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What’s a Writer to Do? Redefining our Role in Crafting Player-Driven Narratives.

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Presentation on theme: "What’s a Writer to Do? Redefining our Role in Crafting Player-Driven Narratives."— Presentation transcript:

1 What’s a Writer to Do? Redefining our Role in Crafting Player-Driven Narratives

2 What’s a Writer to Do? Will we ever succeed in engrossing players in rich, story-driven narratives, while simultaneously allowing them to define their own paths – and their own stories – through such a narrative?”

3 Mary De Marle Narrative Designer Lead Writer at Eidos Montreal  Currently working on:

4 Narrative Designer Lead Writer at Eidos Montreal Started writing for games in Published Titles include: Mary De Marle

5 Narrative Designer Lead Writer at Eidos Montreal Started writing for games in Published Titles include: “You’re a writer…” “What do you do?” (A True Story)

6 What Does a Game Writer Do? Helps develop the game story. Writes all dialogs. Writes in-game text and artifacts.

7 What Does a Game Writer Do? Helps develop the game story. Writes all dialogs. Writes in-game text and artifacts. MIND THE GAP!

8 The Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games are Often Developed) Game Designer determines player fantasy. Writer develops story and writes dialogs/text to convey it. Story Development Game Development Sound engineers add the punctuation. Programmers make the world reactive. Animators make them move. Artists build and paint the world and people in it. Level Designers define layout and placement of game challenges. Game Designers define core mechanics.

9 The Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games are Often Developed) Game Designer determines player fantasy. Writer develops story and writes dialogs/text to convey it. Story Development Game Development Sound engineers add the punctuation. Programmers make the world reactive. Animators make them move. Artists build and paint the world and people in it. Level Designers define layout and placement of game challenges. Game Designers define core mechanics.

10 Game Story The Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games are Often Developed) “Stop interrupting my fun!”

11 The Goal of a Story-based Game Make the Player LIVE the story (and have fun while he’s doing it!)  How can he, if we continue to treat gameplay and story as separate entities?  He won’t until WE find a way to bridge the gap between story and game. To do that, we should look at the player.

12 The Player’s Experience The Player is writing his story inside our story by:  Interpreting what he sees and hears.  Making decisions based on this and then using game mechanics to act on them.  Noticing how the world reacts to his decisions.  Building his own story to explain it.

13 The Player’s Experience His story is being conveyed to him through:  Core gameplay mechanics  Layout and structure of levels  Placement of game challenges  NPC behaviors, movements, and designs  Look and feel of the world  Sound effects, voice acting, and music

14 The Player’s Experience Oh, and let’s not forget:  Cut scenes  Scripted events  Dialogs  In-game artifacts Traditionally, the writer’s role has been confined to developing these.

15 The Player’s Experience If we want our story to be the Player’s story, then everything in the game world must help to convey it.  And everyone creating the Player’s Story must work together to ensure it happens!

16 Who’s Creating the Player’s Story? Core gameplay mechanics Layout and structure of levels Placement of game challenges NPC behaviors, movements, and designs Look and feel of the world Sound effects, voice acting, and music

17 Who’s Creating the Player’s Story? Where (and how) does the writer fit in? The Writer is the Keeper of the Story Logic. He can ensure that the story’s logic remains consistent across all other disciplines.

18 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Designing a game story begins when Game Designers determine the game’s essence. Writers would call this the “theme.” Fighting back is the only way to resist invasion. Men can change fate by mastering technology. There is no peace without war.

19 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Knowing the game essence guides the game designers’ development of:  Player abilities  Core mechanics, etc. Knowing it should also guide the writer’s development of story.

20 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Once the story is designed -- to make it a game story -- it must be divided into playable sequences.  What is the storyline to be delivered in each?  What are the story goals?  Where does the sequence take place (location)?

21 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Once the story is designed, to make it a game story, it must be divided into playable sequences. ACT ONE L1L2L3 M1M2M3M4M5M6 A subway station in NY; the hero must meet a contact there. Introduce Femme Fatale Obtain gameplay key to open next level.

22 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Once the story is designed, to make it a game story, it must be divided into playable sequences. ACT ONE L1L2L3 M1M2M3M4M5M6 A subway station in NY; the hero must meet a contact there. Introduce Femme Fatale Obtain gameplay key to open next level.

23 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Knowing the intentions of each sequence will guide the creation of gameplay blocks.  How many blocks are needed?  Does each support the overall story goal?  Is there still more story information to convey?  If so, how will we convey it? Cut scenes Scripted events Etc.

24 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Story Logic ACT ONE L1 L2 L3 M1 M2 M3 M4 M5 M6 Aah-ha!!!

25 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Gameplay Sequence OBJ1 OBJ2 OBJ3 C1 C2 C1 C2 C1 C2 Aah, okay…

26 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Meanwhile, story information will also guide the creation of visuals.  Locations Why are we here? Who lives here? What is the history of this place?

27 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Meanwhile, story information will also guide the creation of visuals.  Locations  Character Groups What is their goal? What are their core beliefs? What are their methods and tactics?

28 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Meanwhile, story information will also guide the creation of visuals.  Locations  Character Groups  Main Story Characters What is their gameplay and story function? What are their defining character traits? What is their back-story?

29 Bridging the Gap (a.k.a. How Story-driven Games Could Be Developed) Meanwhile, story information will also guide the creation of visuals.  Locations  Character Groups  Main Story Characters

30 When Successful… Story underlies and supports the gameplay, creating a unified game experience. Game Experience Story Game

31 The Narrative Designer’s Role Understand the Game Design vision. Develop a story to support it. Work within the team to deconstruct the story into playable segments. Communicate the underlying logic of each segment to team members.

32 The Narrative Designer’s Role Review work to ensure it’s conveying the right story. Suggest changes, if it’s not. Adjust story to match gameplay, when necessary. Write the script (or oversee the writers who write it).

33 All Game Writers’ Responsibilities Play games. Know your game. Play your game. Talk to the other disciplines – a lot! Remain flexible. Trust your creativity.

34 Any Questions?


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