Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writing a Mystery Game (Part 2)

Tips for writing intriguing stories for Serious Games
Part 2 of 3

Here we talk about a simple step by step process that will help you change your ‘Learning’ story into a mystery.  The Tutorial assumes that you have already decided what the basic outline of the story is and who your main characters are. 

Step 1 Decide the Big Reveal

The big reveal is that big and insightful realization that the audience goes through just before the end of the mystery. It may be many things such as who the Villain is or even what his motivations are, what is the root cause of a series of unexplained and often scary events etc. 

Remember while the big reveal may be alluded to during the course of the story a big surprise here can be a very fulfilling reward for diligently following the story. Hold off the revelation for as long as possible but avoid making it either too obvious to the audience or deceiving them with misinformation.

By working out the big reveal first you can make your other writing tasks much simpler. In the case of the ‘City of Fear’ game the big reveal was the fact that the unexplained deaths were caused by the plague and not any human agency.

Step 2 Decide the Starting point

The starting point of the narrative is essentially as important as the big reveal itself. This is the canvas against which the big reveal is painted. Since the entire narrative has to be imagined by the audience the starting point provides the anchor to the audience about what everyday life should look like. 

This enables them to see the oddity or mystery in the first place and also provides the motivation to solve it. 

This is the place you can have as much background about the setting, incident, participants and investigators as you want.  

The ‘City of Fear’ started with a very worried Mayor ofSydney calling upon the Player’s Character (a private investigator) toinvestigate unexplained deaths across the city. The Mayor praises the PI’s pastperformance and expresses his confidence in him.

This gives importantbackground info to the Player about the character he is playing. This part ofthe game also lets the player know that the frequency and circumstances of thedeaths are not normal thereby piquing their interest in finding the cause. 

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