15 - World building and story

Developer diaries about creating Devastated Dreams.
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matt
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15 - World building and story

Postby matt » Wed Jul 22, 2015 12:50 pm

In this video, I talk about our approach to building the world of Devastated Dreams as well as how we plan to express the story.

-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 15 - World building and story

Postby evilkinggumby » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:05 am

I don't mind the use of notes and snippets that we come across, but stopping to read them , to me, is as much an interruption in the tension as having 2 characters stop and have a chat while we watch. I would LOVE it if you set up a few times when sitting at a note screem and reading resulted in getting attacked by an aswang and you had to fight it off and then pick the note up again if you hadn't finished reading it. it would mean eventually the act of reading would be stressful, and those that don't care about notes would just skip them outright. but those that want the immersion and lore will wan tto read them and be terrified to stop and do it.

i mean staring at a document reading.. really.. it's one of the perfect moments to strike someone unaware. :)

you could also make good use of it in after the attack the player could find additional notes/clues on the back of the paper as they dropped it in the attack, offering some benefit and hidden lore/pathways.

It is a little odd to see you cite that you dont' like how immersion breaking it is to find random stuff in random places that make no logical senbse in games.. but then backpedal a bit when you cite that you will have that very element in the game because " it's a nightmare, so we're allowed to some degree". lol. Seriously, although we know from the beginning it is a nightmare, the player is going to put that in the BACK of their mind as they get immersed in the nightmare world. doing anything to remind them "it's only a dream" is counter-productive to immersion and the player's enjoyment. You may have the right to assign objects and notes and key items in random, odd spots because it's a dream.. but I'd do everything in your power to avoid that(which you kind of state you'll try to do).

For her school ID, have it stay where it is but have her get attacked as if the aswang placed it there as "bait". then it exists at the end of some random path for a purpose beyond her happening to go there and maybe dropping it somehow.

Chris's Horror Project cites the "fake out" scare and you may be able to establish something like that with notes, picking up objects, or any number of game mechanics if done properly. I'd prefer to make it so doing much of anything has a potential to get attacked or a jump scare or whatever. Then, even if only 20% of the actions actually DO result in a scare, the player will be terrified to do the other 80%. and that's just awesome.
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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: 15 - World building and story

Postby RightClickSaveAs » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:25 pm

Oh man, I don't think we've talked about Mad Max here yet have we? I could digress on that forever, but I just want to say it was the movie of the summer (actually the year at this point) for me. I love how things happen that aren't explained at all to the audience. You're in George Miller's world, and you're thrown into it without any handholding. It's a great example of world building.

Do you think it's going to make the writing part of development more difficult, having a more concrete story? I'm not a game developer in any sense, but that seems like it would be a hard thing for me to do personally, write a compelling story and find a way to tell it within the game while keeping it natural.

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matt
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Re: 15 - World building and story

Postby matt » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:09 am

There is nothing preventing us from doing a scare when reading a document. :)

I don't think I was backpedaling. I just think because of our setting, we get a little more leeway. I disagree that we shouldn't remind them that it was just a dream. I think the dream feeling of the levels like Final Descent worked really well in the last game. There is no way they could believe that they would walk down a staircase inside and end up in a graveyard outside. I think we are on the same page though. I think if there is something out of place perhaps there should be a reason why it is there.

One of the ideas I was toying with for Neverending Nightmares was the idea that you had to work to find a photograph that would completely change the nightmare. Because your mind was trying to block that thought, the photograph would be nested deep in the dream. I think stuff like that can work in Devastated Dreams. Maybe you find a photograph in the heart of the jungle and that triggers something new.

I've read about the fake out scare, but I'm not sure how many "jump scares" I want to have. It is a good suggestion and something I'll think about. I appreciate the feedback.

I definitely think the writing is going to be more challenging this time because I have to come up with a good story, and then tell the story in an entertaining way that fits in with the gameplay. I always look at Gone Home as a great example of this. I thought the story was just "ok", but the way they told the story was brilliant. Considering most game stories are awful, I think it really made Gone Home stand out. That's sort of the approach I'm looking at. As you explore the space, you find out more about the world outside the dream, which is the cause of the dreams you are having. Pacing the elements and giving just enough information to keep people interested without spoiling surprises is going to be tough.


However, there are some aspects that are easier. The story is character driven, so I sort of took Tim Schafer's approach (he mentioned making mock facebook pages for the characters in Psychonauts, so he could know the characters well). I have a really good understanding of who I want the characters to be, so when writing for them, it is easy to make decisions about what they'd say/write. Little touches like that can contribute to the player's impressions of the characters. Neverending Nightmares didn't have characters - they were symbolic. What does Thomas like? What does Gabby like? Are they nice or mean? There aren't answers to this questions because they are supposed to be something you can project your thoughts and feelings on - just like the silent protagonist trope like Gordon Freeman or Link. Thomas is you (or perhaps a version of me only colored by mental illness), and Gabby is supposed to be the character Thomas longs for, but in the nightmare he can never get her or she ends up being twisted to be malicious.

If you don't want to give ANY more personality to them than that, how do you write believable dialog? I don't think you can, which is why the conversations are short and unnatural. You can take that as a positive or a negative, but if you don't like the writing, it was deliberately awkward.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games


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