Friday, February 22, 2008

GDC 2008: New ways of telling a story

The first Far Cry, developed by Crytek, was a breathtaking display of technical ability and photorealistic graphics. It was published by Ubisoft, which then snapped up the franchise.

I expect Far Cry 2 to be far superior to the first game because of the people involved. Clint Hocking is the creative director on the project, and Patrick Redding is the narrative designer. These two guys think about the creation of video games four levels above what I’m capable of.

In a presentation this morning, Redding explained that their objective, with Far Cry 2, is to create an open world game in which players have the freedom to explore all spaces in the game, whether they are virtual spaces, systems, or the realm of humanity. It sounds like big-brain stuff and it is, but what it amounts to is that these guys are going to make meaning for a player come through in the mechanics of the game.

The idea here is that as human beings we impart story onto events and we imbue character into animated objects such as people and even animals. The Far Cry 2 team intends to let those characteristics work to their benefit.

So rather than tell a linear story, Redding said, they’ve taken a story and broken it into smaller chunks that can then be presented to the player in any order. In the literary world this is called a “shuffle text,” and what it gives an audience is the opportunity to get the same information in any order, and still be able to get meaning out of the experience.

It also means that every experience will be different, depending on the order in which you are presented with the chunks of story, and the meaning you impart onto the events and the characters.

And you’ll still get to shoot guns and blow stuff up.

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