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Help with a story for my game idea

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by leonvb, Aug 8, 2022.

  1. leonvb


    Oct 24, 2019
    I am building a game and taking some inspiration from both Torchlight as well as Orcs Must Die. It would be a Tower Defense type game. The basic player mechanics would be similar to that of Torchlight, where the camera is mostly top down and target enemies using mouse clicks, being able to do simple attacks as well as cast abilities. Then there is the trap building mechanic, where the player is able to build traps around the level in order to kill the enemies to prevent them from reaching the end goal.

    My problem though, is that I am not very good at coming up with story ideas. Or a motivation for the character. At first I was thinking about introducing Elements to the game (Water, Fire, Earth and Air) but I am unsure about this idea, and still don't know how to make a story out of it.

    If anyone has a simple story idea or motivation for my main character to be building traps and shooting stuff, I would be greatly appreciated.
    JoelStolar likes this.


    Jun 1, 2017
    you can fit a story to anything.

    figure out what you are confident that you can do well and then it may be easier to come up with some story ideas to fit into that.

    it would help if you can describe gameplay in terms of emotional impact on player. Is it stressful, relaxing, tense, scary, hectic, empowering, etc etc.

    From that you might start thinking in terms of color and maybe music too. Then you kind of form a general theme in your head. From that you can start to envision some sort of characters that fit into this theme and finally what sort of obstacles are they going against.

    I think a lot of people struggle making creative decisions because there is an infiinite number of right answers. what helps is to start blocking yourself in with restrictions. Then you have fewer possibilities and you can make a decision more easily.

    Restrictions can be anything - technical limitations, time limitations, skill limitations, arbitrary limitations like "i will only use 5 color pallette and game size is less than 5gb" etc

    i'm happy to list a ton of random ideas but without more restrictions i think it would be too random to be useful.
    JoelStolar and leonvb like this.
  3. leonvb


    Oct 24, 2019
    @BIGTIMEMASTER Thank you for the advice. I am sure it will help me out a lot, seeing as never have any idea where to even start when thinking of ideas. I usually tend to get an idea and by the time I want to implement it the scope of it is massive. So your suggestion of setting restrictions will really help a lot.

    I image the game like this:
    Gameplay: Pretty relaxing and light-hearted.
    Camera: Similar to Torchlight
    Characters: One main character (protagonist). Enemy waves (Which I can figure out after I have a theme or story). Story Teller
    Movement and Interaction: WASD for movement / Mouse cursor to target enemies and build traps
    Player Combat: Ranged and Melee. Able to cast abilities selected before starting the level.
    Genre: Tower Defense/Action RPG (Building mechanics of Orcs Must Die; Player Controller of Torchlight)
    Art-Style: Stylized
    Theme: ???

    I think the most important part of my game would be the story. After that would be the actual gameplay.

    I don't know if this helps in any way. What else are good things to think about for me to narrow down the possibilities?
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2022
    JoelStolar and BIGTIMEMASTER like this.


    Jun 1, 2017
    im not super familiar with the genre or torchlight - i looked at some screenshots to get an idea.

    it seems like torchlight is more serious in theme. Just looking at the screenshots I get impression it is a "kids game" but it is meant to be taken seriously. Maybe it has some pseudo-dark fantasy themes? Just hte impression i get tens seconds looking at screenshots. also the name torchlight kinda suggest dark dungeons, graveyard, etc.

    For art style and theme, I think the first major thing is, what can you do there? Are you making art yourself? That's probably going to be the biggest restriction you face, so it may be the most important thing to consider. You may imagine an army of orcs and fighting across various biomes, but it's probably not possible to make the art content for that.

    "relaxing and lighthearted" is still a bit vague, but in general it makes me think of brighter colors, fewer elements moving around in total, minimalistic UI.

    Infinite possibilities of course but that's sort of vision I start to play with. From there you might get more specific, and that can totally be up to your taste. Maybe you like cute animals and think that might be fun, or you maybe you always loved green army man games, or maybe you like aliens or tolkien fantasy or robots...

    Whatever piques your interest you can then just try to visualize and then run through the filter of, "could i make the content for this? How can I simplify it? Could I simplify it in a way that it feels focused and complete, rather than stripped down and lazy?"
    leonvb likes this.
  5. leonvb


    Oct 24, 2019
    Yes Torchlight is definitely a darker themed dungeon crawler, RPG game. That's why I only want to take some inspiration from the character controller, rather than the gameplay, seeing as it would be a massive project if I wanted to take any more than that haha.

