A Writer's Dillemma

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A Writer's Dillemma

#1 Post by TyranX » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:03 am

To all you people who have worked or are working storywise for a visual novel(branching VN). I'm wondering how do most of you go about writing your stories? Do you write it in a regular story format then translate into code? or do you write the story directly as code? Do you write the story first as though it was one path and then do the branching out after that is done? or do you write the story and branch out as you go on?

What I was doing myself was writing the story as code and planning to branch out after writing one complete path.

But before I get to the path of no return, I was wondering what are some strategies that you guys use and are there any better ways for me to go about this?
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#2 Post by LVUER » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:18 am

I'm not a writer and more to an artist, but still writing a story is also important to me since I'm also making games and VN.

Here's my rough step:
1. Think in my head about the story
2. Think any possible story branch or more importantly, all possible endings...
3. Make rough draft
4. Draw it you're a writer, so skip this part
5. Write for real
6. Code it
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#3 Post by ForgottenVision » Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:56 am

I tend to just write it as I code with a vague idea of where things are going. Makes things more interesting when you let the plot twist and turn as you think it up. However, for a different VN, I am planning a vague chapter by chapter thing of what must go on in each section. I'm never been a big one for plans.
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#4 Post by fortaat » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:48 am

TyranX wrote: What I was doing myself was writing the story as code and planning to branch out after writing one complete path.
That's not an exceptionally good way, since the end result might be one good story, written with a clear structure, to which there are many small bad endings that were plastered as an afterthought, or just lame endings that don't fit the rest of the narrative.

In short, do what LVUER said, and plan ahead. Not so short, but more effective, try this:

http://www.choiceofgames.com/blog/2010/ ... ript-game/

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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#5 Post by cloudyssky » Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:16 pm

It's a tough job, writing. We don't think of it as one, but it can really put a rock on our shoulder when we can't continue the story further when we need to.
My steps are these:
1) I spend a few days thinking about what I want to do. I actually kinda role play with my self the general idea of the story, so I kinda go in my room, sit down on my bed, and just talk out loud as if I were a character in the story I'm creating.
2) I look for inspiration. Usually this is found through movies and TV shows for me. However, once in a while a VN on here will inspire me (One such VN inspired me to create my first game Alone, which I'm very proud of). This inspiration not only helps me get to the start of writing, but gives me something as a reference to use when I need to see what other success stories/games have used in terms of writing.
3) I put thoughts to code. This is probably my flaw, or maybe not, but I like to completely code the entire game along the way, step by step, so I may not only write the story, but learn how to use renpy along the way.
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#6 Post by Aoyama Ryuu » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:04 pm

After I get the idea about what I want to write, I make a spreadsheet with the important events in the story, divided into chapters. From that I write in the form of a novel as the first draft; since I'm not an artist, this also helps me explain to whomever will draw it, what kind of background/cg/sprite etc. it will have to be. After I'm done with the story in novel form, I make it into a script which, after beta-testing will be turned to code.

I think a spreadsheet helps with the branching too, since you get an overall idea of the story written down.

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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#7 Post by curry nochi rice » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:11 am

make a flowchart or something... start writing, start conceptualizing and don't forget to BACK-UP your files...
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#8 Post by DragoonHP » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:02 am

I tend (or rather am doing) to write different stories for different endings and the combine them in a hyperlinked word document or html. Always help.

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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#9 Post by IceD » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:04 am

I'm glad that somebody finally bring this up :) I also had some problems with that at the begining and most of us will have them - mainly because thinking in Ren'Py and thinking storywise are two other things. Even if Ren'Py is very user friendly in that case, it's still not friendly enough and it won't be, because there are limits to that. I came with a solution after I tried few methods and did a little bit of research in the field of writing.

What I do, is basically a generic script written as for a stage. I used to write normally, but as I mentioned before, it had too many flaws. When we write normally we usually write everything - characters, dialogues, descriptions, emotional states, action etc. NOT all of this is required for the script, at least in the beggining. There are two most important things in visual novels in case of writing - narration (either first or third person - all-knowing narrator) and dialogues beetwen characters. Narration has everything so you can fit all of the writing parts such as action or descriptions there.

I found this method to be really usable; I tend to write it in txt for shorter pieces and Open Office for longer ones, especially with alot of branching. What I do is basically that I write it line after line, the name of character (or narrator/narration): lines of text along with the character's emotional stance (that is one of the things, that's important in VN). I create scenes like that. If it's required, I also add some short descriptions as a help before the start of a scene, as some sort of a guideline. First drafts basically look like that:

Code: Select all

Ann: [cunning] "Do you really think you're going to outwit our dear Irene with this chaos, hm?"

