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Multimedia Games Development COM429


Title: DIESEL Author: IS Group Last modified by: Michael Callaghan Created Date: 1/28/2003 1:50:02 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Multimedia Games Development COM429

Multimedia Games Development COM429
  • Week 9 Storytelling Process

Learning Outcomes
  • Understand the process of story telling in the
    context of computer game development process
  • Be aware of standard storytelling techniques
  • Understand plot development, conventions and the
    roles each character type plays

Storytelling in Games
  • Until recently storytelling in computer games was
    mainly restricted to adventure games
  • Majority of games of all genres now have
    storylines or story elements
  • Storyline can be an integral part of game or may
    just provide context
  • Important to understand the storytelling process

Storytelling in Games
  • Every story has 3 key parts, the plot, the
  • and characters
  • The plot is about how a drama/story unfolds and
  • The setting is the world being explored in the
    story, it includes the world geography, history
    and setting
  • The characters are the participants in the story,
    having experiences and interacting with world

Traditional Storyline Structures
  • Storytelling is an ancient art. It follows a
  • traditional structure/formula. There are 2 forms
  • predominant in gaming
  • The Three Act Structure
  • The Heros Journey (Monomyth)

Three Act Structure
  • Common Hollywood technique
  • Simple idea/structure
  • A story has a beginning, middle and an end

Three Act Structure Beginning
  • Capture player interest by placing them into the
    action or drama of the story
  • Back story and background events are introduced
  • Objective of this stage is to capture the
    players attention by drawing them into the story
  • This phrase should also introduce the quest or
    players task as early as possible

God of War Beginning
  • God of War tells the story of Kratos
  • The game's opening shows Kratos hurling himself
    down a mountain because the gods of Olympus have
    abandoned him
  • During the game you learn what made Kratos switch
    from a brutally efficient mass murderer to a
    suicidal cliff diver.

Three Act Structure Beginning
  • Different approaches to the Beginning
  • One approach is that the game starts with the
    plot already in motion and the problem introduced
  • Back story/background information is added later
  • Other approach is to start with back story before
    the problem is introduced
  • This allows the player to bond with the character

Three Act Structure Middle
  • Middle section of the story usually involves a
    range of obstacles that the character must
    overcome to resolve the problem
  • Additional back story/background is introduced

Three Act Structure Middle
  • Essential to introduce new obstacles throughout
    the middle section
  • Each task accomplished should lead to a harder
  • Hero must face choices that make them develop and
  • Game play focuses on mental and physical tasks
  • Story driven conflict plays on emotions

Three Act Structure Middle
  • Traditionally obstacles appear in a linear
  • Game platform allows for non linear plot
    development based on multiple paths
  • This allows player freedom and more control over
    their experience

Three Act Structure End
  • The end is where the problem identified in the
    beginning is resolved
  • The player has achieved the long-term objective
    of the game
  • The end should bring together and resolve all
    themes and issues introduced in the game

Three Act Structure End
  • At the end of the game, the player must overcome
    the final boss or villain
  • This boss was the main source of the
    obstacles\challenges in the game
  • This act of vanquishing the final boss should be
    very rewarding for the player

God of War 2 Final Boss
Three Act Structure End
  • Game non-linearity can provide multiple paths
    through the middle act
  • It can also provide multiple endings to a game
  • Each ending should make sense to the player in
    the context of their actions in the game
  • These alternate endings should reflect success or
    failure based on players actions in the game

Multiple Endings
  • Path through Shadow the Hedgehog is six stages
    long followed by a final boss fight
  • There are 326 different paths you can take in the
  • With over 20 levels to explore
  • And many different endings to see

Three Act Structure Summary
  • Three act structure is a simple and easy to
  • follow template for a game story line. It is
  • on simple premise
  • Get your hero in a mess
  • Make it worse
  • Get the hero out of the mess

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • Heros Journey or Monomyth
  • Common cross cultural story pattern
  • Common in films e.g. Star wars
  • Can be used in games

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • Home/exposition is where the main character is
    introduced in ordinary surroundings before the
    start of the adventure
  • Call is where the main character is called to an
    adventure. They leave their ordinary world to go
    on a quest or journey
  • Leads to another unknown world

