Game Story:
The Setting
by SeiferTim : 11 March 2004

At points, I'll be referring to my storyline for examples. If you would like to see the incomplete work in order to compare, you can find it at:



Now that you have a general idea of the type of game your looking for, now you need to come up with a setting for your story. The setting is basically the overall stage for your game. Some games benefit from completely original, and alien landscapes, while other games seem to make sense in settings that are familiar, and common. It all depends on your overall theme, the one you came up with before. If your making a post-apocalyptic game, you may want to have your game take place in an unrecognizable wasteland, or smack-dab in the middle of Chicago. Most RPG's, with a fantasy setting take place on a foreign world, almost completely different from our own (Example: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Star Ocean) Platform games tend to use either a setting that is bizarre, almost humorous (Example Mario, Earthworm Jim), or a 'generic' setting that is easy to compare to something the player knows (Double Dragon, Ninja Gaiden). This should be something simple to come up with, don't spend to much time fretting on the basic Setting, you have to save your energy for what's coming up. My job was a little harder, since in Worlds, the player moves from world to world, in which each setting is different. I made my setting encompass the entire Omniverse, so effectively, my setting is as follows: Worlds takes place in an Omniverse, composed of infinite separate universes (or universi?) similar to cells in a body, separated by a substance called "Ether". Travel between universe(es/i) is difficult to accomplish, but possible.

Once you have this put down to paper, you should be ready (and hopefully excited) to elaborate on it. You should start thinking about the details of your setting, and how they all interact. This is where the hard work comes in. Break out those pencils people! Now you have to build your setting into a believable, and hopefully enjoyable environment for the PCs (Player Characters) to romp through. This is one of the difficult parts of Story Development. You have to make everything in your setting mesh smoothly together, nothing should contradict each other. For instance, if your setting says that in the ancient past, humans could wield all kinds of magic, that is now lost to today's generation, then compliment, and talk about this aspect of history by having Modern Mages talk about that era, and show artifacts, and other relics of the past era: magnificent castles, powered by ancient magic still working, or giant crater-scarred plain where ancient battles occurred. However, you need to think about what this would mean to the currently living population: Do they now have an abundance of ancient magical items that still work? Is magic now extremely rare/non-existent? What happened to that race of Mages? Did they kill themselves? Did thy inter-marry with non-magical folk, and 'water down' the gene pool? Whatever you pick should be consistent with your setting: Don't choose to eliminate magic all together, and then decide you want your PCs to have powerful magic skills - unless you can explain it. Explaining things away can be easy, but be careful - make sure it makes sense, and don't just say: "they can do this, that no one else can do, 'cause they are cool/powerful/special!" - that's a cop-out, and is just sad. In following my example, you could say that they were gifted by some kind of magical artifact, or perhaps there is a fringe race of people who still have magical abilities, or something more sinister is going on... try to avoid the easy way out. It's always better, and sometimes more fun, to make something up that's interesting, than copping out.

The setting is one of the hardest, most rewarding, and most fun of all the aspects of Story Development, at least to me. I want to note, that at this point we're not making up individual locations, just a general world/area-wide collection of information about how things work, how they are, and their history. One method I've come up with to put everything in order, is to make sort of a list of things involved with the setting... I mostly use this list for my personal use, until I'm ready to publish to my Design Document. Here's an example excerpt on the subject of 'Ether':


  • Has metallic Blue/Violet sheen

  • disappears quickly while in Material environment - looks like quicksilver floating away and shrinking....

  • has morphological effects on material organisms immersed in ether for extended periods of time.

I have pages, and pages of similar writing, which I reference when needed. Some of it has ended up in a final form in my Design Doc (lit. Really Big File Full of Really Important Stuff). Feel free to spend as much, or as little time in this section as needed to flesh out your environment, and don't think that once you've made up as much cool stuff as possible that you're done, you should come back to this section often to add things, remove things, and make changes to make sure everything is kosher. Okay, so now we have our Destination Goal laid out for us, and a basic idea of the type of game it's going to be, plus, we now have a detailed chunk of paper full of information about our environment. We're getting there!

Next Section - Part 3: Player Characters



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