Updates, thoughts and stuff...
Graduation Update 2: Designer GoalsMay 8, 2013
After tons of research (with that I mean reading and playing many playing games) I was able to conceive an elaborate summary about how environmental storytelling is, and can be used when designing and building levels.
Looking at this summary and discussing it with fellow designers a problem surfaced: This summary was not that interesting and it didn't really teach designers about how to use ES in their designs. It was just another long read about all the many options that are available.
This made me decide my project was in need of a big overhaul and all 20 pages needed to be re-evaluated and re-formulated. During this process I was able to define all the 9 goals designers (and artists) can possibly have about what to use environmental storytelling for.
These are the goals:
Of course, all these will be subject to change during the course of this project, but as of now they are a very solid base from which I am able to continue by mapping design methods and examples to these goals.
My next step and blog post will be about creating a system or guide that designers can use to choose which of these goals is ideal for their unique situation.
Indievelopment 2013April 28, 2013
This week I had a great time at the second edition of Indievelopment in Amsterdam.
Jasper Byrne (Lone Survivor) gave a talk with tips and examples for designers that want to do their own art, even though they aren't artists.
Jasper’s presentation: Making Art Through Limitations
Jeroen Stout (Dinner Date) presented two different ways of incorporating stories in games. The first is used in multiple games, which is the branching narrative. And the second is when the game presents the story to the player in no particular order. This he calls 'fuzzy narrative'.
- Jeroen’s presentation can be found here: The Lie of the Grandfather Clock
Tom Betts (Sir, You Are Being Hunted), has a fun talk about procedurally generating levels. He shows a lot of impressing stuff and at the end I am sort of afraid that this man is making level designers redundant...
- Tom’s presentation has unfortunately not been recorded.
Robin Hunicke and Austin Wintory (Thatgamecompany) talked about the making of Journey, and focusses on how integral the musical score is to this game.
- Robin and Austin’s talk can be found here: Experimental Game Design… with Sound in Mind
Finally Chris Avellone (Obsidian Entertainment) had a talk about… Kickstarters. He talked about how he got multiple Kickstarter-campaigns to exceed expectations and explains how he made that happen.
- Chris’s talk is here: Advice to Running a Kickstarter of Your Own
It’s a shame Tomas Dvorak had to cancel, otherwise I could have had my Machinarium LP signed! Perhaps next year. I will certainly be there.
Let’s Watch: Christopher OddApril 11, 2013
For one reason or another I find it very amusing to watch others play games. Especially games I’ve already finished so that I don’t get the urge to take over and play for myself… Because of this, whenever I have a friend come by, I try to get them to start on any game I still have installed so that I am able to spy on the things they do and decisions they make.
You would say I’d be an avid “Let’s Play-watcher” but it just isn’t as fun as expected. Perhaps it’s the player’s personality. Perhaps it’s the play-style. The only thing I can say for sure is that it bores rapidly. Until recently…
Christopher Odd, a Canadian Let’s Player, has been taking up significantly large portions of my last couple of weeks. The commentary is great, he plays great games in the same way I would (so I tend to agree with the choices he makes) and often I can’t help but laughing aloud at his stupid jokes and hilarious mistakes.
Check out his channel. I started at Half-Life and never stopped watching the videos.
Test Case 1 – It happened not that long ago…April 2, 2013
As stated in an earlier blog post I am focussing my last couple of months as a student on the subject of environmental storytelling.
I am researching existing and new approaches and one of the new approaches I have decided to examine, is the passing of time.
Most of the times a player encounters history of the game world (like evidence of a fight in a room), the events that have occurred have happened far before the player enters the area. Often it is even impossible for the player to find out how long ago it happened and in the cases that this is possible, it is told by conventional means of storytelling. For instance by a date that is written in notes or told in dialogue. This test case creates an example of ES in which it is clear that what has happened, has happened very recently: whilst the player was playing the game. The goal of this case is to find out how closing the distance between the environmental story and the player affects the experience.
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionMarch 29, 2013
Yes, I know I am a bit late to the party but after giving it a second chance these last couple of weeks I have concluded that if I cannot get into a game the first time, it doesn’t mean I will never be able to enjoy it and keep an open mind.
This game gifted me a great Sci-Fi experience that portrays a realistic world in decay. A world full of details that gets you thinking about the themes and situations it creates.
Like few other games, (films and books,) Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s story really gripped me in a way that, in which upon completion, you get that empty feeling. It makes you feel sombre, down, yet somehow… it feels good… like gaining a new understanding in the world. Like waking up for the first time and finding yourself alive. For a few days.
This feeling is one of the main reasons for my drive in wanting to experience stories in whatever medium, and I wish it would happen more often. The last time a game did this to me was BioShock 2 and so, hopefully now Infinite has been released it will not take too long for it to happen again!
If dystopias, evil corporations, conspiracies and conflicting morals seem interesting, and you know what feeling it is I’m talking about: Give it a try.