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Author Topic: Themaya  (Read 1729 times)

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Offline Imazi

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Themaya
« on: 03/19/18, 08:47:48 PM »
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I'm attempting to write a class story and planetary arc for a planet of my design as an exercise in quest writing. There is going to be a lot of trial and error and possibly at lot of revisions in this project, but you'll never know what you can pull off until you try it.

So far I have rough outlines for the class story and some of the side missions. Eventually I will better define some outlines for the planetary arc. I'll write for the smuggler story first as I have the best idea of where I will go with the story for that class. As I complete missions, I will turn them into forum threads, to approximate making them playable, and link them here.

Themaya


Class Mission: A World of Opportunity
Looking for the Next Score
The Approach
Making Friends

Planetary Arc: Tipping the Scales


Side Missions:
Sorting out Feelings
Downtime
« Last Edit: 04/03/18, 08:43:07 PM by Imazi »
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #1 on: 03/20/18, 08:50:23 PM »
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Sooo... first lessons in quest chain writing:
  • You wrote way more than you realized at the time just trying to tie up loose ends.
  • The formatting will take as long as the writing.
  • You are never "done" editing.
  • If the first quest in this very long chain takes this much effort and it is the easiest one of the whole series, cry... cry very much because it's only going to get worse.

So I thought I would have the first mission, Looking for the Next Score, posted tonight... I was wrong. I'm not quite halfway through set up, so maybe tomorrow I'll get it all posted and formatted. I was so proud too because it only took me two days to crank the writing out. Not bad to say I'm writing these out between calls at work.

Anywho, I will either start work on Sorting Out Feelings or The Approach tomorrow. I really want to work on Downtime, but given what I have planned for that side mission, it will be way more effort and research than the other two. Not to mention half of that research I probably can't do at work. Oh well. We'll see.

In the meantime, I am going to go build up some courage to keep this up. You'll never get better if you don't keep writing! :nuu: :write: :sleep:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #2 on: 03/21/18, 08:36:56 PM »
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Guh! :wtf: So I finally got most of the way through putting up the first mission. Technically the thread is not finished. I want to put in a crawl blurb, some explanations, and eventually the links the next missions... that will take a bit more time. However the dialog and options are all posted if not all tested. :umm:

Next parts of the project will be working on The Approach which will be the first glimpse of Themaya and Downtime which is a side mission where you get to have a chat with a companion before heading to Themaya. I'm not going to lie. It's going to take a lot more time and effort for those two missions. I've got some pretty ambitious plans for downtime and work decided that I need to start working more, so it will be harder to write even The Approach out. Sadly writing at home is... difficult. :p

Nevertheless, I am honing my writing and finally kicking down that writers's blockade. Hopefully those that have enough pity to play through these installments as they come will enjoy bits of it, and if not at least I can say I tried.  :grin:

That being said, I am slowly teaching myself to give the Devs more slack on this writing a whole planet story thing.  :sleep: :coffee:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #3 on: 03/24/18, 08:59:14 PM »
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Just to defy my urge to work a little less on this project, I'm posting a status update. If you happened to look in just to see if the next mission is ready, umm... no.

I am either half way or a third of the way through just writing the dialog depending on how long the last and harder scene to write ends up being. That doesn't include the emotions and scene setting. I had originally wanted all of the writing to be done by Monday, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make that goal.

However, work progresses on The Approach and then I think I will work on one of the companion scenes for Downtime. I'm aiming to work on the missions chronologically so I don't have one of my "inspiration" moment and add something in that boxes me into a corner for a previous mission.

Anywho, back to work fighting my procrastination and the writing beasts. I will prevail! :hand: :write:
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #4 on: 03/29/18, 07:57:19 PM »
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Wow, five days since my last update. :/ Ah well, I'm still chugging along. I've finally finished the first draft of The Approach and I'll start reviewing it tomorrow. My guess is that it might be a couple more days (or three) of editing and probably a week of formatting for this one. This mission is longer, in terms of writing, than the previous one.

