Game Development Reference
from generalities to specifics. Think of our lovers' murder scene again.
Imagine that on his first play session, the player notices only the body
and the bloody bedroom before moving on. When he replays the game,
he notices the divorce papers, which suggest motive. On the third, fourth,
and fifth rounds, the player discovers the murder weapon, letters between
a cheating lover and another woman, and an audio recording of one lover
complaining to a friend on the phone. Even on the first play, the story is
complete because the player knows what happened from start to finish.
But repeated exploration reveals details that fill in the why and how.
World narrative strengthens when a world is more coherent and
expresses more internal connections.
A well-constructed fictional world is a puzzle of relationships and implica-
tions. It slavishly follows its own rules, but fully explores the possibilities
they imply. Every observable fact about the world fits together with every
other. This web of implications even extends past that which is actually
present in the story. That's why the best fictional worlds, like Star Wars
and The Lord of the Rings and the game worlds of BioShock and The Elder
Scrolls series, are characterized by huge amounts of narrative content that
is implied but never shown.
An incoherent world, in contrast, is a jumble of disconnected details.
These details may be individually interesting, but they fail to interrelate.
Without interrelationships, the world becomes like a pile of pages torn
randomly from a hundred comic books: pretty pictures and funny words,
but meaningless as a larger structure. Every tidbit becomes nothing more
than its own face value. An incoherent world has no depth, no implica-
tions, and no elegance. The player can't psychologically step into the world
and imagine navigating it and changing it, because the world doesn't
make enough sense.
The challenge in crafting a coherent world is in understanding all its
internal relationships. Every piece must fit with every other on multiple
levels—historical, physical, and cultural.
For example, in Dead Space 2 , the protagonist Isaac Clarke finds a
device called Kinesis that can telekinetically move and throw objects. It's
used to solve puzzles by moving machinery and to defeat enemies by
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