Author Topic: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)  (Read 4892 times)

Offline ChonkyDay

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Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« on: July 31, 2014, 02:49:39 AM »
A little explanation before you start reading:
So I've been working on this new idea that I've had. I want to write the script for a video game. This would be the opening of the game. Since there is supposed to be gameplay within the scene, I've decided to just cut out the scene headings. The beginning is supposed to be very lighthearted almost like a RomCom, but by the end, the real tone of the game comes out, which is dark science-fiction with some romantic feelings. Please be harsh with your comments so I can make the opening better! Thanks in advance.

--


JUNE, a 20-year-old red-head, sits on the bus listening to her music. There are ordinary people doing ordinary people around her (an old man having a coughing fit, a middle-aged woman disciplining her kids, a schizophrenic woman talking passionately to no one, etc.). She bobs her head to the music.

The bus stops and she gets off. She dances a joyfully off of the bus and down the road, passing ordinary people. She stops in front of a convenience store on the corner and stares into the window. She takes out her earbuds. Inside, CLARA, a short 20-year-old girl, bags a womanís groceries, looking very cheerful.

   JUNE
   Well, this is it, Junie. Itís now or never.

June enters the store looking confident, but when June and Clara make eye contact, June looks down at the floor and darts to the back of the store to clock in.

Later, she stocks shelves in the store (this can be a mini-game to teach the player the controls). When she finishes stocking the shelves, she goes to the back to get another pallet and sees Clara. Clara stops.

   CLARA
   Hey, June.

   JUNE
   Hi.

June blushes. She pushes her hair off of her forehead and leans against the wall.

   JUNE
   So, you find a place yet?

   CLARA
   Not yet. Iím hoping to move out by this weekend though. Paul already told me I can work up until the day I move.

   JUNE
   Thatís nice of himÖ

June stands up and straightens her back. She takes in a deep breath and just as sheís about to say what sheís always wanted to say:

   CLARA
   Well, Iíll talk to you later. Back to work.

Clara goes back to the front of the store. June kicks the wall and goes back out with another pallet, but decides that she wants to watch Clara for a while (this is where a spy skill is learned). She just watches Clara ring up customers.

At the end of the day, June listens to the same song she was listening to in the very beginning, but it sounds sadder. It suddenly gets more upbeat when June sees Clara wave goodbye as she gets into her car. June hops on the bus and rides home. In the background, cops and ambulances rush to the orphanage.

The next morning, June walks up to the store and sees Clara sitting in the front by the door playing on her phone. June waves excitedly until Clara notices. Clara stands up and walks towards her.

   JUNE
   Good morning.

Suddenly a flash of light blinds June and sheís pushed to the ground by something heavy. She sees a vision of when she saw the head of the orphanage was killed the day before. When sheís finally able to see again, she sees a big, metal machine where Clara was.

   JUNE
   Clara!

June jumps up and examines the machine. She knocks on the metal and a door opens, accompanied by a loud womanís voice.

   PETRA
   This canít be right.

June hides behind a plant and watches as PETRA and OSIP are revealed.

PETRA
It says 2027 on the monitor, and thatís where we just came from.

   OSIP
   Canít you at least check?

   PETRA
   What do you think Iím doing?

Clara screams from inside the machine. June springs up and gets in a fighting stance.

   JUNE
   What are you doing with Clara?!

Petra makes eye contact with her and pushes Osip back in.

   PETRA
   I told you it was wrong!

She punches a button and the door closes. June runs and bangs on the machine, but it disappears quickly. Juneís eyes glow blue and she falls back through the ground, through the earth, and into a different form of reality. She sees all of time and space as fluid surrounding her. From there she can go anywhere at any time within her lifetime.

Offline themillionthmonkey

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2014, 06:02:35 AM »
The first thing I noticed about this when I read it is that the pacing is way off. You start out with the mundane, which is fine, but you drag it out way too long. Then the spectacular elements of the story come in, and flash past so fast and with so little explanation that the reader (player?) has no time or ability to process them. The result is that it's confusing.

I would caution you against switching up the tone too dramatically during the game - people have very different tastes, and those who might enjoy a light hearted RomCom beginning will likely not enjoy a dark SciFi ending and vice versa (there is doubtless some crossover, but those are two very different audiences).

