Narrative for Social Games

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1 1 1 1 Steve Introduction: Hi folks, Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. You may be wondering why there are two of us on this stage. It’s a little known fact that GDCO has a height requirement for its speakers, so Jon and I joined forces to meet that requirement. However, we will need you help… if you happen to see any GDC staff out there, give us a signal so I can climb on Jon’s shoulders. That said, my name is Steve Williams, senior game designer from Zynga Boston. JON: And I’m Jon Myers, game writer on the project. [CLICK] JONATHON NEXT

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Transcript of Narrative for Social Games

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Steve Introduction:

Hi folks,

Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. You may be wondering why there are two of us on

this stage.

It’s a little known fact that GDCO has a height requirement for its speakers, so Jon and I

joined forces to meet that requirement.

However, we will need you help… if you happen to see any GDC staff out there, give us a

signal so I can climb on Jon’s shoulders.

That said, my name is Steve Williams, senior game designer from Zynga Boston.

JON: And I’m Jon Myers, game writer on the project.

[CLICK]

JONATHON NEXT

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[CLICK TO START JON BIO]

JONATHON

Jon’s Bio

Contract Writer and Narrative Designer for social and mobile games

[CLICK TO START STEVE BIO]

STEVE

Steve’s Bio

I’m a former science teacher who decided to make MMOs. Through my career I’ve gained a

bit of experience working with IPs.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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This is the game Jon and I made together, Indiana Jones Adventure World. Of course, Jon and

I did everything ourselves.

JON: EVERYTHING.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Indiana Jones Adventure World was made by Zynga Boston, a studio of Zynga (Zynga is

everywhere!)

We had lots of help making this game a success.

JON: But to give specific credit where credit is due, these people also had a huge influence on

narrative for our game.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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What Game Did We Make?

●Indiana Jones Adventure World is:

● A game on Facebook

● Using handcrafted isometric Map-based gameboards

● Light RPG elements

● United with a powerful IP

● Map releases are episodic stories

JONATHON START NEXT SLIDE

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JONATHON STARTS

Although you’re going to hear a talk about narrative for social games, this is not about writing

copy for a social game.

STEVE TAKES OVER

Likewise, our Lead Designer talked about the design of core gameplay elsewhere. [CLICK]

STEVE START NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE

Today we’ll be focusing on narrative design. We done did some narrative.

JONATHON

We’ll be viewing the game as an episodic story framework for delivering weekly serial content

to a playing audience

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE SLIDE

This is also a recollection of the personal journey we took, Jon & Steve, writer and designer

working together on a live game, building trust, accomplishing goals, running into challenges

and encountering breakthroughs

Because we are episodic in our content, we went episodic in our presentation.

PAUSE

Here are our main points, beginning with…

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Episode 1: The Show Must Go On

What we did is a little bit interesting.

What we did was hard.

What are the stakes when Jon and I would walk into work each day?

[PUT HATS ON]

JONATHON STARTS NEXT SLIDE

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Jon: Morning Steve. I, uh, took a look at your Library map, and there’s no Library of

Alexandria in it.

Steve: What? Let me go talk to art.

Jon Announcer Voice: Steve returns 5 minutes later

Steve: Okay, we don’t get to have a Library of Alexandria.

Jon: The map is called the Library of Alexandria!

Steve: Well now the library is inside a tomb.

Jon: It’s Friday, I don’t think we’ll have this ready to release on Tuesday as planned.

Steve: The reason we have this cadence is that our metrics have shown that our retention is

best during the workweek – off-schedule releases are something we should totally avoid!

Jon: Can we at least push this map to Thursday rather than Tuesday to gain time to solve this

issue so the narrative makes sense?

Steve: The closer we get to the weekend, the smaller our potential audience for this release.

We need to figure this out now. The show must go on!

Jon: Okay, give me an hour to think of how this can all fit together with our story and then

we’ll meet to pow-wow this. Good luck!

Steve: Good luck!

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JON: (Radio Announcer Voice) “What will happen to our intrepid designer and writer?! Will

they solve the problem in time to ship? Stay Tuned, Adventure Fans!”

[HATS OFF]

STEVE COUGHS – Ok, back to the presentation.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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The social game industry has a number of buzzwords.

Let’s recap that one sentence.

