Now, although I like to sit on an idea for a while to let it grow a bit more, it’s important not to spend too long in this stage of the process. Even when you’re telling a story, in a game it has to feel engaging. The mechanics need to feel fun and comfortable to the player. So’ while it may be fine to spend time getting the narrative of your game right, focus on prototyping the mechanics of your game as soon as possible. Get something working with placeholder art and find out if your game plays well.
I’m very much a narrative driven designer. I want my games to tell a story, even if that story is short or obscure. I’m a big fan of environmental storytelling. There’s something very special about being able to convey a story to a player through the use of the environment and good level design. If done correctly, a great scene in a level can convey a tale to a player without a single line of dialogue. Using one of my own games as an example, Fading Light tells a story through very little dialogue. Lost in a cave, the player searches for a way out but in their search find the remains of those who came before. Through little set pieces, I tell the story of how these people came to be here and how they met their end. The idea behind the game was to create a claustrophobic feeling and sense of fear of the unknown. The game is played in first person and beyond why the player is there, I give no more character background. The idea being to create a greater sense of immersion for the player. This character could be anyone of any gender, race or religion. The hope is that once you’re playing it, you can feel like it’s you in that situation and not someone you’re just controlling. If you’re interested in seeing some players reactions to the game or just want a good laugh, I suggest checking out this video here.