When it comes to designing games, the narrative is a crucial element that can determine how invested a player may become.
As part of Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital, King studio lead designer Abigail Rindo held a superstar session on designing compelling narratives for mobile game audiences.
"How do we tell big stories in a small medium?," said Rindo.
Building games for mobile devices with a strong narrative is known to be more tricky than that of a console, given mobile titles are bit sized and thus have a bite-size narrative.
"Our role is to find creative ways to overcome these challenges," said Rindo.
"It's not just understanding their motivation. But also thinking about what their state of mind is in the moment of gameplay," said Rindo.
It is important to understand when players typically play, among other things. As such, it is crucial to use narrative tools that will connect the player to the gameplay. There is a wide variety available; some may have a better effect than others depending upon the type of game the developer wishes to create. More often than not, the level design is overlooked as a useful narrative tool.
Players need motivation. A rewards system can aid in this, tying the narrative into the design. The best narrative systems around are fully integrated within the game design.
Mobile sessions are bite-size, so a bite-size narrative allows the developer to leave breadcrumbs for the player. By giving digestible story elements, players can create a story within their own minds.
Creating compelling characters
Characters are crucial in narrative design, but as explained by Rindo, the mobile space is lacking complex characters, a missed opportunity according to the narrative designer. Main characters can help to sell the world, and connect players to the game.
"We should make sure that we invest the same amount of time into our characters as we are expecting from our players," said Rindo.
The characters should be integrated into narrative design through not only creative design but via relationship building too. Moreover, giving the player a choice can enhance the consumer experience, making them more emotionally invested in the game.
Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital is the best of our Pocket Gamer Connects conference in an online form, with an entire week of talks, meetings, and pitch events taking place from September 14th to the 18th. You can read up on all the tracks taking place throughout the week here.