New Storyline

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New Storyline

Postby travists » Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:53 pm

Orginating post: Intro movie, thoughts on music

klauss wrote:VS needs a storyline, and that is prerequisite for an intro.

A (hopefully) engaging intro would mesh with the storyline, be a teaser for the storyline.

Turbo wrote:I like the concept so far. But, you left out the most important part. "Crash, bang, boom, funeral, and bar with sad music" is necessary to build the story, but by itself this will not get the player emotionally invested to play. We need a scene that shows the ship being repaired and refitted, with music that conveys resolve or at least hope.

The story should guide the narration, and the narration should guide the scenes, music and (if any) sound effects. Otherwise you do a disservice to our international audience, who might want to understand the story without understanding all the spoken words, and you get something that makes no sense, like when the series Firefly aired in the US with all the episodes out of order. Sometimes the narration may pause to give a particularly important scene/visual more time and detail, but the story-telling is the basis of the script. Maybe we don't use the "Dead Man's Ship" narrative exactly as currently written, but it's the starting point.


Crash... why?

Perhaps hint of a mystery to solve?


travists wrote:
klauss wrote:Perhaps hint of a mystery to solve?


Not Privateer's precursor story, but the little used, but wikified ancient races make for great story potential!


klauss wrote:
travists wrote:Not Privateer's precursor story, but the little used, but wikified ancient races make for great story potential!


Anyone wants to start a VS story thread? :D


gonzo wrote:
travists wrote:Drifting into storyline? Anybody familiar with the "choose your own adventure" type books? That would seem to be the best way to do a storyline for an open format game, at least to me. The choices a player makes pieces together dozens of story elements to make hundreds of possible story-lines.

That makes perfect sense to me and it sounds like a good idea.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:00 pm

So with the preliminaries out of the way, lets get to it.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:21 pm

Choose your own adventure is all nice, but branching has to be limited, or maintainance will become impossible. It's amazing how easy is to wind up with thousands of possible paths and not being able to keep track anymore.

Smartly doing it is the key: branch at controlled, well studied points, and everything will be fine.

So,

First ground rule: branch timidly, branch wisely, branch significantly
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:22 pm

Second ground rule: You shalt have an overarching storyline

...defined before you start defining the details of each mission involved.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Deus Siddis » Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:25 pm

klauss wrote:First ground rule: branch timidly, branch wisely, branch significantly


How about having many choices of starting characters, each with different backstories, ties and starting locations?

I noticed the VT/WC folks talking about this on the other forum, and it seems like it would beat always playing as the same old Deucalion character every time.

klauss wrote:Second ground rule: You shalt have an overarching storyline


Can it be dynamically generated at run time from a library of trope-like story components? :twisted:
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:05 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:
klauss wrote:First ground rule: branch timidly, branch wisely, branch significantly


How about having many choices of starting characters, each with different backstories, ties and starting locations?

I noticed the VT/WC folks talking about this on the other forum, and it seems like it would beat always playing as the same old Deucalion character every time.

klauss wrote:Second ground rule: You shalt have an overarching storyline


Can it be dynamically generated at run time from a library of trope-like story components? :twisted:



I like it! The problem with an overarching storyline is with a fixed beginning middle and end the only shifting there is, is what order you hit some of the missions. However, ideally the script selects which "pages" are available and your choices fill out the rest of the story. Remember C.Y.O.A type books in fewer than 200 pages have dozens of endings with sorties ranging from 10 to 50 pages in length. What we absolutely can't have is endless branching unless there is a trimming point as to which makes the cut and which don't.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Turbo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:23 am

Hmmm, I thought we were talking about an intro movie, not cutscenes throughout the game...though if there's going to be a campaign, cutscenes later would be good.

Didn't someone post last year about how gaming theory could be used for a relatively open campaign, with a matrix of nodes (representing the relative states of the involved factions) between which the player could move by choosing missions and then either succeeding or failing? Entry into certain nodes could trigger a cutscene, and a few nodes would be "end" nodes in which one side or another had "won" the campaign.

I like the idea about choices of starting situations/characters, and it could be a way to fix what (to me) was a design error, namely the one-man "privateer" faction. The game startup choices need only include membership in a list of "playable" factions and a call-sign. The player would still be in his own faction, but it would be invisible as the player's faction would (at start) be aligned with the chosen "membership" faction.

The choice of starting faction would then select an appropriate ship for the player -- Llama for merchant, Robin for mercenary, Hyena for pirate, Sickle for ISO, Quicksilver for a retired Confed pilot, Nicander for an Aera mercenary, or whatever. I am naming ships from memory here, i.e. the starting ships should be similar to the Llama in cost and starting equipment, and the faction choices should give the player a choice of roles (trade/bounty/scout/pirate at a minimum) and factions. It would also affect the player's ability to get missions and the size of payments for those missions.

