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Creating a good story - What you need to know
By Krusti Clawn
This guide will not explain how you create a story. However, I will explain what you should think of while creating a custom story for Amnesia The Dark Decent so a majority of players will find your story enjoyable.
Creating a story behind the maps is something alot of new mappers don't really spend much time on. A lot of players I've seen on Youtube and Moddb.com, including myself, are not very motivated to play your story if you don't actually have a storyline.
What do I mean with Storyline? I mean you have a description for your story that will make people think "Oh, this one sounds intresting", you have notes, you have names for your characters, you have surprising turns and a satisfying ending.
Start your project by thinking of the story. You don't need a full story from start to finish but at least have a clue about what your story will tell. BE CREATIVE! Let your fantasy flow! "You are trapped in a house and must get out" is extremely overused.
I have several stories for Amnesia. One of them is about a young girl living under bad conditions with her insane father. Your main goal is to escape your father and find your mother that left the family after a divorce years earlier and at the same time experience her past life.
One is about a man that wakes up in his room and finds a cassette on his desk. It's from his old friend he havn't heard from for years. Apparently he got a story to tell you and will lead you on a journey to find out the truth about your girlfriends mysterious death.
One is about a man that enters a haunted mansion to find shelter from the bad weather. He is not sure why he woke up in a forest, but desperate as he is he goes inside. He explores the house and eventually finds a weird treasure.
And my latest story is about a man that wakes up in a hospital. Unkown what's going on, he goes up and explore the hospital in search for answers. A note says that the remaining survivors of the epimedic went down to the basement. You decide to search for them. What awaits down there is not what you expected to find...
Names and logic
Name your characters and give them some sort of a backstory. Also remember to be logical. Adding monsters for no reason at all is just wierd. It should be a reason why they are searching for you. Demons, servants, "bad guys", anything.
Scares and atmosphere
Don't forget what Amnesia is all about. It's about being immersed in a dark and scary world of danger and mysterious events. Adding so called "Jumpscares" will work with the right amount of them. Start building up the atmosphere with weird events like someone walking on the floor above you, candels that lit/unlit themselfs, doors opening by the wind and things like that. Then, for example add monster sounds nearby so the player think that he is in danger even if he isn't. And when the player least expect a monster to spawn, spawn the first monster. Add jumpscares if they fit and make sense! And don't add too many of them. Adding too many will ruin the athmosphere, it will become very predictable and boring in lenght.
AND NO MATTER WHAT DON'T ADD FLYING NAKED GUYS! A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE HATE THEM!
9/10 stories with flying naked guys, or other flying objects like dead grunts will get a 1-3 in score out of 10 because, just like other overused jumpscares, they ruin the atmosphere and they are extremly lame and overused by new mappers.
Also try to add a right amount of darkness. Not too much, but not too much brightness either.
What kind of scares can you have? I already mentioned a few. Candles that lit by themselfes, doors opening by the wind, you hear monster sounds nearby or someone walking above you, objects falling down the shelfs for no obvious reason, hallucinations or something a bit more advanced like thunders and suddenly a man or a shadow is visible nearby for a sec, someone is walking outside a window, a pair of eyes is looking at you in the darkness and things like that.
TIP: Adding new monster sounds or custom monsters is often scarier, as they are new and not as used as the regular grunt and brute.
The level editor have endless possibilitys. You can create as many new scares as you wish. Again, be creative!
Chase scenes, when a monster is chasing you, should also not be overused. Chase scenes are for a lot of people very scary and sometimes a pain in the @ss, so overusing chase scenes will make it annoying and boring to play your story.
TIP: To make it scarier, add some sort of a quest in the middle of the chase scene. Like when you reach the door at the end of the hallway, you need to lockpick it first or turn a valve fast before the monster catch you.
Try to not be way too repeditive with the quests. A lot of mappers add 100 key quests and that's it. It will be obvious and boring, just like with the scares if you use the same quest over and over again. Quests should not be easy but not too hard either.
Adding mementos is a great way for a player to remember what he needs to do. Adding hints like notes and messages is also a good idea. Be prepeared that a lot of people don't care about notes though. But it's their problems if they don't care about your hints ;)
What kind of quests can I add?
Anything from a classical key quest to a broken door you must destroy/open with a hammer, needle (as a lockpicker) or a crowbar to finding drill parts, chemicals, hammer and chipper and combine them or use them for a more advanced quest.
Other common quests are levers you need to find and put it at the right place so you can use it, moving the right books in a bookshelf in order to open a hidden path or build your way up to a hatch by finding a ladder or crates to jump/climb up on.
Just like everything else in Amnesia, your possibiltys are endless! Creating own quests no one have ever seen before is a huge plus and often liked by players.
A short conclusion about all the things I've told you.
Be creative! Sit down and create a story. You don't need the ending immediately, think of a good way to start your story and create the levels while you figure out what the rest of the story will be about.
Make is scary but don't overuse monster encounters, jumpscares or chase scenes as it will get boring and predictable if you do that. Build up the athmosphere and variate the scares. Scary events and encounters where you least expect them to be will give the best effect.
Quests should also variate and be hard but not too hard. Give us hints in notes or text lines to help us on the way to solve it.
Some things I would like to add
I have a couple of tutorials on my moddb profile. I might create more in the future but so far I have two of them.
Remember to have fun while creating your story! Take your time with the level design and storyline, don't rush to upload something because those stories often are bad. Also remember that if you upload it for the public, keep it on a mature level. Naked guys that farts and screams "LOLOLO U MAD BRO" is not appreciated by a majority of reviewers.
Thanks for reading my guide, I hope it gave you some good things to think about while creating your story. ;)