Game Development Reference
Great narratives have a beginning, middle, and end. So should your
ARG. The difference is that you should consider—and prepare for—one be-
ginning, a few different middles, and several endings. Then don't freak out
when the players figure out how to go forward in a way you didn't anticipate.
If you have an overarching plan, if you know where the whole thing is headed
in general, you can edit and adjust pre-preppedtexttofitthenewdirection.
This is a much more manageable task than generating entirely new, quality
text in a time crunch.
The players are not your enemy. But sometimes it will feel that way. There's
a distinct danger of falling into the idea that the players are out to get you,
coming after every little bit of you, trying to suck you dry. But these are the
people you made the game for! This is who it's all about. So don't get trapped
into hating them. There are a few strategies for managing this problem:
- Embrace the opportunity for drama. Drama is all about conflict, and
if you're feeling like you're in conflict with your players, go ahead and
ultimate goal. In this case, “winning” means achieving your established
goals for the game, and one of those rarely includes chasing away all your
players. Consider getting the players to compete against each other in-
stead of just against you, but also be careful about setting up appropriate
ways of being in conflict with other players. Safety of your players is also
- Dodge and weave. Use the adrenaline to motivate great work. If you're
really angry at a player for doing something unexpected or just plain
mean-spirited, use that emotion to write the angry memo from the fic-
tional boss that gets distributed tomorrow. Don't write an angry email
out of character to the player. Also consider ways to take the players off-
guard. If they're being antagonistic, consider responding with compas-
sion and pacifism. It's unexpected and could provide a pleasant surprise
for your players.
- Take a step back. Yes, I just hit the TINAG principle pretty hard, but
sometimes you need to take a step back and remember that this really is
just a game. It's not worth getting an ulcer over.
Use “event nodes” with branching possibilities. When you've laid out your
big-picture plan, identify which events are set in stone and which ones are flex-
ible or optional. Consider opening or closing “acts” of your narrative with an
event the players have no control over—if there's going to be an earthquake,
there's going to be an earthquake, no matter where in your fictional city the
players have chosen to put your fictional characters. These solid “event nodes”
happen at specified times and aren't dictated by the players, although the play-