file Quaternion Story Discussion

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16 Jun 2015 12:02 #1 by whirligig
Quaternion Story Discussion was created by whirligig
So I've been thinking about a possible story for Quaternion. I'm wondering if I could get some feedback on what I have so far. I put this in a separate thread because I want to keep the weekly threads more about development progress as opposed to design discussion.

My current idea goes something like this: your mother has been dead for a year, of some unknown disease. For most of her time in the hospital, she would just play this virtual-reality-ish game (Quaternion). You had no idea why she would waste so much time on the game, and she would never say. She implied that she was working on something, but wouldn't say what.

Now, it's a year later, and you finally work up the courage to open the game yourself, not knowing what to expect. What you find is a giant structure built by your mother, with all kinds of machinery. It clearly has some purpose, but nothing is fully working at the moment. The goal of the game is to fix the machine and see what it was designed to do.

So I really, really like this story, from a story angle. It has that "discover your relative's old work" concept that's present elsewhere (Tron: Legacy, A Story About My Uncle, etc.), but adds a few twists to it. My only concern is whether it makes sense for a game like Quaternion to have an intro wherein someone starts talking about a painful disease killing their mother. Most of the game is going to just be "roll around this cool machine and solve puzzles and stuff," and although combining that kind of energy with a sentimental story certainly has been done before, it's a challenge to convincingly pull off.

Thoughts?

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16 Jun 2015 13:19 - 16 Jun 2015 13:25 #2 by RDs.The-dts-guy
Replied by RDs.The-dts-guy on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
The concept of story is not bad, it fits well with name and objective of the whole game, I guess these are barebones right now and more words and phrases will be added. From first look I agree the story seems odd but it should work well as long as you execute it correctly. The way I would prob do this is by making small panning camera cutscenes (with no people, just scenes on where things are happening and what objects are invovled like computer screen, notebook on table, machine etc) then get free voice actor somewhere (similar to stanley parable) and let him read the story, this would give it that ''touchee'' and would also make story more enjoyable for player.
Also you don't have to write story so grim, you could make the feel of story be about something sad like mother passing away and then proceed to tell that some amazing discovery was made and that now the main character is going on an adventure to find those peaces (this would brighten up the mood of the story) and ending should have some major twist or something big happening.
Basically you can add something sad in intro (and it would make sense) as long as that doesn't take more than half of the story and the proceeding things add the feel of :

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Last edit: 16 Jun 2015 13:25 by RDs.The-dts-guy.

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16 Jun 2015 21:21 #3 by acrouzet
Replied by acrouzet on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
A Marble Blast Game with a story. This seems like a very cool concept if done right. I also like how your story is about the player, and not some kind of sentient marble.

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17 Jun 2015 09:27 #4 by RandomityGuy
Replied by RandomityGuy on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
As for the adventure start thing, the story can be based on that the player found an old machine, it requires x number of xxxxxx(any particular thing) and the player is set up on a journey to find those xxxxxx.

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17 Jun 2015 09:51 - 17 Jun 2015 09:53 #5 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Somehow, I feel like the player shouldn't be too involved in the story concept. I think that maybe there should be thrills and riches (lol?) at the end, which allows for further "adventures" to be "discovered."

Perhaps incorporate a Fubar-like feel into the game as well? It shouldn't feel quite so much as a game, but more like some sort of world.
Last edit: 17 Jun 2015 09:53 by ProMarbler.

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17 Jun 2015 11:16 #6 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
I definitely want to capture the "adventure" feeling, but at the same time I don't want to completely abandon the "your mother is dead" part of the story just yet. I agree that it seems kind of grim, but how many heroes have dead parents?

I'd rather stay as far away from the "it requires x number of xxxxxx" idea as possible. Though some form of it will probably end up in the game, it's one of the most cliche game tropes of all time. "You need to collect this many of the Triforce pieces / stars / orbs / etc. to advance!"

"It shouldn't feel quite so much as a game, but more like some sort of world" -- not sure what you mean, could you elaborate?

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17 Jun 2015 16:17 #7 by Nockess
Replied by Nockess on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Hmm...adventure...
Some kind of bosses?

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17 Jun 2015 23:58 #8 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

Rozi the Singer wrote:
Hmm...adventure...
Some kind of bosses?


I'm not sure how well boss battles would fit with the rest of the concept, but perhaps?

