Questing For Narratives

Hi Guys!

Well here we are, standing before the #DIGC310 final frontier. Today in my final blog post I’d like to take the time to address the feedback I’ve received and how it’s helped shape my project. Furthermore, I’ll also describe what I’d like my final demo to achieve, linking my ambitions to the writings of some interesting game theorists.

If you’re interesting in learning more about my project and progress, please refer to my YouTube developer diary series. I haven’t made a video this week due to time constraints, but I’ll be making a final video next week to demonstrate the demo in action which I’ll link on Twitter. Furthermore, once completed, the playable demo will be available (for free) online for anyone interested! Anyhow, here’s my YouTube playlist.

Two weeks ago I was able to bring in my unfinished demo to class, and a few people were kind enough to playtest. Overall the reactions were very positive, and the main critical comment I received was that it needed just an extra dose of charm to liven up the world, helping to make the exploration of the world both rewarding and memorable. Despite that excellent suggestion, there were also a few other helpful comments I received:

  • adjust the demo difficulty (my fights were too hard.)
  • allow class customisation (planning to implement through the inclusion of unique companions who may be recruited over the course of the game. May feature one recruitable companion in the demo.)
  • feature a health bar for the enemies (will search for a mod.)
  • implement a hunting/cooking system to make monster farming more engaging.
  • rename the currency (which I’ve called bits i.e. bits of scrap) to either junk or scrap.

Furthermore, I also received some excellent comments in my last blog post where I discussed the future of the game. Perhaps the comment that inspired me the most was one posted by Jess Polak who suggested:

“Rather than investing in voice actors, I feel that a sound designer would be better suited for your game and could also help in making a killer soundtrack.”

Furthermore, in addition to mulling over the brilliant bits of feedback I’d recieved, I also decided to delve deeper into the realm of academia. It was here where I found two fantastic readings. The first, an article about quest theory by Espen Aarseth, encouraged me to think deeply about the kinds of quests I want to include in my RPG. While my game will involve several large areas that will open up as the player progresses through the main plot, I plan to populate the hub areas with multiple optional quests that help to tell the story of the local area, and allow the player to leave their mark on the areas they visit. As Aarseth states, given the game’s sequential structure, “it can easily be ornamented with story-like elements: other characters,” and “causes and effects.”

“By far the best story-like device is the quest, which provide the purpose that the naked space and mere exploration may lack. The quest gives direction, action, and resolution, a sense of ourselves as participants in the game world.” – Espen Aarseth.

Lastly, I also explored the work of Michele Dickey who similarly observed narrative devices incorporated in popular roleplaying games. Here she provides a brilliant step by step check-list for beginners seeking to create rich game worlds, her list heavily inspired by Joseph Campbell’s model for The Heroes Journey. Realising this, I returned to study the model which will greatly serve me in designing and improving my game narrative.

Designed by Lisa Spindler.

Ultimately, Dickey demonstrates how game designers can rely on a strong narrative to compliment “immersion and agency,” demand participation of users, and also “provide scaffolding for problem solving.”

Therefore, especially since I walked into my project hoping to strengthen and hone my writing abilities, my greatest challenge before the end of session will be to write the skeleton for an engaging narrative. With that written down, I’ll be able to go back into RPG Maker where I could add bits of conversation and points of interaction in my demo which will help to enrich both the world and the gameplay experience. Ultimately, it will also allow me to design a quest for the player to demo which will serve to both develop the main plot, reveal character, and tease what’s to come.

Good luck with your projects, and please, wish me luck with mine.


Reference List

Aarseth, Espen, (2005) ‘From Hunt the Wumpus to EverQuest: Introduction to Quest Theory’, Entertainment Computing – ICEC, Vol: 3711 Pages: 496 – 506

Dickey, Michele D, (2006), ‘Game Design Narrative for Learning: Appropriating Adventure Game Design Narrative Devices and Techniques for the Design of Interactive Learning Environments’, Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 54, No.3 pp. 245-263


1 Comment

  1. You’ve got quite the ambitious project Anthony! Congrats on getting it this far, it’s pretty impressive what you’ve managed to put together over the term. You’ve clearly gotten some good feedback but I’ll echo Jess’ sentiment on the soundtrack. Even for the prototype demo you want to showcase, extra attention to detail on sound design and effects goes a lot further than voice acting would – I’m sure anyone who’s played this style of game is very familiar with reading text (pokemon springs to mind).

    Keep up the good work, keen to see the final project version!

    Liked by 1 person

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