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Elements of Storytelling

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Elements of Storytelling

  1. 1. STORYTELLING WITHIN GAMES With the way technology has expanded making games a lot more detailed than their retro counterparts, the practices that go into actually designing and producing a modern-day Triple A title is a lot different to the methods used during the golden age of gaming. With the experiences being delivered looking and feeling more realistic, a game with a good story will help the player relate to the content that they are seeing. A game with a well-written story is a game to be remembered. That’s not to say that story was completely absent from games in the older generation. Due to the hardware being a lot simpler than the PC parallel consoles, a lot of the story devices relied on a lot more attention to detail in the design.
  2. 2. THE HORRORS OF TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS Consoles in the late 80’s and early 90’s were very simple, and their use of ROM cartridges meant that developers were restricted for space. Because of these limitations, designers had to opt for things such as:  Backstory presented on title screens or instruction manuals.  Simple Graphic/Text combinations in- between levels.  Ambiguous story left open to interpretation by the players themselves. A group of ambitious developers at Japanese company TECMO managed to find a way to work around these limitations, and had detailed pixel art cutscenes in the 1989 hit pad-breaker Ninja Gaiden.
  3. 3. OPTICAL MEDIA SAVES THE DAY Technology matured, and cartridges were slowly phased out. SEGA’s Saturn and Sony’s PlayStation opting to use discs gave developers roughly 630MB of space to play with. This jump in new 3D technology allowed:  3D graphics, and complete control over the camera for cinematic cutscenes.  CD quality audio, allowing voice-acting.  Playback of video files, allowing live action video or pre-rendered 3D FMVs. It’s these advancements that allowed new games like Metal Gear Solid to work as well as they did when they were released.
  4. 4. HOW IS A GOOD STORY PRODUCED? The main problem with stories is that they need to be solid and believable. If a story is littered with plot holes and poorly developed characters, the entire experience will fall apart quickly. There are a number of different things that a good story needs, such as:  A world for everything to take place in.  Strong characters with backstory, and room to develop more as the story progresses. Character Progression makes characters memorable.  An storyline that isn’t overambitious. Big ideas that aren’t thought through properly could cause problems later on if holes in the plot develop. Plot holes become very difficult to cover up.
  5. 5. A WORLD TO LIVE IN When creating a world for the game to take place, there are numerous factors to take into consideration to make the world believable, and for the characters, liveable. These include:  Deciding on the size of the world. Does it take place in one country, or an entire world? Is the world based on real life?  What era is this world set in? Is it past, present or future? Do they have access to newer technologies?  What state is the world in? Is there any war or conflict? Has an apocalypse just happened? When these things are taken into consideration, the world provides the game with an engaging setting.
  6. 6. REALISTIC CHARACTERS Creating characters is very similar to creating your world, but a little more work needs to go into it. Things like:  A backstory. What was their life like prior to the game? This can be linked in with the world’s development, too.  Personality. What are their traits? How do they act around others?  Skills. Are they good at anything in particular? This can also be linked to gameplay mechanics.  Room to grow. If a character develops over the course of the game, they’re going to feel more human.
  7. 7. STRONG STORYLINES Now that the lore of the world is finished, and you’ve got an army of strong characters, it’s time to decide how to link them all together.  Decide who your main character is, and determine their end goal.  What are the problems stopping them from getting to this goal?  How will they overcome these issues? Will there be a massive twist?  Consider length. A story that drags on without any real progression is more than likely to outstay its welcome.
  8. 8. INVOLVE THE PLAYER With everything in place, the game is ready. It’s now time to decide how the player is going to be delivered all of this information. There are a number of different games that all employ story in different ways; each as effective as the other.  Will the player have direct control over the titular character? From what perspective is the story told?  Will they be able to make their own choices?  How will their decisions impact the rest of the game?
  9. 9. GOOD STORY? GOOD GAME. Many games have seen success in the industry through story alone. The way they handle progression gets people hooked, and wanting more.  The Last of Us was winner of numerous awards, including Best Storytelling, and Best Voice Acting.  Telltale’s adaptation of The Walking Dead is notorious for having choices make a lasting impact on the story. It has snagged a number of Game of the Year awards.  Final Fantasy VII and its mysterious plot made it popular in the 90’s. It still holds on to this popularity today, making it a timeless classic.

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