Narrative design drama you might have missed

While I’m off at comic-con, I thought I’d make sure you’re up to date on current trends in narrative design.  First off, if you haven’t, read Sande’s great feature on creating emotion and drama in games beyond writing: Towards More Meaningful Games: A Multidisciplinary Approach.  If you just can’t get enough, check out the other articles on narrative design that have hit a nerve over the past couple months.

Redefining Game Narrative: Ubisoft’s Patrick Redding On Far Cry 2
Brings back memories of Lee Sheldon’s game writing approaches as seen in his 2004 book Character Development and Storytelling in Games.  Modular, non-linear storytelling comes of age.  Who says it can’t be done?

GCG Op-Ed: Writing Off Game Writers
On a related and oddly well-timed note, check out Lee’s article on how games writers are unsung and ignored in game development.

The Problem Of The Cutscene
This article comes not to bury the cutscene, but to praise it.  This rather wordy article says cutscenes haven’t been cutting it because of inappropriate pacing, generic execution, and bad timing.  More surprising, check out the cutscene love-fest in the comments.

Innovations In Character: Personalizing RPGs, Retaining Players
Adults tend to like characters with distinct personalities and backgrounds.  Developing these characters may have an impact on the bottom line.  This article and a few of the comments highlight a few approaches to developing, or allowing your player to develop, these types of characters.

Is Gameplay As Narrative The Answer?
Yes.  Basic take-home with this article: Don’t straight-jacket your players with narrative.  Avoid having your players’ choices be irrelevant in the game story.  If you can, make your AI sophisticated enough to take into account player actions without making the game no fun.  Good example: City of Heroes.  After you save people, they sing your praises in the streets.

Sometimes narrative as narrative is the answer
A rebuttal to the above article, again saying — hey, maybe if you get good writers to collaborate with the designers, players won’t experience a disconnect between story and gameplay.

Ready to hire your game’s narrative designer?  Drop us an e-mail at anne (at)!  Otherwise, comment on your biggest sticking points when it comes to designing narrative in a game.

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Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 11:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. […] and will also be contributing session write-ups to GameDev’s GDC 2009 coverage, including Patrick Redding’s talk on AI dialog […]

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