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18 Jun 2015 01:00 - 18 Jun 2015 01:12 #9 by Aayrl
Replied by Aayrl on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
It actually seems a little..Hollywood..if you ask me. The whole "My mother is dying, my world has collapsed, oh hey this is a neat little world to escape to" has been done so many times. Guardians of the Galaxy, The Impossible, Star Wars, Up (to name a few).

Instead, I think it would be more exciting if it was an original plot story that ties in to the Marble Blast genre. Sure, you're going for a unique approach to the game with a heavier emphasis of solving puzzles (I like that). I say, keep the story a mystery until the very end the game. Drop hints and clues at the player as they progress through the game, but save the big reveal for the very end. Give your players a reason and motivation to complete all the missions for the sake of the story; Make the storyline work for you!

(Don't use this example, as it would spoil the surprise of the game...but staying with the hospital theme..) For example; You start out, level one. Lone marble, dark level, you orient yourself, figure out the controls, interact with the world, make it to the next stage. You pass through the next series of challenges, but you notice periodic flashes of bright lights, and occasionally there's a faint beeping noise, or a loud "thump". You carry on throughout the game.

The challenges get more difficult, and the noises are more prominent. You have several levels where the player is racing against the clock to reach the exit before the doors close or the floor collapses. The screen occasionally becomes blurry and then clear once more.

By the final level, you're screen encounters random shakes and muffled chatter in the background.

The player rolls through the final challenge, and reaches the exit. The screen fades to white.

The player was in the hospital, unconscious, their family was told the player would not make it through the surgery. Despite all odds against you, the player, you've managed to conquer fate and battle your way through ~20-30 levels of despair with the determination to survive.

The final level is the player awakening from their coma. They've beat the game, they've beat the odds, everyone is happy, you get a great Hollywood ending, no morbidity, and the game was an absolute surprise twist ending (that will be ruined by players like Xelna or Regislian when they beat the game an hour after it releases).

~Aayrl
Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 01:12 by Aayrl.
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18 Jun 2015 01:05 - 18 Jun 2015 01:10 #10 by Kalle29
Replied by Kalle29 on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Just passing by to tell you that this is a marble game and having a storyline isn't fitting in the first place.

Edit: don't wanna sound harsh, it's just that having a storyline will be very difficult to pull off in a game like this

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Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 01:10 by Kalle29.
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18 Jun 2015 01:54 #11 by ProMarbler
Replied by ProMarbler on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
By "world," I meant more of a focus on realism, and less so of a platform game. I like that sort of world. However, it's an considerable effort to do so, as it requires a great focus on detail. I suppose it'd be more like the "feel" it gives. Give it a proper theme. I personally like the idea of a futuristic, technological world, as that opens up a lot of possibilities for me. :) There should be some sort of dynamic behavior that keeps the game playable and unique. An environment you can interact with... maybe it can consist of just a few "large" worlds that the player enjoys. Add surprises!

I'm not sure if there really should be a whole "story" here. A conceptual idea would work well. It just has to feel "natural" in a unique way that ensures that you can give content and feeling to the game. I'm fairly opposed to having a hard storyline or script, or something that can be considerably related to our lives. Maybe I'm just sensitive to that kind of emotion?

I'm not sure what you want in terms of an interface with the player. If you can make it into a totally new game experience, then that would be amazing and wonderful. Perhaps there can be something that's somehow "integrated" into the gameplay (like a shop, as a simple example)?

I'm also not sure how involved of a project you want this to be. Will it be easily expandable? Or will you aim for a more fixed, but yet dynamic gameplay?

I'm likely contradicting myself to some extent. I'm not sure myself what gameplay you specifically want, and I like to present ideas!

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18 Jun 2015 02:11 #12 by Derpking
Replied by Derpking on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
I feel like there's too much of a disconnect between your story and what's going on in the game. I'm not entirely sure how you plan to do the introduction, but if you're just going to do a bunch of textboxes with cheesy voice acting, then the transition to the actual game is going to be very jarring. Players will be thinking, "wait, I thought I was in a hospital, now I'm in a completely different world rolling a marble around and none of the characters are here anymore? Is this even the same game?"

Your story has to be what drives players to play the game, not the other way around. Telling them to just fix a machine isn't very motivational. First of all, the player has no reason to care for the main character's mother. If the game starts out by telling you that she's dead, then there's no human element to her. She's nothing more than one of the pedestrians you just ran over in GTA. There's no reason for the player to feel emotional about their supposedly dead mother and want to play more. There has to be a compelling reason for wanting to continue to play, and just saying that you're trying to figure out what's going on and fix the machine seems really arbitrary to me. You could replace the introduction with "this machine just fell from the sky and you have no idea what it does" and nothing would change as far as I can tell.