I have played games that start in the mundane (The last Of Us and Heavy Rain are two that spring to mind), but in those, the mundane element has two things that yours doesn't: 1. it is dramatic in some fashion and 2. it is over pretty quickly and we get into the action.

You can get away with the bus stuff as scene setting, but it's not very interesting. You risk losing people there. By the time your character gets off the bus, the player is going to be looking for something to happen. Instead, we have to stock shelves in a grocery and listen to some boring dialogue about somebody moving house? By now, I've stopped playing because it's been more than ten minutes and this game is setting itself up to be really boring.

Mini games and learning the controls are fine, but we need something better than shelf-stacking and spying on co-workers (for no good reason) to keep us engaged.

In fact, it seems that all the interesting stuff in this game happens while the playable character blithely does nothing:

Quote
June hops on the bus and rides home. In the background, cops and ambulances rush to the orphanage.

Wait, what? The orphanage thing came out of nowhere, didn't it? The orphanage is cliche for a start, and that the player's character is ignoring the only exciting thing to have happened so far is likely to have the player throwing a controller at the screen. There's excitement happening somewhere, but we get to stack shelves? No thanks.

Also, this:

Quote
She sees a vision of when she saw the head of the orphanage was killed the day before.

Now I'm totally lost. Did we see this? It's not in the script anywhere...

Then a couple of time travellers (?) appear from nowhere with a time machine (?) and the main character knocks on the door (?). The door is opened by time travellers who ignore the character completely (?) including the screaming from inside their own machine (?). The player character is ready to fight them (?) but they shut the door on her and leave, presumably still with screaming woman on board (?). The player character then develops time travel powers (? ? ?).

Honestly, this is confusing, weird and would not keep me interested for five minutes. It needs a major re-write. Is there supposed to be a romance between June and Clara? It doesn't read if there is. I would suggest ditching all of this and starting again with a view to including more drama.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2014, 11:22:29 AM »
JUNE, a 20-year-old red-head, sits on the bus listening to her music. There are ordinary people doing ordinary people around her (an old man having a coughing fit, a middle-aged woman disciplining her kids, a schizophrenic woman talking passionately to no one, etc.).

This is my excuse to stop reading. Right there. Firstly because of the obvious typo that suggests you didn't check this before posting. And secondly - who wants to read about ordinary people doing ordinary things? The entire bus scene is pointless because it doesn't move the 'story' or 'game' forwards.

I'm guessing that game-players demand there be more action up-front than readers of short stories or novels. . . in which case an entire page of text and dialogue introducing a shelf-stacker isn't going to grab anyone's imagination for even a nanosecond.

I think you would do well to heed tmm's advice. Dump this and start again.

H3K

Offline ChonkyDay

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2014, 07:29:00 AM »
Thanks you guys. I guess I have a habit of focusing too much on the mundane. I really enjoy seeing characters in their everyday environments and watching them slowly grow through everyday interaction, but I always forget that almost no one enjoys that. Also, about the typos, I did reread it a lot, but for some reason I always overlook all of the typos. Here's my rewrite at about 360 words now. I cut out all of the boring gameplay, and just got right to the point, which is that June's motivation is saving Clara and she discovers that she has strange abilities. I kept the bus scene, because I want the opening credits to include a preview of the city and the orphanage. If it still absolutely doesn't work, I'll keep it out of the final product.

--


PC = Player Control
CC = Computer Control
LC = Limited Player Control

EXT. SAN FERRER CITY - DAY
(CC)As the credits display, JUNE, 20, bright red hair, sits inside a fast-moving bus, listening to upbeat music. Children play outside an orphanage as the bus passes by. Many cars fill the streets, and many people fill the sidewalks and shops. The bus stops in front of Bartell Drugs, and June dances out.

June turns her music off in front of the store. (PC) She looks through the window at CLARA, 20, short, who bags the last of MRS. FARBERíS things. Clara sees June as she walks Mrs. Farber to the door.
   
CLARA
   (to Mrs. Farber)
   Have a nice day.

Mrs. Farber nods and exits. Clara approaches June.
   
   CLARA (CONTíD)
   You working today?
   
June nods.