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • Refusal is where the hero initially rejects the
    call as they do not want to leave the comfort and
    safety of a familiar world
  • Usually the decision to leave is not
    straightforward leading to ramifications later
  • Further information is usually given at this
    stage by a mentor that changes the heroes plans
  • This leads to the heroes departure to undertake
    the quest

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • The hero is tested during the journey usually in
    the form of challenges
  • These challenges involve solving problems, facing
    their fears and defeating enemies
  • This process allows the hero to growth and
  • The journey usually ends with the hero rewarded
    (not always but usually)

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • The journey involves many ordeals
  • Usually the biggest challenge is near the end
    when the hero is nearly safe
  • This is usually the greatest conflict and can
    lead to success or failure
  • This usually involves resurrection where an enemy
    reappears (Twist in the tale)

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • The return marks the end of the journey
  • The hero returns to the ordinary world left
    behind at the start of the story
  • The process is circular, it ends where it begins
    but the hero has under gone a life changing
  • The circular format allows the process to begin

Heros Journey (Monomyth)
  • This structure is not rigid and can be varied,
    this stops the format being overused or becoming
  • Story can focus on individual stages
  • Some stages can be omitted
  • Resurrection is widely used in games where the
    boss returns
  • This format is not suitable for multi-character
    stories with multiple main characters

Developing the Plot
  • The plot is how the story unfolds rather than
    what the story is about
  • It is about how the elements connect and are
    related and interact
  • Every storytelling format has plot elements to
    guide the story along

Plot Development
  • In computer games game play and plot are
    inherently interconnected using story elements
  • Obstacles and challenges are linked to plot of
    the story engaging the player
  • The story progresses by the completion of
    challenges and removal of obstacles

Conflict Balancing
  • Tension is maintained by having the player always
    close to disaster and narrowly escaping
  • This necessitates careful balancing in the design
    of the story and the game play
  • Extra effort required in multi-player games where
    balance between players must be maintained

Emphasis Shifting
  • To keep the player interested and the story
    dynamic it is necessary to shift the focus of the
  • This gives the player the choice and freedom to
    deviate from the main storyline but at some stage
    they need to return
  • This is achieved by varying quests, missions and
    tasks and introducing new characters or weapons

Foreshadowing Events
  • Foreshadowing is a standard technique hinting
  • at a some future event or forthcoming change.
  • It serves a number of purposes
  • To provide a warning to the player
  • To set mood or tone
  • To build anticipation or a feeling of trepidation
  • To engage player (second guess outcome)
  • To set the tone or mood in the game

Suspension of Disbelief
  • Suspension of disbelief relates to a players
  • acceptance of the artificial world created within
  • the game
  • It allows for the acceptance of the rules and
    experiences of the game world
  • Immersion allows the player to become totally
    involved in the game blocking out the real world
    accepting it as reality

World Consistency Realism
  • Realism is used in games to mimic real world as
    closely as possible (Genre dependant)
  • World consistency is essential to maintain player
  • Regardless of context the story/plot must be
    believable in terms of consistency

Plot Development Interactivity
  • Computer games are an interactive medium
  • Storyteller shares/cedes control of story flow
    with the player
  • In some instances the player takes on the roles
    of story formation and guides plot development

Nonlinear Plot Development
  • Traditional storytelling follows a linear path
    developing temporally
  • Computer games add interactivity giving player
  • Balance required between linear nature of the
    storyline and non linear action facilitated by
    player freedom

Nonlinear Plot Development
  • This is usually achieved through a series of
    linearly connected open areas
  • This allows the player the freedom to undertake
    challenges in their own time which results in a
    variety of game experiences
  • These individual episodes are put together in a
    linear fashion enabling the storyteller to
    retain control over the story

Fourth Wall Convention
  • Fourth wall convention is theatrical reference
  • Tradition theatre sets have three walls
  • The audience views the play through the invisible
    fourth wall
  • Actors perform as if the fourth wall is as real
    as the others
  • Ignoring this convention removes the illusion
    that the actors on stage are not aware that
    someone is watching them

Fourth Wall Convention
  • Traditionally you comply with this convention
  • Breaking it reduces player immersion as the
    actors are acknowledging the game is not real
  • Occasionally (carefully) done in the form of

Crisis, Climax Plot Resolution
  • Crisis, climax and resolution is another classic
  • approach used in storytelling
  • Crisis is where the challenge is introduced and
    tension begins to build
  • Climax is the moment of truth e.g. moment of
    confrontation, accusation, conflict or violence
  • Resolution is the outcome of the climax brought
    about by the crisis