Take a look at the introduction for Tron Legacy, one example you mentioned:



Notice what this introduction does - it draws you in with some cool music and visual imagery which sets up the world, and then features a conversation between Sam and his dad. His dad vaguely says "That's right man, I got in," and that's the last thing you hear as it shows the title and seamlessly transitions to where the start of the movie takes place. You want to watch more because you want to find out what Sam's dad meant by what he said, and the beginning of the movie is based on exploring this. If the introduction were to be changed to Sam saying "My dad has been missing for a while, and now I want to find where he went," then you wouldn't be as compelled to want to keep watching. You would just be asking "okay, that's great, why do I care that this random kid's dad is missing?"

I just don't really think that having there be something outside of the game world really fits well here, especially since there's absolutely nothing in common between the two aside from the story insisting that there is. With Tron Legacy and A Story About My Uncle, there are characters in common between the different worlds which tie them together and bring meaning to them. If you really want to continue with this idea, you should probably really consider what Aayrl said. The beginning of the game should start out in the game world and the player should be left to explore things for themselves. You need to give the player as little information as possible to make them want to play more. Maybe even give them an initial goal similar to standard Marble Blast ("hey, get these gems and finish the level!"), but it slowly changes as the game progresses. You can make it connect back to the real world at the end with a huge reveal.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. Also, going to suggest that you watch an anime called Shinsekai yori because it gets a lot of things right with its storytelling and actually has a ridiculous amount in common with Aayrl's post.

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18 Jun 2015 03:17 #13 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Here's an idea. A while back, I ran a role-playing sort of game where you woke up in a room with no memory of how you got there. You had to solve puzzles to get out, and then you realize that it was a virtual reality system you were testing that just happened to suppress your memory as a side effect.

Could I maybe build that in? I know the "you wake up with no memory" theme seems really cliche as well, but it would allow me to start the story in the game world, then reveal more of the backstory as the game continues. If this is done through collecting "memories" of some kind, this gives us collectibles as well, which is nice.

This motivates you to explore in order to remember more of the mystery; if we had revealed the backstory piece by piece without this memory loss idea, it would seem like the main character is just cheating you out of info that they clearly know. If they don't remember, that works a lot better.

Also, I'm planning on having an actual voice actor for the main character, and possibly another for the mother.

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18 Jun 2015 04:59 - 18 Jun 2015 04:59 #14 by Derpking
Replied by Derpking on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

whirligig wrote:
Here's an idea. A while back, I ran a role-playing sort of game where you woke up in a room with no memory of how you got there. You had to solve puzzles to get out, and then you realize that it was a virtual reality system you were testing that just happened to suppress your memory as a side effect.


That might work. Keep in mind though that we're probably the only people who are going to be playing this, so you shouldn't reveal too much ahead of time...

Not really sure how I feel about voice actors in a marble game though.

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Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 04:59 by Derpking.

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18 Jun 2015 09:39 - 18 Jun 2015 11:44 #15 by Don.Gato
Replied by Don.Gato on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

Kalle29 wrote:
Just passing by to tell you that this is a marble game and having a storyline isn't fitting in the first place.


This. Quite frankly, don't waste your time on a story. It is not the sort of game that needs a story, nor the sort that should have one. I appreciate that you aren't going for the cutesy talking marble [trash] that would be the normal way to go about story in a game like this, and instead going for something with a little more depth. The fact of the matter, however, is that the talking marble toddler [trash], while inadvisable, is a far better fit than any of this stuff you are thinking of. A real story just doesn't work in a game like this. It will seem out of place, and not tie in with the gameplay.

Skip the story, nobody needs it. Focus on making the game fun. It worked pretty well for MBG...

And if you really want to make something with a little more purpose, do it implicitly. Make the levels flow in a logical manner. Create a natural progression in theme and difficulty. Let players take the whole rolling marble part for granted, and work from there.
Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 11:44 by ProMarbler. Reason: sanitizing post. ;)

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18 Jun 2015 11:14 - 18 Jun 2015 11:45 #16 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

Derpking wrote:
That might work. Keep in mind though that we're probably the only people who are going to be playing this, so you shouldn't reveal too much ahead of time...


Well, I told everyone what I was planning as the intro of sorts, then decided to make it come later ... So it became a spoiler, I guess.

Also, who says we're the only people playing this? As ambitious as this is, I would love for this to be the game that introduces some new people to MB.

