Game Story:
Location, Location, Location!
by SeiferTim : 11 March 2004

Okay, now I'm going to try to write up another section here... my computer is dead, so I'm doing this at work...

This is all about the locations that your PC(s) will be visiting during the game. By my definition, a "Location" is any particular area that the player will move through at some point. You can have a lot of fun here. You'll want to come up with interesting, and believable locations, which keep the player interested in the game. Some genres won't focus too much on this area, since there won't be any reason to go into detail on most areas in, say, a platformer. RPGs, on the other hand, benefit from having tons of detail and information on each location. So lets say we were going to be making an RPG, and we needed a bunch of locations. Lets say our RPG is going to be a Fantasy style, and take place on a world other than Earth (basically your stereotypical Pre-8 final fantasy.. ) So what do we need to do in order to plan our location? Generally, you'll want to come up with some kind of general map, or make one up as you go. Here are a few key points to look into:

  1. Climate - This is the first thing to look at. Where is your first location going to be? Desert? Forest? Swamp? Frozen Tundra? Make a decision here, and keep it in mind, the climate you choose will be important. Sometimes an exotic location makes for an interesting location, but if this is going to be the first place the player sees, you may want to make it something they'll recognize... Let's make an example. Lets say that our location is going to be a Heavily Forested Area, in a temperate zone. Easy enough.

  2. Name - You can really give it a name anytime, but sometimes I like to make up the name first, so that you have a basis to work from. Let's call our area "Foalhaven".

  3. Establishments - Now that you know the climate, you need to know the inhabitants. Are there any cities, towns, villages in this location? Or is it barren, except for the few wandering monsters... is the entire location a City in itself, or is it a section of a city (like Midgar in FFVII, I would consider each section of the city a separate location, giving the Shinra building it's own location.) It's up to you. For our example, lets say that there is only one town in this location, not very large, and each pretty far from any other town. Around 300 people total.

  4. Inhabitants - So what kind of people live in this location? Are they all human? Do they all have to work equally, or is there some kind of slave system in place? What kind of lives do they live? Think hard about all of these, and keep in mind the climate that your location is in. In our example, lets make our own town a logging town, filled with humans, and a few dwarves, where most of the men are loggers, and most of the women run any other trades, like inns, shops, government offices, etc (all the non-physical jobs). I kind of like to throw in a few things that are a little different when coming up with the towns. Feel free to make up whatever interesting features you want.

  5. History - This is (to me) a fairly important feature of the area you're working with. Even if you're not dealing with a town, you can make up some pretty interesting historical events that can, at the very least, add to the player's experience, and can be used for interesting plot events/twists/or special events. Come up with some cool stuff, if you want. FFX had some great history tied into each area of the game... I remember the Calm Lands, which was where an epic battle took place years, and years ago, and was still sporting the craters, and battle scars from the battle in the landscape. Come up with something that will peak your player's interests, and (when possible, or beneficial), try to tie in to other areas/people/events that the player has or will meet in the game. Let's go back to our example, and say that this area, Foalhaven, was once nothing but forest, and until just recently was not inhabited by any humans... Hidden somewhere in the deepest section of forest was a colony of Forest Dryads, who have since disappeared to areas unknown, since the humans started moving in to the area. Some believe that the Dryads are still hiding in the forest, and a few eye-witnesses say that they have seen them in small groups, while others fear that they are preparing to take back the forest. The logging town was established as a direct source of lumber for a nearby nation, which is the only source of external income to the town. As you can see, I tried to add a little bit of history that can be further explored if the player wants to. The history is not too difficult to come up with, if you try to think logically about the type of area you're dealing with.

    Finishing Up - That's about all there is to making up a location, feel free to tweak my ideas if you want. You may want to make a map or two for this location, to help get an idea of what's in the area, or whatever works for you. Later on, I'm going to make up a few "Cheat Sheets" to help out if you run out of ideas.

    Next Section - Part 5: Non-Player Characters and Villians



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