Art games. Oh yes, we totally went there. Wait, come back! It’s not what you think! Look, we’re not going to sit here and open up some banal and dried-up debate on whether games are art or not – if we did that, we’d be practically contractually obligated to kill ourselves as decreed by Section 45, Paragraph 98 of the Contract of Life we all hastily signed whilst escaping from our mother’s womb.
In Part 1 of Desktop Dungeons: Design Analysis, we looked at the core game play, interconnected choices, and tension of Desktop Dungeons. We saw that, despite its simplicity, this “ten-minute, one-screen” game offers the player endless variety through cleverly stacked core mechanics. In this part, we continue looking at what lies beneath this award-winning game; how choices are given meaning not only through their complexity, but also through the role they play in structuring an experience — an experience that progresses with the player, an experience that speaks a story.
Interface design is often one of the most challenging aspects of game development. There is a lot of information to convey to the player and little screen space with which to do it. When the interface is poorly designed, a good game concept can be reduced to a frustrating user experience.
There are several theories that can be used by designers to analyse a user interface and help them break down choices. The theory we will look at here is called diegesis theory. It is adapted from diegesis theory used in literature, film and theatre. Diegesis refers to the world in which the story is set, and hence it focuses on games as stories.
Well this is it folks; if you’ve been following this guide up until now, you should have in front of you a workable story to use as the basis for the game you’ve had working in your head. If not, well, at least you have the basic toolset to get started whenever you feel the need. But now it’s time to wrap things up, trim those hedges and spit and polish that which we have created!
We’ve come a long way, and we’re almost there! Telling a story can be pretty easy, but really grasping the ins and outs of what goes into proper narrative is a little bit more challenging. But that’s why you have this guide! Before spit-polishing our final story, we need to tackle only one more hurdle!
Hello there boys and girls, and welcome to part 4 of the Narrative Guide that will help you on your way to telling the world your story! Please have a seat and relax while we delve even deeper into the magical world of story-telling…
For anyone who hasn’t been following, we’re currently looking at narrative structures and how it applies to gaming; but more importantly, we’re looking at every aspect of story telling, fleshing it out, and helping you along your way to compiling the best tale to push through the game you’ve worked so hard to code.
In the previous instalment, we took a gander at the actual structure of a story – the series of events that happen from beginning, middle and to the end. Now we have a pretty stable idea of where our story is going to take us and what is going to happen along the way; but now we need to go a bit deeper and make sense of the world that this story takes place in.
Think game design is about hard code and gameplay? Well, it can’t be denied that those things play some of the most important parts in making up a game – but to make a game that’s truly something special, you’re going to have to exercise that creative muscle and let your imagination run wild and free. In this, part 2 of our narrative guide, we’re going to delve further into the realm of story-telling; this time with a focus on the story itself.
This article originally appeared in Dev.Mag Issue 29, released in February 2009.
Game Development. The words have a way of sending a flurry of mathematical equations and complex code lines swirling through one’s head; after all, it’s exactly that which drives a game forward, isn’t it? – having your logical pathways set out so that when objects interact with one another they do what is expected. We get so hammered down on programming and gameplay that it’s easy to forget, particularly at the introductory level of game development, that there’s much more to a game than simply getting the code to compile without any errors. Continue reading