Tribe of the Accord DevLog - Story
Hello, and thanks for joining me as we explore the development process of 'Tribe of the Accord', my stone age survival game. My name is Shaun, and in this article, I'm going to discuss the main story of the game. I'll walk through my process of outlining the story and formulating plot, conflict, and tension, as well as character development and considering things such as structure, pacing, and overall consistency. I'll then walk through how I applied it to the novel adaptation with a few chapter examples.
Quick disclaimer here. Just like I'm not qualified to give financial advice, everything related to the craft of storytelling is subjective and this is my own interpretation of it. I don't want to sell myself here as an expert or veteran in the field. My hope is that you can learn from my experience and how I applied storytelling to my own project. This will contain spoilers of the story, so if you haven't read the book yet, you may wish to do so first and come back to this later.
What makes a story? From what I read during my research, it's not easy to define. In its simplest form, Ryan Moss says "it's a story if it makes you feel something and leaves you wanting to know more." I tend to agree with that take. More into the technical aspects, a story is a collection of elements, characters, a setting, and plot, combined to express a narrative.
No story would be a story without characters. They are the driving force who create conflict and push the plot forward. The audience — whether they be readers of a book or players of a game — experience the world you've created through the characters' interactions with each other and their environment. I’ve already mentioned the use and importance of a protagonist and antagonist — the two opposing forces central to the plot — but I also wanted to explore what other characters could be involved.
Character archetypes were a good guide for me to understand how characters could fit into the story of Tribe of the Accord. Some I made use of were: The mentor (Eremiza and Torion), who is someone who teaches the protagonist how to navigate the new situation they find themselves in. The confidant, ally or sidekick, who is a friend of the protagonist and gives them assistance as they head towards their goal. In my story, this is Freyana and Salzo. You have the foil or sceptic, who primarily exists to bring the protagonist's motivations and values into focus. In the case of this story, this is Dhoron, a bitter and resentful man who considers Adira to be a threat.
These secondary characters all add deeper dimensions to the story. Surrounding these primary and secondary characters are tertiary characters who don't have much influence on the main story, but help to make the setting a more vibrant, living world. They can also create opportunities or obstructions for the main cast. For example, in my game, you may come across a tribe that blocks access to a certain location until their request has been fulfilled.
Before I move on to discussing the plot, I'll first explain the premise, or concept, of the book. The premise for Tribe of the Accord is that Adira, a young Homosapien girl, is stripped away from the only person in her life; her father Torion. She is forced to fend for herself in a prehistoric world and must fight back against the Ursa tribe. She must reluctantly form relationships with others, and as details of her past come to light, decide what kind of life she wants to lead.
With that premise established, we can discuss the plot. "A plot is the sequence of connected events that make up a narrative in a novel. Generally, a plot in fiction builds up to a climax and ends in a resolution at the finish of the story." Reference. I wanted the plot of Tribe of the Accord to have a clear beginning, middle and end, and for each chapter to move the plot forward towards that end goal.
The third pillar of storytelling is the setting. "When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go." A beautiful quote by Alexandra Stoddard. The setting is a literary device that establishes when and where a plot takes place. The setting is a big challenge because it's so vast and, if drawn from imagination, can be a significant undertaking to design. Tribe of the Accord is based in the Palaeolithic era, so I based my setting on the natural world around us: Forests, meadows, canyons, moorlands, valleys, and mountains. All are appealing settings that can be described in the novel and drawn conceptually by the artists I work with. An effective, well-crafted setting, helps the story feel grounded and makes the world around the characters feel realistic and alive.
With the plot, characters and setting established, I pursued the idea of a novel. I started with an outline that summarised the events of each chapter - each spread evenly to form a total word count of around 65K words. This codified the pacing and ensured things are always moving so the reader doesn't get bored.
There are two types of authors: plotters and pantsers. The former being me, planning the novel ahead of time, with the latter write the story as they go and find out what happens along the way. Of course, as with many things, these definitions aren’t set in stone. It is more of a sliding scale, and many find themselves somewhere in-between the two extremes. With my outline formed, I then wrote the story.
Upon completion of the novel, I went through the conventional editing process. Developmental editing came first. This is big-picture work that involves looking at the story as a whole. The editor examines and makes suggestions to improve the plot structure, pacing, characterisation, viewpoint, setting development, and narrative style. This is very involved and can be costly.
Line editing is the next step and focuses on the style and flow of the writing itself. The editor checks phrasing and word choice, character traits, overall consistency, dialogue, mood, and overall voice. Things like sentence pacing and flow, checking past and present tense and whether things are told rather than shown. After this, we move to copy editing, focusing on grammar. This step also checks on details like ensuring chapters are properly sequenced, proper nouns are defined correctly, dialogue tags are properly formatted, and checking letter, word, and paragraph spacing.
Finally, we end with proofreading before publication. This is considered the final quality control check to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. With this completed and confident about proceeding with publishing the book, I went through the process of making it available on all stores and distributing internationally with the use of platforms such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play and Apple Books. With a strong story in place, I felt a lot more confident with the sequence of events that would take place in the game. I have a special lens into the future, and I know how to plan ahead with art assets, characters, and enemies.
The book adaptation of the game is available in the following stores:
In the next post we will be talking about Recruitment.