FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

Storytelling Play

Some players enjoy creating stories of their own, using features provided by a game, which they can then distribute online for others to read. The Movies, by Lionhead Software, stands as the most ambitious project of this kind to date. The purpose of the game is to let people make their own movies and share them online. Stunt Island, from Disney Interactive, also enables people to film their own movies, but it concentrates on stunts involving vehicles rather than actors. More important, The Movies, unlike Stunt Island, allows players to export movies so they can edit their films using external tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro. The movies in Stunt Island can be viewed only within the game itself and can not be exported because the game does not actually capture the images but simply re-creates the scene using the game engine for each viewing.

The Movies offers more expressive power than any other storytelling game yet made, but it does require a lot of effort from the players. If you want to make a game with similar features, you will have to work with the programmers to design a system that allows players to set up cameras in the game world, record the images and sounds generated by the game engine, and edit them.

However, you don't have to go that far. The Sims proved to be a huge success with a much simpler storytelling mechanism: Players can create characters and construct houses for them to live in and then initiate events by giving commands to the characters. The Sims also lets players capture screen shots from the game, put cap­tions under them, organize them into storyboards, and upload them to a web site for others to see. Telling stories this way requires much less complex software than The Movies uses, and the players don't have to know how to edit video.

An even easier solution involves generating a log of the player's activities in text form. She can then edit this log any way she likes, turning her raw game actions and dialog into narrative form.

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