Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

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LiveTurkey
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Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#1 Post by LiveTurkey » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:17 pm

I'm making a point and click adventure game and I'm trying to write it. The problem is, that writing a point and click is unlike any other type of writing. It's not like a novel where you can just write paragraphs and also it's not really linearly written.

Instead there is a bunch of if-then conditions where the dialogue that shows up is based on what the player has done/read before hand. To move the story forward, you solve puzzles and get items. Large portions of the story are locked away until you complete certain tasks.

I'm trying to find out if anybody knows of a method of how to write the script so that it is follow-able, not confusing, and easy to implement.

I'll tell you my current method. Right now I split up my files into three types: Character Outline, Character Script, Location Script.

Here is a screenshot of my google docs folder

Image

In the character outline file, I try writing the story like in a normal writing style where I just outline what will happen and such.

Here is an example

Image

Then I have the character script file where I take what I wrote in the outline and turn it into an actual script.

Here is my example

Image

It's the script of all the dialogue between the main character and that specific character. As you can see the writing doesn't really stand on it's own and it's hard to tell what is happening unless you wrote the entire thing which makes it hard for me to hire new writers. I also feel like later on, I'm going to have 50 if statements before a single line of dialogue, which can't be a good thing.

The last file I have is location script file which is very similar to the character script file but instead of all the dialogue that happens between the MC and one character it is all the things that happen in that specific location with all characters. Here is my example of the Cafeteria Script

Image

So that's how I'm trying to organize all the writing. As you can see, I don't think this method is working out quite well. For the first 10-20 minutes of game-play I already have like 30 different files created. I feel like the complexity will keep increasing exponential as I add more characters,quests, and objects.

Does anybody know a better way? Either a better way to organize all the files/documents or a third party software that specifically handles this type of writing?

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Re: Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#2 Post by Curtid21 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:06 pm

Hey Live,

I was in just this position when I first started my project a month ago. All these ideas in my head, pictures, code (I'm not a coder), choices. It was actually pretty stressful and slowed down my writing a lot. I wasn't having fun. About two weeks ago I decided to just focus on the main storylines, and worry about the icing and sprinkles later. As soon as you have the main story down packed, I believe, you can go back and add your choices with later revisions. This way you'll have a better grasp of where choices can be best placed to improve/expand the story.

I hope other experienced writers come to this thread. We cant be the only ones with this question
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Re: Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#3 Post by Mutive » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:31 pm

I'm working on one now.

I write mostly in either full code or pseudo-code as it's nearly impossible for me to write otherwise.

Generally I use an if-else statement then call to additional dialogue something like this:

Code: Select all


if apple == True and banana == True:
		jump applebanana
	elif apple == True:
		jump apple
	elif banana == True:
		jump banana
	else:
		jump nofruit
		
label nofruit:
	character "Why didn't you bring any fruit to feed me when I asked you so nicely to?"
	character "Go back and fetch it or I will be peeved!"
Admittedly this is using a *ton* of dialogue options. I sometimes streamline it a bit by something more like:

Code: Select all

if apple == True or banana == True:
		jump applebanana
	else:
		jump nofruit
		
label nofruit:
	character "Why didn't you bring any fruit to feed me when I asked you so nicely to?"
	character "Go back and fetch it or I will be peeved!"

label applebanana:
	character "Thank you so much for bringing me [fruit]!"

But only this can only do so much...

I can't imagine trying to write for a point and click adventure without some programming knowledge. (With that said, I do have a limited imagination.)

(I'm also using a lot of counters for times when you can time out by, for instance, not bring someone the fruit the 3rd time or whatever and getting a different response.)
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Re: Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#4 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:06 am

LiveTurkey wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:17 pm
So that's how I'm trying to organize all the writing. As you can see, I don't think this method is working out quite well. For the first 10-20 minutes of game-play I already have like 30 different files created. I feel like the complexity will keep increasing exponential as I add more characters,quests, and objects.

Does anybody know a better way? Either a better way to organize all the files/documents or a third party software that specifically handles this type of writing?
I think you could probably compress your character outlines into one file, then just ctrl-f to find each character, or make hyperlinks within your document. Other than that, I think you've doing it about as cleanly as you can. You might want to create a design guide or Table of Contents file that hyperlinks to the other documents that you update as you add documents, so you always have a jumping off point.

But what you have looks a lot like what pages Ron Gilbert has shown of adventure games he has worked on.

I can link to two design documents - one for Leisure Suit Larry 5 (may be NSFW) and one for Grim Fandango. They can give you some idea of how some of the adventure games were planned by companies and teams that had been making them for a while.

Keep in mind that those are just GUIDES for the whole team. They aren't full scripts, and they don't have programming notes and implementation specifics - and they STILL come in at dozens and dozens and dozens of pages. They are just made so that everyone is on-board with the vision and direction of the game, and knows what the end goal is.

As an indie developer or one person team, you kind of HAVE to create a system like you are doing. I don't see any short cuts. Sorry. But I think what you have is looking really good.

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Re: Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#5 Post by MI_Buddy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:12 am

This is a super-frustrating problem IMO, I feel your pain.

Something that's helped me a lot for game writing, if you're using Google Docs, go to View > Show Document Outline (I think most desktop writing apps have something similar). This makes it more practical to jump between spots for your script.

Beyond that, I know some writers use Twine, Inkle, or other interactive fiction writing software for these scripts. But I'm not a fan of having to go between multiple pieces of software for all my story notes, so I've avoided that (probably should try it at some point though).

It's enough of an issue that I've been tempted on multiple occasions to build my own software for it. I don't think I'm going to get to that anytime soon though.
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Re: Does anybody know how to write a point-and-click adventure game?

#6 Post by fullmontis » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:19 am

I think you just pointed out the main crux about writing in interactive media :D

I wish I had a quick and easy solution, but I'm not sure there is one. I wish there was.

One thing I think is important to remember that, even if writing is its driving force, you are still making a game; so you should mainly focus on creating actual code that you can run, even if you are focusing on writing dialogues. There are multiple reasons for this.

On one hand, you are basically doing work twice, once writing the dialogues and once coding it and testing ingame, which may not be problematic in a big team with more work hours to spare, but in a solo dev ambient it is quite a relevant amount of time wasted.

The second reason is that dialogues often sound a lot different when reading them from a script than when actually showing them on screen with specific timings and images. I notice that most of the time I have to trim a lot of stuff because it feels a lot slower than when I read the lines in the script. In the end the player is going to experience only the game and not the script so it is important to focus more on that.

The third reason is that, as you pointed out, trying to understand what is going on just from the script is quite a mess. If you actually code the game and play right away, all the choices fit right away and you can get how they "flow", or if there are problems somewhere (which happens a lot). So at least even if the script is a mess you can actually play the game to have it in "order".

I really like Ren'Py because the code itself reads like a script, so I can directly work in code to test it out immediately, saving a lot of time.

About the scalability of the project... That is actually a problem that taints indie developers as a whole, and not just adventure games or the like, which is why you will hard pressed to find a solo dev who can actually release a big scope game. Most of the time what happens is that they entangle themselves into their own code and can't get out! I think an easy solution would be to keep your game areas small and nuclear, so to keep the scope small and workable. Or at least that is how I would approach it.
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