Hey everyone! Welcome back to our second Weekly Development Update! This past week has been hectic for the team and to cover all of it, I have brought on one of our team members to help out! This week, let’s dive into writing games…
Hey everyone, name’s Griffin, and I’m the Head Writer for the project. The lore and mythos of the world is really my area, and I’m excited to share what’s brand new about the world, characters, and narrative I hope you’ll come to love.
The narrative for the base game is just about hammered down, with only a few dents here and there that we need to smooth out. One of the most challenging parts of designing a narrative for a video game is just that: it’s a video game. It’s not like designing a film or a novel, and you must bear in mind what typical conventions you must forego when you try to account for video game sensibilities, especially how interactivity plays into it.
What Ethos and I struggled with is that while this narrative has many parts, and we want to keep you wondering what the future of the world will bring, we don’t want the player to feel like what they’re playing is wholly incomplete. We want you to feel that while this might be just the beginning of a long and involved epic, you still accomplished something, something important, something complete. Really, we want you to feel like you played a story, and this means providing you with all the parts that go with it: a set-up, mounting tensions, a climax, and a resolution.
That’s hard to do when you know that the story will not be finished in this first installment, but the solution we found is to provide smaller victories, and nuggets of mysteries that you solve while still leaving the breadcrumbs for larger, much more tantalizing ones. Everything about a story needs to be included here, and we’re fortunate that the world is filled with diverse and interesting characters that can fulfill a plethora of roles. Thanks to this, we can always find a character that fits what we’re looking for, without feeling that we’re cramming them into a hole and forcing them to do something that they wouldn’t ordinarily do. With the cast of characters here, I’m not concerned that the narrative will be lacking the pieces it needs.
And speaking of characters…
More than Just a Personality
The single greatest joy I’ve had personally from this project is getting to work with the characters. They’re complex individuals with wildly differing goals, values, fears, and histories, and it’s always wonderful to see them bounce off each other. I’m holding them to a high bar, and whatever doesn’t meet that bar is left on the table until it meets the standards set. There will be no weak link so long as I have something to say about it.
That said, there’s one character that’s been with us since the beginning, and that character’s development has been…troubled…to say the least. This trouble came from the fact that we were never quite sure how this character would fit, but the concept was so interesting and they were with us for so long that it felt unfair to simply toss them aside like garbage. We knew this character was just moments from spreading their wings and flying high, we just had to see it.
What made it so hard to see that moment was that, while the character had a defined and consistent personality, a character is more than just a personality.
A character has ambitions, fears, and everything else we’ve been talking about. The character, for as interesting as it was, needed a soul. We were determined to give it one even if we needed to shove one into it. Thankfully, after multiple back and forth brainstorming sessions this week, arguments, and lots of Faygo later, we finally found the character’s soul. Though pride cometh before the fall, I think you’ll really like what we’ve done with them, and I’m excited to see them spread their wings and soar.
You’ll all hear from me again soon, I hope you all look forward to when you can Return to Zero.
What Makes You Tick?
Thanks Griffin for the great insight! I’ve known Griffin for a long time and if there’s one thing I have noticed while working with him, it’s how he treats his characters as if they were right there in the room next to him. I can’t wait to have him back again to share more on what he’s working on in regards to the story.
For me this week, I have been doing a lot of reflection. If you follow me on twitter you may have seen me ask a developer question to my followers and boy did I get a lot of feedback back.
Firstly, thanks to everyone who responded and engaged in some good old discourse. I took to heart everyone’s thoughts and after filtering through it all, I seemed to have been able to create a core list of reasons a lot of people keep playing certain multiplayer games consistently. Being that LEAP is also a multiplayer focused game, I believe early on in the development process, it is important that we as devs understand this fundamental question: Why would you want to play our game? This goes beyond the common answers of “something to play” and “it looked cool”. I wanted to pinpoint what exactly will keep players not only interested in picking up LEAP, but also keep them engaged long after the first week of release.
Like I was saying previously about that list of core reasons, here are some of the common threads I found.
- New Content
- Gameplay Depth/Challenge
- Fun Factor
These four seemed to be the most common phrases I saw repeated almost like a pattern within the replies. While some of these seem obvious to players, I think some developers overlook these aspects or focus their attention towards other elements first. While fun factor is probably the most subjective out of the list and really depends from person to person, I feel the others can all be tied to one main idea: Player Investment.
“We know that investment causes growth. But it is also true that growth causes investment.” -Jim Stanford
A lot of multiplayer games have died because they failed to realize their game was lacking investment. It is my responsibility to make sure LEAP isn’t dead on arrival. Haven’t we all had those moments where we scratched our heads as we watched a game become suicidal before launch? Whether it was the game’s server quality, a broken mechanic/s or a decision that a majority of players didn’t agree with remaining in the game, my job is to make sure that same story doesn’t happen here.
Investment goes hand in hand with player engagement. It helps developers find what areas of the game players interact with the most and how we can evolve the experience of the game to reinforce that engagement. I feel that as we develop the game more and more, it is important that we give players tools to learn and grow in our game. When they grow, we grow and as we all grow, a community is born, all with the goal to promote and improve that experience we all foster and want to share with the world!
As more people enjoy the game and come back for this experience, we can add to it and not only vastly increase the amount of content available, but evolve it and allow the game to become a fresh and engaging experience. Now this can mean a lot of things, but I think what I’m getting at is, if you focus on building your game around the player’s growth, the rest will take care of itself.
THE WRAP UP
This is only the surface on our philosophy moving forward when designing LEAP. We hope you enjoyed the lengthy update. I hope to really follow up more on the idea of player engagement and investment and the slippery slope it can cause with monetization down the road.
Leap Forward, – Ethos
- This week, I found this insanely old video from an old TV show you may remember called G4. They were talking about Halo Reach and a bit on how Bungie incorporated player investment into their game. It’s fascinating to watch this video and compare it to Bungie’s current situation with Destiny 2.
- Here’s a catchy song by a producer I follow named Natsu Fuji called Chewing Gum. The damn beat has been stuck in my head for the past month.