Monday, October 7, 2013

October 2013: Story Frameworks

Recently, game developer Kaolin Fire posed this question in the Game Writers Facebook group:
Do you think there's value in adding a story to a dead-simple puzzle/arcade game (a la Tetris)? If so, where/how would you put it? An optional menu link? A "joining our intrepid adventurer" before the game starts that's skippable? Maybe just in advertising copy/the game description?
To which Altug Isigan responded:
If you have a strategic system that frames the tactical gameplay, then you have already something that functions similar to the frame story technique. ─░magine that after every round of Tetris you gain a Tetris token which you use to complete a puzzle, lets say building sort of a key that lets you escape from the Tetris universe. In that sense, many games tend to use multi-layered gameplay architectures in order to achieve a frame story effect. 
I've played several casual games where the story seems to be sandwiched between some gameplay.  Or seemed somewhat ludicrous. 
  • What kind of techniques do you have for stories in casual puzzle games? 
  •  Do these stories feel fulfilling to you?  
  • What's the best way to tackle this issue?
Kaolin Fire is VP of product development at Blindsight. He's been developing software independently since the days of DOOR games, not counting hours entering machine code from the back of COMPUTE!'s Gazette. He's had fiction and poetry published in Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, and Murky Depths, among others; has taught computer science at high school and college levels; dabbles in cover art and cover design; and obsesses about the human brain.

Altug Isigan is a scholar at the Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Radio-TV and Film, in sunny Famagusta, Cyprus, where he is writing a dissertation on narrative in games. You can read more of his work at his blog, the Ludosphere. 

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.


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