The reason we have this cadence is that our metrics have shown that our DAU (and with it)

retention is best during the workweek – off-schedule releases are totally something we should

avoid!

JONATHON

So what does this mean for narrative?

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Our Challenge is to hold the audience’s attention.

[CLICK]

We know that the social game audience generally plays games with…

● Low per-session time investment (which means we don’t have a lot of room for

subtlety)

● There can also be a significant variation in the time gap between sessions

● This is a challenge for both narrative and gameplay!

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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If your audience won’t remember chapter 2, how can you tell them chapter 3?

Serve them sliders!

Make those extremely brief session times short and sweet!

And repeat information as often as you can to keep from losing your audience.

JON: Along those lines, longer form stories are tough sells. We had to keep it simple.

[PUT HATS ON]

STEVE STARTS NEXT SLIDE

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If your audience won’t remember chapter 2, how can you tell them chapter 3?

Serve them sliders!

Make those extremely brief session times short and sweet!

And repeat information as often as you can to keep from losing your audience.

JON: Along those lines, longer form stories are tough sells. We had to keep it simple.

[PUT HATS ON]

STEVE STARTS NEXT SLIDE

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- Steve: For our next release, we need to do a map set in a tomb in Egypt.

- Jon: So, what are we trying to recover?

- Steve: The Loincloth of Anubis?

- Jon: But what does it do and why do we need to get it?

- Steve: I don’t know, the wearer is said to master the power of love?

- Jon: Okay, then the Man w/ the Silver Eye wants it to seduce Prof. Allen’s daughter?

- Steve: I don’t know, that could lead to direct confrontation, maybe...

- Jon: I got it, can’t do that or go there, let’s keep it simpler.

- Steve: What’s the simplest thing? Money motivation?

- Jon: The Man w/ the Silver Eye wants it to cash in and beat the Adventure Society/Indy -

but we get to the tomb, find out the tomb holds members of an ancient harem, we encounter

mysterious powers?

- Steve: What if it’s simply the Pharoah’s Loincloth that contains the “family jewels.”

- Jon: Yes! Here’s the story: 1) The Man with the Silver Eye, 2) Wants the family jewels

contained in the Pharaoh’s Loincloth, so 3) player/Indy must travel to the Harem’s Tomb to

get it first, or else 4) Silver Eye might sire an army, according to prophesied legend.

- Steve: Oh, and it belongs in a museum!

[REMOVE HATS]

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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By keeping it simple during early idea sessions – like the one we just demonstrated – led us to

a strong storytelling formula.

[CLICK]

Go to the thematic place.

[CLICK]

Get the powerful or mystical thing.

[CLICK]

Deal with the Looming Antagonist.

[CLICK]

Or else… what? Where is the peril and danger? What is lost if the hero does not succeed?

So, did arriving at a storytelling formula make it easier?

[CLICK]

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Yes and no.

We were indeed working on a live game. This means that…

Changes are Immediate

Feedback can be incorporated later.

Sometimes you ship it and make corrections after.

Pause to…

Analyze the audience

Analyze the process

Paying attention to audience response upon release is a part of the process.

“How did that come off? Did the audience get it?”

WAS THIS THE FIRST ZYNGA GAME TO DO THIS?

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Of course not. We built upon Zynga’s prior success.

Treasure Isle introduced map-based gameplay and a sense of exploration

But [CLICK] FrontierVille provided...

JON NEXT

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JON SLIDE

Story! It had a strong engaging beginning moment and first act. You play a role, a character who

has arrived at the frontier.

[CLICK]

JON CONTINUES

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JON SLIDE

You receive a letter from your newly married spouse asking that you clear the land and build a

homestead. He or she will not come to the frontier until your tasks are complete. The social game

audience felt something for their character in a way they hadn’t before. This technique became

worthy of emulation by other titles.

[CLICK]

JON CONTINUES

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Our gameplay and story evolved out of these. We also took advantage of their systems and started

with their techniques.

Indiana Jones Adventure World we attempted to take all this further, to build around the player

other characters in conflict with problems. This enabled the presentation of dramatic premises one

after the other.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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In this episode

We learned a few things about telling stories on a live social game.

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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Which leads us to our story IP, which was a perfect match for our innovative direction.

However… first let’s rewind…

[MAKE DOODILY SOUND]

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Zynga Boston knew it wanted to build an Adventure game, so we sought to understand what

made a great adventure. We knew Indiana Jones was an important voice for the concept of

adventure narratives, so we worked hard to understand what he represented.