    Thank you for the information and giving me a new perspective of looking at my problem. I will sit down and write down my restrictions and take everything into consideration that you have mentioned. I am sure this will help me get started.
  6. GimmyDev


    Oct 9, 2021
    Generally your gameplay will be your story, I mean it literally, what does the player do? It's a TD, obviously he is fortifying and protecting something from horde, there it is the premise of your story, so the question is what is he protecting and why? Having the gameplay align with the story severely limits the options, but anything still goes:

    - A guardian protecting a source of power evil want
    - a greedy treasure hunter protecting his pile of treasure from thief
    - a charming princess the sleeping prince from the evil nightmare
    - a baker protecting his cake from voracious kid in the neighborhood
    - etc ...
    - also mixing any of the idea together to create a richer settings, generally taking something familiar (go for a cliché) and adding teh twist of the unfamiliar, so that people can still make sense of the actions. ex: the cake is a source of power and kids are possessed by an evil to take it, so you have to dispose of them without harming them by exorcising them (it's a stretch, but that's how creativity works).

    The question is not which one to choose, but which one serves gameplay best? Which one allow the best opportunities for legible units and behavior? In case of choice paralysis, just go for cliché, it's not a shame, I would choose the first options because I have plenty of example to look for inspiration, you can still try to add a twist.
  7. Not_Sure


    Dec 13, 2011
    I’ll say it every time.

    Story isn’t that important.

    Star Wars, the most lucrative IP of all time, was nothing more than a classic hero’s journey plot.

    Don’t be afraid of tropes.

    Kid in a village does something that makes monsters come back and is exiled or destroys the village. You go to the first dungeon and find their love interest who is also a princess/priestess or something special. You go to another dungeon and find the wacky comic relief, and another and find the sage instructor that pushes you to be better.

    You hunt down a McGuffin, there’s a main bad guy, some side villains like Bebop and Rocksteady from ninja turtles that pop up a few times, then after getting the McGuffin the main bad guy is revealed not to be the actual main bad guy and the real main bad guy kills and important character. Your party gets another set of tasks. Then has a quiet before the storm before the last dungeon.

    Things don’t go as planned, but something from earlier comes up and let’s you win.

    That describes a thousand games and a lot of them are pretty good.

    Nothing wrong with that.
    leonvb likes this.
  8. kdgalla


    Mar 15, 2013
    leonvb likes this.
  9. agelababypo


    Aug 22, 2022
    Hopefully that helps. Some folks ask me about deltas, which sometimes occur when the rivers flow into the sea. Very specific conditions much occur in order for deltas to form.
  10. apex-studios


    Aug 20, 2022
    Sure it is it gives the game more depth, and it often can make the gameplay sooo much more interesting
  11. JoelStolar


    Aug 29, 2022
    Here's an option most won't suggest. Go to the website and sign up for the GPT3 ai Text completer. You can do queries like "Suggest a list of 10 game ideas about (your idea here) ". Without parenthesis. I run queries all the time so leave the page up always. Once you've registered you will go to bottom of page and find playground. That's where the thing is hiding.
    GoliathAT likes this.
  12. vintage-retro-indie_78


    Mar 4, 2023
    That's a good question, there are usually four ways to arrive at a story . . .

    1. You read, or learn something weird, important, or etc etc
    2. Personal experiences, doing stuff in life, some have a journal, quite useful for also writers
    3. You make a setting, say ' Lord of the Rings ', and then write stories there
    4. You have a crazy idea, inspired by a character, or something you saw some other place
    5. There's some ' trope ', or recurring idea, aka the seen-often stuff, and you make stuff over that

    My advice is perhaps this, writing either story, a culture for a video - game, or then important characters // important quests is perhaps the fun stuff, or something you want to set extra resources aside for, the problem is that writing good, or relevant fiction is rather difficult, and one ( usually ) needs a good idea, or starting - point, it sounds like you already have that, a place where stuff happens, there are waves of enemies, it's a good question why the character is there, or even cares, could it be his place, the monsters threaten his house, or other people he knows, then the character has to make a decision, flee from the monsters, somehow fight them, or also find a diplomatic solution . . .

    One of the best ways of writing stuff, is asking quite simply, in that situation what would a normal person, or even the writer himself, or her then also do, or how to react, for me writing characters, or a coherent setting that makes sense, that's more than just ' art ', or ' random ideas ' takes years, and it's never easy, for me stories, or character usually start if have learned something important, or perhaps cool, or some personal event, or life - stuff . . . .

    This book is quite a good read, it's also written by Mr. Stephen King, one of my favorite writing books . . . .

    If you could bit advice, asking other people how to write, most people learn the stuff in school, at least a short essay, or what to write is bit weird, mostly because the entire point of writing is that it's YOUR writing, characters, or ideas, and that's what people want to hear, or whatever you think is important, or at all, one of the perhaps best sides of Unity, writing, or art etc etc, is that it's your ideas, or what is important to you, don't let that go to waste, or at least practice, and perhaps make something original, for me using those random - gen sites for making stories is bit the same, overall the reason people make art, or then classic writing, that is perhaps a bit different niche, is that it's their art, or original stuff, my advice is see writing as a gift, or your chance to ' shine ', and add that to your title at your own pace, or start by making a title with no story, then figure that later . . . .

    ( why did start by writing four ways, then it was five, that leaves you guessing, and you're now interested in my story, or also what-happened, see what did there . . . . ) :) :)