Crisis, Climax Plot Resolution
  • Tension is raised through a crisis climax
    -resolution format (Major story arc)

Minor Story Arcs
  • There are also minor story arcs
  • These are made of single crisis, climax,
    resolution sequences

Story Setting
  • Story setting is typically well done in the
  • computer games aided by photo-realistic
  • graphics and high quality sound
  • A story setting involves the entire game world
  • It includes mood and atmosphere elements e.g.
    time, weather
  • These individual element combine together to
    create the game world

Story Setting
  • The creation of a good setting for a computer
    game is
  • a complex process
  • The story setting should flow naturally from the
    game idea
  • All other elements should be set in this context
  • The setting should engage the players senses to
    increase immersion

Stalker Shadow of Chernobyl
Stalker Shadow of Chernobyl
Game Characters
  • Characters are usually an integral and central
    part of a story and can make a game
  • It is essential to ensure the characters are well
    thought out and developed

Game Characters NPCs
  • Characters are controlled by the player or the
    game (NPC)
  • Player Characters (PCs) are characters controlled
    by the player
  • If there is a single central character it is
    referred to as the players avatar
  • Option to have multiple player controlled

Game Characters NPCs
  • Two basic approaches to player character
  • development
  • Create the bare bones and let the players
    imagination do the rest
  • Develop the complete character with a well
    defined persona
  • Both options can be used successfully

Game Characters NPCs
  • NPCs (Non Player Characters) are characters not
    controlled by the player
  • Typically controlled by game AI
  • NPCs take on various guises to implement
    elements of game play

Game Characters NPCs
  • NPCs fulfill a range of roles in computer
  • games
  • Help develop storylines, set the tone and convey
    emotions or reactions
  • Main player character will fight the boss without
  • The strength of the boss character can be
    conveyed in NPCs e.g. cowering or running away

Game Character Types
  • Range of common character types used in computer
  • games
  • Licensed characters that exist in the real world
    or another medium (Movies)
  • Mythic characters are based in history
  • Animal characters derived from animals and given
    human characteristics
  • Historical characters from real world history
  • Fantasy characters created from scratch

Game Character Roles
  • Range of (classic) roles a character can take in
  • a game
  • Hero role (Usually the player)
  • Role is to overcome challenges and difficulties
    while making a few sacrifices on the way
  • Hero typically perform all their own stunts

Game Character Roles
  • Mentor is a character who guides the hero towards
    some action
  • Usually portrayed as older and wiser to give
    guidance and advice
  • Usually on the heroes side

Game Character Roles
  • The shadow is the opposite of the hero and is
    usually the made villain in the computer game
  • Usually main cause of characters problems
  • May not appear until the game climax (Raises
  • Game may include minor shadows

Shadow the Hedgehog
Game Character Roles
  • Main character allies are characters that aid the
    hero and help with tasks
  • Allies can take many forms and can be sidekicks
    or pets etc
  • E.g. Miles "Tails" Prower from the Sonic the
    Hedgehog series

Game Character Roles
  • Guardian characters are used to impede and test
    the main character
  • These can be lieutenants of the shadow

A Tank monster from Quake II.
Game Character Roles
  • Trickster is typically a neutral character used
    to create mischief and cause damage or
  • Can be used to steal players goods or weapons

Game Character Roles
  • A damsel in distress is a character that has been
    kidnapped by a villain
  • Usually requires the hero to come to their rescue

Princess Peach Super Mario Bros
Game Character Types
  • As well as character roles there are also
  • classic character types associated with any
  • Story. These include
  • Protagonists
  • Antagonists
  • Co-protagonist
  • Supporting characters

Game Character Types
  • Protagonist is the main character in the game.
  • In a single player context the story will center
  • around this entity.
  • The protagonist will move the story forward by
  • causing things to happen rather than reacting

Game Character Types
  • Protagonists are not always good and not always
    the hero
  • In some instance the protagonist can be a villain
    or anti-hero
  • Classic types include the vigilante, the drifter
    and the noble criminal

Game Character Types
  • The antagonist opposes the protagonist and need
    not be good or evil
  • An antagonist is a character or an institution
    who represents the opposition against which the
    hero(es) or protagonist(s) must contend
  • Classically where the action consists of a hero
    fighting a villain, the two can be regarded as
    protagonist and antagonist, respectively

Game Character Types
  • Co-protagonists sometimes join forces with the
  • protagonist in a game or story
  • This is game dependent and could be other player
    or non player character
  • Sometimes these characters will cooperate with
    the protagonist
  • Sometimes they will compete instead with the main
    player (but not oppose them).

