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  • Writer's pictureNero

#6 Worldbuilding & Storytelling

As you may have realised, last week I didn’t post anything due to me going home for a week since my mother gave birth. This week however, I have been looking at worldbuilding and storytelling. Over the summer I read a book called Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation by Mark J.P. Wolf. This book gave me a very deep insight into worldbuilding and its importance in all media.

In this book Wolf goes into detail on how all stories need worlds but not all worlds need stories which simply goes to show how important the world is in relation to games. Games have a uniquely distinct appreciation of good worldbuilding as games allow players to explore the world at their own volition. This means that for games world building is incredibly important, even if your game doesn’t have a story, it has a world.

Great worldbuilding can also illicit transmedia worlds. These are worlds that may have started as one form of media and then been remade as a different sort. For example, The Lord Of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien was originally a book, which was then remade as a film and has since been remade as a game. This is made possible by the nature of the world. Another great example is Star Wars. Star Wars has had many sequels and prequels in multiple forms of media but uses the world in which the original film was set as a backbone to hundreds of different narratives. This improves the longevity of worlds and means that the story is long lived.

Something else that worldbuilding allows is having content outside of its original source still being classed as “cannon”. This means that despite them only mentioning a name of a planet in an entire film, there could be an entire website dedicated to that planet which the creators of the world class as true to the world.

Worldbuilding can be a brilliant tool when done correctly, however in order to achieve this the creators of the world must be consistent with the rules and outlines that had made previously as inconsistency or contradictory can damage or destroy worlds.

I have recently bought the book “The hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell, which goes into depth about the hero’s journey and how to write a good story. I haven’t yet had time to read this book, however I hope to do so over the Christmas break.

Storytelling in general has been going on for thousands of years and is integral to our daily lives. From telling your friend what you had to eat the other night to grand fantasy adventures spanning 12 arcs. The simple act of telling a story is fundamental to us as a species.

 

The Iron Designer Challenge

During this week’s Iron designer Challenge, we were tasked with making a narrative based game. Here is the game we developed for this challenge.

Overview:

Gameplay takes the form of first-person exploration, moving through various liminal spaces, leading up to an implied climactic event.

As the story progresses, the player will piece together the events of the night.

By the end of the game, the player will have learnt that, following a heavy night of drinking, the character was responsible for a car crash which killed another driver.

Each level is set up like an abstracted diorama, representing a specific moment of the night.

In each area, solve environmental and perspective-based puzzles to advance. Once the objective for a level has been achieved, an ambulance door will appear and swing open. The player then walks through to enter the next level.

Story delivery

The story will largely be told through the environment storytelling and puzzles that are designed to reflect the narrative beat they represent.

Visual motifs:

In each level, there will be various visual motifs that imply more about what happened during the night:

Broken glass on the floor

Flashing red lights of an ambulance

Muffled talking

Discarded beer bottles

Levels:

Empty petrol station

Player feelings: confusion, disorientation

Explore the area. Find a key in a plant pot to unlock the station. Once entered, make your way through an abstract, implausible maze of aisles to get to the storeroom and pick up a jerry can. When you turn back to go through the shop again, the maze’s layout has shifted. Upon reaching outside, fill up the can and then your car.

On the highway

Player feelings: reflection, unsettled

Walk along the side of a highway, moving from streetlight to streetlight. Broken glass is scattered After a certain amount of time has progressed, a car drives past you.

Empty club

Player feelings: unsettled, satisfaction of completing objectives

Walk through an empty club, searching the environment for glasses of alcohol. The level space will be lit by a spinning disco ball. Throughout, muffled sounds of moving feet, disco beats, and glasses clinking can be heard. Once the player has completed their objective, the sounds will cease, and the disco ball will start emanating the flashing red light of an ambulance. The player then has to make their way back through the level through to the level exit door.

Carpark

Player feelings: confusion, frustration

Search for your lost keys in a dimly lit carpark outside the club. Upon trying to enter your car, a ‘clunk’ sound effect plays, implying that you have lost your keys. Observing the environment, you will notice the streetlights flashing in a particular order. By interacting with them in that order, an inactive streetlight lights up, spotlighting set of keys on the floor. Pick them up and the level exit door will open.

On the highway

Player feelings: reflection, unsettled

Walk along the side of a highway, moving from streetlight to streetlight. The streetlights seem to flicker on and off sporadically. After a certain amount of time has progressed a car races past you at a very high speed.

On the highway, with ambulance

Player feelings: shock, fear, aversion

Still on the highway, this time with two turned over cars and a flashing ambulance. Distorted wails and cries of pain can be heard as if caught on the wind. Find a way into the ambulance to progress.

Hospital corridor

Player feelings: slow revelation, dread

Make your way through a dimly lit hospital corridor. At regular intervals the path will diverge, and you will make a choice as to whether to go left or right. Make the right choice and you advance to the next fork in the path, make the wrong one and the path loops itself back to the beginning. The further you advance the louder the sound of a heart rate monitor beeping gets. Through trial and error, figure out the correct order to advance and get to the final door…

The hospital bed

Player feelings: guilt, contemplation, reflection

Find yourself lying in a hospital bed, wrapped up in bandages, attached to an IV drip and heart monitor. Your final objective will be to walk over and gently place your blood-soaked hand on the chest of your comatose self. The end.

Overall, I am relatively happy with this game despite feeling absolutely knackered during the creation process due to me being up all night before.

I think the narrative and structure of the game came out very nicely as each different scene is a different memory from the night before which links the scenes together.

 

The Games Design Document

Last week I said that I wanted to look into the narrative side of the game this week but sadly I was very busy with other modules, so I didn’t achieve as much progress as I had hoped.

So, what have I done?

Well, this week I have given the document style as I want to get the game theme and idea across by incorporating it throughout the slides. I went through many iterations on the style I wanted eventually landing with a white, light grey, grey, dark grey and black background depending how far along the document they have read as well as a simple dark grey banner with a texture to bring more cohesion throughout the slides.

This was to build on the idea of each room getting darker as they got larger, and I thought it would be a neat idea to show throughout the games design document.

I also decided this week that I seriously need a name for my game in order to get a start on the actual document itself. So, after hours of thinking I settled on, Button In a Box. I am not particularly happy with the name, but it explains exactly what the game is, and it has already started to grow on me.

From here I decided it would be best to make the title page. For this I used one of the rooms I had designed the week before to get my vision across and simply wrote the title in big black letters. I then rotated it slightly, so it looked like the letters were written on the wall. I was very happy with the result.


(freepik n.d.) (unknown n.d.)

Overall, I am relatively happy with the progress this week. Despite there not being much, the style and title are incredibly important and will help me write it in the coming weeks. Next week I hope to have made some decent headway with the narrative and maybe even get some pages completed, depending on how much time I have.

I have also settled on the idea that I proposed last week as it makes the game concept a lot more engaging than otherwise which I hope will translate into a better design document.

 

Bibliography

FREEPIK. n.d. Empty White 3D Modern Room With Space Clean Corner Background Premium Vector [image]. Available at: https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/empty-white-3d-modern-room-with-space-clean-corner-background_4868547.htm [accessed 6 Nov 2021]. UNKNOWN. n.d. Folding Desks In White MFC – Folding-Desks [image]. Available at: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffolding-desks.co.uk%2Fproducts%2Fambus-folding-desk-in-white-mfc&psig=AOvVaw1Q44HGnx7NkOeuCIkYbrVf&ust=1638545398224000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAsQjRxqFwoTCMCBxKu3xfQCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAG [accessed 6 Nov 2021].

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