Today I want to talk about my column, the purpose of which is to present the game process to the viewer from the developer’s point of view: what narrative design techniques are used by game studios to present the plot in the way they think, is the design related to the scenario part of the game, what elements of narrative design exist, and in which cases they should be used.
I tried to analyze all these points using the example of disco Elysium. The sound is far from the best quality (to put it mildly)! Any dissatisfaction and objections in the technical part (editing, sound) are accepted adequately and with understanding.
Before moving on to the analysis itself, let’s dive into the structure of narrative design: what is a narrative system, what does it include, what techniques are used to achieve certain scenario solutions, and so on. Let’s get this straight: script and narrative design are not the same things. Yes, they overlap, but they are not identical. Narrative design is a set of elements and mechanics that a developer uses to bring the story to life so that the player can feel the story and understand it through not only storytelling but also game elements.
The scenario is just a “shell” in the form of text and lines, behind which lies a huge work of designers who think how to properly present what is written on paper to the player. This is the difference between a film and a game: we do not take any part in the development of the events of the film, the actors and scenery do everything for us, while the games are a kind of “interactive cinema” in which we take part. Without our intervention, the character will not budge, will not talk to the NPC, and will not make the decisions we need.
When writing a script for their game, developers typically use a three-act narrative technique: opening, confrontation, and denouement. This structure is often used in literary works: first, we are told some kind of “basis” that serves as a starting point in the development of the plot, then we are faced with major events that inflame the situation and make us worry, and at the end, everything goes downhill, logically completing the narratives.
However, in modern realities, such a structure is trivial and simple enough to entice a player who is craving something unusual. To create player engagement, developers use all sorts of mechanics that help keep the user’s interest until the end of his passage – this is called the narrative system.
This is a multi-level structure that includes many elements
Among the main ones are the plot (the general game story that the developers want to tell us), style (game mechanics, through which the player, interacting with the game world around him, studies the storyline and participates in its development) and the plot is the position of the player about happening on the screen. When working on these aspects, designers rely on the scriptwriter’s point of view – how to properly present the story written by them and the player’s view to the player, trying to understand how the user will use certain game mechanics, and what reactions they will evoke in him.
To achieve these goals, narrators rely on three criteria: logic (the cause-and-effect relationships between the player’s decisions in game as they think during playing pgslot and their consequences), time (correct depiction of how past and present events affect the character), and space (it sets the player’s direction in which to him needs to move to complete the story). However, this is not enough for the correct construction of the game narrative: to correctly implement the above elements, the designer needs to maintain contrast, semantic load, player involvement, and rhythm when creating the game.
How it works in practice: disco Elysium
Having plunged a little into the theory, you can consider what specific methods the / um studio implemented its project and forced many players around the world to replay their creation more than once. We will look at each element of the narrative system separately and see how it is reproduced in disco Elysium.