When can I call the story complete?  

If I were a Blizzard employee, I would probably say 'When it's done'. If I were employed in the game industry, I would probably be bound by contracts, deadlines, etc. However, as a hobbyist working on a module in his spare time, where should I draw the line?

When I started writing the story for this module, I had a very clear objective in mind - the story should progress in a very organic manner and the character driving the story (you, the player) should never feel that the story is taking a backseat to some inane side-quest. Of course, there will be times when the story takes precedence over the player's actions - the bane of every RPG in the eyes of the hardcore role-player but that is a limitation of the process.

As the plot progressed and I started making the levels and writing dialogue, so many possibilities sprung to my mind - why is this character behaving like this? Should he have a back-story? Should I have a side-quest where the player uncovers the truth behind the NPC's actions? After spending a week revising the story, I realized - why would the character, undertaking a critical task that is of personal importance, take the time to learn about every person he meets? It just didn't seem logical; the flip side is, without a convincing backdrop against which the player-NPC interaction occurs, the experience can turn out to be shallow, to say the least.

Then, I had what can only be termed as a serendipitous moment - in my attempt to provide many of the NPCs a background, distinct patterns had emerged. Taking that a step further, I revised the story again to introduce multiple factions into the story - each with their own objectives - and while they might collide with the player's story at some point, the ends are distinct.

...and then came DA2 and a brief PM chat with David Gaider.
After the initial DA2 announcement, I hadn't been following that too closely. I needed some clarifications on certain things I was including in the module and wanted to make sure it would fit in with the lore so I pinged David. Between the PMs and the initial promos for DA2, I realized some of the story I was including would vary from minor interpretational differences to portraying a completely different world. That resulted in the final revision which I have decided I won't change, come what may.

That defiant stance is primarily because most of the areas where I have applied my creative license to the lore would likely be delivered in a sequel to the current module - more on this later (it's all in a flux in my mind right now)



  • AmstradHero  

    August 28, 2010 at 2:11 AM

    And that is why I'm such a David Gaider fanboi - the fact that he takes time out to talk to modder/fans about the world and clarify issues to help them create stories that fit with the Dragon Age world. There's still one major plot device in The Shattered War that I'm not happy with, but the purpose it serves is necessary to the story, so it puts me in a difficult position.

    As for how much depth to put into various characters, I tend to err on the side of too much depth rather than too little. For any character that plays a significant role, I want to know a bit about them, because that will influence their actions, appearance, personality, speech and reactions to the player. But I agree that you do have to limit those... else you end up with all back story and no actual story.

Post a Comment