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Narrative Play
In Suburra - the Series Game
Who’s this guy?
Vincenzo Santalucia
10+ years’ experience in Digital Contents Design.
Visual Design
Art Direction and Graphic design
for e-learning, publishing
industry, entertainment, applied
games
Interaction Design
Heuristic evaluations, UI/UX
design and development for
mobile apps, softwares, games,
web sites
Game Design
Core System design, level
design, game based learning,
fluff-free gamification
Disclaimer
I’m also a teacher. Please don’t judge
Brief
Re-engage users in the story
thanks to
1. A new opportunity to
immerse in the story world
2. A new way to interact with
the contents
Relationship with the series
• The game arises from the series but is engaging as a game
• The game takes advantage from the popular contents of the
series
• The game doesn't contradict the series in any way
• The game hermetically reveals something from the next series in
advance
Fantasy
I want to immerse in a extraordinary world
Narrative
I want to unveil an exciting story
Challenge
I will be rewarded for overcoming obstacles
Core Aesthetic
And since it’s a game:
The game asks the player to take
meaningful choices which imply a
dilemma and have integrated
consequences
And since it’s a story driven game:
Story and gameplay of the game don't
contradict each other but are different
ways to communicate the same idea
That means avoiding..
The gameplay contradicts the story
which the game is trying to tell.
Ludonarrative dissonance
• It creates a disconnection between
the player and his avatar
• It compromises the suspension of
disbelief
• It bring the player to lose interest in
the story
Where is the problem?
• You want for your player the
best narrative experience
• You want the player feeling
free to take choices
• You cannot directly control the
player intentions
Why in games it’s harder
There is some technique to deal with the issue…
Commit to killing artificial rules Bring meta-elements to a diegetic level
And some solution which I don’t prefer
Suspend agency in key moments Pretend the player won’t care
What I’d recommend is
DO NOT START FROM THE
STORY
Risks of starting from story
Falling in an extensive approach
There are so many verbs in a story; how many of
them will become game mechanics?
Losing focus on player agency
Things must happen, no matter player preferences.
Will the player perceive to have control?
Losing design resilience
When the development will be in late, cutting things
will be quite harder
Better starting from game
mechanics?
Not if narrative is a core aesthetic
Starting from the Theme
What is the game about?
Game Theme
Loyalty vs
Selfishness
The game is about ambition and the
being part of a group. Both
Gameplay and story provide a
conflict for the player as she goes in
each of the two directions.
What is the series about?
Drama arises from the relation
between the main characters,
which share the same interior
conflict:
• They must be unattached,
arrogant, brutal and ruthless
(the world goes this way)
• They are (still) human beings
with feelings and desires
From the player perspective
By showing their weaknesses or lingering on
moments of humanity, the camera gives to
the audience the opportunity to bond with the
main characters.
Those moment are actually rewards for the
player which is constantly looking for
humanity.
How is the conflict staged in the game?
We must spoil the
gameplay a bit…
Game Concept
SUBURRA - THE SERIES GAME
An adventure/detective game which puts you in the role of Aureliano, Spadino
e Lele on the trail of a suitcase stolen to the vatican and asks you to choose
between loyalty and personal profit.
Time settings
Suburra 7.5
Unity of purpose
For the player to feel the sense of
progression he must advance toward a
clear, desiderable goal. So, the playable
characters mush share a common interest.
The series' episodes in which Spadino,
Aureliano and Lele are more bonded by
unity of purpose are the 5 to 7.
Ep 5-7 are also the
ones with more
“reward” scene
Hero’s journey
In the series:
Can't find my place > I rule the world
(from inadequate to overcoming father)
In the game:
I'm part of a team > I come first
(from comprimary to leading role)
ACT 1 - SETUP ACT 2 - CONFRONTATION ACT 3 - RESOLUTION
Chapter 1
Main actions: talk, explore
Main message: Find the searched-thing to get the
reward-1
Main clue: Start searching from here
Meeting: sharing mandatory
Chapter 3
Main actions: fight
Main message: This is your enemy
Main clue: You should look down there
Meeting: Sharing is quite useful
Chapter 6
Main actions: talk, fight
Main message: searched-thing is more precious than
you thought
Dilemma:
A. Go on with the plan for reward-1
B. Run alone for reward-2
If A:
Ending1: Clan-mates blame you for something and
keep for them most of Reward-1
If B:
Main clue: Here's how to get reward-2
Chapter 4
Main actions: explore
Main message: Get ready for the battle
Main clue: Searched-thing is there
Meeting: Sharing demanded, probable quarrel
Chapter 2
Main actions: explore, fight
Main message: This is the trail
Main clue: You should look for this
Meeting: Sharing is very useful
Chapter 5
Main actions: fight
Main Message: is union in strength?
