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concept A Storyteller is You (working title)

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I was tossing ideas around in my head for a game for a bit now, and I'd like to share them here.
 
Abstract: Tell the story of Yuth (the main character) by guiding his life using the Storytelling Cardsâ„¢ [/size](patent pending)
 
Genre: Fantasy RPG
 
Story "Come help me with this story, would you?"You (the player) find yourself in the extra-dimensional home of a cosmic story writer. S/he had been thinking of starting a new book for a while, but was missing his/her special "cards" s/he uses for storytelling. You happen to find them in your pocket. S/he sees this as a sign, and allows you to direct this new story.
 
It is now your job as a deputized storyteller to tell the story of the main character, the mysterious Yuth. Will you make them a hero, or a villain? Will they change the world, or work for much smaller causes?
 
Features:
- Multiple, multiple branching paths: each and every stage of Yuth's life is an open book; each Storytelling Cardâ„¢ will give you an entirely different story, and a very different Yuth.

- Open-ended progression: Each choice the player makes will let Yuth grow in different ways, giving him different capabilities, different allies, and different personalities.

- also, press turn battles

 

This is really only a skeleton of a skeleton of an idea, so I really can't think of anything else to say for now :P

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It sounds a lot like Hand of Fate mixed in with some life sim games. Not that that is a bad thing at all of course. That type of thing is pretty neat to me!
 
I had an idea that was kind of vaguely related to this at one point. I thought that a lot of RPG storylines follow particular archetypal paths, particular when it comes to the characters. There are particular events that can happen and characters who fulfill particular roles in the story that could be shuffled around. I mean this could go as far as generating each character's appearance using a character creation script, but it could simply be that you have all sorts of preset characters that are slotted into different roles, kinda like the RTP sprites can be used in lots of different games in different ways. Like who out of this cast is "the hero/heroine"? or "the childhood friend"? or "The villain?" and depending on who is picked for each role, the story changes. That's kind of an approach I haven't seen to often, telling a kind of story where characters and events can shift around and follow different paths like each playthrough is more like a parallel universe where people fell into different roles and the same events played out in different ways.

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It sounds a lot like Hand of Fate mixed in with some life sim games. Not that that is a bad thing at all of course. That type of thing is pretty neat to me!

 

I had an idea that was kind of vaguely related to this at one point. I thought that a lot of RPG storylines follow particular archetypal paths, particular when it comes to the characters. There are particular events that can happen and characters who fulfill particular roles in the story that could be shuffled around. I mean this could go as far as generating each character's appearance using a character creation script, but it could simply be that you have all sorts of preset characters that are slotted into different roles, kinda like the RTP sprites can be used in lots of different games in different ways. Like who out of this cast is "the hero/heroine"? or "the childhood friend"? or "The villain?" and depending on who is picked for each role, the story changes. That's kind of an approach I haven't seen to often, telling a kind of story where characters and events can shift around and follow different paths like each playthrough is more like a parallel universe where people fell into different roles and the same events played out in different ways.

Haha, right on the nose :) I think you explained my idea better than I did.

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I like the way Killo explained it. I think there might be some worrying implications the way the first post was written (to me at least). It makes me think that the game is about trying to make a blank character named Yuth into something the player wants him to be. That could potentially lead to some problems depending on what kind of choices can be found. What if I want Yuth to be a hero, it'll be simple if there was a choice of Hero and Not Hero. But if the choices don't exactly tell you the result then there might be a difference in opinion on why and what happened and that would suck. On the other hand, making the effects of the choices too obvious would take a lot fun out of it. Also, this might just be me again but I feel like there's also a very real chance everything would wind up being very pretentious. 

 

Killo's make me think that I should just assign this and that, and watch what kind of trainwreck (I would try to make a trainwreck in my first run) would unfold with my decisions (that might not be his intention with the concept though, heh). And I love trainwrecks. After trainwreck # 1, I can make more decisions and wait for possibly a glorious trainwreck # 2 until we reach the end. 

