We’re coming towards the end of the term and we should all be finalising our thoughts and ideas about our games and our dossiers, except for me.
I have recently read Espen Aaerseth’s paper on ‘Quest Theory,’ and it has made me think a little bit more about my game, Remnants of Dream, and how it is understating itself.
Aaerseth (2005) looks at quests games and says there are two ways they can be defined, but in the interests of Remnants of Dream, the second definition applies which is that quest games depend on mere movement from A to B (pg. 497). These types of quests are simple and often involve a storyline, in essence, a sequence of set events that lead to a particular outcome which cannot be altered through gameplay (Aaerseth 2005, pg. 498).
What is important in these types of games is the game landscape, as quest and space are intrinsically linked, and the game landscape that Remnants of Dream currently utilises is of a unicursal nature, which Aaerseth says, because of its sequential structure, can be easily ornamented with story-like elements (2005, pp. 499-500). Quests are effective in that game designers design these quests to exact control over the player, using them to impart information that pass as stories, but stories that situate the gamer as an archaeologist rather than an author, uncovering the story as they play (Aaerseth 2005, pg. 504).
What Aaerseth (2005) ultimately says about this topic, is that successful productions of this type need to find a balance between the landscape and the path forward, or story, as the landscape must disguise the unicursal nature of the path, making it appear as the true path, as if there were multiple choices to begin with (pg. 504).
While Remnants of Dream is a game that is slightly unicursal in that it has a set path moving forward depending on how you play the game, it has three paths that may be travelled to reach one of three different conclusions. What I have come to realise about my game, is that the landscape I am creating does not allow for effective story ornamentation, or, to put it more bluntly, the world I am creating has a lack of synergy with the story thus creating a game that understates itself with a story that feels stilted and rushed because the landscape does not allow for effective pacing or ornamentation.
The cure for this problem would be to invest more time into building a landscape that allows for story element ornamentation, more simply, I need to create a better world that will support the story in its pacing and ornamentation. How do I do this? I believe it is simply a matter of experience and learning, I need to play around with the maps in RPG Maker MV and try out different tile combinations and ideas until I craft maps that I am happy with and that I believe allow the story to shine.
Aarseth, E 2005, ‘From Hunt the Wumpus to EverQuest: Introduction to Quest Theory,’ Entertainment Computing – ICEC, Vol: 3711, Pp. 496 – 506.