How a Game is Born Part 1: Story Development
Written by Daniel Westerstal   
Monday, 20 June 2005
This guide in several parts is meant to give you a brief introduction on how a game is born, from story to the point when the game hits the store shelves. We will present the process in a series of articles.


Getting ideas for making new computer games is according to many developers the really hard part of the production phase. As in any other profession new fresh thinking doesn’t grow on trees.

Different people have different ways of getting ideas out. Some packs a small notebook with them everywhere they go and jot down ideas and plans as they come. It’s actually a really good way of getting ideas and not loosing them.

Many computer games are built from dreams the developers have had at night. According to ID Software’s John Carmack the Doom series were based on a nightmare he once had.

Sometimes people need inspiration to get ideas; some developers get their ideas from other computer games. They are not stealing the success of other games but rather mixing the game’s idea with their own original ideas.

Reading is said to be a great source for fresh thinking, Westwood based one of the first Real Time Strategy games, Dune 2 on a Frank Herbert’s Dune novel. There are also several other games that have been based on books but the end public doesn’t know about it. One game that might have been based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is the Warcraft series by Blizzard.

Some developers choose to base their games on historical events such as World War 2 or they change the course of history and create an alternative history as in the Red Alert series by Westwood.

When the idea is there a story has to be thought out. Many production and developing companies hire professional writers to write the story for them. Some writers even specialize in writing stories for computer games.

Depending on what type of game that is going to be developed there is different kinds of depth the story has to have. For example if you are making an action game you often don’t need to write a very detailed story. However if you are developing Role Playing Games or Adventure games you usually need to do a lot of story writing.

The story is an important piece of the game development process since the rest of the game will be based on the story. All the character’s and graphics has to be connected to the story or else it will seem strange and not add up in the end.

However a good story doesn’t necessarily mean that the game will be good, there are a lot of other things that has to go right such as design, programming and avoiding bugs.