So today I poked Robert, our game designer, into talking a little about what goes into the process of designing Cedaria: Blackout. He and I have been working together on the many zones of the island and the missions involved in the game. However, he’s more established in the gaming industry and can provide a more apt explanation on the topic!
Today, we thought we would talk a bit about the story and how it intertwines with the locations, clans and characters.
Crafting the Story
When we set out to create Cedaria: Blackout, we wanted the players to be able to control as much of their story as possible, while at the same time keeping a red thread throughout the game.
In essence, we wanted to present the player with meaningful goals, not a checklist of tasks they had to go through mechanically. We wanted them to think about how they could solve these problems rather than just ticking off yet another Wolf Claw to collect. For that reason, we decided that the story needed to be both flexible and dynamic in order to handle the many ways a player could complete a single objective.
Thus – the story will wrap itself around what you accomplish in the game as well as how you go about it. Solving a particular problem in a peaceful way will affect the story in a completely different way than solving it by applying force upon others. And the outcome of the solution might have deep consequences for the rest of the game. When the game ends, you will find out just how deeply rooted some of your choices have been.
Non-Player Characters (NPCs)
An important aspect to weaving the story around the character are the NPCs that you meet through your adventure. Depending on your actions both to them and their kin and clan, some might take a shine to you while others treat you with disdain.
Our dialogue system allows for unlocking dialogues that depend on your previous actions, profession and even gender should it be appropriate. Having a conversation with Silas Burcombe as a female avatar rather than a male avatar will result in a different experience. If you are an explorer, having a talk with the distinguished Professor Abigail Gregan may open up further dialogue choices that might give you an unexpected advantage or extra information.
Will the next person you meet be an ally? Or your nemesis?
Zone Design for Story
We didn’t start designing the zones until we had a good idea of what the main background story of the game would be. As with NPCs, our zones have the story of the game ingrained in them at conception. When designing our zones, we took care to think not just about what points of interests there should be, but also about how the energy crisis has affected the area and how we can incorporate the zone into the story.
In addition to the energy crisis, zones have characteristics and themes unique to themselves. A thriving trade port will react to the crisis in a different way than a rural countryside or a mining colony and as a result provide a rich variety of problems to solve when visiting them.
Also – please remember to come up with names for our office kitty! He really wants one!