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Off-Topic / The use of the narrative curve in episodic games
« on: October 20, 2016, 08:23:43 AM »
This is a little article/workshop item I posted on a game development site. It was pretty well received which is why I wanted share it here as well!


It is very popular to make episodic games, particularly from a indie standpoint. There are smaller and easier to manage and develop for. They also have the added benefit of making fans excited and discuss the next installment. In this tutorial we are going to discuss the use of the narrative curve as it applies to videogames, in particular as it applies to episodic games. It is my hope that this thread will be a sort of workshop where I post an installment at a time.
I think that most people are familiar with the narrative curves as it applies to movies and books. When it comes to episodic games and to some extent television series the curve will follow the same basic idea but will have a few more "repetitions".


While episodic games have a single overarching story each individual installment need a smaller "inner" curve of their own. To illustrate this, I am going to compare two Telltale series that I think uses the inner curve well (Tales of Monkey island) and one that uses it not so well (Sam and Max season 2, although the other two seasons used this very well). Please not that I will discuss these games as well as others in the individual series freely, so there will be spoilers. They will also be compared to a potential game called Alex and Adva by Nooby Mcnooberson (ie me) to show how an idea can grow into a story by use of the narrative curve.



But first, the overall storyline of the three series.

 
Tales of Monkey Island:
While trying to defeat his arch-enemy the zombie-pirate Lechuck Guybrush accidentally makes him human again and releases his evil as a pox that infects the Caribbean. To cure the infected people Guybrush must find the fabled La Esponja Grande to suck all evil voodoo energy into it. Lechuck steals the energy and becomes a pirate god but is eventually defeated by Guybrush.
 
 

Sam and Max season 2:
Sam and Max investigate a couple of seemingly unrelated cases, eventually tied together by a couple of time-travelling mariachis and a takeover of Hell by bit-characters from the first season. Yeah...you could probably tell from the description alone that this season does not have a strong narrative. I actually struggled to try and keep the overarching story sound better, but had to give up.
 

Alex and Adva (my own story idea in its raw form)
Alex and Adva want children but are unable to conceive. As a jackalope it is Adva´s duty to guard the underworld and when Alex hears about a magical plant that can bestow fertility Adva lets him into the underworld so they can search for it together. Turns out the plant is a root from the world tree Yggdrasil. Demons are trying to cut it down and Alex and Adva must protect it.
 
Let us take a look at the three series and how they begin their respective set-ups.


The launch of the Screaming Narwhal

This episode begins in medias res with a Lechuck confrontation, supposedly after an epic quest to create a sword that can banish the evil pirate forever. Gubrush bungles the spell and is stranded on the island of Flotsam. Here the main quest is introduced, finding La Esponja Grande to banish the evil pox and get off Flotsam. The episode is interesting because it has a climax, or at least something imitating the form of a climax, at the very start. The episode also ends with another confrontation being set up with pirate hunter Morgan le Flay, but not taking place in the episode itself. When it comes to the narrative curve the episode feels a little shaky, since the player can solve the puzzles and challenges in any order.

Ice Station Santa

The episode begins with Sam and Max finding out that Santa sends a murderous robot to their office. Deciding to investigate they find Santa possessed by a demon, which they excorsice. Unlike the first season this one seems to be cases unrelated to each other, which need not be a bad thing. The episode, taken on its own, follows the narrative curve well with a setup (collect items for a banishment ritual), a point of no return (portals to other points in times are opened) and a clear climax in the confrontation with Santa and even a resolution that makes fun of sappy christmas specials.

Finally, let us look at my own first attempt.

The set-up, the search for the plant, needs to be introduced. My original attempt stood on its own and concerned house-cleaning, introducing the characters and the game-system. While it was cute, itwas also really slow. My current first episode concerns Alex losing his book of magic and has to find a new one in a hurry in order to impress his employer. Breaking into the house of a magician he learns about the plant. By making the initial quest about something unrelated I can still present the world and its characters in a natural way. And so the adventure begins...
 
This is the first installment, please tell me if this was informative or if there are any points I could improve on? Any specific points I should focus on when making comparisions between the two game series. Did it make sense for me to include my work on my own game in the comparison?

