Sunday, September 1, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Bite-Sized Narratives: Conveying Impactful Narrative with Emotional Hooks

by Levi Buchanan, Business Development, Chillingo
·         Summary: Use thin-slice narratives, telling story through character emotions and environments, and allowing the player to fill in the blanks themselves.
·         Cut the Rope is a true pick-up-and-play game that’s pure in storytelling. It doesn’t require a hard narrative and all the story is told through emotions and character animations.
·         The narrative should show motive, promise, raised stakes, and payoff. In Cut the Rope, Om Nom starts the level by pointing at his mouth, telling you to feed him (motive). When you cut the rope, he starts showing happiness as he’s about to get fed (promise). When the candy is next to any obstacles or danger, Om Nom shows worry (raised staked). Finally, when the candy is fed to Om Nom, he munches on the food happily (payoff). Cut the Rope tells an entire narrative in 30 seconds. Om Nom’s reactions to your actions are very emotional.
·         Where’s My Water was also effective in creating a strong character, Swampy, who recently entered Disney’s pantheon of characters. In the intro sequence, comic panels show ferocious, scary alligators and then cuts to Swampy, who’s taking a shower, showing you that he’s friendly and cheery.
·         Canabalt’s environment invokes panic. There’s a hard narrative for Canabalt that exists outside the screen, but the game itself keeps the narrative minimal and to the point.
·         Successful mobile games have very thin narratives that are also very deep.
·         Thin-slicing is the concept of decision making with only bare, immediate information. We humans are very good at thin-slicing.
·         A thin-slice narrative embraces the economics of mobile, excising unessential plot and character elements.
·         The most important things to have in a narrative are…
1.     Relevance
2.     Momentum – remove any friction into your story
3.     Voice – transfer world building through a specific and consistent voice. Voice can come from art style. Swampy, for example, was designed to look like a Disney character.
4.     Emotion – emotion is the universal language. You can tell so much story with a single expression (e.g. Wild E. Coyote’s emotions).
·         Mobile games often focus too much on guilt and pride as emotions. There are not enough range of emotions like compassion and curiosity.

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