Game writing / interactive narrative / interactive storytelling

January 12, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Defining ‘game writing’      

Story / Game story / Game Story / Plot Story / Plot ≠ Gameplay! Story / Plot ≠ Storytelling ≠ Narrative Game Narrative ≠ Gameplay ≠ Game story Interactive Narrative ≠ Interactive storytelling

Purposes of Game Writing 

Purposes of game writing should be – at the end of the day – the same as the purposes of game development?  

   

Immersion Reward Identification Flow Fiero moment

In other words – the purposes of game writing are to deliver / create / facilitate the above through writing.

Game Writing Tasks       

 

Game story Game world design Character design Backstory Supporting texts Cutscenes / scripted events Dialogue writing (in cut scenes, in scripted events and in-game dialogues) Game artifacts Asset design

Plot   

Aristotle’s Poetics Plot – a sequence of meaningful events Plot unfolds as a result of a conlfict  Internal

or external conflict experienced by the main character

Freytag’s Triangle

Peripetia / climax

Aristotle’s STORY ARC on the Freytag’s Triangle

Morphology of the Folktale 

Vladimir Propp, „Morphology of the Folktale”, 1928 (English translation 1958).   

a founding text of structuralism 31 functions within folktales 8 character types        

The hero or victim False hero The villain The dispatcher The (magical) helper The donor The princess or prize Her father

Morphology of the Folktale – structural analysis  

Syntactic analysis – analysing a sequence of events. Paradigmatic analysis – seeking structure of the work which does not need to be the same as the syntactic structure. Synchronic analysis – anylizing (and intepreting) the work / the plot as a sequence of events. Diachronic analysis – analyzing (and intepreting) the work as a whole.

The Hero’s Journey  

Joseph Cambell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, 1949. Influenced by C. G. Jung  collective

unconsciousness / archetypes

common patterns found in numerous stories from around the world The Hero’s Journey

Supreme Ordeal Inmost Cave

Initiation Threshold Demon Departure / Guardian The Threshold Mentor appears Refusal of the Call Call to Adventure

Cambell’s model of the Hero’s Journey on the Freytag’s Triangle



Returns with Elixir

Three Act Screenplay model  

One page = one minute Act One  Set

up (exposition) – mood, tone, main character  First Plot Point 

Act Two  Mid

Point – Main reversal / change/ intensification  Plot Point Two (Climax) 

Act Three  denoument

Plot Point Two

Mid Point

Plot Point One

Three Act Screenplay Model

Supreme Ordeal Inmost Cave

Initiation Threshold Demon Departure / Guardian The Threshold Mentor appears Refusal of the Call Call to Adventure



Returns with Cambell’s model of the Hero’s Journey on the Freytag’s Triangle Elixir

Campbell’s character models        

(supposedly) based on Jungian archetypes The Mentor The Threshold Guardian The Trickster The Herald The Shapeshifter The Shadow etc.

The significance of the Hero’s Journey 

  

A scholarly (although heavily critisized) text is read as a manual for storytelling Consequence – a storytelling trap. Think Star Wars again. Campbell’s model simplified:  Hero

gets in trouble. Hero gets out of trouble. (Kurt Vonnegut)

Aristotle’s Poetics: the remaining elements of the story 

Theme / Thought Motivations, cogitations of the main character  Internal monologue, soliloquis  THE WHY? 

Medium (Diction / Pattern) Language used  THE HOW? 

Spectacle Setting  Set  Special Effects 

Story vs. Narrative 

Story: plot – sequence of events, set to motion and driven by characters in a fictional space Narrative: all methods used to communicate the story to the audience In other words: 

Changes in narrative do not change the story

YET  The same story (the same plot) + different spectacle = different narrative  The same narrative methods (similar spectacles) do not create the same stories 

Think game genres…

Videogame storytelling: basic (theoretical) delivery methods 

Not TYPES (genres) of games but delivery methods. 

