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Idea - Scenario Storyboard Contest

Silent Motion

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This is a cross-post in several places - you'll understand why when you read it....


We have a lot of people out there with good story ideas that will never develop a scenario. Not enough time, lack of programming skills, etc.


What about a contest where people designed a storyboard for a scenario? You know, the pencil & paper stuff, like the story, the dialog, descriptions of the land and cities, etc.


The best of these could be turned into scenarios by those authors that have the programming abilities at a later date.


While those of us in the community right now would probably not enjoy playing these scenarios as much as one who never read the "script," future members of the community would greatly benefit.


It might also inspire a writer to go the extra step and actually program the darn thing!


It also may help existing authors who "storyboard as they go," giving them a new way to approach scenario development.


Obviously we need to flesh this out if you think it's a good idea.



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But I think a lot can be learned from experienced designers discussing which stories will work and which ones won't (and what one would have to do to make a story work) as a scenario, which is not always intuitive.


I'm not sure that it can be a "contest" per se, but I could see this being a discussion. I have a number of ideas that I doubt I'll ever get around to making, and a few more ideas that I'd like to try to work with but I don't really know how they'd work as scenarios.

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We do get rough scenario ideas from time to time and we do (as a community) comment upon them. That's a good thing.


What I'm thinking of is the next step - you take an idea and storyboard it. The storyboard should be complete enough that anyone could take it and program it. It doesn't have to be BoE or BoA specific. The storyboard should include at least:


1. The plot

2. The characters

3. The dialog

4. The towns and their layout

5. The outdoors and its layout.

6. The various subplots, sidequests, etc. that push the main plot forward.


There's probably more than that, and the amount of detail needed for some areas is open to discussion, but hopefully this gives you a better idea.

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Problem is, something like that requires a scanner. Or am I misreading it? Maybe it could be something like that, but with a few requirements in each category? Here's how I'd write the requirements, and I'd appreciate


I. Basics- All Required

a. The plot

b. The characters

c. The basic locations

II. Specifics- 1 Required

a. Important NPC dialog

b. Unimportant NPC dialog

c. The towns, outdoors and their layout

III. Gameplay- 1 Required

a. Pervasive advances in gameplay

b. Planned, strategic combat






I. Basics

a. Plot:

Everything that happens in the scenario from beginning to end should be annotated clearly and written for comprehension. The actions of all relevant characters and their interactions should be noted. Any events that the player would not know should be noted regardless, as should the fact that they are unbeknownst to the player.


b. Characters:

Each character that is mentioned in the plot must be given a description proportional to her/his participation in the plot. For instance, in doing Star Wars, a description of Darth Vader might go on for pages upon pages, whereas Jabba the Hutt would be a few paragraphs at most, and Greedo would be a short statement. Motives, personal traits et al should be included, as well as any intercharacter relationships existing before the plot of the scenario takes place.


c. Basic Locations:

All places where relevant interactions take place should be annotated. For instance, in Star Wars, the Death Star is a place, as is Lars' farm, Mos Eisley, et cetera. Most locations do not merit even a paragraph, but some, ala the Death Star, require explanation that neither the Plot nor Characters would supply. If there is any non-action, non-characterized information that needs to be conveyed, do so through Basic Locations.


II. Specifics

a. Important NPC dialog

All dialog that is used to forward story beats to the player should be written thoroughly. It should be done so in a manner that allows a potential designer to copy the dialog and paste it seemlessly into gameplay.

b. Unimportant NPC dialog

The dialog of all unimportant NPCs should be written thoroughly as well. Unimportant NPCs are merchants, townspeople and others who are not mentioned in the Characters section. This should be written in in a way that is useable with both BoA or BoE; write it in script format, or node format with the proper response that triggers it and all town/scenario nodes that the dialogue node triggers.

c. The towns, outdoors, and their layout

This should be a scanned document or completed EXE/BAS file which shows the outdoors and indoors of all major locations, their layouts, rooms, the purposes of rooms, et cetera. Towns includes dungeons. Cutscene towns need not be provided if the normal town it takes place in is already provided.


III. Gameplay

a. Pervasive advances in gameplay

Any sizeable developments in gameplay should be outlined for use in BoE/BoA, but not necesarilly both. For instance, Canopy could include the scripts for its special abilities, set cutscene speed, et cetera. Extreme examples in BoE are Areni and Nebulous Times Hence.

b. Planned, strategic combat

Boss fights should be documented. Their stats should be provided for BoE/BoA immediate use (be it in script format or in the values one should enter into the BoE editor). It would not be a poor idea to include both BoE and BoA versions of statistics. Special creature scripts and/or town nodes used to support all bosses should be documented. Any terrain nuances this boss uses should be noted. (If II-c is done, then refer to it in that way.) The "planned solutions" to all fights should be included. Mundane fights are frowned upon.




