Game Development Reference
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cussing current events. These things occur in present tense like scripted
story, but they communicate the nature of the world instead of being plot
elements in themselves.
woRlD naRRative anD inteRaCtivity
World narrative is useful in games because it avoids many of the
problems of combining scripted events with interactivity.
In more traditional media, world narrative is often used as an afterthought
among other, more immediate modes of storytelling. In games, though,
world narrative is a primary tool because it solves a number of key prob-
lems spawned by interactivity.
When we try to tell a story in present tense, we have to deal with all
the different things players could do. This requires some combination of
restrictions on player action, handing of contingencies, and emergently
adaptive story, all of which are difficult and expensive. World narrative
avoids these problems entirely because players can't interfere with a story
that has already happened. If you encounter a murder scene in an alley,
you can shoot the murderer, shoot the victim, or jump on their heads,
and the game must handle or disallow these actions. If you find the same
murder scene a half-hour after the killing, you could jump on the body or
shoot it, but it wouldn't make a difference to the story as authored. World
narrative is inviolate.
Next, world narrative does not need to be told in linear order. This
saves us from having to railroad players into a specific path. For example,
imagine that the narrative content is that two lovers fought, and one mur-
dered the other and buried him in the backyard. Told through the world
narrative a day later, it doesn't matter if the player discovers the corpse
or the bloody bedroom first. As long as he sees both, in either order, he
will be able to piece together what happened. This means that a game de-
signer can let the player explore the house freely. Telling the same story in
scripted events would require that the designer come up with some trick
or restriction to ensure players follow the right path through the space in
order to see all the events in the right order.
World narrative's last great advantage is that it supports players re-
playing the game because it doesn't always reveal itself completely the
first time around. Whereas scripted stories uncover themselves event by
event from start to finish, world narrative naturally uncovers itself in order
 
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