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Storytelling in Orphan
by Talha Kaya on 09/09/13 06:43:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Gummo movie poster
I started on a new project, I’m calling it “Orphan”. It’s a 2D top down adventure game with dialogue options and mini games and an abstract story. It will tell the story of a boy living in an orphanage, with a dark and dramatic atmosphere.

I’m developing it with Unity and doing art and programming myself.

Today I’m going to talk about the storytelling in Orphan.

Do you know about the movie Gummo, by Harmony Korine? It’s a very interesting movie. When I watched it, I felt very inspired to try a different path on storytelling.

So the idea in Gummo was…

You know how Hollywood movies don’t have all that much memorable scenes? The scenes that really make a strong point or show something to remember… They generally build up a drama curve and try to come up with a few good scenes along the way. What Gummo tries to do is to make a movie with ALL scenes memorable, without even trying. Watch Gummo with a friend and then talk about it. The conversation never ends, it continues with more and more “Oh you remember that scene?” questions. That is because it is a very VIVID experience. It doesn’t really obey the rule of a classic drama curve in the sense of Hollywood movies.

So as I was designing a new game in my mind, I started to play with ideas in a similar way Gummo did.

Orphan will have different endings. Endings are not supposed to be played in a particular order. They will be vivid experiences of their own, and they will be able to exist without the rest of the game, that is only if you are a fan of abstract stories. If you like stories that explain everything and don’t leave anything behind, you won’t like Orphan. You’ll hate it. You’ll start talking bad about my relatives. That’s so awful of you.

The endings you discover will work as puzzle pieces to explore the story further. They will feel complementary for each other. They will be instances in a particular universe that lets us get an understanding of that universe, a little bit better, in every new ending.

Now that the game is non-linear and reminds of Gummo with its storytelling, let’s make it a little bit more NORMAL. I can’t really do a random non-linear game a dark and dramatic experience. So what I want to do is to put these endings in the middle, between a PROLOGUE and an EPILOGUE episode, which will hopefully make the game a more dramatic experience.

So now the drama curve looks like this:

Sorry about not giving specific details about the gameplay so far. I’ll do that when I am sure that the game mechanics work as intended. Thanks for reading. Normally I was going to do a video but I’m too shy for that stuff.

May the soul of Spelunking be with you.


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Comments


Christian Nutt
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This is really interesting -- I am in fact familiar with Gummo (though I haven't seen it since, what, 1998?) and the idea of trying to make a video game that evokes the same kind of emotional and narrative (?) space sounds really intriguing. Keep us updated on how the work goes.

Nelson Ribeiro
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Interesting approach. I actually think that storytelling and narrative still have a lot of unfamiliar and unexplored ground when it comes to games.


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