Article - Your First Scenario

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AuthorTopic: Article - Your First Scenario
BoE Posse
Member # 112
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Okay, you've finally finished! You're ready to release and become BoA's newest hero!

Just slow down a bit.

Have you played it? Probably you have, but have you played it again to make sure it still works? I recommend going through your scenario several times, carefully noting down all problems and fixing them before your next run through. If this seems like too much hard work, players will probably feel the same way. Get it as good as you can by yourself.

Now, leave it to cool. The excitement of finishing a scenario is powerful stuff, and plenty of people have released them without thinking to add a readme file, or some other important detail (myself included). Yeah, it's cool and exciting, but it will still be cool and exciting in a week's time. If you send it out now, you'll be kicking yourself tomorrow once you remember that really important thing you had to change.

Finally, you're ready to release it to the world, right? Wrong. You need beta-testers. Just post on Spiderweb's forums and you should get volunteers. Be warned, beta-testers can be very unreliable. Don't think "Yeah, there are a few bugs in it still, but my testers will pick that up." If you don't put in the effort yourself, there's every chance that they won't. Nearly every designer has had testers vanish into the ether - sometimes all of them.

Be careful who you pick. If someone can't spell, they probably can't test. Certainly you can't rely on them to pick up typos. Designers usually are good testers as well.

As a newbie designer, there's a serious chance that no one who's actually any good at testing will volunteer. So many first scenarios are so poor that those who are diligent and talented find it a waste of time to note down problems the designer could have fixed himself. However, if there's someone you'd love to test your scenario, you can always ask them directly. The worst they can do is say no.

Think you're finished yet? Not by a long shot, jojo.

It's a bad idea to just send your testers a scenario and wait for them to respond with whatever comments they have. If they're any good they will naturally pick up bugs and spelling errors, but you can get more than that out of them. Ask them questions - which bit of the scenario was the most fun? Did they get stuck anywhere? Was there anything that was just plain annoying? Did they think the villain was an interesting character? This is your first scenario, so probably not all your ideas were very good. You can do more than just cover the surface blemishes in beta phase, if you want to.

So you get the reports, modify your scenario, and play through it again to make sure it's still winnable (NOTE: that last one is important!). Now what? Well, you can send it back to the testers for another round if you want, though there's not a lot of point doing this if they don't do a good job the first time. If you made some major changes, it's probably a good idea to give it back to them. Repeat if necessary.

You really want to release that scenario now, don't you? I know, I've been there. Hopefully, you haven't been foolish enough to start a series with this scenario (like I was), but it's too late now. Put it aside to cool again.

I know, I know. Arrgh!

If you can't think of anything to add or change after a few days, you're ready to send it to Spiderweb.

Then you'll have to wait an aggravatingly long time for it to get put up for people to download.

Then, finally, it out there for people to play! Congratulations! You have just released your worst scenario!

Please note that this is not an insult. Your scenario might be very good - but even then, your next scenario will almost certainly be better.

Now, you wait for the accolades. Well, don't be too surprised if they don't flood in. You'll get emails asking for help, and maybe saying they've really enjoyed it so far, but never as many as you would like.

Also, don't take it too hard if people criticise it. Very, very few scenarios get a clear run. Most WILL be mocked by someone, even the greats. You don't need to get upset about this - if they say something you can learn from, take it. Leave the rest.

But hey! You've finished a scenario! That alone is a subsantial achievement. And if it's good, you're already ahead of the crowd. And every scenario from now on will be better and easier.

[ Wednesday, May 12, 2004 18:50: Message edited by: The Creator ]

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To Live in Fear
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Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
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Originally written by The Creator:

Be careful who you pick. If someone can't spell, they probably can't test. Certainly you can't rely on them to pick up typoes...
Um, that would be 'typos'. Can I test now? :D

Good article with good advice. :)

Posts: 200 | Registered: Wednesday, March 31 2004 08:00
Member # 1886
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First time designers might also wish to follow the KISS rule (as I have with my first effort). KISS stands for: Keep It Simple Stupid!

