I’m pretty sure if you click on the “Ken Levine” tag on this post that there are many articles where I’ve discussed the man. I say I because no other staffer knows what the hell “tags” are. I find tags very useful for linking and connecting things together.
This week I listened to a lecture that Ken gave all about the ways to build your narrative by establishing your characters relationships with another’s in a story/videogame. I’m posting it here. It’s 30-something minutes followed by Q&A. You won’t watch it, but I offered:
What Ken talks about is how your characters’ (he calls them Stars’) relationships all revolve around their Passions, and as the player goes on quests you end up toggling in either a positive or negative relationship with a character based on the tasks you perform. Essentially this creates conflict when the Passions of two characters are on opposing ends of the spectrum.
The conflict becomes based on the player’s actions, and though I’ve never experienced this system first-hand I can appreciate it. Screenwriting 101 is that there needs to be conflict. The Passion System foundation helps to bring that.
A fun to watch Ken do is construct his example. He uses Trolls, Orcs, and other Mythical Things, because Ken retains his mythical-world database.
I have no idea about Orcs, Wizards and Hobbits. The “Spider’s Golden Eye” Medallion is not something I could ever write straight, as opposed to just for laughs.
It is a small sacrifice for me in not knowing that realm, but a good springboard comes from writing what you know. Point for Ken. He uses the shit that he knows.
Typically I’d suggest that someone to step out of their comfort zone and try writing something they know nothing about, to fix it later. Or you try this generator:
I’m awful at following my own writing advice, but I tend to work better under parameters and worldly conventions. When you create restrictions you then create another way of potential conflict.
When I stepped away from the lecture my brain hurt. Half of it came from trying to siphon some talent from the video, the other half from trying to force a full logical story to develop spontaneously. It is torture if you’re too focused on the bigger picture.
If there is one thing I differ on from Kens lecture is that I would start smaller. Add Stars as you go, but you don’t need to be focused on all these groups of people at once. A Ken Levine production is an intricate one. It is tough to start intricately and work backwards.
One me wants to build the next great Ken Levine game; but I
need want to see the entire puzzle upfront, while another me wants to build a corner of the puzzle and start from there.
The result of the tug of war? Nothing gets done.