Whenever there is a talk about narrative design, it tends to end up being a laundry list of examples of how the environment can be used to communicate the backstory of the game world without cutscenes. This talk is different: rather than just focusing on the backstory, we are going to explore how environmental design creates opportunities for gameplay. The focus will be on leaving traces and indications in the space, both by the designers and the players. This is called “indexical storytelling,” because interpreting and engaging with these traces is the core of narrative gameplay. These traces are systematically classified depending on their type: they can turn the player into a detective, help create an identity, teach the player what to do (or not) and how, give a sense of progress or mess up with other players. Although there will be a couple of requisite mentions of Portal and Bioshock, some of the core examples come from games as diverse as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Myst, Super Mario 64, Metal Gear Solid, Demon’s Souls and Colossal Cave Adventure.
Video streaming by Ustream