However, the two missions I need to work on next and am kinda dreading are Downtime and Sorting Out Feelings. Both are companion-centric missions AKA easy to screw up. I need to sit down and watch all of the scenes for the smuggler companions, take notes, and research properly for those... hence why I've been avoiding it. Oh well, I'll never get better until I keep writing! I've been writing once a day since Monday.  :grin:

For now, sleep. :sleep:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #5 on: 04/02/18, 08:35:48 PM »
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Alright, last weekend did not go the way I had planned, so editing the Approach took longer than anticipated. Hopefully formatting will go faster. So far I've got a third of it up so far, no testing done yet. If I keep up the pace I should be able to finish formatting in the next couple of days.

Like I said last time, the upcoming missions will need research, so my mission posting schedule will probably slow down while that is going on. I'll also take the time to work on worldbuilding and character sketches. As we get closer to arriving on Themaya, details will become a lot more important. *cough* ...and I might fit in proper plot pace planning too. *cough*

Regardless, progress continues even if it's not as visible from the outside. Ciao for now. :write: :sleep:
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #6 on: 04/03/18, 08:40:25 PM »
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Success! I've finished posting The Approach ahead of schedule. Hopefully, no misdirected links snuck through my final checks.

I'm torn between working on the Corso portion of Downtime next or Sorting Out Feelings. One mission is for is a companion I have a better grasp of and the other is a shorter mission chain. Well, I'll figure out.

Research and planning has begun in earnest. I hope to get down character notes on the smuggler and their companions as well as for characters that will make an appearance in the next class mission. I'm working on fleshing out Theymaya's cultural and topographical features. Not to mention plot pacing.

We'll see how it all comes together in the end. In the meantime, I'm keeping up my writing streak.  :whee:

Oh yeah, for any of you that happen to actually go through the missions, don't forget the little vote buttons on each post. If there's some portion of a mission that gets votes, it helps me identify what works... and what doesn't.
« Last Edit: 04/03/18, 09:48:59 PM by Imazi »
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Re: Themaya
« Reply #7 on: 04/05/18, 05:35:51 PM »
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Alright, so I've begun writing and research on Corso for the Downtime mission. Corso happens to be one of those love him or hate him companions. One of the things I find funny about him is that people who love him often love him for the very reasons that other people hate him.

Here's the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for SWTOR's most prominent country boy:

Corso hails from Ord Mantell, a "rural" planet, that raised him with the values of family, protection of those who cannot protect themselves, and deference to women. While Corso does most things in good faith, sometimes his actions come off as simple, idiotic, or unsettling depending on who's doing the interpreting. Nevertheless, all Corso seems to want in life is the be the hero, get the girl, and live happily ever after.

For downtime, I want to work in the ability for the Smuggler to address how they feel about Corso good, bad, or neutral. Ideally, my interpretation of the character will allow Corso and the smuggler to either come to some understanding or forever resolve their irreconcilable differences.

However, in the process of working on this mission, I realize that I forgot to account for people having HK-51 in the companion line up. I'm not sure how I will handle that. Perhaps I'll find a way to edit him in once the class mission is complete and ignore him for now. It's hard enough to write this thing with the companions I did think about.
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #8 on: 04/10/18, 07:53:58 PM »
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The project's not dead I promise.  :grin:

Work continues on the first of the 5 variations of the Downtime mission. Also, I am taking the time to flesh out the plot for the overall mission chain. Sometimes in writing, you have to bounce around from section to section to keep moving forward to overcome writer's block, doubt, and over editing.

An interesting topic of consideration lately is how to compare traditional storytelling with a game's level of player volition. The answer I have come up with so far is that you tell the story the same as always. The difference is that you never write from the perspective of a character development arc because that is for the player's imagination.

What you do is you write the scenario and you give the player multiple lenses to see it through. The player's character will go out and change the world not the world change the character. However, allowing multiple lenses allows the player to see how things look differently if they play their character differently. In effect, if their head canon for their character changes, they can see how their character's new perspective colors they events they experience.

