Writing an Interactive Story
eBook - ePub

Writing an Interactive Story

Pierre Lacombe, Gabriel Feraud, Clement Riviere

  1. 240 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (adapté aux mobiles)
  4. Disponible sur iOS et Android
eBook - ePub

Writing an Interactive Story

Pierre Lacombe, Gabriel Feraud, Clement Riviere

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À propos de ce livre

Video games have become the world's largest leading cultural product. Though disputed in the past, the narrative qualities of video games have finally secured distinction in the realm of art. This is especially true for interactive games.

Writing an Interactive Story will help the reader in navigating the creation process of interactive scripts, in addition to discovering behind the scenes narrative choices of renowned games, and will help you to harness your inner creativity. Guided by master interactive scriptwriters, the text presents its content in the form of a unique writing workshop.

With interactive game writing, the player becomes the star of the work. Thanks to this method of storytelling, the morals of the game become resonant. This is because the weight of the narrative's choices and consequences rest fully upon the player. It's the ultimate narrative.

Whether you are a video game enthusiast, student, or professional, discover how to create a more immersive personalized experience than ever before and give your players the opportunity to write their own destiny through their choices.

The methods, strategies, and secrets of this new art await you.

Features exclusive interviews with:

David Cage – BAFTA Award for Best Story – Heavy Rain

Jean-Luc Cano - BAFTA Award for Best Story – Life Is Strange

Joe Penny, David Bowman – Telltale's The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead

Benjamin Diebling – Beyond Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human

Erwan Le Breton – Ubisoft

Thomas Veauclin– The Council

Fibre Tigre – Out There

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CRC Press



Interactivity in stories has existed since language was invented. By adapting your story to each person, you create a unique bond that helps open a door to your universe while allowing you to better understand your audience.
Today, interactive storytelling is used in entertainment, education and communications, in many different kinds of media, forming a new form of art.


An interactive scenario lets the reader choose how the the story he's reading unfolds. Consequently, a videogame scenario is by nature interactive because the player has the possibility, albeit minimal, to participate in how the game unfolds. The notion of interactivity will thus depend on the choices proposed, their quantity and their quality, as well as the endings proposed by the scenario, with the same constraint on quantity and quality.
The notion of play is essential in building an interactive scenario. Even if your interactive story takes on life in a book, we will be talking about a "player" and not a "reader."
An interactive scenario involves writing a story you play. And more precisely, the art of the interactive story consists of writing stories you play. The possible endings you propose, the more paths you will have proposed to reach them and, thus, more stories for your player.
So yes, the difficulty appears right away: you virtually have to write everything, envision everything. And you work yourself to death before you even finish.
Don't forget that, if interactivity is at the heart of the interactive scenario, it's a scenario: it's going to frame the universe, the characters, the adventures, everything that's going to interact with the player.
By way of comparison, a scenario for a game such as Candy Crush doesn't exist. There is no scenario. Your player can interact of course, but the universe, while very colorful, is very limited, just like all the possible interactions. This example may seem extreme, but it's a basic way to show that while every video game offers interactivity, like all games out there, it doesn't necessarily mean there is an interactive scenario behind it.
Video game specialists will explain that if you have to decide what effect an action, etc. produces, we would agree in saying that more than anything it's about elements of entertainment, gameplay, but it's not a story. Soccer has rules. A soccer game reproduces these rules and needs gameplay so you can enjoy playing it, at least one would hope, but there's no story, much less interactive storytelling. A tournament isn't enough.
Yet, nowadays, sports games are incorporating storytelling and offer players the possibility of creating a character who will have a brilliant career. The NBA 2K license is an example that is already a powerhouse in sports games Despites its shortcomings, the career, as proposed by Spike Lee in NBA 2K16, lets the player live the myth of the self-made man by climbing the ladder to glory (the NBA title) and further still by attaining the Grail (the equivalent of which is induction in the Hall of Fame). It's about sitting next to his majesty, Michael Jordan.
The player is thus transcended by her avatar. The character touches us deep within with her success because, deep down, everyone wants to live a wonderful story. For the experience to be complete, our character must become a legend. That's all!
Player rankings are found in sport simulations just as much as in story-based games. It's not about knowing whether I'm first, it's about comparing my experience. What did I miss? Did I manage to explore everything? Am I the only one who made this choice?...
One can imagine that, in the long term, sports games will shift toward story-based experiences and will, thus, be more and more interactive. The more a player feels her avatar is unique, the more complete her experience will be. And that's how sports games taken inspiration from roleplaying games...
If you play World of Warcraft online, you're playing a massive multimedia online role playing game (MMORPG), an online version of a roleplaying game. Virtually, in the strict sense of the term, you can do whatever you want, and even do nothing. If you want, there's no story, and you can stroll around the universe. Or you can meet other players and interact with them, not least by fighting against them. Or, and here's where you enter a multitude of interactive stories, you complete quests that the game designers propose to you. In a way, a MMORPG is an interactive universe that allows you to choose the interactive stories you want to play.
Between these two types of games, the casual game in the style of Candy Crush and the MMORPG in the style of World of Warcraft, you have a wide variety of possible interactive stories. To prevent getting lost giving advice that's too general, we will often make reference to the text-based interactive scenario. This is typically the kind of scenario where you'll have to write the most, and that's what this book is really interested in. If you write an interactive scenario for a text-based game, you'll have the ability to write for any kind of game requiring an interactive scenario.
Afterward, you'll first need to find the essential element without which nothing will be possible: the desire to write.
Let's assume you meet this prerequisite. To create your scenario, you need a story, or at least one subject. You'll understand, if you have no idea in mind, no topic, nothing at all, you attempt any methods in any order you want, and nothing will happen.
It's not about having your whole story in mind but rather having at least one element around which you can embroider, knit, unravel, in brief, build your interactive scenario.
To help you on your adventure, we went and got opinions and testimonials from writers recognized for their work in interactive storytelling.
Thus, you can read the point of view of:
  • David Cage, writer and director of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human, at Quantic Dream.
  • Jean-Luc Cano, writer of Life Is Strange, at Dontnod.
  • Sybil Collas, narrative designer for Vampyr, at Dontnod.
  • Benjamin Diebling, roleplaying game writer and videogame director (Quantic Dream).
  • Erwan Le Breton, editorial narrative manager, at Ubisoft.
  • FibreTigre, director of Out There and Out There Chronicles 1 and 2, at Mi-Clos.
  • Joe Pinney, director of The Wolf Among Us, at Telltale Games.
  • David Bowman, production director, at Telltale Games.
  • Thomas Veauclin, director and art director of The Council, at Big Bad Wolf.
If you already a story to write in mind, got to I have story!
If you have some ideas but it's not all clear yet, go to I have an idea!
If you have a work order and, in particular, if you've gone blank, go to I have an order!