   CLARA (CONTíD)
   Cool. Iíll take my ten now. I need to talk to you about something that's been on my mind.

Clara pushes her hair behind her ear and blushes.

(CC) Suddenly a flash of light blinds June and sheís pushed to the ground by something heavy. She sees a vision of the head of the orphanage being killed by a man with long, white hair. When June regains her sight, a big, metal machine sits where Clara stood seconds earlier.

(PC) June gets up and examines the machine. She knocks on the metal and the side slowly opens, accompanied by a loud womanís voice.

   PETRA
   This canít be right!

(LC) June hides behind a plant and watches as PETRA, 29, female, very thin, and OSIP, 30, male, are revealed.

   OSIP
   Just check outside, dear.

   PETRA
   What do you think Iím doing?

Clara screams from inside the machine. Petra looks back into the machine. June springs forward and gets ready to fight. Osip pulls Petra back into the machine.

   OSIP
   Itís her!

   PETRA
   Why donít you ever listen to me, Osip? Sheís still twenty.

She punches a button and the machine closes. June bangs on the machine as it disappears. Juneís eyes glow blue and she falls back through the ground.

EXT. OUTER REALM
June sees time and space as fluid surrounding her. (PC) From there she can go anywhere at any time within her lifetime. The fixed events are ice, so she canít enter them. The player can now choose to play out any part of the story from Juneís childhood to her very late years.

Offline themillionthmonkey

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2014, 08:12:40 AM »
Okay, it's better, but honestly not much. Seeing characters in everyday environments developing through everyday interaction is a decent way to go about writing a slow-burn, atmospheric novel. For a computer game, though, it's crap. People don't want to play boring games about boring people doing nothing special. If they did, they would turn off their computer and go shopping for real.

The first thing I notice about this is that every time you put (PC) in, the player has nothing to do but look at something, examine something or go through a set script. Even the single (LC) bit is actually non-optional - the player gets "limited" control over the character hiding behind a plant and watching. In short, this isn't a game, it's a story you're telling and occasionally allowing the reader/watcher to press a button as part of the pre-scripted action.

Even if we've seen the orphanage (still a monstrous cliche, by the way) in the credits sequence, how are we expected to know who this guy in the vision being killed is? And more importantly, why should we care? The vision doesn't make any sense at all - we have no clue that the player character has even had visions before, so her having one now just reads as a convenient (and lazy) plot device (though since it doesn't show us anything relevant to anything, it just seems like a device). I assume this is so the player can get a glimpse of the uber-cool villain you have in mind (he must be a villain, right? He just killed a dude who runs an orphanage! How villainous is that?).

You say June's motivation is saving Clara, but that doesn't come across particularly. It sort of does, but only in that it seems like it's probably the plot. There is no real sense of feelings between the two of them and no sense of drama in the mundane stuff - if you are going to include the mundane at all, it needs a hook. Something interesting, otherwise it is however many minutes of dead space while the player waits for something interesting to happen. You can cut down the dead space, but it stays dead space until you do something to make it interesting.

The time travellers and all that stuff makes no more sense than it did before, nor does why the player character suddenly develops time travel powers.

When I suggested ditching all this stuff, I meant it. I'd start again from a blank slate and think about what you need to be in there. Then, work out how you can get it all in as little space as possible with as much conflict and drama as you can wedge in. The first few minutes of the game are when the player is going to make a decision on whether to keep playing or not, so make them count.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2014, 08:30:27 AM »
Suspending disbelief is one thing, but this comes across as a messy, almost lazy way of introducing a time machine and superhuman powers. I'm also wondering how we know it's an orphanage? Do they have signs outside them advertising the fact? If so it's the first I've heard of it.

I'd advise you to start again - preferably by ditching most of what you have so far since it's rather silly.

H3K

Offline greyman

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Re: Watch--Opening Scene(644 words)
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2014, 02:04:03 PM »
There's a principle in screenwriting that says you introduce the genre of your script within the first ten minutes. You can still grip people without going smash-bang into the main story right away. Here's an idea: start in the future with Petra and Osip fleeing whatever they're fleeing (you don't have to show, you can keep it mysterious). Teach the game mechanics there. Then flash back to Clara's storyline. People will sit through slower scenes if they've already seen where the story is heading.