Saturday, 19 January 2013

Some basic tips on writing scenarios

When writing a scenario for any kind of game of any genre, the author must take some things into consideration.

First, the style of the game must be established, meaning that the atmosphere must be created for the game effectively. If the game is energetic and fast, then the action and style of writing must reflect the speed and urgency of the situation. Alternatively, if the game is to be slow, mysterious and dark, then attempts must be made to keep the atmosphere smooth and detailed, so that the players can absorb the story and characters.

To maintain the atmosphere during writing, and to keep the style consistent, it is best to keep your surroundings similar every time you sit down to write. Keep an ambient music tape playing softly in the background with a tune that will reflect the game. Play this every time you sit to write your material. If your writing a fast-paced game, play the action-orientated parts of the soundtrack, keep up the adrenalin with the thought that the film you are trying to emulate will be what the players are expecting to play. If your writing a low-intensity game, keep the tone dark with a sombre brooding part of the soundtrack, and try to draw the atmosphere into the scenario by trying to imagine how players would react to the designs you are creating.

Secondly, figure out what kind of game the players are used to playing, and also think about each of the Player Character’s aims and styles of character. Try and give a little of something for each player to do to spread out the involvement of each player, try not to create a scenario that only one player can really get stuck into. If all the players are used to high-energy games, then create an original story but with the same amount of guns and action. The flipside to this is to turn the entire story on it’s head; the players are big action characters, so turn down the fire and get serious, switching the explosions for dark corridors and torches, or something a lot more investigative. Many players will respond quite eagerly to a complete change of style of play, and then be more willing to explore different aspects of the game.

The plot is the biggest thing of all. It is the flow and content of the story the players will remember. Don’t just concentrate on what you’ll be pitting the players against. Think of the personalities they will come across and how they fit into the plot; how they fit into the surroundings you have designed. If all the players remember is how they took down the enemy, blew up armies or defeated the bad guys, then they should be playing a wargame and not a roleplaying game. If they kill enough nasties and uncover enough plots they will soon get bored by the whole thing and look for something else to play. If you make games memorable with the situation you put the players in and the problems and characters they come across, the players will be a lot more interested to ‘see what happens next’. This is what makes soap operas successful.

Most important of all - remember this is a game where everyone comes together to have fun, so be sure that adventures abound.