I Have a Story!

This is the simplest situation for you, but there is absolutely no guarantee you'll be successful. In fact, you know what to write, you have an idea for a well developed story, you just need to use it to your advantage.
The first danger is discouragement. In fact, if you already have your whole story in mind, you may yearn to put the idea in writing, to give it shape. Just because you know, or you have the intuition, in addition to taking a lot of time while you work on it, your story may evolve considerably.
This is the second danger, rigidity. You have a story in mind, and there is nothing harder than abandoning a good idea mid-route. By building your scenario, you realize that this superb scene, as brilliant as it may be, in the end doesn't stick, it doesn't belong in this story. You'll try to put it in there anyway, but nothing doing. So, set it aside. If it's a good idea, you'll naturally put it in another story, where it will fit like a glove. And be smart, don't forget that you're writing an interactive scenario, so another branch could suit it quite well.
The third danger is the interactivity. Don't forget you're not writing a story for it to be read or seen, it's a story to be played, and an interactive scenario requires you to put the player in the driver's seat. You establish the possible routes, but the player has to be able to play, to discover your story through interaction, not as a spectator. Consequently, you really have to weigh your story. Will it stand up to interactive scenario cutting?
Later you'll see, there are many tools you can use to work on your story, to assess how feasible it is as an interactive scenario. In the following chapters, as you go you'll just have to see whether it fits with what's needed.
Go to We are dwarves perched atop the shoulders of giants, or, if you're curious, take a look at I have an order! and I have an idea!

I Have an Idea!

You have a nascent idea, or several, but you feel there's potential to create a story. A strong idea generally underpins stories and novels, and this is the approach you'll use to deploy your skill and imagination.
But is this necessary for writing an interactive scenario?
You can't give an idea a go when writing an interactive scenario. This is the best way to never finish it (the wisest solution) or, if you're tenacious, to make a bonsai. What do you mean, bonsai? You'll notice, we often talk about arborescence in interactive scriptwriting, and the more developed the arborescence is, the more choices the scenario offers to the player, the more immersive the experience is and the longer the game lasts. A bonsai, well, is an teeny-tiny tree trimmed by a gardener so that it remains a dwarf tree.
By starting an interactive scenario without any preparation, you'll might start to feel that your arborescence is getting too big and, not knowing where you want to go, logically you'll end up cutting back on everything and stunting your story in order to propose something viable and presentable. This is an exaggeration, but you get the idea. You wanted to write a novel, but since it's hard to see the end, you bottle it up in a short story, which will clearly not be satisfying.
This is because an idea alone is not a enough to form the basis for an interactive scenario: you truly need a solid story. Your player is going to be able to make choices and interact with her environment. If the basic idea is not fertile enough, when you work on your story, you'll soon drawing a blank.
So what do you do? You see the potential for any interactive story, but how can you be sure? It's a time-consuming task, but you're right to ask yourself the right questions before starting. As a strategy, you need a battle plan, which you'll adapt to your creative needs, and advance recognition. You'll define the goals to reach, and you'll soon understand that, for your, this means endings. The goal of an interactive scenario is not to have one ending but many endings; a little like how a strategy defines primary and secondary objectives, you will focus on primary and secondary endings. And it's by reflecting on those that you'll see whether your idea, or your set of ideas, are up to the task.
And why not tell your story to a friend or family member to get a first impression? Regardless of the feedback, don't forget that there is no wrong subject. It's our ability to build a narrative and our perseverance to rewrite it that counts. Moreover, avoid telling it xtimes. The desire to write it may run out soon after. Having a good subject is invaluable.
Go to We are dwarves perched atop the shoulders of giants, or, if you're curious, take a look at I have an order! and I have a story!

I Have an Order!

You have an interactive scenario to do. Something not uncommon in the writing profession, someone calls on you.
You've accept the project because you do need to making a living. You really don't care at all f...

Table des matiĂšres

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Series Page
  4. Title Page
  5. Copyright Page
  6. Dedication page
  7. Table of Contents
  8. Preface: the interactive adventure begins
  9. Foreword
  14. Conclusion: 10 tips for writing an interactive story
  15. Afterword: Bringing your interactive story to life
  16. Index