Story develops in direct RESPONSE to player action 

B happens BECAUSE player did A

OR  Story

develops partiallly in response to player action (for example in striclty linear games) B

happens AFTER player did A

OR  Story B

develops irrespective of player action.

happens anyway, it’s just a matter of time…

Videogame storytelling – a nice optimistic theory Implicit Narrative  Formal Narrative  Interactive Narrative  Interactive Story 

Implicit Narrative Emergent Narrative  A powerful device (if you can master it) 

 On

a certain, level narrative (and hence storytelling) happens due to cause and effect connections created by the audience (reader, moviegoer, player). Thus, stories are developed by inventing connections between actions / events.  Reader’s response theory (post-structuralism) explains it SO MUCH BETTER.

Implicit Narrative 

 

Interaction of elements within game system to develop events which may be interpreted as story – results that are IMPLICIT to the game system. In game-space narrative elements are NOT SCRIPTED formally, but happen nonetheless. How to control prescripted events – well, it’s realtively easy How to control non-prescripted events??? Implicit narrative makes the player experience unique (high-level narrative vs. low level narrative)

Formal Narrative  

Prescripted methods Diegetic: NPC dialogue  Scripted events  Artifacts (text files)  Splash screens, etc.  Cut scenes / cinematics 

 

Nondiegetic elements of the narrative ‘Prescripted’ does not mean non-interactive’ – all of these can be triggered in response to player action – that’s how Interactive Narrative is created

Interactive Narrative 

Implicit narrative combined with Formal narrative methods  Player’s

actions are ‘echoed’ in the narrative as often as possible  Creates an illusion (?) of Player Agency 

E.g. :  responses

to player success or failure  responses to other in-game actions

Interactive Story 

 

Player actions have consequences upon the STORY, not only upon the NARRATIVE So – not only HOW the story gets ‘told’ (communicated) is interactive (responsive to player actions) but also WHAT is communicated, on the PARADIGMATIC LEVEL, is responsive to player actions Player Agency no longer an illusion? (well, not quite) IS IT AT ALL POSSIBLE? IF NOT – WHY? Budgets (multiple storylines need to be developed – more on this in the future lectures)  OTHER REASONS? 

So how is game story delivered? Narrative delivery  Game structure  Progress structure  Stucture of the story itself (plot)  Player Agency 

Narrative delivery Text  Dialogue  Static images  Camera cases  Cut Scenes (in-engine/ scripted or FMV)  Scripted events 

Game structure 

Well, things are (or should be) getting interesting here How to structure the game to actualy deliver a story?  Well,

it seems to be relatively simple with strictly linear games  Well – it isn’t!  Just one example: how to control the pacing of the game to deliver the story?

Progress structure 

How and in what conditions major developments in the game story are ‘allowed’ Four major models:  Linear  Continous  Domain  Contigous

Linear progress structure   

Linear series of game levels Story is parallel to gameplay Narrative delivery of choice:  Cutscenes

between the levels (reward)  Mission briefings,  In game texts, etc.

Continous Progress Structure      

Game progress is linear Yet no conceptual breaks between game areas ‘A single journey’ Reverse movement allowed! Usually no cut scenes (why?) Narartive material presented ‘live’ – possibly in prescripted form (scripted events) 

Players often do not need to ‘participate’ in the narrative (think Half-Life)

Or in triggered events 

Players need to participate in the narrative, and can only select to skip its parts

Domain Progress Structure    

A central hub, from which the player ‘operates’ Upon completion of a task new domains are open Players may chose to revisit domains This means that narrative material must be presented selectively, but certainly (no need to present redundant narrative material to the player who has previously completed the level). Also – if revisits are expected – alteranative versions of dialogue are also expected from the writer

Contiguous Progress Structure   

The illusion of a complete, explorable world Movement allowed in all directions Contigous structures can use domain structure elements (think TES IV:Oblivion, TES V: Skyrim)

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