If a player were to annoy his own faction through action or inaction, he would have to pay a fee or be expelled. Whatever faction liked the player the most could offer membership, for a fee based on their relationship. So while the player would really be in his own faction as now, it would be transparent to the player in favor of membership in one of the "big" factions.

This does not necessarily require multiple intro or cutscene movies. It is just that, within and around the main campaign missions, there would be shorter faction-specific missions. In fact, most of those missions could be the same, but the faction membership would just change which side of the mission the player was on.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:39 am

travists wrote:
Deus Siddis wrote:I like it! The problem with an overarching storyline is with a fixed beginning middle and end the only shifting there is, is what order you hit some of the missions. However, ideally the script selects which "pages" are available and your choices fill out the rest of the story. Remember C.Y.O.A type books in fewer than 200 pages have dozens of endings with sorties ranging from 10 to 50 pages in length. What we absolutely can't have is endless branching unless there is a trimming point as to which makes the cut and which don't.


Ok... overarching storyweb?

The idea of the overarching storyline in any case, is to constrain story development to the relevant points, and to maintain unity. It's good knowing where you're headed when you develop one part of the story.

It's not meant to be set in stone either.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:49 am

Turbo wrote:Hmmm, I thought we were talking about an intro movie, not cutscenes throughout the game...though if there's going to be a campaign, cutscenes later would be good.


That's why the fresh post, story line may be needed for an intro movie, but is a subject unto it's self. I think the choice of starting characters is nice, but could complicate things. As for buying your way into factions... I have thought for some time that Privateer's guilds need to be implemented to some degree. As there is a merchant guild that is an established political force perhaps a "Free Trader's Association" and by the nature of the job a unified mercenary guild would soon shatter into "clans."

The open campaign is what I'd like to see, but it needs to be kept small/directed enough to keep track. Perhaps nine threads: merchant path, merc path, independent path each with: pro confed, con confed, self-interest?

Wow klauss, my thoughts too!
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Deus Siddis » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:19 pm

klauss wrote:The idea of the overarching storyline in any case, is to constrain story development to the relevant points, and to maintain unity. It's good knowing where you're headed when you develop one part of the story.

It's not meant to be set in stone either.


Yeah I totally agree, in fact that's how a feel about everything around here. A finger shouldn't be lifted until it is part of a comprehensive plan to improve the relevant part of the game. Otherwise we just go around in circles with unguided gradual changes.


I brought up the multiple characters/stories thing for two reasons, one for gameplay and one for development.

For gameplay, we have this sort of omni-faceted character, Deucalion, who has andolian implants but also some shaper DNA, who is human but raised by the frog folk as one of them, who has some military past but is presently a loner, who I guess has a past flame that hasn't totally died out but is presently single, etc. The guy is just so blatantly open-ended; an attempt to do everything with one character. But he is so diverse that he's bland. Why not cover this much ground with many characters, so that each can have some actual distinction (in more than one sense).

For development, if all of us piles on Deucalion with our own separate ideas and tastes and try to combine them somehow it might not blend so well. While collaboration can be a good source of inspiration sometimes, bureaucratic story writing can lead to very bland results. Multiple characters might get around this problem by allowing each writer to "own" a character and keep his story consistent.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby pheonixstorm » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:56 pm

from the holy scroll, the part about Deucalion

Note that Deucalion is not the linchpin for 9000 years of VS history
D: course not :-)
utcs is just part of the story from his perspective
T: well, given that he hadn't been created yet, it'd be hard for him to be much influence on
Icarus Descended ;-)
D: hehehe
T: and, unbeknownst to him, he did play some role, though through little fault of his own,
in the timing of some events in utcs ;-)
which is to say, the role he played occurs befor utcs proper
and hence can't be screwed up by the player - then again, it'd be pretty hard to do, as the
only required action is (more or less) his existing at all
Deucalion is a remarkable being, in that he's actually an apology
Deucalion is a library's way of apologizing for killing an exploration crew some decades
prior
His role in the timing of things entirely being an issue of getting the AI quorum
pondering what built him, how, and why
and the effect that such ruminations had upon the rollout time for the "grandchildren"
sometimes, it is enough to know something is possible
that alone can make a difference, even if the particulars are beyond reach
a nudge, a narrowing of search, a path otherwise not taken, that leads to a slight speedup
in something else, itself long in the making, long before Deucalion
D: cool :-)


Another find.
At the beginning of UTCS, Deucalion is a bit of an emotional mess,
but this is to be expected. He’s just gone through a traumatic event that nearly killed him
and did kill his best friend and (for simplification) brother-in-law. He’s rather a bit
shaken, his life plans have just been rudely interrupted, and, to add insult to injury, the
Aera have just started invading Forsaken space while Deucalion was recovering from his
injuries. It’s a situation that is hobbled with guilt and the impotence of any individual
against the uncaring and unnoticing motions of the universe. It’s a situation ripe for
catharsis and, just as importantly, for life altering change – it is therefore a good starting
point for a player to take over a character who already has a defined past. They can take
the character in rather different directions without it breaking all suspension of disbelief,
as “he cracked” and “you’re not the same since XXX” are easily intelligible human
reactions to tragedy. At the same time, they can use the existing past and the benefits and
limitations it has bestowed upon the character as either guide or leverage – his past gives
him skills that make him useful, hence a target for interaction with other enities, and it
limits his direct involvement with governance or military forces. As he’s already left the
Protectorate navy, he can much more believably stray further, or wander back – the
choice is his, and thus, the choice is the player’s.


Ad to cover the crash...
At the start of the game Deucalion is ~28 years of age. He has left his position as a flight
instructor at APSWAK to pilot his best friend's ship, with the first launch of the vessel
occurring only a deci-year ago. However, only a week into their travels, a Luddite attack
crippled the ship and forced an emergency landing on an underdeveloped colony world in
Cephid 17 that neither Lauktk nor much of the cargo survived. A few weeks later,
ownership and insurance issues resolved, the ship has been moved and repaired, and what
systems that time and money could afford have been replaced. Likewise, in large part due
to his genetic modifications, Deucalion has mostly healed physically, if not mentally.


Do we still have a current email for JackS? Would be nice to get the full story on Deuc as well as an updated holy scroll. So so many ideas in there for many many other things, and details we either need or could use...
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:18 am

I understand the reasons For multiple chars, but how implement able are multiple characters? If it's going to take months (or more) then the practical thing to do would be to start with a rather plastic character and back-story is developed along with the plot in the writing/game play process. However if a relatively simple script can be developed to allow this it would be the best way to go.

So: how many characters, what roles, what paths, how much overlap, can you cross from one thread to another, simple "victory or death" or are there loosing tracks?

Great find, pheonix! Perhaps one of the precursor lines quld be a simple quest for answers.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby pheonixstorm » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:40 am

actually there is a lot of built-ins already for how the story should unfold to a point. I'll have to get it back up and dig for it again. Need a reboot.. stupid windows updater...
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:19 am

Multiple characters, if you don't want to be able to switch (which would be a wise decision), are as simple as multiple New_Game savegames ;-)

It only multiplies storytelling efforts. But that can be gotten around if each character has an assigned writer. In fact, it would give each story a marked personality, which would be great.

All is needed, is someone to act as glue, making sure the various stories match.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:13 am

Only switching I see is jumping from the pro confed to con confed, or going from merchant to mercenary. You can't switch characters any more than I can become you. (a.k.a. the reader i.e. anyone else :wink: )
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:42 am

klauss wrote:All is needed, is someone to act as glue, making sure the various stories match.


You would be the best candidate for this role.

As long as it was structured in a way that didn't consume much of your time.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:38 pm

Sure :D
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:04 pm

Campaign writing may be useful here so here is the reference.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Deus Siddis » Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:21 am

Yeah, I think if you want to write your own character storyline, one of the requirements will be that you code it yourself in python. You can't really rely on someone else doing it for you, from a practicality standpoint.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:17 pm

I grasp the basics of the code, but we need good coders for the engine. If I, a reasonable but entry-level programmer, have a steep learning curve how much more those that can tell a good story, but have little programming experience? There was talk at one point of a mission and/or campaign editor, any progress on that?
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:40 pm

Deus Siddis wrote:Yeah, I think if you want to write your own character storyline, one of the requirements will be that you code it yourself in python. You can't really rely on someone else doing it for you, from a practicality standpoint.


No, no, that's the point of task division.

Coders are not story writers, and viceversa. A coder's job is made a lot easier if he's given a script to adhere to, so story writers can write and not code. In fact, please do so.

Available coders can then divide the task of scripting the story.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby travists » Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:56 pm

Good point! I supose that also would let useful additions to the mission scripting to come to light, as a programmer would tend to lock in on what tools are avalible.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Turbo » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:53 am

I hope more information comes to light, because the stuff about why he exists and the effect of his existence on major events, does not (yet) make sense to me.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby klauss » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:47 am

Maybe it's open for writing.

Don't be shy, this thread is on the right track, it only needs skillful writers and spare time to write something.
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Re: New Storyline

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:06 pm

I think this Deucalion thing is the hold up at the moment. It needs to be decided either:

  • How a writer(s) moves forward developing a story around him with respect to preexisting canon.
    or
  • That we should put him on ice and develop new story(s) unfettered by poorly documented Deucalion-canon.

klauss wrote:Coders are not story writers, and viceversa. A coder's job is made a lot easier if he's given a script to adhere to, so story writers can write and not code. In fact, please do so.


I would agree with you if not for the project's seeming lack of pythonistas and that offering campaign writing through a scripting language instead of a C language is not a bad compromise with us content creators.

But if writers can just write and coders will appear and code what they write then that's great. I just fear story ideas could never get past this forum, if that doesn't happen.
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