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BUT, an adventure game without Indiana Jones isn’t nearly as good as one with Indiana Jones

And we are huge Indiana Jones fans at Zynga Boston (Hence my fedora).

And thus we partnered with LucasArts to produce an Indiana Jones branded adventure game.

Using that famous IP drove the need for better narrative

What we needed was someone who could think about the IP and the story all the time. What

we needed was a full time writer. [CLICK]

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That’s me!

And I found out it’s an awesome opportunity to work on a story IP for a social game because

there is less exposition necessary.

The players already know the world and the background, they come ready to engage with

what they know.

This helps, because building a world and characters in a social game is difficult. The space

for text is extremely limited.

So we had to determine where our game existed in Indy’s lifespan… We chose 1934,

directly before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. [CLICK]

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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This gave us a great playground for narrative.

Case in point – Indiana Jones has always strongly associated characters with specific locations.

We’re in Mesoamerica, so we introduced Forrestal. Why? Because that’s where we saw him in

the movies.

[CLICK]

STEVE CONTINUES

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This is our bridge between the movies and the game – you meet Forrestal who is someone who

is dead by the time the movie begins.

We placed the other Indy characters in their locations: Marion in Tibet, Oxley in Peru, and…

[CLICK]

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… Sallah was in Egypt. We learned quickly that fans respond to the iconic – so we delivered

to fans what they wanted, and let them play the content how they like.

STEVE: We found that players choose levels to play based on characters they want to interact

with. We’re a social game: You can jump around in our game’s chronology as much as you

like, we don’t have a linear story but a series of stories that we encourage you to replay.

JON: Well wait, we did release these stories in a linear fashion, chronologically. They did

sometimes build upon each other, even if predominantly episodic.

STEVE: Ah, but the player get to go back and forth in these releases and play them in any

order they desire. For instance, I really really like the character of Oxley, so I want to play the

maps he’s on often.

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They gave us creative freedom

They asked us to respect the franchise, and we complied

Both sides were excited to work with one another

And it paid off.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE SLIDE

[CLICKFEST]

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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Moving on to How We Did What We Did…

Point being, we know that much of this is elementary and basic.

But the context and applications are unique.

We didn't have a guidebook for social game narrative.

We had to figure it out as we went... like Indy.

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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And so we went back to the source and found the soul of the IP.

We explored the entire canon including the Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan story transcripts that

would result in the Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay.

It’s there that we discovered that the primary influence for this genre was Saturday Matinee

Serials.

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE!

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What did this mean for making content?

In particular I studied comic, movie, and radio serials such as Flash Gordon.

Flash Gordon in particular contains satisfying, simple story moments that held the audience’s

attention through weekly time gaps and successfully ran for decades.

Another technique I used was David Mamet’s notion of drama = Who wants what? Why do

they want it? Why now? (as opposed to later) Or else what? What happens if they don’t get it?

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STEVE SLIDE

What does the Source Material mean for making content?

Well, I am about Metaphor

CROW = (Character, Relationship, Objective, Where)

Babylon 5 = episodic content

JON NEXT SLIDE

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Jon: I always say, “What is the object? Because we need a goal for the dramatic conflict.”

Steve: To which I reply, “What is the outcome, what’s going to change by the end of this

story.”

Jon: Which one is the most important?

Jon and Steve: The object!/The outcome!

Jon: And... who or what is the looming threat?

STEVE SLIDE NEXT

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Steve: The player is the most important figure – it’s just good game design! If you’re not the

hero, why would you play?

Jon: But the IP is about Indiana Jones, he has to be the hero for the fans! So this is a typical

problem with IPs.

Steve: Because of course the player is the hero. Indy just is helping out.

Jon: And we use Indy’s friends a lot as helpers.

Steve: But also make sure Indy is never weak, just really… busy. Because seriously, that guy’s

schedule is full if you look at the canon!

Jon: Well, the player and Indy really need to be on equal footing.

Steve: To drive the aspiration of adventuring, we made Indy and the player equal.

Jon: Indy is someone the player can work alongside. You’re both adventurers on the same

team!

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So what should the player/hero and Indiana Jones experience? FORMULA

We learned that in order to release serialized content properly we needed a formula.

