Paring Down Large Ideas

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Aileo
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Paring Down Large Ideas

#1 Post by Aileo » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:47 pm

I've been lurking in this forum for a long, long time now wanting to create a game. I have so many ideas I would like to try, but I find it difficult to even start a project because the ideas that I would like to make are way too large to get my feet wet with. I find that I have trouble thinking small in scope, so I was thinking maybe I could take one of my larger ideas, cut it down and start with that. But where to begin? What in your opinions would be acceptable to leave out without compromising my "vision" so much? What shortcuts (term used loosely) could I take to get this project done without burning out before I start?

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#2 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:56 pm

It sort of depends on the idea. If you posted it then maybe people could suggest a pared down version.

But just as a general example:

Large - Heroes save the world from an evil demon lord.
Small - Heroes save a person from a monster.

Large - Captain Amazing saves the galaxy from aliens.
Small - Captain Amazing is sent to investigate a small outpost attacked by aliens.

Large - The story of A and B's relationship.
Small - The story of A and B's first date.

The smaller ideas can be equally impactful if not moreso, without compromising the story.

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#3 Post by TheKiwi » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:02 pm

Hm... I think the best way to do that would be just zero in on the theme and story you want to tell. I might be able to explain it better with an example, so please bear with me!

I want to write a story focusing on two youths trying to start a band, and I think story would probably start on when the young guys meet. Then it would develop their relationship, their interests, and of course their mutual dream of winning a band contest. It could go through all the trials of learning to work together, of getting over their fears, etc. It'd feature rival bands and characters to help flesh out the world, all the way up until the contest. Depending on how it's done, this could potentially be a medium to long length story if you wanted to include all of that.

But we don't want to be a long story. With this kind of thing, because there is a clear goal and end to the story, it'd be better to start closer to that point. So, I could move the story start-point to, say, a month before the actual contest. The two know each other fairly well, their harmony isn't perfect, but they have very little time to truly perfect their craft. Flashbacks could be utilized sparingly if I wanted to add more exposition. But in the end, it becomes a story about two new friends in a band, trying to learn to harmonize before the big day.

I guess I rambled a bit, but in the end I was trying to say this: My longer story and my shorter story still accomplish what I want, albeit in different ways. My long one shows a mountain hike, while my short one shows an uphill walk. I hope that made sense.

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#4 Post by trooper6 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:06 pm

If you really can't think small and you really feel like any editing compromises your vision...my recommendation?
Go here and download the demo for Skyfish: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 43&t=28683

Play the prologue. It is one scene. Just one scene. It has some cool stuff in in.
So, then pick one of your huge ideas. Then create a one scene prologue. Maybe this scene gets used in your giant game, maybe it doesn't. But the goal of the prologue is to learn. Challenge yourself. Use variables, use animations, use menus, use screens. Give yourself some practice using the things that you'll probably be using in your big project, but here in miniature. Practice your art, your writing, your team management...whatever it is you will be doing in your big game...but in miniature. Learn the time it takes you to do things. Learn the development process.

No pressure. Just a really cool one scene prologue.

When you are done with that, then go back to thinking about your larger project.
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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#5 Post by SundownKid » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:10 pm

In my opinion, the story should serve the size of the game you want to make, not the other way around. Smaller stories can be just as exciting as larger ones. You don't have to be playing as the Chosen One destined to save the world to have an exciting story. (Although I'm kind of a hypocrite seeing as my VN's and planned ones are what you would call "epic" in scope :lol: )

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#6 Post by Tyrantauranox » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:21 pm

I'd make a fairly robust outline of the entire story, and examine each scene/section. What are we trying to convey with this scene? What is the minimum that this scene must contain to achieve its goals? You can build out the "essentials" version of the game first, working in additional content if you have time. Also keep in mind that even the big name VNs release fan discs after the main game launches. These discs usually contain a lot of elaboration on the characters and settings from the original work. They also re-release the original games with additional voices, art, and even new characters/locations.

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#7 Post by Kailoto » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:33 pm

If you're trying to take one of your big ideas and cut it down to something manageable, trooper6's suggestion is what you want to do. Since you already know all about the story and the characters, you don't have to spend time worldbuilding and figuring out personalities. All you have to do is try to concentrate it all into a single, short, and compelling experience. It's like writing only the hook in a persuasive essay; you don't need to worry about establishing a thesis or picking out examples, you just have to engage the reader and get them invested in your idea.

If you're trying to come up with an original story that's smaller... it's a similar process, you just have to be more comprehensive. Since you've stated that you tend to come up with big ideas, then do that - come up with something big in scope, and then narrow it down and distill it into only the core components. Reduce the number of characters, the number of events, the number of subplots. Figure out what makes the story interesting to you, and then build the experience around that. It's a bit harder because you have to start from scratch, but it's equally rewarding (if not more so) than the alternative.
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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#8 Post by Krel » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:10 am

I just realised this topic was from a month ago, but maybe someone will find this post useful.

I agree with SundownKid; avoid your larger ideas because they're "designed" longer in your mind.

I would first decide on a manageable length, whether it be 10,000 words or a brief event in one location. I like to try and mold a story around a character's inner change (e.g. protagonist starts off as obnoxious, becomes friendly in the end), and think of a way to cause the change.

If you think of a succinct way to create the change (e.g. protagonist runs into someone who inspires him to be friendly), then you can create a brief story that still has substance. The example I gave could last one scene, and yet is a full story.

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Re: Paring Down Large Ideas

#9 Post by Katy133 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:35 pm

I would recommend watching an analysing the series Steven Universe. The first 24 episodes are small, ten-minute stories used for world-building (meaning that they are used to help show the audience what the "rules" are to this story's world; like how magic works, characters' backstories, etc).

Film critics Doug Walker and Rob Walker described the beginning episodes of Steven Universe as a game of chess, with each episode "setting up a different chess piece" in preparation for the "chess game" (Which would be the 25th episode).

Instead of trying to explain what exactly "Gems" are and all the different powers they have, all at once (which would be quite overwhelming to the audience--Steven Universe has "as many rules to magic as a Dungeons and Dragons game"), the series instead gives you information piece-by-piece, episode-by-episode, with its own, mini-story revolving around it, and has the audience mentally piece everything together themselves.

So, taking that example and applying it to visual novels: You may want to consider a) Cutting you story into parts or episodes, b) Using only the bare bones of your idea/world, and imply the rest of your world using creative methods, or c) Removing any beginning exposition and just have the story reveal itself naturally to the audience as the story progresses--Treat your audience with intelligence. As Pixar's John Lasseter said, "Don't give [the audience] four; give them two plus two."
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