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Rebuilding the game world after fictions, with emphasis on the role of stealth.

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Volume Blocking a space for our next build from Somewhere.

This is the very first step of the process, so the images are from what is essentially a three dimensional sketch of the environment we are contemplating. The colors of course are placeholder, and so is the lack of detail that creates a bizarre monotony. Nonetheless it is an experiment in outlining a combination of inbetween closed and open spaces that we are trying to work with, rather than the strict cubicle forms of the first build ( fictions ).

With this second build, we are prototyping a hypothesis of storytelling, that relies on the distinction between narration and enactment of a story. Our game worlds are theatrical sets, and we are experimenting with turning the actors into audiences.

Traditionally stealth games, exist within hostile game worlds, The omniscience of dread, especially in games meticulously crafted, is very real. In these worlds breaking stealth, often results in violent repercussions.

Game worlds are therefore designed to both reflect this hostility and allow the player to function within it using a combination of entropic and redundant spaces or in more physical terms, hiding and open spaces.

Distinction of this sort defines clearly, the manner of interaction a player might expect within a particular space. This predictability makes the hostility of the rest of the game world solvable. For example : out in the open space the unpredictability of detection is countered by the safety of your vantage point which allows you to study guard movement patterns.

Creating an environment with a deliberate distinction of spaces, places structural restriction on storytelling. Spaces here, cannot be inhabited, but have to be navigated. A hiding space is bereft of other characters, and therefore cannot be used to further stories, while the open space is now hostile !

The architecture isolates the player from people who populate the game world. And the more comfortable a player becomes in navigating this system of spaces, the more they alienate themselves from ‘people’ who create and populate the rest of the game world.

For example : the supernatural abilities in Dishonored, or your propensity to crawl through vents in DeusEx or even simply the ability to crouch in every stealth game, which sets the player apart from other characters.

This distinction of the player character is beneficial to most videogame storytelling. Because most videogame stories are a ‘hero’s journey’ - the story of a singular person, or at least a tightly knit group of people.

We understand, the advantage of identifying with a singular character. Continuously allowing the player to distinguish themselves from other people and funneling player agency through the interface of a sympathetic person with the game, works wonderfully when used in tandem with clearly defined architectural space.

But if you open up the game world, and attempt the narration of a different form of story, then the construction fails. It is not a construction conducive to telling stories about multiple people, without isolating someone. It is also a construct that fails without there being narrative repercussions to breaking your role as the character.

So why would we try and narrate a nuanced communal story within a stealth game ?

Our game world is not hostile. In a story tightly knit, a violent repercussion of the slightest form would reverberate throughout the game, affecting all it’s characters. And in a game where the player can become every character in the game world, it is a repercussion that we simply cannot sustain !

So again, why would we try and narrate such a story in a stealth game ?

Because for us, Stealth is a way to drag the player into our game world. Not the player as a particular character, but the player in person. You.

The player can become anybody in the game world. And as that character the player can interact with people, and navigate the game world with rectitude.

But with any person that you inhabit, you can ‘Sneak’. you can crouch and enter stealth mode, where you can proceed to enter peoples personal spaces, overhear conversations, lock doors and peek into windows.

Stealth allows you to perform a small set of peculiar activities which ( as the player ) allow an insidious intrusion into portions of the game world and people’s lives. Access that your character would otherwise not have.

And then upon being detected it is not the player who is endangered through violence, it is the character that the player inhabits who is endangered through social exclusion. Because when the other people see you sneaking and skulking, they recognise you as the character you inhabit - a fellow actor, and they find your behavior odd. Never realizing that you are also the audience, and that you can just as easily become another actor and continue the charade.

Our game world is not hostile and our spaces are not traversal binaries. We are trying to create a small but detailed set of inbetween spaces, courtyards, and passages or alcoves that can be opened into walkways or closed into rooms.

Spaces where a person might hide and interact at the same time. Where the character that the player embodies does not distinguish oneself from others, and where sometimes, and in secret, you can enter the world and unravel the story.

fictions : a pre-alpha build for Somewhere

You can download our previous pre-alpha build : fictions, above
If you like our work do follow us on our Tumblog or Twitter

Sph!nx - - 722 comments

Indeed, love the art style!

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Oleomingus Author
Oleomingus - - 208 comments

Glad you like the art, for this environment. We are still experimenting with the scale and the pointy-ness of the arches and the major volume blocks in general. But should be able to detail some portions of the space soon.

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SamChester - - 167 comments

Really interesting article, thanks for sharing insight oleomingus

This in particular...
"it is not the player who is endangered through violence, it is the character that the player inhabits who is endangered through social exclusion"
... sounds fascinating!

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Oleomingus Author
Oleomingus - - 208 comments

Thank you.We really appreciate you continued interest in our work !

We have been grappling with the role of stealth in our game world and how creating stealth specific game worlds would affect storytelling capabilities, and the article above is a rough outline of some of our conclusions. I will be posting some detailed examples, and some videos from the build as we prototype further.

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e_Glyde - - 331 comments

This article and writing sparks something but I don't know what? It could be inspiration but I don't know.

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Oleomingus Author
Oleomingus - - 208 comments

We are still treading water, with regards to our understanding of stealth. But it is wonderful to know that our ramblings might trigger a reciprocal response with others building games.

Thank you for reading through the article and your continued interest in our work.

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