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Dynamics of Narrative
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Dynamics of Narrative

September 24, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Game Types & Dynamics Map Types

One of the more interesting aspects of dynamics mapping is that the resolution of the events varies dramatically depending on the type of game experience that is being made.

For example, a highly scripted, linear game-play experience such as Arkham Asylum, Gears of War, Bioshock et al, have a very high resolution of events and event planning, and can therefore articulate a change in pace and dynamics with varying degrees of grey-scale.

However, the less linear and more emergent a game-play experience is, the less control game designers have over the second to second dynamics of the game experience that the players will experience. Different player styles are often accommodated in open world game and it is arguably this player style that defines the emergent dynamics of the moment to moment game-play.

While it is hard to consider a dynamics map for an open world title, there will still need to be some high level story-wide map of the whole experience, and perhaps a couple of extra map types detailing the escalation and reduction of intensity in steps for open world combat and associated game-play mechanics (fig 2).

Fig.2 Escalation Dynamics map for an open world intensity.

The tighter the control over the player's movements and actions, the more scripted changes of mood and pace can be achieved, this arguably allows for a more cinematic experience. Below are two examples of two different types of game and the amount of resolution in dynamics terms that can be achieved in terms of events and the ability to change pace (figs 3 & 4)

Fig.3 Dynamics map for linear title (level)

Fig.4 Dynamics map for open world (level)

As can be seen in all the above examples, dialogue becomes more intense when the action is less intense. This is one of the core principles and gains for this kind of planning, allowing designers to know when that dialogue can only really be concentrated upon and understood in less intense game-play moments will dramatically change the way events are designed and implemented.

Much of the time dialogue is expected to be clearly audible within intense firefights, and it usually becomes a last minute mix problem to fix these issues. Yet with some simple planning these kind of sound problems can be avoided and the quality and coherence of the overall game experience can be hugely increased.

The Importance of Visual Planning & Design

In the end, the plotting out of the game's dynamics is an essential tool for the audio personnel to be able to deliver what is necessary at each moment in the game. It enables understanding of not only what should be happening in that moment, but what has happened in the preceding moment, and what is about to happen next. This method can also help to identify areas where intensity design is weak and needs to change.

For audio to be able to affect design decisions in these matters is crucial in the development of cohesive game and audio design. It is the context of a game event or moment that makes it engaging and immersive for the player, not merely treating each moment as isolated and occurring in a vacuum. It so often occurs that audio feedback is given in terms of making events or sound effects bigger and more intense, with little or no consideration for the overall dynamics of the game.

The more these requests are implemented, the more the game starts to sound like it has no dynamic range, no subtle qualities to bring the player into the story or the game play and when it truly is the time to make something sound huge and impressive due to demands of the story, you'll find that there have already been dozens of events that already sound as loud and as big as the end climax of the game and there is nowhere to go.

Visual planning as shown in these dynamics maps is an essential tool to instantly communicate, with a variety of disciplines, the intended moments of chaos and the moments of calm in a video game design. It can also highlight areas in game design and flow that can be easily and quickly corrected before it is too late in the production process.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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