2019 Selected Workgroup Topics2019 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Everlasting: Narrative in Live Games

THIS TOPIC MERGES TWO PREVIOUSLY PROPOSED TOPICS. BOTH AUTHORS OF THOSE TWO TOPICS HAVE AGREED TO THE FOLLOWING.

With the growing dominance of free-to-play games, and games-as-a-service, more and more games are meant to be played for years instead of hours. But classic storytelling techniques are difficult to implement and maintain in live games. It is disappointing to see developers conclude that games-as-a-service should not focus on narrative. But players of these games deserve great narrative.

What are the best practices for delivering story for a game that never ends? There are shelf-loads of books on how to write stories for film and television, and the number of books on writing for video games is quickly catching up. But most of these how-to’s – from tumescent tomes to twerpy twitter posts – borrow heavily from the structural narrative assumptions of film, TV, AAA and premium games.  If you’re working out narrative issues while caught up in the lucrative whirlwind of free-to-play games, a good number of those structural assumptions for interactive storytelling don’t necessarily fit.

Issues to be discussed include:

  • How do you focus sharp narrative design in games that might just have to go on forever?
  • How do you get players who don’t want to read (and don’t play with their volume on) to fall in love with your characters, world and IP?
  • How do you best hook players with the emotional pull that only engrossing story and captivating characters can deliver, even when you’re working with play patterns that are optimized to be played on the bus (or on the toilet)?

Story-oriented games-as-a-service could offer designers a chance to build a uniquely game-centric narrative language. Can the minds of Horseshoe chew on this problem and come up with some advice or even some innovations for live game narratives?

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