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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Adventures in Narrative Design #3b

So, what were we talking about? I honestly didn't mean to leave my last post up in the air like that.

Oh, yeah, storyboards. As I mentioned, Thursday was Sandbox day for game design. We had taken a hiatus for summer vacation reasons and whatnot, so it's been about 2 months since the last one.

If you're new to the blog, Sandbox was originally only meant for the game design department. The whole idea is a bit enviable. We basically spend one day per month working on our own projects. It can be something company related (a game pitch, an improvement for a live game, a concept for a game in development) or it can just be your own game-related project.

A few months ago, we decided to open up Sandbox to the graphic artists, as well. Some designers were already consulting with company artists on their projects anyway and then the artists said that they wanted to get in on this shit officially. Personally, I think it would be great if everyone in the company were able to have this opportunity, if only to just switch it up for a moment and do something different.

So, I've got my story and I started my storyboards. In the past few months, I've whittled the story from some kind of time-travel, sci-fi, timey-wimey,  Groundhog Day thing to something much more simple and low key, because I'm ultimately not trying to tell some epic tale or make something that's just incredibly revolutionary and new. It's just a way for me to teach myself some stuff that I've been wanting to learn. 

I'm finally to the storyboard portion of my project, which is where I take some of the words that I've been writing and figure out how I want it to be visualized in a side-scrolling, point-and-click RPG-type of...thingy.

I am not an artist, though. This is why I used the webtool Storyboardthat. It all turned out pretty nice, even with the limitations for the free version. As you can see below, I've left placeholder chunks where I'm still not quite sure what I want to happen. Once I figure that out (by next month's Sandbox session), I'll sit with an artist who will make some pretty pictures for me (hopefully).

(Note: This is not the entire thing. You think it'd be pretty clear that this is not a complete story, but I've already had to explain to a number of people that storyboardthat only lets you work in max. 2x3 panels.)

The "game" part of my interactive story involves this whole trading items from your backpack/inventory to the various vendors at this swap meet. My initial idea was that you could choose five items from your house to take with you and then you would have to trade the items in the "correct" order to ultimately get the desired item (a vinyl record).

It would be more or less the same idea behind the game Sacrifice (which I mentioned in a previous post, I think). In each level in that game, you have to choose which of your RPG archetypes to sacrifice in battle, in order for the rest of your team to move ahead. So you have to look at the type of enemy you're up against and the type of guys you have on your team. Some enemies can be taken out with more than one type of character, but if you choose the wrong one, then you don't have the appropriate character for a task that appears later on.

I mostly just wanted to add some kind of simple (I guess what most would consider an actual) game element to go along with the story. If that makes any sense. I worked on it a little bit more on Friday and now I think I might scrap the five item inventory idea and limit the choice to bringing one item with you from home. Then, you'd have to basically trade up as you move from vendor to vendor à la the One Red Paperclip Project / Bigger and Better.

I'll be giving that some thought this week, as well as deciding which tool(s) I'll use to slap it all together. I think I'm mostly still on schedule (or at least not too far off). Two more Sandbox sessions and working on it on my own in between those dates and I should be done.

Cross your fingers!

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