Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Plotting Along

Some friends of a friend were attempting to create an indie game. It was going to be a dating sim/shooter combo in which you attempt to woo an angel while demons try to kill you and her. But they needed someone to write the dialogue trees and script out the cut scenes. Since I was an aspiring writer, I was brought in on back-end pay, where any money I got was from royalties. I just wanted some experience so I went for it.

The plot was simple. You’re on a movie date, monster attacks, then some secret agents show up after you win to explain the what’s going on while acting all mysterious. After coming up with some ideas, I sent them the first draft, feeling confident in my work. And it turns out I was right - they loved the date and the cut scene. Only problem was, they now wanted to have the agents be the ones you fight.

Okay, simple enough. I rewrote the scene and sent it in. But now there was a problem. I had apparently made the agents ‘Too antagonistic.’ The whole point was the player was going to question whose side they were on and that they couldn’t be the ones who attacked the player or the angel. I asked them how to make the agents more ambiguous but they just said “Come up with something.” I gave some suggestions and they were all shot down because each one made the encounter the fault of either the player or the agents.

Eventually, I gave up and just resent them the first draft. They said it was perfect, they loved it and I never heard from them again.