Game Character Types
  • Supporting characters ensure the protagonist
    stays focused on the task
  • These characters can either support the
    protagonists or antagonists in the story

Diddy Kong Donkey Kong
Character Development
  • Good character development is difficult
  • Essential to create characters that players can
    empathise with by using character traits or
    weaknesses players can identify with
  • Character growth is essential but hard to
    accomplish and is not solely (traditionally)
    based on stats, skills or weapons
  • Problem due to interactive nature of the medium
    (player control)
  • Growth in computer games is based more on the
    player experience

Character Development
  • The process of character development is called
    the character arc
  • and is how the character changes throughout the
    story E.g.
  • Tootsie (Film) where Dustin Hoffmans character
    begins as a misogynistic chauvinist who plays the
    part of a woman. Through this he changes in how
    he views women and becomes a different character
    by the end.
  • In The Godfather, Michael Corleone does not want
    to be a mobster. When his father is attacked and
    barely survives, Michael begins a war of
    retribution on those responsible.
  • Based on the game events the character will
    develop in a similar
  • fashion to a story arc e.g. crisis, climax, and

Character Development
  • Selfish, only concerned with their own needs
  • Interpersonal where bonding occurs with another
    character on a one to one basis
  • Team bonding with groups with common goals and
  • Community bonding, becoming part of a larger
    organized network
  • Humanity, concerned with the well being of

Character Development
  • Usually characters start at the lower levels and
    rise to the top as their perspective broaden
    aided by experiences
  • Alternatively characters start at a higher level
    and move to lower levels E.g. protagonists
    (villains) and their fall from grace.

Character Triangle
  • Character triangle is a powerful three way
    relationship between contrasting characters in a
  • This usually involves the protagonist, the
    antagonist and a supporting character
  • Each story can have multiple triangles, each
    representing a sub-plot and characters can appear
    in several triangles at once
  • Common example is a love triangle

Verbal Character Development
  • Using monologues characters have the opportunity
    to reveal their inner thoughts and struggles
  • Needs to be used effectively

Visual Character Development
  • As the character develops their visual appearance
    can change e.g. body size or build, physical
    appearance, clothing etc...

Techniques for Storytelling
  • In computer games two approaches are used
  • to develop stories
  • Cut scenes/scripted events
  • Verbal commentary

Cut Scenes
  • Cut scenes are short movies that punctuate the
    game where
  • each cut scene has specific goals including
  • Advancing the plot
  • Introducing new levels, weapons or characters
  • Pad out mission goals

Python Lives, Metal Gear Solid
Cut Scenes
  • Technologies have evolved to allow the same
    assets to be used for both cut scenes and the
  • This consistency increases player immersion
  • Downside is that the player loses control

Scripted Events
  • Scripted events are short sequences in levels
  • triggered by player activity
  • Typically short pieces of dialogue or action
  • Helps to built story or direct player E.g. an
    enemy could be shown touching a red box and then
    exploding. This will teach the player that red
    boxes are explosive
  • Again needs careful use

Verbal Commentary
  • Verbal commentary has many purposes within
  • a game
  • It can introduce a character or pad out back
  • It can advance the plot
  • It can establish relationships

Verbal Commentary
  • Number of different approaches used
  • Character monologue is used for illustrating the
    characters mental, emotional, or psychological
    state and inner thoughts
  • Narration is commentary made by a NPC to provide
  • Verbal interaction between two or more characters
    in the game
  • Should be brief and to the point

Verbal Commentary
  • Characters are a part of the game and should not
    talk about what they cannot be aware of
  • Dialogue should be realistic and consistent with
    other game elements
  • It should have a purpose, be brief and to the

Game Play
  • Game play should be used to advance the story
  • Each challenge completed should advance the story
  • Each challenge should be consistent with the
    story and the players role in it

  • Story development in games an important process
  • Based on traditional techniques
  • Needs to be tailored enhanced to cater for non
    linearity and player interaction

Multimedia Games Development COM429
  • Week 9 Storytelling Process