I read this really cool article on TheHustle.co about Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s writing process, specifically about ‘Therefore, But.’ Note: I’m writing this after drinking two very large servings of sake so don’t expect some deep developer shit. Thank Gawd the wifi is kosher.
What I found amazing about it is the consistency of keeping a story going cohesively while having parallels to make a rich, entertaining experience. So I figured, why not try this with games in general?
In my experience in the industry, I always found a huge void when it came to building a rich story and relating it to the reader, or player perspectively, in a matter that engaged them, piqued curiosity and easily moved them forward painlessly,
The formula, as I grasped it, is relatively simple:
Subject A happened, therefor Subject A is the main topic BUT Subject B is also happening in the background and is similar to the main topic them of Subject A.
A prime example of this is one of my favorite episodes of South Park, Medicinal Fried Chicken. The episode recap is here, but if you are curious as of November 2015, the old medicinal KFC building still stands in Los Angeles, though it’s not in business anymore.
There are three story arcs in that share the same theme: illegal substance acquirement. First, the show talks about medicinal marijuana in SP. Then it talks about the black KFC market. Last it talks about medical marijuana and testicular cancer in the form of bouncy balls.
Extraordinarily funny, but a prime example of Therefore…But.
Medicinal Marijuana comes to South Park’s KFC building THEREFORE
KFC is banned and there is a secret market for its consumption BUT
South Park’s male populous is giving themselves testicular cancer to get medicinal marijuana.
This is a humorous, yet air tight, way to portray story telling that can be translated even in games if you think about it. A great example is Spec Ops: The Line:
There is civil unrest in a generic Middle Eastern country THEREFORE –
A group of trained American military agents are sent to neutralize the main instigator of the unrest BUT –
The Leader of the group is kinda loco and the player doesn’t know what’s real or not.
I just found this interesting when writing stories for my game ideas. It helps creating a small but power wireframe for the world and gives a good foundations on what to build on.