For a computer game, I'd like to create a frame story. Much like in X-Files, it should provide a setting for the individual levels/quests/substories while leaving lots of room for the individual parts. An ending is not mandatory, but I need the player to feel some kind of progress in the story.

Any advice on how to create/design such a frame story?

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    Have you checked out the Worldbuilding community here on StackExchange? You may find some help there in addition to following @ChrisSunami's advice below. – J.D. Ray Oct 22 at 17:15
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    @J.D. Ray: Yes, but I'm looking for abstract writing tricks/tools, etc. That's why I though this group to be a better fit. Both answers are already quite helpful, but I'll leave the question option some more time, if that's okay. – leuk98743 Oct 23 at 7:04
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'm getting the impression that you're not looking for a story, so much as a world, a framework in which stories can take place. Consider, then: what is that world like? Our world (more or less)? Our world + supernatural stuff? Futuristic? Past? Fantasy world with fantasy races?

Once you have the general setting, who are the relevant active parties? Are there any opposing factions? (Consider how Assassin's Creed have the recurring Assassins vs. Templars enmity throughout the series. World of Warcraft had the Alliance and the Horde - two opposing factions, each consisting of several subgroups.) Who are the important figures within each active party?

What role does the player-character play in the world? What kind of impact is he meant to have?

Once you've established the world and the player's place in it, you can treat quests as stories (big stories, small stories) told in that world.

You want your players to feel progress. That means that the player's actions should have an effect on the world, that the world should be changing as the game progresses. (In MMORPGs, changes would be effected not by one player, but through the collaborative effort of many players.) One way to achieve that is to have an overarching story. For example, in Ni No Kuni II, the overarching story has a deposed child king trying to create world peace. As you progress through the story, there are multiple small quests (help a woman entertain a sick child, find a girl's lost pet) - those give you small bonuses, like NPCs joining your cause. There are bigger quests (find out what's corrupting a city) - those have world-changing effect that progresses the main story, and change the world in which you're playing. And then, the game itself is a part of a franchise - the effect of what you did in the first game is visible in the second.

You will be able to find more relevant information under .

Since you want a sense of progress, the frame story needs to have some interaction with the nested stories. For a video game, the simplest and most classic frame story structure is a extended quest where each puzzle, mini-game, or nested storyline brings the player a step closer to the final ending. This structure is sometimes called a quest for "plot coupons".

Within that overall structure, the actual details of the stories, and even their genres, could vary quite widely, from the supernatural detective-work of the X Files to the tarot-inspired medieval quest of The Fool's Errand. But those kind of specifics would compose a different question.

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