Hi, everyone. Welcome to the results of our second Story Design Challenge.
This time we had about twice as many entries as the first time. Hopefully, we’ll have even more as the story design challenges gain momentum.
Below you’ll find a response to each of the entries (which can be found here along with the challenge itself), about why they were picked, why they were not picked, and what could be improved about them. This post is cross-posted on GameCareerGuide.
As you’ll be able to see, the best memorable entrances were all about contrast: the difference between what we would expect and we are actually getting.
First Place: James Coote’s entry: Good work! First of all, even the parts that are not the entrance are well written, powerful, and paced very well. The memorable entrance part happens in the last paragraph of the entry, and it only works because it is differs so much from our expectations after seeing everything that has led to this point. Excellent! (Note: Looking back, James Coote also got first place in our first Story Design Challenge.)
Second Place: Katie Chironis’ entry: Juliana’s entrance is certainly very memorable, and you built it just right. We start out thinking we’re in some kind of sophisticated world, when suddenly the contrast of a crazy ex with an RPG appears. In addition, the contrast between the tone of her words and her actions is very powerful. Here are a couple of tips for making it better: 1) James shouldn’t say ‘You give crazy ex a new definition’. Don’t explain to the player what he already knows, and trust me, the player knows this. 2) You lose Juliana’s uniqueness after that line. She steps out of character, and she shouldn’t.
One last thing: You get a few less points because, as memorable as that entrance is, I feel like I’ve seen scenes like it before.
Third Place: Gelo Fleisher’s entry: Good entry. It’s strange to get a good ‘memorable entrance’ from a character that waits, but the character waits and wait and waits, and it works. Here’s my tip on how to make it even more powerful: Add some things, aside from the other character, that would force anyone else to move and leap into action, and have the character wait them out, as well. The more he waits when he has cause to not wait, the more powerful and memorable his entrance.
Now to the other entries:
Mark Slabinski’s entry: Hi Mark. You’ve created 3 memorable entrances. One for the man in robes on a camel, where you contrasted the smallness of one man against the vastness of nature. And even though the man is small, clearly he’s in control. Two is for the old king on the throne, whose image contrasts with what we imagine a king to be. Three is for the fleet commander who speaks in holograms (so to speak), which is something we don’t expect to see. So you’re very good at creating a contrast in the player’s eyes, an image that, as soon as it appears, includes something we don’t expect. However, now that you know you can do this, you should strive for more. Your entrances can be much more powerful than they are. Imagine what they would be like if you strove and strove and strove to make them ten times better.
David Sawyer’s entry: Hi David. There was one instance I really liked and was memorable. It was the image of the slaughter, in the middle of which stands a woman, her survival inexplicable. I feel that everything else that happens afterwards takes the image that clearly contrasts with what we know and is therefore powerful and mysterious, and goes in a direction we’ve already seen: the chase and the fight. If you had found a way to keep the situation unique, the story would have become even more special.
Victoria Rosendahl’s entry: Hi Victoria. What you tried to do is create a memorable introduction to a premise. But the exercise was about creating a memorable entrance for a character, an entrance that reveals something about who and what that character is. Elijah’s strange behavior is unique, but not memorable enough, because it is not unique enough. When writing a memorable entrance, ask yourself: Will people talk about this even ten years from now? Will they remember it ten years from now? That’s the thing to strive for.
Blake Clouser’s entry: Hi Blake. To create an unforgettable entrance, you have to do two things: 1) Give the player something he hasn’t seen before; and 2) Do it as the character appears. And I mean, right as the character appears. The only reason to drag it out to the end of a chase is if something unbelievable and surprising happens there. And since we’re talking about memorable entrances for characters, the surprise has to tell something important and surprising about your character. In your entry, you didn’t give us something the player hasn’t seen, and you took your time showing the player a chase and a fight without a very surprising payoff in the end.
Ruston Coutinho’s entry: Hi Ruston. The surprise in the end is indeed surprising, but I had two major problems with what you wrote. First of all, most of what you wrote doesn’t speak the language of visual gameplay. Describing thoughts is not something that can be conveyed, except in voiceover. And you didn’t use voiceover. Secondly, the scene itself did not contain something that I felt I hadn’t seen before. So as powerful as it is, we’re looking for the special and unique, for something that’s yours, something that you have to give.
Vince Taroc’s entry: Hi, Vince. Your memorable entrance is just too similar to Tarantino’s memorable entrance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKvU2DumWuk) which we mentioned in the Story Design Tips column when we talked about the subject. In addition, I felt you relied too heavily on things that have been done before, and less on ideas that are uniquely yours. Players feel that, and they don’t want it. They want you to give them something new.
Adam L’s entry: Hi, Adam. I wasn’t too clear on whose memorable entrance your entry was about. There were only two characters there, and neither had a memorable entrance. If you meant the dead guy – well, he never entered, did he?
Frederico Sauret Encabo’s entry: Hi Federico. You were specifically asked not to use something you are working on, so I can’t place you in the running. In any case, your entry puts all its heft on being a memorable beginning to a story not on having a memorable entrance to one or more character. And when you get to more advanced stages in your game, please have someone go over the English. This is just something that professionals who are not experts in English have to do.
So: Congratulations to the winners. The ones that have not won previously, will get a free electronic copy of Secret Thoughts. I hope you enjoyed this month’s Story Design Challenge. See you again next month.