 

The difference might come from Yuth being "shapeable" into a "good guy" or a "bad guy" or something. Like doing this would make him have a nicer personality and that a mean one which is fine as long as it isn't too ambitious imo. But Killo's just sounds more fun. His has a cast and you just put them into roles. You're just there to see the fruits of your fate changing labor. It has more dimension that way imo. Though the "Yuth way" sets itself up better to get emotional involvement from the player, the "Killo way" can do the same thing with some effort.  

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I like the way Killo explained it. I think there might be some worrying implications the way the first post was written (to me at least). It makes me think that the game is about trying to make a blank character named Yuth into something the player wants him to be. That could potentially lead to some problems depending on what kind of choices can be found. What if I want Yuth to be a hero, it'll be simple if there was a choice of Hero and Not Hero. But if the choices don't exactly tell you the result then there might be a difference in opinion on why and what happened and that would suck. On the other hand, making the effects of the choices too obvious would take a lot fun out of it. Also, this might just be me again but I feel like there's also a very real chance everything would wind up being very pretentious. 

 

Killo's make me think that I should just assign this and that, and watch what kind of trainwreck (I would try to make a trainwreck in my first run) would unfold with my decisions (that might not be his intention with the concept though, heh). And I love trainwrecks. After trainwreck # 1, I can make more decisions and wait for possibly a glorious trainwreck # 2 until we reach the end. 

 

The difference might come from Yuth being "shapeable" into a "good guy" or a "bad guy" or something. Like doing this would make him have a nicer personality and that a mean one which is fine as long as it isn't too ambitious imo. But Killo's just sounds more fun. His has a cast and you just put them into roles. You're just there to see the fruits of your fate changing labor. It has more dimension that way imo. Though the "Yuth way" sets itself up better to get emotional involvement from the player, the "Killo way" can do the same thing with some effort.  

If this idea ever comes to fruition, I worry I'd run into this problem as well.

 

There are 13 Storytelling Cardsâ„¢, named after classic fantasy jobs:

- The Novice

- The Black Mage

- The White Mage

- The Princess

- The Knight

- The Sage

- The Muse

- The Fighter

- The Paladin

- The Monk

- The Oracle

- The Red Mage

- The Rogue

- The Domina

 

At certain points in the game, the Cosmic storyteller asks the player for their input on the story thus far. They must select one of the cards to influence those major aspects of his/her life. For example:

 

 

[Yuth wakes up in his room, player walks him to the mirror]

 

(I try to make out my face in the darkness, but my eyes are still adjusting to the darkness.)

 

Cosmic Storyteller: Tell me, <player name>, what does he see?

 

[Player selects, for example, The Black Mage]

 

(I see...two cunning eyes staring back at me, almost faintly glowing in the darkness)

 

[if the player selected The White Mage]

 

(I see...)

(...I still can't make out much, but I'm sure my face is in there.)

 

That was an example of one of the minor decisions the player has to make. Although it has no real lasting effect on the story, it does 'reveal' one thing about Yuth: it determines what Yuth's first skill will be in the playthrough: Black Mage gives him a low-level fire skill, while White Mage gives him a low-level heal.

 

A more important decision after that reveals something with a much larger impact on the story: the guiding force that shaped Yuth's childhood. For example:

 

 

[Player walks Yuth to the door]

 

(Hm, someone's outside.)

 

[Player selects The Princess]

 

Yuth: "Ah, good morning, princess."

 

Princess: "I'm surprised to see you already up and about, Yuth. I was just about to come wake you myself."

 

(This is Princess Gueneveve.) 

 

Gueneveve: "...and please, there's no need to call me 'princess.' I am your sister, after all."

 

(...She's been my older sister ever since King Adam adopted me into their royal family.)

 

Yuth: "I'm sorry, I'm just a little sleepy, still."

 

 

The game then elaborates on Yuth's childhood via an interactive flashback sequence. In the case of The Princess, a flashback shows Yuth's biological parents (The king and queen of a neighboring country) being assassinated, and Princess Gueneveve and her head knight (who also represents The Knight card) saving Yuth from the same fate.

 

Yuth will then start the game with Princess Gueneveve in their party, and starts with relatively high-level armor to reflect his background.