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Artisan's Alley / Nordic tales, Armello style
« on: September 05, 2016, 05:29:04 AM »
Okay, so this one probably bears some explaining. The general setting of Armello has always reminded me of the tale from norse mythology called Grimnismal. In it, a king is chosen by Odin to rule but turns out to be not so suited for the job. Instead, a kid that shows kindness to the disguised Odin gets the throne. The bulk of the poem is a presentation of people and places from norse myth to benefit the new king. One day I got it into my head to write an “Armellian” version, so to speak. The main problem was who to use for the Odin role (as well as the role of his wife Frigg). In the end I ended up using my own character for the job. And so I present to you, the Armellian Grimnismal! I have done my best to pay homage to the writing-style and meter of the original tale while at the same time working in as many Armello references as possible.

There were two cubs, one a lion and one a otter. The otter was ten years old but the lion eight. Once they went out fishing, hoping to catch the fabled rainbow-fish, which would signify the coming of a true king. While they were fishing two rabbit peasants came up to them. One of them were an old thin man with a bent back and a wide grin and the other a hefty mistress with hair down to her belly. The thin man spoke with the lion and advised him on his fishing and the peasant woman did the same for the otter. Suddenly the otter felt a thug and it was the rainbow fish. He struggled mightily as the river grew fiercer and hotter from the struggle. Seeing that the otter had almost pulled the fish ashore the lion pushed him into the water so that the river carried him away. "Go where the Banes may take you" the lion shouted. He turned around but the peasant couple was gone. The lion returned and later became the king of Armello and a man of great renown.

Tymor and Permeter were sitting on the moon and looked upon the world. Tymor said: "See how your champion lives among bandits and thieves while mine is a king and rules over many clans?" Permeter responded: "He is so mad from the rot that he tortures and kills innocent beggars if he suspects there is a thief among them". Tymor said that it was the greatest lie and they made a bet about this matter. Tymor disguised himself as a dirty stranger and entered the capital where the king´s guards captured him. He was placed upon on a log and the king´s sorcerers cast immolation on both ends. There the stranger was questioned by the king for nine days and nights but said nothing. The following night the king was busy talking with his trusted steward. A boy called Sylas, son of the otter, came and gave the stranger a drink of wyldsap. He said it was a foul deed to torture the stranger without any reason. The stranger had now sat on the log for so long that the fire burned the purple mantle on his back.

Tymor spake:

Hot are you fire, too fierce by far
Too hot for a stranger to bear
At my back the cottontail is smote
At my front the huldra´s joy is fast catching flames!

I sat between fires, for nine night and days
No meat, no mead was I given
Save Sylas alone, so alone shall he rule
Over the clans and towns of Armello

Glory to your name, Sylas, hailed you are
By the god of tricks and traps
For a single drink you will never get
A greater gift than I offer

The lands to the north, that lies far away
Snow and wolf live together
And Thane´s descandents shall ever there dwell
As long as Armello stands

Greenguard is the valley where
Elyssa a hall has set
And in Shamrock fields, Brun received
His scars of ancient times

An old ruin I see, a bluish hue
Although only a circle remains
Here Sana was given, by the mighty stag god
The blue stones of  prophecy

The rat clan city stands well tall
Amid the murmurs and lofty waves
There daily does Mecurio, with bags of gold
In gladness drink his wine

In Magna´s home, the iron shield
The tables stretches far
There does the mistress, every day
Sew a belt from foxes she´s slain
It is easy to know for those that searches
When you are at her house
The roof is made from shields, all are bright
On the benches chainmails are strewn
It is easy to know for those that searches
When you are at her house
The sign of the wolf hangs over the door
And above a eagle flies

Also there is River´s home
The wolf of marvelous might
Now she lives, the bow-maiden fair
In the home that her father had.