Simon: "Really, I don't think so, but she doesn't look under the beds, you know..."

Ann: "Just you wait, when time for our monthly dormitory housework comes :3."

Simon: "There wasn't even a word about that! Nobody has the right to touch my blessed chaos!"

Mariusz: "Don't involve me in this, Ann! My half is always clean. Also, there's no porn under my bed."

Ann: "Don't ya worry, guys. I won't tell anything... [grins] Propably."

Simon: "!!"

Ann: "Listen, I have a small suggestion. I'll keep this silent, though you're going to do something for me, okay?"

Simon: "Isn't this an ultimatum?!"

Ann: [sly] "Exactly."
This was a short fragment of one of my older works, and a draft. Along with everything you should know about the situation, and characters - if you have the sprites already (Our character sketches: Ann (First one. And yeah, she has a twin sister ;p), Simon and Mariusz) such writing method gives a strong feeling how the finished novel scene will look like, even for the people who are outside of the dev team or they're still in but aren't working on it directly. This draft is rough but it tells everything most important. I often use colors to underline various parts of the text, such as descriptions or character names to make everything look more clear and neat.

After the draft is ready and gets through revision, I then usually add more info descriptions, such as what music will be played, what background and character sprites will be shown and if there's an event cg, I'll what file will be shwon on screen, too. That way, if you later know what resources you already have it may give lots of help before making final preparations and sitting to code everything in Ren'Py.

You know, why I doesn't code directly in Ren'Py? Many people do so, and I think it's a mistake, because Ren'Py distracts you a lot from basic writing and you have to think, or usually think yourself "how do I have to write this?/in what method?, so it can be already in a coded version". Because of that, I usually got frustrated quickly (not, that I don't know Ren'Py, it's just it distracts me from writing the story, because I tend to focus on the code, because I like coding ;p) and never finished anything. With this new method, I can finally focus on the storywriting and still write the most important info for the coding, which I will be doing later.

Hope this helps. I'm also interested how other people tend to do their work :)

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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#10 Post by dstarsboy » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:33 pm

The above is probably the best way to do it for Ren'Py, because then your game is practically done.

I write mine in a "screenplay" format because I deploy to other mediums so I just need something solid and easy to edit/read, but it's poopy for doing choices/options this way. I also have a new file for every scene.
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#11 Post by LinWest » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:15 pm

I figure out what's going to happen by writing a sum-up of all the paths. It ends up looking like something in this format. Of course, usually if I'm writing an actual summary its more detailed, but I'm just thinking of something obvious to use for an example since I don't want to use my person summaries and spoil some of the gameplay
0. Introduction
lin west ponders as she sits in her living room coach. Y.ou learn a bit about her personality/interests through dialogue. She decides she wants to start a new project. But she doesn't know what to make.
  • 1. Let's make an otome game!
    2. Boys love is pretty cool, I think I'll do that.
    3. Horror. always.
1. Otome Game
So there should be a really cool girl main character and all her awesome friends. Through her interests and personality quirks she's going to meet a bunch of guys. Goes to school, goes home, and now its friday. What should she do?
  • 4. Go to friend's sleepover party.
    5. Go with the cute boy who asked her to go to a local concert.
2. Boy's Love
ext. ext.

3. Horror game
ext. ext.
Giving every path a name and number helps keep it organized. When I actually write the script, I write in script format then copy past to ren'py. When writing, I write al the paths in numerically order.

the script format I use is this so that I can edit my work more easily and have people proof-read my work who are unfamiliar with ren'py code. I also completely agree with IceD. Writing in ren'py distracts, in my case anyway, from making quality work since I don't think in code. Novel format only really works if you're doing a nvl mode ren'py game. For something with sprites and lots of dialogue, script format is best.
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Yuri: “I’m sick?”

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#12 Post by Topagae » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:04 pm

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Last edited by Topagae on Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#13 Post by Evangeline » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:29 am

Can you please link to your wiki so that we have an example of what you're talking about? Thank you.

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Re: A Writer's Dillemma

#14 Post by IceD » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:20 am

Topagae - you mean "that" wiki? Hmm... interesting. I've never though it could be also used to flesh out a vn script, but now as you told I can see this really clearly, especially with it's interlinked pages (so good for branching!). I used to have many various ideas on how the wiki engine could be used for different jobs, but this one would be certainly useful! Thanks for pointing this out :)

I'd also be interested to take a peek at how you did this, if it's only possible of course :)

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