Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 2
Where to find the best indie games

Game narrative: let it flow

Snake As I mentioned in my last podcast, the game designers who presented talks at the recent Game Developers Conference are really cool. Why? Well, they're game designers, of course...I mean, come on! But they're especially cool because they deliver thoughtful, well-organized presentations--and then post them for all of us to learn from and enjoy.

Patrick Redding is a narrative game designer at Ubisoft Montreal. His GDC presentation focused on building game stories that flow:

Players dismiss a game’s story if it undermines their sense of flow. Game play promotes flow by delivering basic elements ranging from ‘feedback’ to ‘concentration.’ When these elements form the basis for the story, the player accepts the illusion of continuity even if the narrative is constructed on the fly by the game AI.

Regarding why writers are so often out of the loop:

As contractors, they’re accustomed to thinking of the “script” as a thing, a single deliverable possibly tackled in a couple of passes or drafts, but which when complete is then handed off to the dev team (mainly harried audio and localization folks) to be chopped up into bite-sized nuggets that can be shoehorned into the game however needed. Here’s the invoice. Good luck. See you for the sequel.

If you're a Metal Gear 2 fan, beware. Redding admires the game, but not the jarring narrative interruptions:

In the end, loyal MGS fans who have a high tolerance for Hideo Kojima’s idiosyncratic plots and themes were pissed off by how the moment-by-moment manifestation of the story interfered with the gameplay.

One more reason all this is cool: you can download the full text of Redding's talk, including the accompanying Powerpoint presentation here.

Thanks to Click Nothing for the heads up.
Image courtesy of Artgerm at DeviantArt