As already mentioned, on May 19th theINDIE WORLD – Italian Developers Summitwhich was attended by three major videogame studios of our country: Cordens Interactive, Stormind Games, Trinity Team.
After introducing themselves, the representatives of the three studios expressed some very interesting reflections on the relationship between gameplay and narrativein particular referring to the much discussed videogame storytelling. Let’s see in more detail how these issues were addressed.
Plot or gameplay? The answers given to INDIE WORLD
The first period in the history of video games was marked by fairly simple stories, based on some basic ones narrative archetypes; with the passage of time, however, the medium has become more and more complex, welcoming also within it languages from other arti (cinema, literature, theater).
If each medium has had its own specific way of narrating that has always evolved over time, the video game instead works like a gigantic cauldron that draws from all the other narrative modes; in addition, this uniqueness is enriched by another element that only videogames can offer: theinteractivity.
In light of this, the host developers of INDIE WORLD were asked what is the importance of the plot within a title, and if it can be placed in the foreground, even above the gameplay.
World-building is based on gameplay
According to Gianluca LoiaconoGame Director of Cordens Interactive, il gameplay must be the fundamental center of the game: the plot must develop on a captivating, multifaceted, engaging game mode. Gameplay is the mode of interaction with which the player approaches the videogame medium, and consequently any story must be told based on this approach.
The pattern to follow is to start with a strong game mechanic, working around it building a world that reflects gameplay values: Vesper it is based, in fact, on the ability of the character to control the enemies through a weapon, and consequently the actions carried out based on the control of this power (kill or not the enemy robots) even change the game ending.
A homogeneous whole
According to Giacomo MasiNarrative Director of Stormind Games, the video game must have a universal language: we start from a fundamental concept that is understandable to everyone. The studio therefore questions how to represent the central theme of the video game with a recognizable graphic style, in order to get the message across to all possible players.
By doing so, the player plots his own path and founds his own narrative: everything becomes one, and plot and gameplay are based on the same level. Making sure that everyone looks homogeneous also makes the story unique, world-building absolutely effective and credible. All the basic ideas must be coherent: the game is a micro-cosmos and everything must breathe uniformly. This is, more generally, the whole Stormind Games philosophy.
The levels of the narrative
Last but not least, the opinion of the INDIE WORLD of Marco Agricola, Senior Programmer & Story Writer for Trinity Team: also according to the latter there is an important combination of gameplay and plot, which must necessarily coexist on the same level. However, thanks to the narrative peculiarity of the videogame mediumtoday it is possible to exploit even more the potential of history, dividing it into multiple levels of interpretation and giving the player the choice.
In particular, Agricola referred to the various levels of experience that the player can experience in their latest title, The Darkest Tales. There is a first level, that inherent in the surrounding history; the second level, on the other hand, refers to the secondary characters who accompany the protagonist and to all those “unspoken” continuously present; the third level, on the other hand, is even more rooted in the story, and is able to launch a deeper message, just like a narrative work of art.
The comparison between the three Italian developers has certainly provided many ideas for some fundamental reflections onimportance of storytelling within the new videogame panorama: today the plot has a very important weight in the production of a title, and one cannot ignore a good narrative.
Players want to be involved not only in an immersive world, but also in a captivating story, enriched with consistent characters and effective environments. The peculiarity of the video game, in this sense, is that all of us are players co-authors: whoever enters these fictional universes creates stories in turn; it is we who enrich that world with a narrative, and we do it through our gameplay, our actions.
Stories can be considered a sort of UGC, that is User Generated Content: in short, we are the ones who write the “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”.