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LudoNarraCon 2024: Show Your Scripts, How Narrative Design Shapes Story

I've always enjoyed watching LudoNarraCon each year, so I was delighted to be invited to speak with Adanna Nedd and Ryan Woodward this year about design and story documentation. Adanna is a game writer and narrative designer who discusses Spirit Swap, a game currently in development. Ryan Woodward is with Subliminal and was one of the core developers on Button City, whose narrative pipeline he shows in depth.

We Went Back

For my part, I showed documentation from one of my favorite projects to date, We Went Back. I'll admit it's a little hard for me these days to find work that isn't under NDA to show publicly, but thankfully, I was able to discuss We Went Back, a small indie game made by Dead Thread Games. This game had one of the fastest dev cycles I've seen in recent memory – the game was made within eight months and had a team of around twenty people. We released the game in the early days of COVID lockdown in 2020. I can confidently say not a single person on the team anticipated the immense reception the game received, but working on that project was one of the most formative experiences I've had as a game developer.

I was thrilled to talk about We Went Back because the game has only two lines of dialogue. Frankly, we didn't have the budget or time to record voice-over, but we also realized that dialogue would inhibit the intended experience of our game. However, We Went Back is still packed with narrative. The team used light ARG elements with our game's Instagram, examinables, and environment art to provide rich fodder for narrative speculation. The goal of our story was to cause a player to act on their curiosity rather than to answer every question. Thankfully, I believe our dev team achieved those goals as hundreds of players took to online forums after the game's release to theory-craft about what happened within our looping space station.

If you wish to play We Went Back, it is currently free on Steam. It is short and sweet—it takes no more than an hour to play. There are also several playthroughs on YouTube if you're a scaredy-cat about horror games like I am.

LudoNarraCon Materials

As for the panel discussion itself, I realized once it aired on Steam that my slides were hard to see, so I've included them here:

Download PDF • 3.46MB

Panel Timestamps

0:00 Introduction

01:34 Lis Moberly discusses We Went Back

12:01 Lis Moberly Q&A

19:54 Adanna Nedd discusses Spirit Swap

25:20 Adanna Nedd Q&A

34:56 Ryan Woodward discusses Button City

43:37 Ryan Woodward Q&A


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