Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
One thing that we need to emphasise, here, is that the structures I have
outlined are not a definitive list. Not only is it possible to take elements from
each and mix them up in any way that you like, but because game develop-
ment is constantly changing, it means that new structures are likely to emerge
as we learn more about the possibilities that interactive storytelling offer us.
It could be, for instance, that the game has a central hub cluster that uses a
controlled branching structure, but that throws up the need to visit other
areas of the game world that are very linear and when completed return the
player to the hub.
When looking at traditional storytelling, the act structure of the narrative
is often at the forefront of any discussion. Although an act structure can be
applied to a game's narrative, the more open it becomes, the harder it is to
identify the act boundaries. It could be that a certain key scene may define
the end of act one, but if the player has some control over the unfolding plot,
other scenes could appear in either act one or act two. The lines become a
little blurred and the pacing depends on the direction the player takes.
For games that have a more linear structure, it could be argued that each
gameplay level should be treated as an act in its own right because of the
climax at the end of each, though it may be tempered if you develop a higher
level structure which sits on top with each act containing a number of
gameplay levels.
Something I have not seen considered before in relation to story is the
idea of player character death. Discussion tends to assume that the end of the
story comes with the game's finale, but if the character dies before that point
is reached, that is the end of the current story for the player. Starting the
game again or re-loading from a suitable save point is effectively the player
trying to experience another story with a different ending - one in which
the player character wins through to the end of the game. However, because
the players consider any death to be a failure, they generally want to push past
it and start again, resetting their mind, almost, to cancel out the failure.
The future of interactive narrative is one of the most exciting areas in
entertainment. With games and other interactive media spreading across a
wide variety of platforms, the need for quality content will increase as more
companies deliver interactive content to an expanding number of customer
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