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Bending Stories

I haven’t played Indigo Prophecy, but this is a fascinating “post-mortem” article from creator David Cage about the narrative processes that went into the game:

Among the writing techniques that I developed for Indigo Prophecy, Bending Stories definitely received the most attention from the press. The basic idea was to solve the classic difficulty of telling a truly interactive story without generating an excessively complex tree structure. I had to find a way to enable the player to make significant choices with consequences while still maintaining the quality and pace of the story, as well as feasibility in terms of production.

The idea of Bending Stories consists in considering the story as a sort of elastic band that the player is free to stretch depending on his actions. The story retains its structure but the player can modify its length and form and thus participate in the narration. In reality the story does not change diametrically from one game to the next, all that changes is the way it is told. However, the player can see parts of scenes and obtain different information depending on the particular path he follows.

He also talks about “Good Management of the Usually Underestimated Tasks,” which I’ve found is a…very worthy goal for novel writing (especially the one I’ve started now, which is more All Over the Map than the one I just finished).

Tue, June 20 2006 » Games

2 Responses

  1. elad June 20 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    I played Indigo Prophecy recently and it is easily the most innovative adventure game since, um.. for a long long time. It borrows heavily from film in terms of style and approach. There are real characters, real relationships, and some damn fun gameplay. Cage definitely brings a fresh outlook to a tired genre, I look forward to reading this article. Thanks for the link!

  2. Fred Ollinger June 24 2006 @ 1:40 pm

    I really, really like that idea of writing that way. Sounds like a lot of fun, but 2000 pages. Damn, that’s a lot of writing.

    I always had a problem in RPGs with creating a good story line that was open enough to take the real characters choices into account, while not writing too much stuff that wouldn’t be used ever if they made the “wrong” choice. Also hard to stop being so linear which just feels lame as a player.

    The only sad point is the lack of originality when I read the story lines for these things. Yes, I know the author probably did brilliant things _within_ the genre, but the genre, Murder, bores me to tears. I could be wrong, perhaps there are so many ideas out there? I don’t really know; I’ve read some pretty decent murder mysteries.

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