. I'm also still a bit stumped with how to proceed, however. I tried out a few "major setback" options to see how they felt, but I'm not sure I've found one I like yet. Everything I mapped out yesterday seemed to flow pretty logically and satisfyingly until this step.

The more I struggled with it, I started wondering if the problem might be that I'm trying too hard to rigidly fit the screenplay model. In other words, I'm trying to make this next plot beat the big setback before the climax, when the story might need additional beats before this point (or after).

As an experiment, I decided to try moving a few things around, so they happen earlier in the story. And that freed up other things to happen towards the end, instead. That might be an interesting way to structure things, so I'm leaving that in place for now.

In particular, maybe it opens up the possibility of answering a few more questions about Philip's mystery besides who he is/was. Perhaps he should have some time in this story after that discovery to decide what to do about it. And that got me thinking about whether Philip could be presented with an important choice about redefining himself. Maybe this self-reflection is the midpoint of the story? What screenwriters call "the point of no return?"

That might actually make for a more satisfying story, since it puts more control in the players' hands, and offers meaningful choice. Of course, the onus would then be on me to make that choice have some satisfying consequence, which is no small task.

I guess today actually was pretty productive, in that light. Not a lot of written text to show for it, but some significant rethinking and organizing. Still hard work, in any case. Forcing my brain to stay on task with this sort of abstract thinking is really difficult, especially for long enough spans of time to get any appreciable decisions made. Decision fatigue racks-up quickly in this type of work.

But I'm still pretty excited about the way plot's turning out, so that's a good sign. Just gotta keep that enthusiasm going long enough to finish the organizing, and then write actual encounter text!


grimmghost's picture

I think the hardest part is going to come up with repercussions that have equal benefits/repercussions so that it doesn't become the standard forum answer of "do this" to get best results. it is a difficult line to balance on. you have done awesome so far though so I have great faith that you will find a well balanced medium! this is a exciting moment in development.

valdee_uk's picture

The game could use some tweaks on wear and tear of materials and equipment, better, more durable military backpacks made of cordura, ponchos, semi auto riffles and shotguns, maybe black powder and hand made grenaders from bottles and pebbles.
In general, you made a lot of progress since the release and me as most of the forum users are quite happy with that. Depends what way you would like to go with the game, you need to think about mods and endless players which will always whine about something, think if you want to invest time in the current scenario game or write a new client, a sandbox one, no story. On the second thought, it is easier to work with a smaller client.

dcfedor's picture

@grimmghost, I think you're right. I, too, would like to avoid the problem of dominant strategy in the game's design. I'm glad to hear that you think the game is pretty successful at that endeavor so far, though!

@valdee_uk, I think I'm treading a difficult path in trying to make the game offer both story-based play and sandbox play. I've already run into issues with that, as some players get frustrated with dying before they resolve story elements. Plus, there are large numbers of players in both camps: those who want more story, and those who want more features/toys.

I've been encouraged several times to choose one path or the other, and with good reasoning. However, I think I've always been trying to make a story-based RPG, and just paid more attention to making the game mechanics fun and fresh in each new game than some other RPGs. As a result, it attracts sandbox players, too.

I think a "sandbox mode" makes a lot of sense, and would be a worthwhile addition. Similarly, there is a gigantic list of new items I'd love to add. I can't guarantee I'll have time to do them, but they're on my wishlist, too!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Malacodor's picture

I don't see a reason to add a sandbox mode. Just ignore the storyline and you have sandbox mode. ;-)

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool