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Themes and Narratives Practical stuff Supervision today 13.00-15.00 Remember oral presentations next week! Tuesday 10.00-12.00.

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Presentation on theme: "Themes and Narratives Practical stuff Supervision today 13.00-15.00 Remember oral presentations next week! Tuesday 10.00-12.00."— Presentation transcript:

1 Themes and Narratives

2 Practical stuff Supervision today Remember oral presentations next week! Tuesday Game Design Evening Tuesday Seminar room at Center of Visualization Next to my office

3 And something slightly off topic For XNA users in the project course Nils Microsoft wants you to participate 2 competitions SGA (deadline February 25 th ) Imaginecup.com (deadline March 1 st ) Contact him to get tips: We are also planning a XNA Game Developer Evening

4 4/36 Structure of the lecture What is narratives? A closer look at plots How can narratives and gameplay co-exist Design Documents Assignment 4

5 But first a game or two… Two volunteers? Not usual suspects!

6 First to 15 Two players taking turn Each turn a choice from the following: Goal to reach exactly 15 points You win iff three of your numbers add up to 15 Cannot take a number already taken By either player

7 Tic-Tac-Toe

8 Now both! At the same time!

9 Magic Square Not magic circle…

10 Would this make a good game?

11 Difference between theme and narrative Theme Mood Context How to “read” affordances Explain relations in system Which “frame” to use Narrative Temporal development Causal effects Dramatic effects Can you have theme without narrative? Can you have narrative without theme?

12 12/36 What connection does narratives & gameplay have?

13 13/36 Structures of Narratives First analysis Tragedy Poetics, Aristotle, 300 BC Components Plot Character Reasoning Dictation Lyric poetry Spectacle

14 14/36 Frazer The Golden Bough Different version from Study of the origins of magic and religion Similar stories all over the world Sacrificial killing of god-kings to ensure bountiful harvests Adonis Osiris Balder

15 15/36 Propp, 1928 Morphology of Russian folk stories Studied stories Identified similarities Identified common structure Grammar Linear structure 1. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced); 2. An interdiction is addressed to the hero ('don't go there', 'go to this place'); 3. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale); 4. The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim questions the villain); 5. The villain gains information about the victim; 6. The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim); 7. Victim taken in by deception, unwittingly helping the enemy; 8. Villain causes harm/injury to family member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance, expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, commits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);

16 16/36 Propp, cont. Examples Hans and Gretel? Snow White? Other cases Odysseus? Moses? 9. Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimized hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment); 10. Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter- action; 11. Hero leaves home; 12. Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor); 13. Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against them); 14. Hero acquires use of a magical agent (directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, eaten/drunk, help offered by other characters); 15. Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search; 16. Hero and villain join in direct combat; 17. Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf); 18. Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished);

17 17/36 Propp, cont. Grammar constructed by analysis Can be used to create stories Fairytale generator 133/Fairytale_Gen erator/gen.html 133/Fairytale_Gen erator/gen.html But create games? 19. Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revived, captive freed); 20. Hero returns; 21. Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero); 22. Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognizably, hero saved from attempt on his/her life); 23. Hero unrecognized, arrives home or in another country; 24. False hero presents unfounded claims; 25. Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks); 26. Task is resolved; 27. Hero is recognized (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her); 28. False hero or villain is exposed; 29. Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc); 30. Villain is punished; 31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).

18 18/36 Campbell The hero with a thousand faces, 1968 Monomyth All myths have the same basic structure Classical examples Osiris Odysseus

19 19/36 Campbell, cont. Grammar constructed by analysis Can be used to create stories For example, Star Wars Why can one find these structures in so many stories?

20 20/36 Narratives - Recap Components Plot Character Reasoning Grammar Sequence of actions Prerequisites for actions Options of actions

21 A closer focus on plots

22 22/36 Types of Plots Possible worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory, Ryan 2001 Sequential narrativity “The king died. The queen died.” Causal narrativity “The king died, then the queen died.” Dramatic narrativity “The king died, then the queen died of sorrow.”

23 23/36 Plots Linear stories One situation One event leads to new situation Does not have to be chronological order Examples Most books Most movies

24 24/36 Plots - a classical plot example Scene 1 Introduction of problem Scene 2 False solution Scene 3 True solution

25 25/36 Plots Nested stories Stories being told in stories Easy change characters and setting Examples “One Thousand and One Nights” Scheherazade Canterbury tales

26 26/36 Plots Parallel stories Several situation Event leads to development in one situation Does not have to be chronological order Examples Soap operas …

27 27/36 Plots Branching stories One situation Several options of event that lead to different situations Narrative explosion Dead ends Examples Lonewolf

28 28/36 Plots Hypertexts Events can lead back to previous situations Break temporal structure Examples Talmud Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner? Memento?

29 29/36 Plots - Other variants Possibilities Not predetermined Let players choose situations and events Only plan certain situations and events prerequisites need

30 30/36 Motivations for telling stories Tell Me a Story – Narrative and Intelligence, Shank 1990 AI perspective Me goals Attention Explain actions Get advice You goals Give people an experience Make a point Transfer information Conversation goals Raise topic Change subject Spend time Give response

31 Narratives and gameplay

32 32/36 What is the relation between games and narratives? Do all games have narratives? gameplay story

33 33/36 What is the relation between games and narratives?, cont. Do all stories have gameplay in them? Interaction? game play story

34 34/36 Sliding story-gameplay model Story-focusedGameplay-focused

35 35/36 Story-focused games Player choices Complete task to progress in story Puzzle Level Choose options from grammar Related design areas Interactive Narratives Façade by Michael Mateas & Andrew Stern Interactive Movies Stories? Movies?

36 36/36 Gameplay-focused games Story use Give theme Provide information Provide immersion Allow players to be creative Related designs Improvisational Theatre? Theatre Sports? Tarot Cards? Story-telling?

37 37/36 Scaling author model Game designer as author Players as authors Roleplaying games? Game engine as author? Put another way: who creates the story, the designer or the player?

38 38/36 Reductionistic Approach What aspects of narrativity can be used without limiting gameplay? Theme | Premise Characters Challenge Play Cutscenes?

39 39/36 Reductionistic Approach Theme Aristotle’s spectacle Used to create metaphor that gives actions meaning Backstory

40 40/36 Reductionistic Approach Characters Self-expression Who one wants to be Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Sherry Turkle External presentation Internal composition Possibility of Development Emotional Anchor But maybe not the characters under player’s control

41 41/36 Reductionistic Approach Challenge Aristotle’s reasoning Czikszentmihalyi’s flow Activity requiring skill Merging of action and awareness Clear goals and feedback Concentration on task Paradox of control Loss of self- consciousness Transformation of time Activity becomes its own purpose - autotelic Skill Flow Difficulty Frustration Boredom

42 42/36 Reductionistic Approach Play Competitor Explorer Collector Achiever Joker Artist Director Storyteller Performer Craftsman

43 Design Documents

44 Design Documents - Motivation Communicate overall vision of game and gameplay Ergo the game designer the primary author Necessary for collaboration and coordination in larger groups Can serves purposes in small (1 person) design teams also Not substitute for other forms of communication Support for more detailed descriptions Support for when people are not present

45 Historical Design documents were not used in early days of game design Need not perceived Compare to the history of craft and design in general Complexity Need for collaboration

46 Format of Design Documents Text document Word (or rtf) for ease of transport Version control – central source Possibly sub-documents for extra details Website For example Wikis Allows easy update for many Allows difficulty in controlling who updates what May be difficult to print, transport, etc.

47 A model for Design Documents That is, a model for the assignment 3…

48 Design Document – Design History Description Version number – overall idea of document state Description of changes since last update Motivation Allow people to see differences quickly Allow people to see how work has progressed over time Both what type and scope of work

49 Design Document – Vision Statement Description 1-2 pages that captures the essence of the game in a compelling and accurate way Theme Core gameplay (what you do 90% of the time) Motivation Executive summary Main selling point Keep design vision clear

50 Design Document – Marketing Information Description Describe the context for the game design in aspects of target audience, platform, system requirements, top performers, feature comparison and sales expectations Motivation  Let distributors understand how well you have planned target audience and understood the market  Explicitly state intended game play and target audience to the design team  Can be seen as limiting the design space, identifying already existing games within that design space and their popularity

51 Design Document – Legal Analysis Description Agreements regarding copyrights, trademarks, contracts, and licensing Motivation Make clear to all parties what obligations exist Make clear how potential issues can be avoided or mitigated

52 Design Document - Gameplay Description Core gameplay (preferably through prototype), detailed gameplay, interfaces, rules, scoring/win conditions, modes of play, levels, editors and tools Motivation Describe gameplay to external parties Have complete description of what rules have to be implemented, what levels should be created, what interfaces should be designed

53 Design Document - Characters Description General characteristics and functionality, PCs, NPCs, gameplay role, narrative role, AI Motivation Provide common location of description of characters to maintain character integrity during the design process

54 Design Document - Story Description Synopsis and general structure, complete story, backstory, narrative devices, subplots Motivation Provide holistic view of what narrative experience the player will have by playing the game Making sure that contingency is maintained during gameplay

55 Design Document – The Game World Description More details on the theme Overview, key locations, travel, mapping, scale, physical objects, weather conditions, day and night, time, physics, society/culture Motivation Common location to describe functionality and appearance of the world and objects in it

56 Design Document – Media List Description Interface assets, environments, characters, animations, music and sound effects (, text?) The appearance of what is described in the previous sections: Characters, Story, Game World Motivation Identify what artists and UI engineers need to create Create uniform naming convention to allow early implementations to use mock-ups Avoid confusion

57 Design Document – Technical Specification Description Technical analysis, development environment, delivery, game engine, interface tech spec, control tech spec, lightning models, rendering systems, network spec, system parameters, help menus, manuals, setup, installation Motivation Give programmers explicit instructions on what needs to be implemented Show publishers what potential technical problems/risks can occur

58 Design Document - Appendices Description More detailed descriptions of material that would be too detailed or too long to be part of main document Motivation Ease the flow of the design document Allows interested parties to study content separate from the rest of the design document

59 Another model – Chris Taylor NAME OF GAME DESIGN HISTORY GAME OVERVIEW PHILOSOPHY COMMON QUESTIONS FEATURE SET THE GAME WORLD OVERVIEW WORLD FEATURE #1 WORLD FEATURE #2 THE PHYSICAL WORLD RENDERING SYSTEM CAMERA GAME ENGINE LIGHTING MODELS THE WORLD LAYOUT GAME CHARACTERS USER INTERFACE WEAPONS MUSICAL SCORES AND SOUND EFFECTS SINGLE PLAYER GAME MULTI-PLAYER GAME CHARACTER RENDERING WORLD EDITING EXTRA MISCELLANEOUS STUFF “XYZ APPENDIX” “OBJECTS APPENDIX” “USER INTERFACE APPENDIX” “NETWORKING APPENDIX” “CHARACTER RENDERING AND ANIMATION APPENDIX” “STORY APPENDIX”

60 More models Tim Ryan’s - Gamasutra.com Various - ihfSoft.com

61 Working with Design Documents

62 Method for Writing Design Documents Methods Iterative process Can be seen as the documentation of the design process Living Document How to start? Flowcharts of game and “Wireframes” of interfaces Trade-offs When to start – book recommends after making a prototype But how to sell idea before that? How comprehensive - length has detail but makes reading more difficult Evaluate / Playtest Test Ideas / Implement Generate Ideas / Identify Target Group Formalize Ideas / Create Specification

63 Thank you!

64 64 Assignment 4

65 65/43 Assignment 4 Task Analyze one gameplay style Define it Give examples of games which support it from at least 2 different genres Give guidelines for how to support when designing a new game Check with Staffan that the chosen gameplay style is a good choice What is a gameplay style: A clearly describable way of playing a game or an important activity done when playing the game Not an established game genre – but something that could become one Maybe something specific or instantiated from one of the models describes in the lecture on analyzing games? No examples are given since this makes 50%+ of the assignments study these Requirements Individual assignment 12 pages Deadline:


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