1. Creating a story that reflects the real world
Listen to your senses + your relationship to the world + try to imagine what it would give if it [were] changed into a game.
Thinking of the world as your number-one resource gives you boundless inspiration, according to our panel. Even though their featured games range from a realistic portrayal of Syrian refugees all the way through to humans genetically enhanced to slay monsters, they all treat the world around them as a mine for ideas.
2. Considering the contribution of the actor
Doug Cockle, the voice behind The Witcher's Geralt of Rivia, suggests that actors want to be part of storytelling too!
I would love it if [the actor] were brought into the writing + narrative design stages early on.
As it turns out, Florent Maurin of Bury Me, My Love has already made a habit of this very practice + finds it to be both creatively fulfilling + ultimately a strengthening factor of the game. If devs can afford it...why not?
3. Making the players actually care
Make sure you appeal to the players' gut + emotion + not just to their brain.
When it comes to creating a game that relies heavily on narrative, Caroline Marchal (Beyond: Two Souls) insists that there's no better way to maximise player immersion + engagement. If you want people to remember your game, you have to appeal to their hearts. According to Caroline, you might also consider killing off a lot of your characters.
4. Challenging the players' ideas of success
As a game designer, I'm proud to say I made a game that isn't fair. Because it's about a situation that isn't fair.
Maurin argues that games storytellers need to honour the realities of the worlds they depict, realising that many situations in life leave you powerless to come out on top. When depicting refugees, he chose to make an game that accurately reflects that difficult situation.