October 16, 2019

Rethinking the storytelling experience

I've been thinking quite a bit about how the story will be experienced, and so far I think that the traditional choice-based branching narrative is the proper way to go. This is opposed to room-by-room contextual exploration.

What has been bothering me in particular is the presentation. Typically, choices are given at the bottom. Go left, or go right. I'm not sure I like it quite like that. Another thing that bugs me is that after selection, it goes to a new page altogether. I mentioned previously that choice-based IF typically follows the experience of reading a physical book. I don't believe that is necessary any longer.

If we want our work to be read by more people, we have to change our flows and stories to match how things are experienced nowadays. My target is for my stories to be read on mobile phones. So I'll want my overall user experience to be soft on the eyes, able to be consumed in short bursts, and most importantly scroll downwards as the story progresses.

The scrolling is critical because it does two things at once. First, it serves as an automatic archive that the player can go back and read. Second, it mimics how content is experienced on phones in the first place - immediate and chronological.

Instead of having links, I'm thinking of implementing a customizable hotbar with character powers. Choosing these at each new story snippet is what advances the story forward, and in a way hides the branches and their potential consequences.

I'll have some prototypes whipped up soon, but in the meantime I have to see if my current narrative flows fit this experience. I don't think it does, and will have to restructure them so it's more obvious.

More soon.