This is not meant as an insult to your intelligence, it just makes it a complete word, rather than three random letters. :)

Seriously though, I looked at a few articles, read through them, and then thought about what I wanted to make. I decided to go for a very simple scenario so that I would have some time to get familiar with Avernumscript. Dialogue, my weakest point in writing, will be limited; quests will be simple; and the areas to move through are small.

Keeping it all small and simple will make your first effort much easier and, most likely, much better.

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Posts: 505 | Registered: Saturday, September 14 2002 07:00
Off With Their Heads
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This may go without saying, but I'll say it anyway.

Even as you keep your first scen small and simple, try one or two innovations. Khoth's wands in Babysitting were easily the best part, and the seeing chair was probably the second-best part. He had one fairly cool combat (with D and K), and one or two new monster scripts. That alone brought my rating of the scenario from a 3 (based on plot and town design alone) to almost a 7, before it came a little bit back down again because of other factors.

The key is that Khoth's wands were not terribly complicated, but they were different and new and cool. Every first-time scenario designer should try to include a small number of things like these, whether items or creature/terrain scripts or sequences.

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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
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Fun article and this time the fun fits to the subject. ;)

I feels things which have been lived through! Your best article at this date. :P
Posts: 175 | Registered: Friday, April 2 2004 08:00
Bob's Big Date
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I disagree with saying your first will probably be your worst. After all, some of the better early scenarios -- Trouble in Mendor, Tatterdemalion, Farmhands!! -- were made by people who wouldn't go on to finish any significantly better works. There are probably more and better examples of this; some people just catch lightning in a bottle.

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Posts: 2367 | Registered: Friday, June 27 2003 07:00
Member # 4186
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Ooops, Tatterdemalion isn't a first scenario. But I think I see what you mean. Someone have some great idea and put them all in their first or second scenario and after either quit the scene or just don't come back with more good idea.

There and there I saw master first scenario but when the author did another, the technical improvements was enough to counterballance less good idea.

Furthermore, as previous scenario database increase first scenario quality increase and there are more master first scenario. The problem is more related to Jeff advice, too many first scenario was never released because they was too ambitious. So it's a better bet to do a small first try. Otherwise if you start with a top class scenario that's just great and that's possible.

[ Saturday, May 15, 2004 15:38: Message edited by: Vent ]
Posts: 175 | Registered: Friday, April 2 2004 08:00
BoE Posse
Member # 112
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Alec - you prove my point more than disprove it. Islands of the Wheel is a good scenario, but was topped later by Tatterdemalion, Tarl's second effort. Slavers of Pardes Valley was certainly beaten by Mendor and The Fog. On the other hand, Farmhands!! was Measle's first effort and many still consider it his best (though I don't), but he's a rare exception.

Rate my scenarios!

To Live in Fear
Deadly Goblins
Ugantan Nightmare
Isle of Boredom
Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #8
Nephil's Gambit and Amazonian Saga are examples of good first-effort scenarios, but then again there's no second effort to compare either of them to.

[ Saturday, May 15, 2004 19:39: Message edited by: J. W. Howard, Esq. ]

The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
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I'd consider Streila better than Unbalanced Accounts... :P

Eh. I agree with Creator on this one.

Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Member # 154
Profile #10
I hate myself. My attention span is too short to make a scenario. I must have made the "beginning stub" of at least 100 scenarios, if not 200.

Then they die out of boredom. Eh.

Apparently still annoying.
Posts: 612 | Registered: Saturday, October 13 2001 07:00
Member # 2238
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That problem can simply be fixed by--- oh wait, no... no it can't be simply fixed. I suppose the only way to help with writer's block is to take classes on how to develop stories and such. But, that's obviously a retarded idea, not worthy of a glance. So in other words, if you are just DYING to be a scenario creator, make lots of tiny, hopelessly addictive 'shorts' that mimic the story of common folktales or legends. That way, the story is out of the way, and all you have to do is make the tangible side of the scenario! Brilliant(if not obvious)!

Posts: 1582 | Registered: Wednesday, November 13 2002 08:00