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January 2018

Game Design: Story

By Game Design No Comments

Now listening to: Friends

Storytelling in games. FUCK YEAH! Zelda, Mass Effect, Minecraft.

A story is just a sequence of events. Nothing more. It’s pretty basic. The reason we get confused when trying to implement storytelling mechanisms is that we try to define stories in our own subjective terms of “good” or “bad”. The quality of a story is not for the storyteller to decide. That’s the purview of the audience and, whether you like it or not, they will come to their own conclusions.

That’s the problem with the “string of pearls” approach to storytelling in game design. It’s a half-baked approach, neither here nor there, as far as storytelling styles go. The ponds of “freedom” you are allowed to wade in every now and then feel ultimately inconsequential and dilute the experience as a whole.

It’s in human nature to find sense in a senseless world. Our mind needs these processes to survive. A story is just that. An emergent narrative from a series of events. A shield against pointlessness. Whether a story is good or bad is entirely up to the audience to decide.

Crusader Kings II: Duke of Mercia, first King of the Eire, Emperor of Britannia. After generations of careful eugenics by marrying my descendants to genetically favorable lowborn, the first Emperors-to-be turn out to be male twins; one the avatar of good, the other a rotten fucker. Bastard McShitfucker assassinates his brother, the rightful prince to the crown, and the whole realm descends into anarchy.

Minecraft: My friends kept fucking around with my Pyke project. I boobytrapped the islands with enough TNT to make Nagasaki and Hiroshima look like a warmup. Not only did the islands disappear, the explosion was large enough to punch a hole in the ocean floor, which caused some weird water physics effects.

Planetside: the story of the glorious 1%. One of many times in game development history where a bug caused a game to be better than it had originally been intended to be by design. Out of a bland experience an anecdote so memorable that veterans still talk about it.

#73 Story Machine