 

Each other storytelling card will give Yuth different backstories and 'loadouts' for the game.

 

Black Mage: Yuth is an ordinary citizen who is best friends with an energetic troublemaker (The Black Mage) and a soft-spoken girl (The White Mage). He joins your party early, but his stats quickly fall behind yours. He eventually leaves your party when you set out for a grander quest.

 

White Mage: Yuth pairs up primarily with the soft-spoken girl instead (The White Mage). Her stats also eventually lag behind Yuth's, and he can opt to drop her from the party to 'make room' for more powerful allies in his grand quest.

 

The Sage: When Yuth's parents (ordinary citizens) are killed in a bandit raid, the palace sage takes in Yuth and decides to take him as his apprentice.

Depending on Yuth's outlook on his apprenticeship, the sage will either:

- Hand down his book of his most dangerous spells before he dies of illness, confident that Yuth will be responsible enough to attempt them only when he is ready. A book will be placed in the player's inventory, which Yuth will open near the end of the game to learn a unique magic spell.

- Refuse to teach Yuth the spell, out of fear for Yuth's life; he dies of illness and brings his secrets with him. Yuth will attempt to muscle learning the spell on his own; he eventually learns the powerful, unique spell early, but his MP is permanently damaged.

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Can you choose Yuth's gender or do you do that with the starting role? It might be fun to make all the roles gender agnostic, replacing The Princess with The Royal Heir or something and selecting the gender for all characters, but eh.

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Can you choose Yuth's gender or do you do that with the starting role? It might be fun to make all the roles gender agnostic, replacing The Princess with The Royal Heir or something and selecting the gender for all characters, but eh.

 

I'm having a hard time deciding on that.

- It...might kill the open-endedness of the game if I gave Yuth a fixed gender (probably male)

- There would be unfortunate implications in tying each of the Storytelling Cards to a gender for Yuth

- There are a few gender-sensitive relationships for Yuth, so it might double the development time if I let the player choose.

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Well, I would say that if you just want to get it done, the quick and dirty way to do it would be to have Storytelling Cards imply gender. Unfortunate implications or not, the cards are set archetypes, and for better or worse fantasy archetypes do often imply gender. As long as a character is not defined by their gender you should be able to get away with it. Gender could simply be a insignificant detail text to the role and archetype it's self. This would be, not desirable, but understandable to me at least. Also a trick that is often used is just to flip the gender of other charterers based on yours, preserving the relationship gender dynamic.
 
I think the more progressive and interesting way to do it would be to simply have gender play a minimal or non-existent role in character relationships. This might not be, strictly speaking, always entirely fitting with the setting and tone of the world, but on the other hand is there anything about a relationship that requires particular genders to work on some level? Not only romantic relationships though that's the one people throw a big fuss over.
 
Really I think the best way to do it is to avoid the whole thing by simply never being told what the main character's gender is, like in Undertale (well the demo anyway) where were the main character is an androgynous child who's gender is purposefully left vague. It's an interesting approach, because you never select a gender and npc interaction just never makes it a big deal. You can even flirt with various things (a motherly goat monster, a depressed ghost guy, and a mold) in the demo, and in no case does it really feel like it makes the case strongly either way. Obviously that approach is going to depend a lot on careful character design and writing though.

Edited by KilloZapit

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There is a long roadahead of you and the more flexible the character is, the longer it gets - and the cooler the game gets.

Allowing gender to be an option i stead of a definition is a fantastic thing if the player can take the reins of the story. There are a few games where relationships are not based on gender and yes, it is a good idea to let the player explore whatever s/he wants. And just like real life, your options change YOU, not the world . So there's actually no need to make a storytelling card for each gender.

There is a long roadahead of you and the more flexible the character is, the longer it gets - and the cooler the game gets.

Allowing gender to be an option i stead of a definition is a fantastic thing if the player can take the reins of the story. There are a few games where relationships are not based on gender and yes, it is a good idea to let the player explore whatever s/he wants. And just like real life, your options change YOU, not the world . So there's actually no need to make a storytelling card for each gender.

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