It quickly became important to produce weekly releases of short stories in content chains of

3-4 maps.

Each map in a chain is a complete event with objectives and tasks for the player to complete.

Each map is also an “act” or segment of a larger story in the full chain of the total content

release

As you can see here by this highly advanced, scientifically empirical, and super technical

document – jotted down during a meeting –

This enabled us to focus in on three act structure:

First map is always the beginning/problem,

Second and/or third map is a middle with new complications

The final map is an end with resolution to the story.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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We’re still making a game

We follow a taxonomy of data structure that plays really well into storytelling for this game.

Location – Peru

Map Chain: Warriors of the Sky

Map: Eyrie of the Generals

Quests on Map: Release the Eagle Warriors

Quest Task: Solve Crystal Skull Puzzles

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STEVE SLIDE

●Quest Tasks (Solve Crystal Skull Puzzles)

●In order to…

●Quests per Map (Release the Eagle Warriors)

●In order to…

●Map (Eyrie of the Generals)

●In the map chain…

●Map Chain (Warriors of the Sky)

●Within…

●Location (Peru)

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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As those core gameplay elements were used as story components for a narrative experience, we

found it was also important to fill in gaps with what we call connective tissue.

This is our favorite term and we argue about who first used this. Connective tissue includes all the

non-essential story delivery components of display text.

For example, what you see here is our use of letters in order to setup or establish the storyline with

a prologue of sorts.

In our introduction of Marcus Brody, we began with him stranded on an island, having lost his

way at sea, with the player needing to travel and save him.

Naturally, this comes to the player by way of a message in a bottle that arrives at their base camp.

Likewise, we built anticipation for the arrival of Indiana Jones with a series of letters that set the

stage for the player to search for the Calendar of the Sun with him.

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JONATHON SLIDE

This connective tissue also offered us opportunities to provide the player with hints about what

to do next, non-player character motivations, reminders of what they’re after and why it’s

fictionally important to do what they’re being asked to do by the game.

We were able to work in iconic phrases and moments with Indy, like the obligatory “Why’d it

have to be snakes!” line.

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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It’s important to note that this connective tissue is stuff that’s not necessary to read or follow

along with in order to play the game or complete the required tasks.

It’s entirely opt-in. Someone can ignore it if they like to get on with the gameplay.

Finally, these little moments of display text also functioned as transitions. The player begins each

map presented with a Journal page that appears during the loading screen.

On the other end, newspaper headlines concluded a map, often with a congratulation but also

offering a forward momentum to the objectives of the next map.

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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So once we combined the complex core gameplay system with planned moments of

storytelling events, the chained maps in each weekly release provided tight, classic storytelling

arcs.

The three map release became our ideal for telling a simple story with a beginning, middle and

end in three chained maps.

When releasing chains of four maps, it was more difficult to keep the player on track, but it

also provided a better opportunity for exploring character.

With for parts to a story it’s easier to show character change, like we did with Oxley in

Warriors of the Sky.

Anything more was a risk. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE: So, we treated the player as a hero fighting the good fight alongside Indiana Jones

JON: And we encountered a temptation to ignore adventure genre story tropes as merely

cliches or stereotypes.

But we realized these archetypal elements are what makes these stories popular and

successful, so we embraced them.

STEVE: In the same way, we learned that mapping the formula to the gameplay system

afforded us a consistent structure we could rely on.

Though there’s a tendency to avoid formula in order to stay fresh and innovative, in a live

game, this can mean unpredictable quality.

What each designer came to find was that by accepting certain strictures they were able and

the writer was able to make it the formula work in unique and interesting ways.

JON: By trusting and using the components – and filling in the gaps where necessary with

writing that supported gameplay while reminding players of the narrative track… We did

what we did.

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“Let’s talk about what its like for a writer and a designer to work together positively.”

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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•We explored many forms of chaptering, episodic forms, and even mini-stories

•In the end, we had one chapter for release at launch intended for at least a month of gameplay

•All these things have been done in gaming for years, but NOT in social gaming in an

interactive narrative format

•Lessons from Social Gaming, from MMOs, from RPGs, synthesized together

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Original game “Quest” was developed to have a different narrative need

40 maps with self-contained storylines

1 chapter of chained narrative story

this didn't work right, we needed small chains of connected stories

As mentioned before what we needed was a writer

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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•Someone to oversee and hold the big picture

•Someone to edit everyone

• You can’t edit your own text! – Steve

•Someone to champion characters and story formula within gameplay

•Someone to chronicle the individual stories

•Someone to build our narrative voice

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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We quickly evolved from one-off stories to a connected series of related maps with interesting

decisions in each.

