Making a narrative game that is also a puzzle game isn’t always easy. Crafting the art and puzzle pieces are one thing, but giving the user the freedom to craft their own story as long as the pieces fit creates a whole new interesting dynamic of complications that Daniel Benmergui and Annapurna Interactive’s Storyteller still manages to navigate to charming effect. We sat down with Benmergui to talk about how some of the more difficult elements of Storyteller came to create the full picture.
Benmergui conceived Storyteller as a puzzle with a massive array out of possible outcomes. A large portion of the challenge was always trying to balance player freedom, the constraints of the game, and what we could do with the story. In early versions of the game, Benmergui noticed that some players actually created solutions for the game that the development team never thought of. Rather than shy away from it, the team instead embraced the chaos and incorporated some of that silliness into the game. Benmergui still claims there could be some solutions that the devs would never have thought of.
Ultimately, Storyteller became a matter of balancing two major elements: allowing players the freedom to come to their favored solution among the many and building just enough constraints to keep the player from veering too far off course while still having a satisfying toy box to play with in the game’s puzzles. He compares it to the classic title Scribblenauts where players had similar freedom, but it could very much be abused for the player to do as they pleased. Benmergui claims the team experimented a lot to ensure that the player still had some boundaries to make the puzzles sensible.
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TJ Denzer posted a new article, Storyteller co-designer talks blending puzzle, art, & branching narrative design
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