Thursday, October 17, 2013

Slides from 'Coherent Emergent Stories in Video Games' / GHC13

I gave a talk at this year's Grace Hopper on what I've been working on for my thesis project:
Coherent Emergent Stories in Video Games
Crafting satisfying narratives while preserving player freedom is a longstanding challenge for computer games.  Many games use a quest structure, allowing players to experience content nonlinearly.  However, this risks creating disjointed stories when side quests only minimally integrate with the main story.  This talk introduces the problem of nonlinear storytelling in games and discusses our flexible, scene-based story system that reacts dynamically to the player’s actions.

My slides are embedded below and you can learn more on my website.


Lazza said...

Nice slides. :) If I can give a small suggestion, I personally wouldn't repeat the footer with the event name under all the slides. IMHO it makes for an unnecessary addition, which could distract but certainly not enrich the content.

Now, talking about stories and player choices, I was thinking when I used to play Pokémon: the story was basically fixed but a lot depended on how much time you decided to spend catching monsters and training them. But, for example, you had to visit new cities in a specific order. This gave a feeling of your progress and also a feedback like "ok, I unlocked the city, so I did the right thing and I can go on". In a game where there is not such a fixed path, what is the feedback that the user can get when he/she is doing right, in your opinion?

Gail Carmichael said...

Neither would I. ;) (I actually would have preferred not use the template at all, but I did because they asked us to.)

In the system we're working on, we actually expect a fixed backbone to hang the story on, ensuring progress and all that. That's the kernel nodes. Then the satellites flesh out the story in terms of theme, optional plot points, etc. That said, if there aren't many kernel nodes to serve as a fixed path, the satellites could be designed to offer the feedback you're talking about. For example, some satellites could be available only after a certain amount of story progression (however it's being measured in that game), and they could incorporate dialog (or whatever) that gives feedback. Just my initial thought on the question, anyway!

Lazza said...

Oh, I see... now it's clearer, thanks. :) Those sound like good ways to give feedback.

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