2011.03.11 GDC2011:SWERY's Session Report page.1

Game Design in the Coffee. 1
~ Lovable Game Design by SWERY ~

In GDC2011, Director SWERY of ACCESS GAMES lectured on game design philosophy on Mar 3.


Good evening everyone. My name is Swery from Access Games.
I am the director and writer for Deadly Premonition.

I am honored to be able to speak with you today.
And I'd like to express my gratitude to those who made today possible.
Thank you!
And to those who took part in the video, thank you guys too!

Now, today, I'd like to talk a little about what I've learned through the process of making games, specifically about some tips regarding storyline creation and game design.

Point 01:
Make gamers think about your game when they aren't playing it

Games you don't remember when you aren't playing them are already dead.

1. Main character's desire to smoke is contagious to the player in front of the TV

 Gamers who smoke have said this alot. When York lights up a cigarette, it makes them want to light up a cigarette too. So there's a cause and effect going on.
Having as many of these scenes in the game that causes an effect to the player, is a good thing.

2.Main character's desire to eat, sleep, and shave (stay clean) also affect the player

In the same fashion, Deadly Premonition has sleeping, hunger, shaving and showering.
Though these seem totally unnecessary at first glance, help with the cause and effect, because they act as reminders to the player.
It's not about "seeing the character go to sleep and so I should do the same", it's more about, having what goes on in the TV screen acting as a REMINDER to  the player, like " oh, I better some sleep" or"Oh, I better eat something". These REMINDERs in life, are interesting because they go into a special part of your brain, a place that remembers them, so the next time you shave or go to bed, it's linked in some way to Deadly Premonition.

3.Memorable and Relatable:"Fortune Telling Coffee" and "Conversations About Old Movies"

 Swery likes to put daily human needs, physiological, deep desires into the game because they help causing an effect to the player who is sitting outside of the TV screen. And for Deadly Premonition, we took another step forward and put in some playful elements.

Fortune Telling Coffee and Conversations about old movies.

 People have come to us and say that they've taken deep looks into their mugs of coffee for signs of heavenly messages.
Or, that they've rented one of the movies that York talks about in the car.

 These fun elements helped us make players, remember the game.
Regardless of whether it occured days or months after they finished the game, simply having a cup of coffee or seeing an old movie, would trigger memories linked to Deadly Premonition.

Point 02:
Make gamers "want" to play through your meticulously scripted story

1.The 3rd Method for Creating a Sense of Freedom in a Story with Deadly Premonition

 Here are 2 commonly known methods that would help, multiple endings and side quests.
In Deadly Premonition, we chose a third method.
It was experimental, and we called it the freedom of timing.
Freedom of timing, basically means allowing for a change of heart.

2.Standard quest flow and DP's quest flow

 While moving forward in a quest, there are times when you want to change your mind and not follow that quest. Doing so though equals failure.
That's the standard game flow.

But for DP, we thought that should be allowed as a player's decision.
And so we spent some time to make an extra branch so that the player can have that as an option.
This allowed players to feel better about taking a break from the game, and this allowance of a "change of heart" if you will, makes the player feel more comfortable, and cooperative with the story.

3.By supporting and allowing for the player's "Change of Heart" we strengthen the sense of "freedom" and mitigate the sense of "being forced to do something against our will"

In the flow in the last slide, if the player fails to move forward, he fails, and so he is given a hint and is scolded at the same time. It was like that in Spy Fiction another game that Swery made a while back. "What are you doing! Mission failed!"

But in DP, we wanted York to go along with the player when the player changes his mind.

"That's exactly what I was thinking!"

 And when the player hears that kind of friendly response, it causes the player to feel more comfortable, more in control and hence a refreshing sense of freedom.

 In Deadly Premonition, we even made one of the important characters say that you have no need to rush.
Modifiying the story to confirm that it is ok to change your mind, allows for the player's desires to be fulfulled.

4.Earn the Player's "Cooperation with the Story" and "Suspension of Disbelief"

So to recap.

And once that's done, The gamer will "cooperate" with the story, if you will, and proceed along the path that you create.

Point 03:Create a storyline for a free roaming open world game

Single Path Storyline and DP's Storyline

Normally you'd do what's on the left. Synopsis, plot creation, character list generation, storyline creation. It's not uncommon that you'd start making the map and figure out all of the details of your character's backgrounds, after all of this has been done.

But for DP we did what's on the right. Synopsis, Map and Character Details, then figured out details of the map and what the characters would be doing on a 24 hour timetable, then create the plot and the storyline.


The characters and universe are just as important as the storyline.

When we started DP there weren't many games that we could refer to that had open field/freeroaming game play.
So we had to figure out a way to do this on our own.
The player is going to be placed in this world for a long period of time, and so the "stage" the town of Greenvale is very important.
Then I thought we could figure out who would live there.
That way, we can have a really rich, dense or deep universe.

And in hindsight, since the detailed story was written after the setting and the characters were made, one might say that it was created more like a TV series or a weekly manga magazine than a movie.

Part 2 >>