I like this way because it makes people do friggin' WORK. Actually, at the point where one of these is made, some folks could write a short story. I like it even better when viewed in that light.

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Great stuff!


I don't think a scanner is critical, but it might help if you hand draw maps. In that case, a scanner or a digital camera would help.


Otherwise, why not just use a free drawing program to create an electronic copy? No need to be fancy - this is about communication of ideas, not artwork.


Keep them idears comin!

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TM has a good point. If we were to have a contest, not only should the stories be rated according to the general uniqueness of the story, but the amount of work and detail presented.


Also, for the maps, I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to just load up the editor and draw some terrain, press print screen, resize, and there's a map. It wouldn't necessarily need to include trees, rocks, precise mountain lines, etc., but just have the general layout. The main point here is that anyone can draw terrain, even if they have rather limited experience in scenario making itself.


But then again, it comes to a point where the more detail you specify, the more it suggests you should just finish up the scenario yourself. I think this should be limited to storyline, layouts, and specific puzzles/features, but have limited information as specific as SDFs or even quoted dialog (unless of course it's important for the scenario). The editor should be used for layouts or anything simple enough to turn into an image and post online, but not that much else. If you know what I mean...


I think this is a pretty good idea, though. I find that coming up a good idea for a scenario is far more difficult than the scenario creation itself. Even if complex special node sequences may be more difficult in reality, at least you know what you're doing. Or so you should. So, by emphasizing performing a good planning stage, not only would you give BoE designers, both new and experienced, more skill in this stage that I think is often neglected.


Then, if you find your idea particularly interesting, if someone else does not want to make your scenario for you, you have a good groundwork for making it yourself, and it has much more potential to become a good scenario. Also, as Brett has said, other ideas can be turned into the more renowned designers. But new designers might also take a look at the result and form a good idea themselves.


However, I am inclined to believe that oldbies will be a little hesitant or even feel a little guilty for taking someone's idea and forming it into a scenario with their name in the author column. So, if this contest, or activity, does take place, I think anyone using an idea for a scenario from this contest should include the original creator of the idea as the reciever of very obvious credit if not even a co-author title.


Short stories might be good, too, but they may become less oriented to what can be done with the BoE editor.


What my ideas are at any rate. Accept or disagree, whatever. wink

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From what I read in the original post, it seems that S.M. is looking for;

1.) In general, more ideas.

2.) Story lines that would be more in the interest of the actual players.

So, I conclude that he's trying to get the playing members to submit ideas to the authoring members that would make the games more appealing to the playing members, garnering more interest, playing and support, in general.

Now, does it even need to be a 'contest'?

Generally, it seems, those of you who are the established authors have a "healthy" competitive spirit among yourselves, which brings about regular "contests".

But that probably tends to "scare off" any of the potential authors, or even those of us players who might like to see specific scenario styles. I can see how a tentative, or even timid personality would hesitate to offer suggestions, much less offer an attempt to write a scenario.

(*Note the comments on many of the scenario reviews! It may work between the existing authors, but not for the new ones!)

Maybe it would be sufficient, (better?), to simply post a "box" that would be available for we "players" to submit ideas if/when they occured to us.

Authors could use this "box" as a source of new ideas, or perspectives.

I guess the bottom line, to me anyhow, is that, you may be "scaring away" many ideas rather than encouraging them if you use the "contest" platform. A lot of ideas may not be useful, but many people will feel that their "submittals" wouldn't be taken seriously, so they'd never submit anything.

I guess I've rambled on enough about this. Please excuse the length, but not the intent.


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My hope here is to provide an avenue for expression for non-technical people with good story ideas.


It's also a way to keep the community moving forward, trying new things.


IMO - Without a contest, people will never commit the time it takes to storyboard a decent scenario.


If you really want to write scenarios, you better be humble and open to criticism.


Is this for timid people? No.

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The contest - why not.


There could also be a site for those that don't want to participate in the contest. The site could have a box where people could submit their ideas, and an archive of ideas. Of course, someone would have to put up that site.


Criticism is one thing, losing is another, and if there is a competition, there always has to be the loser. Losing is OK if you have a good self-confidence. But if not...

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