I'm writing this weeks blog entry a day earlier than I usually do, as I just completed a major milestone.
This week, we reached just about every requirement for alpha stage in development. All game modes and systems were in place, UI and art are starting to be final forms, and we have early versions of our team poster and reel.
But the one thing we didn't have was the full game in it's final narrative state. Part of this was due to the placeholder levels not yet having the Kanji specific for the levels implemented. Glynis has been working on making sure that's all good to go. The other part was that the story was still unfinished. We had our tutorial in, which tested out the full extent of our dialogue system: text boxes, branching choices, and overlays on the map screen, but no full story. That's because it hadn't been fully written yet. Over the last few weeks I've been working on filling out backstory for each character, starting with those with portraits, and completing it a week later with those without to help influence the future portraits. I did this so I could get a sense of each character, write the dialogue from their perspective, bring in flavor from each character's personal stories, as well as map out the story through various characters.
I wanted to strike a line between over congratulating and rewarding the player, and being aggressive to the player. I found a middle ground by creating aggressive and kind character types, and having kind characters stay kind, and aggressive characters open up to you over time. While the aggressive characters may have a bit of snark, they don't mean any harm once they get to know you, and offer to help. This early story mapping work helped pave the way for this weeks work:
I have written 11 pages of dialogue. This includes our original tutorial script, which is rather wordy. There are 10 characters in the game, amounting to a page and a bit of script for each character. I tried to keep things brief, concise, and amusing, so those who don't want story aren't bogged down by it, and those who do will find some humor and charm in it. If we combine the character sheet, there is a total of 15 pages of story written.
Granted, this is all first draft, but these are things we need going forward to meet beta milestone and continue onto the senior show, so I'm glad to have it done in advance so I can have some time to adjust it based on team and player feedback.