Here’s a hot take:
People playing games don’t really want to read the mountains of backstory or lore or plot text that you’ve written for your game. Some of us do, for sure, and people on Twitch certainly make it seem like people do, but for them it’s a part of the experience and performance of being on Twitch.
Unfortunately, most people button mash through text if the game allows them to, barely reading beyond what’s necessary, and then looking at the quest details to get a summary of what to do next. (To be clear, I don’t often do this, but have seen many people do it!)
So, Ken Levine helped usher in the era of Audio Diaries in games, and forever changed how we experience narrative. Unfortunately, that’s become a bit overused as a safe bet choice for design. Outside of fully voice acting and motion capturing scenes (like Uncharted for example), which very few studios can afford, what other design solutions are there to this problem?
1) I think that at the top of it all is to create interesting worlds that people want to spend time in. This isn’t a solution to the problem at all, but a way to mitigate the number of people who aren’t interested enough to read.
2) Respect the player’s time. Don’t expect them to read 5 paragraphs, just give them 1. If you do this enough throughout the game, you’ll have the player’s trust that in the instance when you NEED to give them 5 paragraphs to understand something, they’ll be more likely to read it.
3) One well-written, short (and voice acted if possible) scene is worth 5 text-heavy scenes.
4) Experiment with other ways to present your text and story. Give players a reason to read it, make a quest that tells the story rather than a player reading about it, etc.
[ Today I Was Playing: Tales from the Borderlands and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time ]
June 30, 2017