Anywho, the experiment continues! :write:
« Last Edit: 04/10/18, 08:02:40 PM by Imazi »
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #9 on: 04/16/18, 08:44:58 PM »
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Still plugging along. Work decided to make me work more and I've been struggling on how to proceed with the mission I'm currently working on, so not a lot of progress. I did manage to write a short story today from a few snippets of a writing prompt. Not a complete waste at least.

At the moment, I'm grappling with two issues in connection with Themaya. One, how to apply three act structure to a storyline that is not entirely linear. Two, how to write an organic reading conversation between the "player" and Corso that allows for the player to talk with him about opinion people have expressed.

For instance, thus far in my research, there are a few main reaction to the character: loveable/hateable idiot, loveable dork, best bud, chauvinist/misogynist, creeper. Part of my philosophy with this mission is that the player should get to express their view to Corso with Corso getting to respond. My intent is to provide acknowledgement, closure, and a few other things.

Due to the need for regulated conversation branches, there needs to be some kind of structure organizing responses, but it still needs to be organic enough to protect immersion. I'm fighting between my artistic vision and my practical constraints. Good practice I guess. It's a real problem.

If it gets too bad, I will focus more on plotting out the main storyline and go back to writing on the main mission chains.

As always, the experiment continues. We'll see where all of this goes. :write:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #10 on: 04/24/18, 09:35:57 PM »
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*blows the dust off the thread*

Alright, so surprise of surprises, my job increased my work volume a bit and that cut into my writing time. Nonetheless, tiny progress has been made despite having gone back to the proverbial drawing board multiple times. My digital wads of paper are collecting just like real ones because I keep refusing to completely delete them.

The conclusion I came to is that I was trying to write way too much into one mission. My solution? Break it up! So what I am thinking is that I will need to seed opportunities to talk with a companion throughout the storyline and address different issues in different instances. However, even with paring down the options, there are still a few key notes that have to be struck within the first of the companion centric missions, namely things/perspectives people don't necessarily get to address in the game thus far.

Anywho, the experiment continues. If I drown in a sea of discarded ideas, know that it's been an honor to tell stories with you. :grin: :write:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #11 on: 05/06/18, 12:30:15 AM »
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So the project isn't dead.... really. :grin: However, I intend to stop writing, briefly, while I figure some things out. I'm still working on the Downtime mission; given that it is a companion-centric mission, I feel that working to make the conversations better is really important here.

That being said, I signed up for a dialog writing workshop that will happen on May 19th. Hopefully that will give me some helpful guidance on how to frame what it is I am trying to do. Hopefully I won't get laughed out of class for trying this project, and hopefully I'll be able to make a fresh burst of progress afterward.

As I come across useful tidbits in the class, I'll try to note them down to share with everybody.

In the meantime, I need to sit on the edge of my bed and worry about how hard it is to do this on my own. The more I write, the more things I realize need to be written to flesh out the story. There are so many places I need to flesh out more to better facilitate other parts of the story... Gah! :wtf:

Oh well, this has been a humbling experience. My main lesson learned so far is don't give the devs a hard time. It's even harder when you have to coordinate between multiple people and get everything approved by committee. Because committees are always in agreement. :lol: At least I have creative free reign here.

Nonetheless, the experiment continues! :write:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya - Lessons from the Dialogue Workshop
« Reply #12 on: 05/22/18, 07:11:53 PM »
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Alright, so I did the workshop, and I came back with some useful bits of information. Some of the things we covered I already knew, but some of it I have never even considered. Hopefully these things will be of help to some of you as well.

  • Dialogue can be used to accomplish three things: Illuminate a character, introduce characters, and advance the story.
  • Dialogue is difficult to write because we are essentially switching mediums. Trying to represent something spoken in writing is like trying to represent something three-dimensional in two dimensions. It's not impossible, but it can be difficult to approximate. Some things can be lost in the transition.
  • There are two core components of dialogue: the actual words spoken and the tags. The tags are things such as "he said", "she queried", and so on.
_____________________________________

Tip 1: Write your first draft of dialogue striped of descriptions and tags. Leave just the words.

