Progress Update and Unintrusive Narrative
Things are starting to come together now, here’s an update on what’s happened since I last posted:
- The game has undergone a mass of optimization and bug fixing.
- After some bickering with it I’ve managed to convince the iPhone 4 to let us use areas/levels arguably far larger then any mobile game should reasonably employ.
- Zombies now scatter supplies (in the form of tinned food), health packs and ammo packs on death.
- A rough version of the suburbs (Lunacy’s first area) is now in game and working.
- We’ve now got the zombies spawning off camera in little groups in a fairly intelligent manner.
- All the code for searching buildings is written out and awaiting implementation.
- Andrew (Shelton) has very nearly finished making us some frankly quite awesome background music.
With that out of the way, I’m once again going to have a little ramble about elements of the game itself, this time how I intend to approach its narrative.
Now I’m a storyteller at heart, I DM pen and paper roleplaying games, have written pages upon pages of lore for mod projects and, god willing, will publish my own roleplaying system and world one day. So naturally I’ve always wanted to give Lunacy some form of cohesive narrative other then just “You’re traveling from A to B to C killing zombies and other exotic things as you go.”
However, Lunacy is a mobile game, designed to be played in short fast paced sessions. Filling up this limited playtime with dialogue or narration would force the play sessions to be longer, increasing the chance the player will need to put their phone down and do something else before the end of the session.
Furthermore Lunacy is also primarily an action game and interrupting the pace of gameplay in the middle of a session to force dialogue or narration onto the player could annoy a large part of the games potential audience; who likely isn’t interested in slowly unraveling the sinister truth behind why the dead are walking or their characters thoughts about the situation. Rather they just want to have fun fighting some zombies as a werewolf for a little while.
Because of these factors I’ve resorted to what I think is an un-intrusive method of storytelling, one that essentially renders the thick of the games story optional. In each of the games area’s the player has a large amount of objectives to complete in order to unlock the next area. I intend to have the player’s character reflect on their experiences in short, tweet-sized journal entries every time the player completes an objective. All these remarks will then be available in the character’s journal outside of game sessions (and not be forced upon the player in any way), coming together to tell the story of what each character perceives to be going on in Luna City.
Meanwhile anyone not reading the journals will still have a vague narrative akin to many existing mobile action games simply because of their progress through the objectives and the gameplay itself. On a related note I intend to give every element of the game some kind of grounding in the setting as to not break immersion, thusly even the freemium elements we intend to include will make narrative sense within the setting.
And there you have it, I have plenty more to talk about but I think that was definitely enough of a wall of text by itself. Next post I’ll venture into the questionable sanity and reasoning behind why there’s going to be a Vampire T-Rex in the game… yes, you read that right.