Game Development Reference
Wolfenstein and Doom were not only the dawn of a new kind of gameplay; they
were the dawn of the FPS story.
6.5 Proven Methods for Telling FPS Stories: A Quick Primer
Text . Used in everything from subtitles to mission briefings to loading screens
to in-game documents, books, and e-mails, text is the cheapest and most direct
way of communicating information and narrative.
Static images. Artists' renditions. Photographs. Max Payne used frames from
a graphic novel very effectively to help tell the story.
Cutscenes (in-engine). A short animated movie presented to the player to
help further the plot. In this case, the animation is created using the game's
own engine, so once the cutscene is over, the world looks exactly the same,
which can help keep the player immersed.
Cutscenes (pre-rendered). A cutscene using more expensive CGI to create
something the game engine isn't capable of producing. Blizzard games are
famous for these high-quality mini-movies.
FMVs (full motion videos). Live-action footage used for cutscenes. Most
famously used in the Command & Conquer RTS games.
Scripted events. Animations within the game that don't take away player
control. First used in Half-Life . Careful level design is necessary to make sure
the player doesn't miss or ignore the event if it's essential to the story.
The diary/answeringmachine/e-mail method. As used in Doom 3 , F. E . A . R . ,
and Bioshock . An inexpensive way to communicate story information, it can
be used as an adjunct to other methods as a way to deepen the story.
Radio/video/psychic contact. Very cost effective. Voiceover that helps direct
the player, delivers story, deepens characters, and aids in building the atmo-
NPC (non-player character) dialogue. Used in cutscenes and scripted events,
but also in-game, in the midst of action so play isn't halted. Taunts from en-
emies. Orders from commanders. Shouts for help. Far Cry 's gua rds of ten
would offer subtle hints in their seemingly random conversations.
Artifacts and inventory. Text about in-game artifacts and inventory, like
weapons or armor or even books and documents, that can help further the
story as in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion .