Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Interactive narrative
Academic and theoretical ideas of completely open-ended story-telling and
of narrative driven entirely by artificial intelligence have a valuable role to
play in terms of thought exercises and as a source of suggestions on how to
make gameplay richer. However, many of them are too resource-expensive
to work in a way that maintains a wide appeal - a large enough audience
must be achieved to make the investment in the coding and resources
worthwhile. This chapter will look at how interactive narrative can fit with
the current climate of developing games where, generally speaking, the
narrative is less important than the gameplay.
People practically never buy games for the narrative alone. It may sway
their choice when faced with buying two similar games, but the potential
player is likely to be considering the gameplay qualities above all else. Even
the small percentage who buy games for the story is still looking for an
enjoyable gameplay experience because without it they are unlikely to travel
very far into the game. For this reason - that gameplay is paramount - our
discussion of interactive narrative will always relate to the heart of the game,
the gameplay, even when not specifically stated.
What is it we actually mean by interactive narrative? In a broad sense it is
simply that the experience of the unfolding story responds to the actions of
the participant. In terms of games, those actions are the gameplay choices the
player makes. At any one time, the way the narrative responds could be
character-related, plot-related, story-related, or a combination of these.
A large number of games have no character development at all, in a
narrative sense. Yes, the characters may unleash new powers or discover
additional weapons, but for many games if the character starts out as a time
travelling tortoise out to save the universe, at the end of the game the
character is still the same time travelling tortoise, even though the universe
has been saved, in much the same way that the James Bond films work. Of
course, if the gameplay is fun the player does not necessarily mind this lack
of character development because it may not be important to the style of
game. If the gameplay is not fun, then players will not care about character
development because they are unlikely to finish the game.
Some games - mainly role-playing games - give the illusion of character
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