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GDC 2010 - Level Design in a Day Part 6. Level designer, Storyteller: Joel Burgess, Senior Designer, Bethesda Game Studios

Apr 13, 2017

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Design

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  • Building and supporting Narrative Through Level DesignLevel Designer, StorytellerJoel Burgess, Senior Designer, Bethesda Game Studios

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  • Please NoteThere is a ton of useful information in the notes of these presentations.Please download these presentations and enjoy them in MS PowerPoint locally.Thanks!

    Notes! Woohoo!

  • Whats This, Then?Not Platform/Unreal SpecificJust My ThoughtsThere Will Be Jargon.

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  • A Brief OverviewLD/Player Relationship

    LD role in storytellingCross-medium TechniquesUnique tools & methodsDoing a lot with littleAccepting Chaos

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  • The Storytellers ToolsLanguageDialogue, Text, etc.

    Visual InformationLayout, Clutter, Effects, et

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  • Quick Writing ExercisePlayer is a space Marine.Lands at forward base.Commander, Colonel (radio), SargeConvey Objective & RewardAccount for BudgetSarge is Cut12 Lines, 85 Char/LineRe-Write! Active StorytellingLands Behind Enemy LinesOne Character Delivers Lines

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  • What Did We Learn?Game Development is Chaotic

    Things outside your control change

    Drafts Are a Good ThingThey expose whats importantFunction before Form

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  • Using LanguageWhy use language?FamiliarDirectUnambiguous

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  • Using LanguageTraps of Language?Tired TechniquesLocalization ConcernsVerbosityVigorous writing is concise. William Strunk Jr.Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.Elmore LeonardBrevity is the soul of witShakespeare

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  • Using LanguageBest Practice:Brevity & Content QualityGameplay Info Before StyleIn their own WordsOptional Static TextDialogue During Action

    Left 4 Dead

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  • Visual StorytellingOlder than Language, after all

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  • Visual InformationHuge Array of Visual Tools:

    LayoutLightingAI BehaviorSmall Clutter

    Particle FXState ChangesFull Screen FXEtc, etc

    Covering any of them in detail is beyond the scope of this conversation

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  • Gestalt & the PlayerHard-Wired to Draw ConclusionsWe crave order in what we seeFamiliar Shapes most Recognizable

    Lots of Gamer DemographicsBut were all Humans.Look for opportunities to use Gestalt

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  • Gestalt & Level DesignEnvironments Tell Story InherentlyThey Just Cannot Help Doing So!So You Might As Well Use That

    Collaborate with Art Often

    Enable Team To ContributeYour game will be richerAll thats required is Oversight

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  • Snapshot Story

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  • Exercise: Snapshot StoryView Unreal Room & ObjectsOn Paper, arrange objects in RoomGoal is to provide an interesting snapshot story using these elements

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  • Putting It TogetherFallout 3 Radio Tower ExampleLanguage (CB Radio Dialogue)Gameplay Information (Static Ratio)Snapshot Story (Small Clutter)Gestalt (Player Story)

  • Accepting ChaosInteractivity & The MediumTo exploit it, we must accept ChaosSet Up DominoesLet the Player scatter themLetting the Player Own StoryDont De-mystifyWe are not those other guysThe Player is our Partner

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  • Thanks For ListeningSome further reading suggestions:

    On Writing Stephen KingDesigning Disney John HenchUnderstanding Comics Scott McCloudKluge Gary Marcus

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    Notes! Woohoo!

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