Posted by Mikael Fri, February 28, 2014 09:54PM
When doing mysteries it's a great idea to place them on planes, trains, boats - anything that moves. Not just because these are enclosed and ensure that no new characters unexpectedly arrives or known one escapes, they also give a sense of movement. Mysteries are done best in a slow pace, however in game format that often means they come to a full stop as the player tries to figure out what to do next. The movement of the vehicle itself gives a sense of direction and progression even without demanding actual progression in the story.
Playing multiple characters is almost always fun. Playing the same timeline from different perspectives is both fun and interesting. In a regular shooter this would mean a different take on some scenes or maybe locations, but in a mystery adventure game like The Raven it means extending and developing characters. Not only do we learn more about the people we meet through dialog, but instantly pick up on differences signalling who we are in the society and who we are to the people we are talking to. It's not just about revealing a true identity, in the sense of he or she was secretly an asshole – it's more about seeing depth and idiosyncrasies of the people we meet.
Posted by Mikael Sun, November 03, 2013 08:27PM
Normality is an undervalued state in storytelling. Establishing a world that is close to reality does not only make the overall story more relatable, but the stark contrast to supernatural elements allows us to create a powerful impact through even the smallest things. The viewer is sensitized through details and provides the storyteller to be subtle, intelligent, and tasteful.
When we tell stories in games we tend to go right at plot and not characters. It’s probably because of a narrow perception of interaction and gameplay which forces us to be present within an often strict chronology, as if we were playing an unedited version of a reality show. If we allow things like time-jumps, cutting scenes short, playing scenes out of order, we can provide a much more engaging story and even frame the experience in a way that better makes the points we are going for.
Playing a character in different stages of its life is absolutely fantastic as every scene added provides a context that would otherwise be impossible. I especially find playing a child interesting, as we are allowed to be curious, out of control, while still observing and understanding our behavior from the the point of view of an adult.
Posted by Mikael Tue, September 10, 2013 09:49PM
When going the non-combat route of survivor horror, it can be difficult to really tie in the violence with the player without causing player death. Outlast has two great ways of bringing it up close: the “shake your mouse to get lose” and the scripted death of monsters. The first provides a good way for the player to get really close to the danger without outright dying. Physically restraining or otherwise affect player control is much more effective than simply damaging the character’s health. The second type is a good way to allow for payback and give the sense of triumph. There’s nothing better than felling really vulnerable and frantic, and in the last moment somehow be able to pull that switch that crushes/drowns/torches the threat.
Posted by Mikael Thu, August 29, 2013 05:03PM
It's easy to forget how very narrow game stories tend to be and how very similar they play out. Sure we use different MacGuffins, different places, different people, but games rarely go very far when it comes to theme and subject matter. You can really come a long way by simply saying something different.
Posted by Mikael Sat, July 06, 2013 12:53PM
The way that the word SENSEN is so omnipresent, instead of maybe the name of the game, in load screens and menus as well as in the actual game, really adds to the sense of being there. The use of that word (SENSEN plays a huge part in the story as a whole and is connected to the overall struggle and the protagonist's inner conflict), pretty much throws me into the story as soon as I start up the game. This is just a fantastic way to go about it – let the whole product tell the story.
The memory remix is a very interesting gameplay concept. How developers marry gameplay and story tend to stagnate pretty badly and it was nice to see a different approach to it. Since they were already playing with memory thematically it also fit really well into the story. It's some of the most interesting story gameplay I've seen and I would love to explore that further.
Posted by Mikael Mon, July 01, 2013 03:30PM
Characters that are aware of their own body and how it moves within the scene, is not very common in games and I really like it when I see it. One good animation can really make multiple pages of dialogue obsolete.
Capturing and/or crippling the player in a game where you fight your way forward is really problematic for the player’s psyche. I can’t ever remember a game where that happened and I was sympathizing with my character as I was busy calling bullshit! And it has to do with the contract you make with your player. If I’m in a do or die(replay) mentality, there’s is no option for me of kind of making it by failing and then have the game pull me forward to the next level. It just throws me out of the experience. Do not mistake this distress for actual worry for the character. I’m feeling the frustration of the game breaking our deal. If the game would have me playing as Ellie while Joel gets crippled, then my concern would have been 100% focused on the scene without breaking my immersion.
Posted by Mikael Mon, June 17, 2013 12:27PM
Story and gameplay isn't always mixing oil and water. This is a great example of how gameplay with a little planning is story. Simply by framing the things you do in the right way enables the player to be in that story instead of just hearing it. When you have the structure of how events will play out over time, you can still tell a pre-designed story with minimal effort. So instead of killing gameplay to leave room for story, just find the right gameplay to tell it and put your effort into structure.
Posted by Mikael Sun, May 12, 2013 05:59PM
The deduction gameplay is a really nice way to go about making sure you have your audience where you want them. Not only are you engaging them in a conversation about what they think is happening, which for them makes it more interesting to take part in the narrative, but it also directly tells them what has happened. Instead of building an experience of guesswork, you can effectively give closure to sections of the story and take the overarching mystery to a new level.