Tip 2: Read it out loud.

_____________________________________

Exercise #1 - The Eye Opener

Our first exercise was to take the dialogue we had written for a piece, and strip it of the tags, scenery, descriptions... everything. All that was left were the words actually spoken by the characters. Then we each took turns reading our dialogue aloud. The purpose of reading it aloud was not only so that we could hear the dialogue ourselves, but also so that we could hear what impressions other people got.

For instance, each time the instructor asked those of us listening: Can you tell anything about the characters just from what they say? Can we determine gender or personality? Is their speech pattern an indication of their social standing? What's the relationship between them? Can we tell anything at all about this character from their words. Sometimes the answer was no.

The point she was trying to make was that we can tell a lot about character just from their words if dialogue is used well. To illustrate:

Quote
"Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!"

"Who's scruffy-looking?"

Without tags, scenery, or context, you can still tell something from this bit of dialogue. For the sake of example, ignore the fact that you know who these lines come from.

The first thing you can tell is that there are two characters. While that may seem a silly thing to pay attention to, this is a simple case. In scenes where there are multiple characters talking, it can be less obvious unless each character has a distinct "voice".

If you are ever wondering whether or not your characters have distinct voices, read only their spoken dialogues, no tags or descriptions, out loud to someone else. See if that person can tell you how many characters are in the scene. You'll be surprised what impression people may get.

Other things you can tell from these two lines: the two characters are either close enough to insult each other or there is tension between them. One might be fed up. Even without descriptions of stance or expression, we can tell the second character is not terribly concerned. We may not know whether or not a scruffy looking nerf herder is a grave insult, but we do understand that stuck up and half witted are pretty good points to take issue with. Our second character completely ignores those in favor of questioning who's scruffy.

From two lines, we have personality, relationship, and number of characters. With more lines you can parse out more information. In your own writing, look for how you can convey these things through the actual words:
  • The characters' demographics
  • personality
  • Place in society
  • Education level
  • relationship
  • values
  • what is happening in the scene
  • lore relevant to the story

If you'd like to do exercises like this one, let me know and we can set up a thread. Even without reading aloud you can still get valuable feedback.


Here's some more random tips I picked up in the workshop:
  • When writing dialogue, don't worry about being grammatically correct unless it is a character trait or commonly use in that context. For instance, droids might be inclined to observe good grammar but the average person does not.
  • When making the dialogue reflect the quirks of the character, don't make it hard for the reader to read. Accents often fall in this category. There is a line between distinct and can't be read.
  • Don't start at the "beginning" of a conversation unless it is relevant. Cut the how's your mother chat. "How's your mother" has been the shorthand I've used for years to refer to the idle hellos and how are yous that don't advance the story but we sometimes feel obligated to include in RP but aren't the interesting part.
  • Don't have the characters talk without listening. Give them a chance to hear and absorb or react to what another character says to them before they bring up a new topic.
  • Don't info dump. If you really feel all that information must be said, split it up between multiple characters instead of one character giving a long exposition to another and therefore the reader.

As always, all don'ts are soft don'ts. There are no true rules in creative endeavors, just guidelines.


Dialogue Tags

The dialogue tags are not the main stars. They aren't even secondary stars. They are the orchestra. While they contribute to the whole, you should not be overly aware of seeing them.


  • Use said or asked, 90 percent of the time. Let the reader take the tags for granted, so that unique tags don't draw so much attention that they disrupt the flow of the reading.
  • Resist the use of adverbs. You can convey the "ly" words through action and speech which will be more effective. I know, I know... *raises hand* I love my adverbs too.
  • Keep the emotions out of tag. --->"he yelled angrily". Like the adverbs, convey that through speech and action.

As is commonly said, show don't tell.

When done effectively, you will find that you can actually replace many of the tags outright. Especially when the reader can tell who is talking, replace the tags with descriptions of action, movement, expression, or setting. Unfortunately, I don't have any readily available examples here.


