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  • Building A Systemic Narrative Game

    - Lila Grimaldi
  • Trying to tell a moving story while letting your player write a part of it is a strenuous exercise. This is the story of how a small group of students tried to rationalize lexical fields into puzzles and create a systemic narrative game.

    How did this project come to be?

    Hi! My name is Lila Grimaldi and I'm an aspiring system designer with a taste for storytelling.

    Writing inspirations and gameplay references

    During Master 1, we were given the assignment to develop a game publishable on Steam. With no game artists, the point was to have us focus on the gameplay loop without relying too much on the art to craft the game's identity. 

     Dear is about working for a shady corporation that preys on insecure people who're looking for experts in all fields of work to find answers to their problems. This goes from Grannies bored in their retirement home to narcissist plotting a putsch. Write them back using words from their own letter to gather data about them your company will resale. As a Dear Inc. employee, use the company's semantic fields analyzer to extract what is the essence of their letter and then use pre-written paragraphs to craft the most perfect answer. 

    Key focus points of the project

    Rational narrative design

    I wanted to try crafting a story through interfaces and game systems, experimenting with JSON and trying to apply what I know about rational game design to create a story with the help of a database. 

    Adding depth to your choices

    The top left picture is our core loop. As you can see, there are three steps to craft your answer:

    1  - picking your lexical field.

    2 - picking your words within those fields

    3 - picking and arranging pre-written paragraphs and add your words to them.

    The goal was to add different layers to the players' experience by making them do rational yet mysterious choices.

    By that, I mean that they have to first pick semantic fields based on what they deem necessary to answer the client's request, but they don't know which kind of words are hidden behind the one they choose. And once they have opened the semantic fields, they can't just use all the words inside to answer the letter. They have to choose a specific amount. And once they have secured the words, they finally discover the paragraphs they will have to craft the answer with.

    We have picked the different semantic fields to add to our database based on our storyline and the personality of our characters. Each client has their own personality, likes and dislikes different words inside said fields (as displayed in the top right corner. You can see a picture from our database with semantic fields and the words they contain as well as words and their score when used with distinct characters)


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