The first time we released a chained set of maps with story was the four-part series of

Halloween seasonal content. It was a tale of dark ritual and the possession of villagers that led

the player from a graveyard down into caverns and a volcano.

Next, in a set of three maps involving poachers we began to work on exploring non-player

character change in a release. The character Trip attempts to woo Emily Balderdash by playing

the hero and taking credit for the tasks the player completes. It established that character’s

egoism, Emily’s empathy for animals, and introduced an on-again off-again potential romance.

We then went on to a distinctly titled release of chained content in four maps, which included

for the first time some of our first ideas for innovation: Mask of the Hunter

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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This conversation leads to a player decision in which they can choose to give the Mask of the

Hunter to one of two npcs on the map. Multiple endings to the map chain based on player

choice.

The obvious question was asked, is this amount of effort worthwhile for our game and this

genre

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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I would argue yes, and we tried other experiments as well

•We knew that text engages the audience, too – let's see if they get it.

•We built an acrostic puzzle and hid the pieces of it within a map.

•Naturally, it only took players only a few hours from release to solve it.

•The pieces of the puzzle spelled out the name of the map series, “MASK OF THE

HUNTER.”

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Text has its own gameplay

Text can be collectible!

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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Calendar of the Sun was written and blocked out for Indiana Jones

We wanted to do the license proud.

If players ever get bored seeing Indy, we failed

Continued…

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Our first big engagement with the whole IP was in this map series – we asked if we could use

Forrestal, a character that movie-goers will remember as the nasty corpse Indy finds in a

temple. LucasArts loved the idea, and we wrote him in as a minor villain.

STEVE START NEXT SLIDE

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We know the year, 1934. How do we use this?

Warriors of the Sky: a young, sane Harold Oxley

Oxley: a tale of the birth of obsession

But we were missing something uniquely part of the Indiana Jones mythos

A LOOMING ANTAGONIST

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE BEGINS

Bad Guys used to be a vague concept of “Mercenaries”

Bad Guys = Brotherhood of the Eclipse

JON: Too vague a threat, we need a face on our opposition

STEVE: It must be 1930’s serial, mysterious, unambiguous: Man with the Silver Eye

How do we introduce this villain:

Forrestal was a known minor villain, and we used him to point to our new character, the big

villain.

Forrestal also introduced our main story drive:

“What was the villain up to?”

“Where was this Man with the Silver Eye headed next?”

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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EGYPT

Perfect storm of anticipation, gameplay, story, and IP

Our most ambitious story attempt!

We had plenty of time to do it right

Too big to try again on our cadence

Story and setting = hugely popular

This surfaced the problem of sustained engagement in a story because we had three weeks of

content with the same connected story

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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JONATHON STARTS SLIDE

JON: Hey Steve, it’s been an hour since we realized the Library of Alexandria map won’t look

like the Library of Alexandria, how about this – we go with the fact that it’s not really a

library…

STEVE: I really want to burn down a library.

JON: Hold on, though, Indy and Sallah argue over the same issue – is it really a library or not?

– during the previous map.

STEVE: If it’s a tomb, this means the original library was moved here… [CLICK]

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JON: Yes, so Indy is right that it’s a tomb, and not the original Library of Alexandria

STEVE: But Sallah is right because it houses scrolls from the ancient library…. Let’s burn it

down! But, why would the villain burn it down…? Because…

JON: … he is trying to hide the location of the map that leads to the final treasure

JONATHON

So we turned it into conflict and make the issue relevant to the story

At the end of the prior map, set up an argument between Sallah and Indy about what this place

is – even foreshadow it in the early Indy letters – make it an event with suspense for discovery

- something the players will tune in next week to find out.

