Awesome work, you guys! Also.. Krista is a babe!
Dev Diary #55: The Write Stuff
We talk about how we design and write for our game Luckless Seven and give a short update on what's new! More Gifs below!
Hi there! Tyler here. Hope your week is going well. Just checking in to share an update on Luckless Seven’s development. This week we’ll focus on my contribution, the game’s storyline!
New dialogue and characters in Neropolis City! Your choices can make all the difference in the world.
The big news this week is that we’ve fully outlined the final three “Days” of the story. If you’ve been following development for, let’s say 3+ years, you might be asking yourself, “Wait a minute. These guys didn’t know where the story was headed?!”
Hang on! I can explain. Yeah, we knew roughly where things would end and which notes we wanted to hit, etc. But over several years of writing, resources and timelines can shift, requiring some flexibility. So the story shifts too!
BEFORE: Accidental Kool-Aid River.
AFTER: Sunset Waters. What do you think?
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Here’s how we write Luckless Seven:
- Overarching Narrative: At the highest level, we have a massive text document outlining the whole story in broad strokes from the moment Mark wakes up on Independence Day until the end credits.
- Quest Structure: A level down from that, we have individual documents going into more detail with quest structure: what the player can do, where they’ll do it, what actions will advance the quest, etc.
- Dialogue List: In the same document, we typically include a comprehensive list of all dialogues for that story segment. Here we include detailed notes on ideas we want each dialogue to include: narrative exposition, plot advancement, choices, and fun character interactions.
- Dialogue Scenes: At the most detailed level, we have the dialogue scenes themselves: written using Twine then imported into Unity. This is where the characters’ voices come in and bring the story to life.
Those two higher levels are what we’re celebrating. We’ve made some changes to the high-level charted course and now formalized the story’s thrilling conclusion with quest structure. It’s done! Now begins the delicate process of listing each dialogue scene with all the important notes they have to hit.
Dialogue List: Story dialogues with narrative exposition, plot advancement, choices, and fun character interactions. Some of the picture is blurred to not spoil the game.
The story has called for some new animations! This animation is still a work-in-progress. Can figure out what the animation is supposed to be? We'll post the answer in our next devlog so make sure to stay tuned!
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Dialogue Scenes: Zoomed in screenshot of our storyboarding software. Twine. It helps us plan, create, and implement dialogue for Luckless Seven. Some of the picture is blurred to not spoil the game. Program is Twine.
Zoomed out screenshot of the same dialogue scene. There are many choices and they change the direction of the story and ultimately how it ends. Some of the picture is blurred to not spoil the game. Program is Twine.
Higher quality version of the top picture/gif. We're thinking of enlarging the portrait of the speaking character and to bring them in from the side. Do you like it?
Demo recently updated two weeks ago with many many bug fixes and a giant UI upgrade to the dialogue system. This approximately 2.5-8 hour demo can be downloaded and played on Steam, IndieDB, GameJolt, and Itch.io! For Windows 32-bit & 64-bit, MacOSX (Universal), and Linux (Universal).
Once that’s done, all we have to do is write 3-ish days of dialogue. Each day tends to have 20-30 dialogue scenes, and each dialogue can contain as few as 15 or as many as 300 potential lines.
So, we’re close to the finish line! Kinda, anyway. Please don’t tell me the math on that one. ;)
If you have any questions about how we tell the story, leave us a comment or join the conversation in our L7 Discord! We love questions and feedback.
See you next time!
Written by Tyler Clementi, Pictures by Jesse Kooner