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For a video game I will make in the future, I am for now trying to write out the entire story for it. However, it ended up being an extremely long fantasy epic. For all the events, story arcs, and character development, it spans across an extremely long time length. For more details:

  • Sidequest storylines don't count, as this is for the main story itself

  • The story here is for one game itself. The reason it's not split up is because, if it becomes a franchise, each game would be like how The Elder Scrolls or Assassin's Creed are, each game taking place in a different period of time

  • Throughout the story, the protagonists have different allies and relationships, resulting in many different characters throughout

  • The story does not take place in one nation or kingdom. In fact, it is in about 3-4 continents

What are some tips for handling a story/narrative that is extremely long, keeping the character arcs and development not getting old?

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  • Is the story itself long, or the time period it plays out over? Or both? And in either case, an indication of how long might be useful.
    – user54131
    Nov 15, 2022 at 6:24
  • @towr it is both the story itself and time period, but mainly the time period, through a couple of decades.
    – Crafter
    Nov 15, 2022 at 6:25
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    I'm saying this with my game dev hat on, rather than my writing hat, so I'm hesitant to make it an answer, but you need some way to allow players to catch up on the story so far, and remind themselves of what's happened and what/where their next objective is. With a narrative as long and complex as yours, it's inevitable that players will forget things, especially if they go for weeks or months at a time without playing (it happens).
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:14
  • Fiddling around with non-linearity might help. In medias res is a handy guideline to experiment on...
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 15, 2022 at 15:58

1 Answer 1

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Here's some general advice:

  • Be aware of Spectacle Creep. Don't just up the stakes with every new plot point. A great piece of advice from this other question is to make sure the stakes are raised gradually, and to mix in more personal threats.

  • People don't generally care about lore, backstory, and worldbuilding until they have a stake in it. Draw them in gradually, don't infodump.

  • If you decide to have player choice decide outcomes/endings, you need be extremely careful. More often than not it falls flat.

  • Focus on "Awesome per Second". The idea behind Awesome per Second is that an experience that the density of awesome is more important than the quantity and duration of the awesome. In your case more story isn't necessarily better story. This video from Extra Credits helped popularize the idea and gives more info on the topic.

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  • I especially agree with the point on player choice. People oftentimes don't realize how complicated stuff can get through the exponential nature of decision making. Giving a player just 20 meaningful choices throughout the game have to lead to hundreds of different possible endings for it not to feel cheap.
    – DLCom
    Nov 17, 2022 at 13:31

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