Mobile bikes from the authors of Halo

The founders of Industrial Toys (one of them used to work at the legendary Bungie), told about their attitude to the plot in games and how to adequately implement it in mobile projects. 

There are two of them. Alex Seropian (Alex Seropian) – a former Bungia employee – is now the executive director of Industrial Toys. John Scalzi is a writer. His latest book, the New York Times bestseller Redshirts, has already managed to gain recognition. Now the guys are developing mobile games for a hardcore audience together.  

Interactive history

One of the most important things in any game Scalzi and Seropian consider a cool epic story. It is the story, in their opinion, that gives users a unique experience. And it is about her, first of all, that any game designer should think, even if he is not a writer. 

But there is one small problem with the history in games. The fact is that the narrative in games is fundamentally different from the classical narrative in anything, because usually the user is an observer, and in games he is a participant in events. 

For this reason, it is fundamentally wrong to consider the only storytelling tool – videos on the engine (or just videos or text between missions). Yes, this is an important, let’s say, mechanism, but there are others. 

For example, a story can be told by spreading notes, diaries, in general, various data around the world / levels of the game. They are optional for passing, but a user who is passionate about the game, who wants to learn a little more about the world of the project, will read them with pleasure. 

How to interest him?

Let’s just say it needs to be done on a new, completely different level of narration, with the help of other means of expression: graphics, design, music, and so on. 

Dialogues during a direct game action that reveal the essence of what is happening is also a great way. Moreover, “using game mechanics as a narrative will help the user experience the game as his own,” Seropian believes. 

Thus, the user perceives the game closer to his heart, he gets used to it. 

In Heavy Rain there is a moment when one of the heroes of the game tears off his finger. Seropian was so impressed by this moment that he did not want to replay this fragment, even though he pressed the wrong button that he wanted. “I didn’t even have the desire to go back and replay, because it was already my story – to go back and replay – it would have nullified everything that happened,” he explains.

Mobile problems

In mobile games, sessions are much shorter. And this is a problem for many mobile developers. “Users can play one particular mobile game for a long time, but they are accustomed to the fact that everything happens very quickly here.” In other words, the developer does not have the right to “rock” the story, and with it the game for a long time. “You only have a couple of seconds to get the player interested,” explains Seropian.

The task of the developers is to involve the user in the game and, accordingly, in the user’s history in a maximum of 60 seconds. And, you know, the problem is not only in time. Many people play on tablets and smartphones without music. That is, one of the most powerful tools of engagement is dismissed immediately. 

Why are we talking about this now? There is an opinion that if your game has been downloaded, then the user is already in his pocket. In fact, this is far from the case. 

Yes, it is only at the stage of choice that the user has a huge selection of applications. And many of them are free. And you’re lucky if he downloads your game, but here’s the trick: in an environment where most applications do not require money for their download, the user can afford to download everything. 

And only then he starts looking at what he downloaded. 

So, your application is on his smartphone / tablet, and this means that you have a chance, attention, only a chance that the user will like the project. And here you have the tasks to make the game, your game, captivate the player from the first moments. 

A story, a cool, rapidly unfolding story in front of the user’s eyes is just one of the best ways to attract a potential user, prevent him from closing the application, interest him, intrigue him. 

However, you won’t get far on this either. Initial curiosity can quickly be replaced by irritation or boredom. To prevent this from happening, Seropian advises introducing role-playing elements into the game. In his opinion, almost any game can be role-playing. To do this, it is enough for her to offer as an “enticing” content – a character that the player could raise. 

In other words, the tool used by the authors of tamagotchi is still very relevant. Only, again, we should not forget about the history. The hero should not be a personalized hanger for beautiful junk, the user should empathize with him.  

Here, too, however, not without problems. There are so many archetypes and characters in the gaming industry alone that creating someone very special, and at the same time interesting, is still a challenge. But with the hero, the player must personify himself.

Let’s assume that everything worked out for you. You have created a bright hero with a curious backstory and a unique appearance. Can you imagine it in 15 seconds? Seropian and Scalzi are sure that you can learn about the characters and their relationships from just four lines of dialogue. However, it is best to draw a clear comic for a couple of seconds, according to which it will be clear who is the villain here, and who is the hero here and why. This will immediately bring the player up to date, and will allow you to start your epic story.

Where the hero is, there are adventures, and adventures often take place in fictional worlds.

There are two ways to build a world. The first one is called D & D by the authors, in honor of the eponymous series of games. This method involves creating a huge, elaborate world with a lot of details and rules. 

But there is another possibility. First you create a story, and then you build a world around it, which, of course, is tailored to it (only without fanaticism, yes). Any game “on rails” is an example of that. 

The most obvious advantage of D& D is that it is easier to build adventures in it, there are sources, there are answers to all questions, there is some kind of common framework. Moreover, it is, in fact, a ready-made ecosystem that is easy to translate into a merchandising for your project. 

Yes, if we proceed from the serial concept proposed by Telltale Games, which agrees that the creation of a game is a kind of endless cycle, of which the paying user is a part, D&D is a more logical and comfortable way for developers to tell a long story. 

The guys from Industrial Toys themselves are going to go beyond the usual games, make something more like a book, an interactive adventure than a regular game.

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