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STEVE: Good game design = large aspirational goals and small incremental achievements, big

carrots, little carrots

JON: Just the same way that good dramatic story = major dramatic goal and small mini-goals

STEVE: Rescoping the narrative design:

•From

• 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 = 9

•To

• Letters and incident = Sallah's captured by MWTSE

• (1,2,3) → 4 = Library, Map, Crook & Flail

• (5, 6, 7) → 8 = Sphinx Entrance, use key, learn why

• (9) = Inside the Sphinx, final moment, recover object

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

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JONATHON SLIDE

Egypt was ambitious for the size of our design team

Split into 2 content teams, leapfrogging over each other to release

Each team also had one designer handle narrative consistency with the writer

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STEVE SLIDE

Re-focused our content cadence based on what we have learned

This “two week plan” benefited the designers in many ways, but really cemented the role of

the writer in the process at all important points

NOTE: NOT THERE ARE NOT NINE MAPS IN THIS RELEASE.

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STEVE SLIDE

Zynga desired solid narrative, and it was deemed important to the game and the design

process.

Once the writer and the designers collaborated, we took risks and tried new things.

This paid off, but we learned the limits of our team.

What was it like to stay on cadence every week, at all costs?

[CLICKFEST]

JONATHON NEXT SLIDE

65

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TWO WEEKS IN THE LIFE…

OF INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE WORLD

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STEVE SLIDE

TUESDAY: “Develop the Pitch” - designers, free from all constraints, what story to tell, what

gameplay to develop, oh crap what’s in the pitch, it’s seldom “what story do you want to tell,”

but “what level are you going to design,”

It IS important to allow the level designer to determine the ground and the gameplay (tileset)

before we get deep into story.

WEDNESDAY – Creatives Presentation - “Present the Pitch” other designers only – including

the writer which allowed a round of feedback and iteration on the pitch before…

THURSDAY - All Presentation - PM would put in business goals, Art would bid and suggest

changes - Design and story must be essentially complete before this step! Or... that’s the ideal

condition. Sometime we just had to roll with the punches.

JONATHON TAKE OVER

Meanwhile, I am working on release content for the other pod... During high level concept work

for one pod -- specific text work for the other pod for release – Both T-minus two weeks and T-

minus one week at the same time!

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STEVE SLIDE

Friday to Tuesday was the easy time if you like to build maps, which many of us do – it was

kind of relaxing after the pitch time.

The writer may pop I with suggestions based on research he did, but generally this was the

designer’s time to work alone and nail the map

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STEVE STARTS SLIDE

On Wednesday, designers would write the rough draft for the text with some help from the

writer, meanwhile the map is travelling through art for the art pass and through code if there is

new gameplay on the map.

JONATHON TAKE OVER

Writer - preparatory, set up rough draft text in spreadsheet tool

Thursday - First/early text pass by writer, designer does other stuff, available for writer when

needed

On Friday we continue with a Consistency Text Pass to ensure that the implementation of

changes is correct across all maps.

At this point I am also preparing spreadsheets to send this text to Lucas for approval

“Steve: The stress is mounting…”

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STEVE SLIDE

On Monday, QA owns our maps, and our text – the writer is doing final preparations for

exporting for localization. QA will have been banging on these maps since last week, but now

we’re in their hands.

On Tuesday… release?

Or, you know, maybe on Wednesday for larger releases and during tricky new systems.

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

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STEVE SLIDE

Of course this is an example of the ideal schedule we developed, and of course we glossed

over a lot of other steps that aren’t relevant to narrative design.

If there are problems we often found ourselves able to piggyback on smaller releases we had

scheduled, and this also is when we start monitoring both the Community and the metrics for

how the release fared.

With this ideal schedule we showed time and again the union of good game design, good

business goals, and good writing produced our best content.

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STEVE SLIDE

[CLICKFEST]

STEVE NEXT SLIDE

75

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STEVE TAKES IT HOME

In our first episode we discussed the realities of regularly shipping content in a live game, how

we served up sliders of content with simple storytelling moments.

[CLICK]

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In episode 2 we talked about how we transitioned from Quest to Indiana Jones, the advantage

in social games of having a ready-made IP, and the delights of working with our IP partners at

LucasArts.

[CLICK]

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Episode 3 was about our personal take on story, how narrative text and narrative map design

meshed quite nicely, and the use of connective tissue to make it hang together.

[CLICK]

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For Episode 4 we talked about some of the narrative strategies we tried, and the lessons they

taught us.

[CLICK]

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Finally, in Episode 5 we showed how the schedule and structure we arrived at worked for us,

and how regular content releases worked in our studio.

[CLICK]

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STEVE SLIDE