Starting the story

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Starting the story

#1 Post by clannadman » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:12 pm

Would you rather be given alot of information first thing about the characters background (say they moved from somewhere to a new town) and then straight into gameplay OR would you rather have a very ambiguous beginning that doesn't explain much until you get into the story?

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Re: Starting the story

#2 Post by Deji » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:27 pm

I don't mind either, but it depends on the situation.

If I'm supposed to take the role of the main character in the story/game, I'd expect to know as much as the main character knows, so if the main character moved to a new place recently and that it's important, I'd like to know it.

If I'm supposed to just follow the story of the main character(s), I don't mind certain info to remain hidden from me until later if that helps the progression of the story.
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Re: Starting the story

#3 Post by Lotus » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:35 pm

I personally prefer a (semi) ambiguous beginning and learning more about the characters as I play, though I would probably enjoy the other option if the game overall was executed well.

I said semi-ambiguous because I do like to know a little bit about the characters before I get into the main gameplay, but I don't like to have their whole life stories dumped on me. I like to know basic things like who their friends/rivals/relatives are, where they work, where they live, etc.

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Re: Starting the story

#4 Post by rioka » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:55 pm

I prefer pieces of information to be delivered piece by piece. I don't like massive info dumps just as I'm being introduced to a story. It's just too much to take in, imo, unless it's a part of the story that is absolutely crucial that the readers should know about.

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Re: Starting the story

#5 Post by kinougames » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:30 pm

Agreed with the no massive info dumps. The number one key to a good story is show, don't tell. Info dumps are the definition of telling. Instead, make a couple of opening scenes that show your character's personality and can explain what kind of person they are without having to say it.

In a game I'm working on, I show a bit of one of the main character's home and school life to establish his base before moving into the plot. It's only about 3000 words worth, but they're invaluable and explain an infinity of information as well as just making a bit of fun for the player.
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Re: Starting the story

#6 Post by KomiTsuku » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:42 am

I like to know at least some of the basics, otherwise I'll be confused and doing double takes when I finally get the important details, which completely throws off the tempo of the story. Make sure you have the foundation set, then you can build the rest of the house as the story goes on.

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Re: Starting the story

#7 Post by Sapphi » Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:39 pm

I'm with everyone else saying NOOOO to the info dumps.
The thing about them is that while you're trying to "set the stage" for the story, in the reader's mind there is no story yet, so the information is not relevant to them. Let readers get acquainted with the characters a little bit, and then it will be. I find I tend to ignore long beginnings like that because I want to get to the story, only to get confused later on in stories and have to go back to the beginning to clarify things. (then again, I am an impatient reader :b)
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Re: Starting the story

#8 Post by cloudyssky » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:15 pm

Also no on learning too much at the beginning.

On the project I'm working on now I just let the player jump right into the story. I give probably give about 5 lines of background because that's all I feel is necessary. The problem with giving them too much information in the beginning is that what can wind up happening is just lines and lines of background, which to some players can be boring.
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Re: Starting the story

#9 Post by James » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:51 am

Would you rather be given a lot of information first thing about the characters background (say they moved from somewhere to a new town) and then straight into game play OR would you rather have a very ambiguous beginning that doesn't explain much until you get into the story?
What's the setting of the story?

If it's a fantasy setting then it makes sense to have some information dump in the beginning, especially fictional stories with made-up races, cities, and terms.
If it's a the modern day setting then you don't need too much information dump, people can figure things out as you go along.
Either way works if the writer does a decent job planning, there no way to tell which is better until there's two samples written for comparison.

That being said, I did a narration info dump in the beginning of my project. It's a good way to make personality stand out (cynical/bitter narration :twisted: ).
So I vote for the non-ambiguous beginning for easier development and flow of story.
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Re: Starting the story

#10 Post by pondrthis » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:29 am

I agree with James in that "it depends". If most of the excitement of your game stems from suspense related to the characters, then infodump on the setting is fine. If it's the other way around, then infodump on the characters is fine if necessary. If your game isn't based around suspense, then any infodump will work out. Just don't give an infodump when it doesn't add anything to the story.

I guess that's the real piece of advice, isn't it? Don't do anything that doesn't add to the story. If neither your characters nor your readers care about the details, then don't bother writing them in.

For example, in most cases, nobody cares WHY some character's parents got divorced. But there are some scenarios where that might be important... I thought this one up because I was reading Higurashi Tsumihoroboshi last night, so there are obviously exceptions.

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