Don.Gato wrote:
Quite frankly, don't waste your time on a story. It is not the sort of game that needs a story, nor the sort that should have one. I appreciate that you aren't going for the cutesy talking marble [trash] that would be the normal way to go about story in a game like this, and instead going for something with a little more depth. The fact of the matter, however, is that the talking marble toddler [trash], while inadvisable, is a far better fit than any of this stuff you are thinking of. A real story just doesn't work in a game like this. It will seem out of place, and not tie in with the gameplay.


See, the problem is that story is just too important for me. I find it hard to design a good single-player game without story, because where's the motivation? That is to say, what's your reason to advance in the game? Most people on the forums will probably just say "well, it's another MB mod, of course we have to finish it." But without some pretense of what you're actually accomplishing, you theoretically have no reason to advance.

Also, I'm a bit unsure as to why exactly you say that the "immature talking marble storyline" would fit better than this one. Care to elaborate?
Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 11:45 by ProMarbler. Reason: Sanitizing inner post. Save the children!

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18 Jun 2015 19:18 #17 by Weather
Replied by Weather on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Maybe the marble is a "thinking" robot that this person invents, and the person is testing it in the levels of the game.
That has almost no motivation so the person could say at the beginning, something like if what he/she currently has of it's functionality (which would probably be only movement for the first (few) level(s)), they will try to improve it as the game progresses (e.g. adding power-ups, and other features).
The game could have different endings, and maybe even midpoints as well.

I think this idea still lacks motivation, but maybe you could build something off the idea.

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18 Jun 2015 21:44 #18 by Jkk39
Replied by Jkk39 on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
I think including a story would feel very forced while playing the game. I mean a good video game story should have some feeling and determination to reach the final goal, whatever that may be. That's my opinion of course. Personally I feel it doesn't fit with Marble Blast. It would be hard to have any feeling for a marble or to care about it even. Just seems very strange to include a story in a Marble Blast game, but if you can pull it off it will be different and a very impressive Marble Blast game.
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18 Jun 2015 23:49 - 18 Jun 2015 23:50 #19 by Don.Gato
Replied by Don.Gato on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

whirligig wrote:
Also, I'm a bit unsure as to why exactly you say that the "immature talking marble storyline" would fit better than this one. Care to elaborate?


It wouldn't seem as forced.

As for motivation to keep playing the game, I appreciate the story as a motivating factor, but if it exists it should be secondary. A game should still be fun enough that it doesn't need an additional motivating factor to hold interest. That said, even in a regular old MB game the individual levels may not be fun enough for that to be the case. What kept me playing through MBG/P was the thrill of completing a hard level, and more importantly, unlocking the next one. For a long time, I had completed every level in MBG, save one. The last level. I STILL have yet to complete Battlecube Finale for this very reason, though I've beaten every other level in MBP.

Now these may not be the same factors that motivated others to keep playing MB, but the point is you shouldn't and don't need a story to keep it interesting. Trying to add a story to a game like MB without it seeming completely contrived and stupid is a nigh on impossible task. If you think you can do it, don't let me stop you, but consider it carefully.

Whether you decide to go ahead with a story or not, I check out this article. It explores what makes game stories and narratives great, and draws a distinction between the story created simply by player experience, and more explicit stories. hitboxteam.com/designing-game-narrative
Last edit: 18 Jun 2015 23:50 by Don.Gato.
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19 Jun 2015 00:55 #20 by Derpking
Replied by Derpking on topic Quaternion Story Discussion

whirligig wrote:
Also, who says we're the only people playing this? As ambitious as this is, I would love for this to be the game that introduces some new people to MB.


If you want this to be a game which introduces new people to MB, then it shouldn't be such a huge departure from what people find fun about MBG.

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19 Jun 2015 02:10 #21 by whirligig
Replied by whirligig on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
Fair enough.

So I guess the story isn't really necessary. I'll shelve the idea for the moment and focus more on level design. I still like the idea of turning on a giant machine, but that could be really abstract and still work -- even if the answer isn't ever hinted at until the end, the motivation of wanting to figure out what it's for is probably enough in itself to keep players going. Look at Antichamber, for instance -- with well-designed puzzles, figuring out what the heck the whole thing is about just becomes another puzzle to solve. If we find that later a story is necessary, we can discuss this again then.

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19 Jun 2015 05:38 #22 by Don.Gato
Replied by Don.Gato on topic Quaternion Story Discussion
omg omg omg omg omg

Did I really just change somebodies mind on the internet?

I didn't know it was possible!!!!!!!!!

mind = blown.
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