Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Inspiration behind Fiction Quiz

...A Quiz Game is an interesting premise to use a Visual Novel engine. What motivated you to do something like that?
 -- Renpy Game-maker

The original motivation to create this was to Test a different form of Game-Play.

I've been haunting the Fallen London online game by FailBetter Games, and pondering on how they set up such a Story-as-Game system, and wondering if it could be reproduced with the Ren'Py visual novel engine. By taking it apart and just looking at the pieces; (Story Nexus), it was pretty obvious that Yes, Ren'Py could do this, and Easily. Too easily in fact. It wouldn't even challenge Ren'Py's capabilities.

However, I didn't want to reproduce the Story Nexus style of story, I wanted to take their form of story-telling in a broader direction.

Keep in mind that I'm a Story-Teller FIRST, and a game-maker LAST.

To do this, I needed to know their Base Design; the Core Model that Story Nexus was using; their source of inspiration. What made them think of making a story-game this way? Why didn't they come up with something more like Ren'Py -- which, to me, is far more logical direction to take with a story.
Ren'Py = 
  • Story 
  • Individual Character Dialogue
  • Pictures 
  • Sound 
Game-Play = 
  • Story Options 
    • Point Flags. 
    • Condition Flags
This was clearly Not the model Story Nexus was using.
-- After a year of playing their games, and digging through their story-crafting essays, I figured out their formula.
StoryNexus = 
  • Loosely connected one paragraph Story-bits. 
  • No Character Dialogue
  • Very Limited Imagery
  • No sound
Game-Play =
  • Select from List of Individual Story-bits:
    • Condition Flag + Story-bit 
      • Repeat
      • Repeat
    • List of Optional Story Choices: 
      • Point Flag + Story Bit
        • Repeat
        • Repeat
    • Ending Story-bit + Condition Flag.
-- In other words...
StoryNexus =  
  • 1+1 = Chapter One, 
  • 2+2 = Chapter Two, 
  • 4+4 = Chapter Three, 
  • 8+8 = End
This pattern was hauntingly familiar. I had definitely seen this model before in a far simpler form, but where?

I quite literally, jerked awake from a dead sleep and sat up in bed with the answer. Quizilla.

Once upon a time, back before Quizilla was bought out by Nickelodeon, I even made my own Quizilla Game. This one, in fact: "What kind of Fiction should You Write?"

Quizilla's formula:
  • 1+1 = Results 1, 
  • 1+2 = Results 2, 
  • 1+3 = Results 3

Change this to....
  • 1+1 = Flag 1, 
  • 1+2 = Flag 2, 
  • 1+3 = Flag 3
-- and you have Story Nexus.

To test my theory, I took all my old research, updated and refined all those old questions and results, and plugged them into Ren'Py.

It Worked. In fact, it worked way better than the original game. With Ren'Py, I could layer on the flags; some as additive points, some as condition text, then add screens to show the results and totals of those flags.

This was something Quizilla wasn't capable of, but Story Nexus was. However, Story Nexus doesn't have the Music and Graphics capability that Ren'Py always had.

What all this boiled down to was a new way of Thinking in terms of Story as Game -- for me anyway.

And there you have it. :)