 In the ruins of blackspire, I verily see
A form I find most foul
Sargon knows and sees very far
But his destiny is far from sorrow-free

In the smithy and mines of the warren
Where the industrious rabbits hold sway
In well-built armor, Barnaby glad
Let his hammer clink and clang

In the same city Amber sits and collects
The treasures and followers she have
Half of the stones, the blue precious stones
Of which Sana has but two

In the capital, the beggers and thieves
Are hidden beneath the streets
Here all her days, do Twiss dwell
As master of the guild

Into the woods, here is Horace´s home
Deep among roses and thorns
The mighty man here he sits
His words given heed by all

The waters run grey and the high-standing grass
Blows as the whirwind Zosha whirls by
But the words of her mistress she will not heed
When she has taken the throne

In Arcdale Woods and Blueberry town
The very best food is made
Scarlet knows what few men do
Where the best fare may be had

The mighty mistress, the thieves heed
The famed bandit king of old
The weapon-decked bandit clan, knows and sees all
About what the king may do

Twiss and Horace she sends every day
Every day they set forth
Scarlet worries that the poet will not return
But for Twiss she worries more

Loud roars the river when Ghor transforms
Joy flows into the woods
Hard does his back seems as he rolls
To wade the torrent wild

Here is rot´s bog , the darkest of gate
Under it are dungeons deep
Old is the gate, old are the roads
But the darkness is tightly locked
Five hundred doors  and forty there are,
I think, in Adventurer´s Tomb
Eight hundred guard will a single bane fight
When Armello to doom must go
Five hundred rooms  and forty there are
I think, in the castle built;
Of all the homes  whose roofs I see from the moon
Tis one the greatest, I deem

The underground roads, the rivers black
Underneath the world they run
Over one festers banes, over one is Armello
Over the last lies the gods own land

More banes there are, in the underwyrm
Than an brilliant fool could count
All shall ever, as long as I know
Gnaw the roots of the world
They suffer more evil, uncountables blows
Far more than men do know
Strive is among men, the gods are unjust
And banes do gnaw beneath

The best of kingdoms must Armello be
Teleport best of spells
Of all the followers, apprentice is best
And thorns the best of games
Mercurio of rats, Rivers own bow
Scarlet of bandits and Pride´s Edge of swords

You are drunk, oh king. Drunk of the hot rot wine
Much have you lost for no more help
Will you get from the heroes´ clans

You listened not to my advice, all that I told
False are the words of your friends
All around you, usurpers are they
Hoping to wet their swords

Your rotten body shall the banes have
For your days are numbered and gone
All are hostile, even I
Come at us, if you can!

When the king heard this he took his sword to slay Sylas and Tymor but as dawn approached the rot took his body and he fell down dead. Tymor immediately disappeared and Sylas was credited for killing the mad king. He grew up and ruled wisely for many years.

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Armello in the Press! / Armello on Hardcoregaming101
« on: September 02, 2016, 11:47:59 PM »
While I think at this point Armello deserves a proper article it was posted today under the 500-word indies banner. I think the reason for this may be that the site is currently working through a very large backlog and this article has been in the pipeline for a long time.(The screenshots shows somebody proclaiming rot and there is no mention of the usurpers). Anywho, exposure is always nice. ;)

http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/500wordindies/500wordindies-armello.htm

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Feedback & Suggestions / Victory screen
« on: August 19, 2016, 08:10:48 AM »
I think that in a future update it would be awesome if the characters got a victory screen of some sort, prefarebly of them sitting on a throne with a crown or something similiar. As awesome as Armello is the victory screen at present feel a little...bland. That said I understand that it may not be priority at the moment but it it is definately something I think would add a little flavour and characterisation to the heroes of Armello!

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Introduce Yourself! / Big Armello fan here (aren´t we all?)
« on: August 17, 2016, 02:52:25 AM »
Hello!
I am new to these forums but not to Armello, having brought it a couple of months ago and enjoying it immensely. I was searching for more information about the game and found this forum and decided to join since it seems like a nice friendly community. I am a printer engineer and freelance writer by trade (mainly for http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/). I am also working on a point and click game featuring antropomorphic animals (that is where my avatar is from).

In my free time I like to read fantasy novels or comics and of course play Armello (rabbit clan rules, can´t wait for Elyssia)! Oh, and last week I got that most prestigious achievement; a rot victory. Woop woop!


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