Another thing that might help your dialogue along is to give your character a prop or something to do with her hands. Sometimes it can even be an action characters are occupied with. Remember you can replace a tag with action. Instead of using "he said", perhaps you describe what he is doing after speaking. However, tie the actions back to the conversation at hand. Maybe it is a shared task that forces characters to be close enough to talk. Perhaps it is something a character distracts themselves with to cope with difficult emotions and so on.

Further, in a story there should be no meaningless conversations. There is no idle chit chat, how's your mother, and for single author stories, the story should start close to the "important bit". Keep these things in mind:
  • How does this bit of dialogue develop the character or story?
  • Do each of the characters have goals?
  • How are they going to go about pursing that goal in this conversation?

Exercise #1 - Think of actions or props for characters in the scene.

For the second exercise, we had to think of an action that we could have one or more of our characters doing that would enhance the scene. Some actions are symbolic of inner turmoil or thoughts. Some give insight in to the personality of a character. Others are actions that help to advance parts of the story.


Exercise #3 - Expanding beyond just the words

Exercise three is going back in and putting in tags and descriptions that can replace tags into our original, stripped dialogue. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for working on this one before the workshop had to end.


Hopefully something in this is helpful for you in your writing endeavors. Bonus points if it helps you in your RPs. :grin:
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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #13 on: 05/22/18, 07:19:44 PM »
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So, now that my dialogue workshop is done. I have some ideas for getting back onto mission writing. However, I keep having to go back to the drawing board as I refine my approach. I'll get there.

After I finish the Downtime series, it gets harder. I realize now how much more detail I need to include and flesh out, even to write the class story. However, I do at least know where I am going even if I haven't gotten everywhere yet.

So far there are about 10 major story beats without even counting the how you get theres. At least 10 locations that need to be fleshed out. Already 9 characters or groups of characters that need fleshing out along with that nagging thing called a planetary arc. Roll that up with the fact that you are writing for 5 different companions each with about 4 major, and yes there are minor, possible relationship states with the player and multiple perspectives that have to be written in to allow the player a fitting lens to view the story.

As you can see, this is why you need a team of people to write....

As always, the experiment continues. At least I'm learning... to be grateful when someone else does the work  :think: :write:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

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Offline Imazi

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Re: Themaya
« Reply #14 on: 06/12/18, 09:32:00 PM »
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So, I had a bit of burnout and had to take a break, but I am getting back into writing for this project. Part of the issue is the scale of the project, and the other part is the details of what I want to accomplish with this project. I want the companions to feel interactive, I want the lore to be rich, I want the player to be enthralled, I want the story to be engaging...

In every bit of writing, and probably in every project, there comes a time when you have to accept that your reality will not be a good as your vision and that anything realized is better than magnificence that stays in your head. Therefore, I apologize that I can't deliver the amazing experience that I envision in my head, but I will keep plugging along to try to finish this beast of a project I have started.

As an aside, the current design issue is finding suitable reference material for various aspects of worldbuilding. For instance, you don't tell an environmental artist to create a desert and they automatically create a desert. They will look for pictures, lots of pictures, and will study real world examples for guidance. Turns out, the same is useful for things other than visuals.

Right now I am trying to flesh out the details of Themayan society. It's actually important to the story. This is because it's hard to turn over the apple cart if you don't have one to begin with. It is my intent to have the player come into Themaya and hit the status quo head on like a star destroyer to the back of the skull. So far, I have seen a few elements from Heian and Tokugawa Period Japan that I would like to incorporate. Yet, there are still various other things that I have not found references for yet.

As I take some of the burden off by using references to guide my worldbuilding, other elements will take shape. I am  basically defining the petri dish that the conflict and thus the story will grow out of. Hopefully soon I will have more to show for all of this thinking and research.

For now though, the experiment continues. :hand: :write:
Check my profile for links my short story and art work threads.

New to RPing? Check my Getting Started Guide.