Main clue: here is the searched-thing
Meeting: Sharing demanded, quarrel is sure
Chapter 7
Main actions: fight, talk
Main message: Betraying was the best thing to do
Ending 2: You get reward-2. Clan-mates will never
know
Story Structure
At the end of every chapter you’re invited to a meeting
with your clanmates.
At the meeting you will be asked to share information
and items you found. You can decide to:
● Share all the items: All your items will be
redistributed.
You’ll get a poor result.
● Don’t share anything: You tell to clanmates you
didn’t find anything at all.
You won’t able to switch character in the next level.
The meeting rule
The Trust score
Narrative Level
If I'm loyal, I’ll get the "lame" ending
If I'm selfish, I can't switch player
Gameplay Level
If I alway share, I’ll be poorly equipped
If I never share, I'll be killed by clanmates
Theme and conflict
AR Mechanics
The player can hide in his real room an
item from the character's inventory and
reducing the disadvantages coming from
a "share" choice.
BUT
The item can be found from any other
player of the game: you might try to cheat
and be cheated yourself!
Working for resonance
Design the whole experience
grazie.
twitter: vincenzosan
www.vincenzosantalucia.com
Bonus slides
The end is never the end is never…
Hero’s journey
1 Call to Adventure: AC got a chance to get money
2 Refusal: AC at home, feeling far from the goal
3 Meeting with the Mentor - Crossing the threshold:
AC finds a trail to follow
4 Tests, Allies and Enemies: AC talks, menaces,
punches npc. AC gets from a clanmate the information
to progress.
5 Approach: AC encounter his enemy and has the first
tough fight. He gets closer to the suitcase and gets a
gun.
6 Ordeal: AC and clanmates are involved in a shooting
and defeat their enemies.
7 Reward: AC find the suitcase. Crisis in the clan.
8 Road Back:
[1] AC decide to return the suitcase and share the
money with clanmates
[2] AC decides he'll claim a bigger reward.
9 Resurrection:
[1] AC is hurt but alive. He got almost no profit and he
decide next time he'll care of himself first
[2] AC is hurt but gets a large profit.
10 Return with the Elisir:
[2] AC is happy for succeeding to exploit the situation.
He knows he wont have problem to hide the truth.

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Immerse in the Story of Suburra - The Series

  • 1. Narrative Play In Suburra - the Series Game
  • 2. Who’s this guy? Vincenzo Santalucia 10+ years’ experience in Digital Contents Design. Visual Design Art Direction and Graphic design for e-learning, publishing industry, entertainment, applied games Interaction Design Heuristic evaluations, UI/UX design and development for mobile apps, softwares, games, web sites Game Design Core System design, level design, game based learning, fluff-free gamification
  • 3. Disclaimer I’m also a teacher. Please don’t judge
  • 4.
  • 5. Brief Re-engage users in the story thanks to 1. A new opportunity to immerse in the story world 2. A new way to interact with the contents
  • 6. Relationship with the series • The game arises from the series but is engaging as a game • The game takes advantage from the popular contents of the series • The game doesn't contradict the series in any way • The game hermetically reveals something from the next series in advance
  • 7. Fantasy I want to immerse in a extraordinary world Narrative I want to unveil an exciting story Challenge I will be rewarded for overcoming obstacles Core Aesthetic
  • 8. And since it’s a game: The game asks the player to take meaningful choices which imply a dilemma and have integrated consequences
  • 9. And since it’s a story driven game: Story and gameplay of the game don't contradict each other but are different ways to communicate the same idea
  • 11. The gameplay contradicts the story which the game is trying to tell. Ludonarrative dissonance
  • 12. • It creates a disconnection between the player and his avatar • It compromises the suspension of disbelief • It bring the player to lose interest in the story Where is the problem?
  • 13. • You want for your player the best narrative experience • You want the player feeling free to take choices • You cannot directly control the player intentions Why in games it’s harder
  • 14. There is some technique to deal with the issue… Commit to killing artificial rules Bring meta-elements to a diegetic level
  • 15. And some solution which I don’t prefer Suspend agency in key moments Pretend the player won’t care
  • 16. What I’d recommend is DO NOT START FROM THE STORY
  • 17. Risks of starting from story Falling in an extensive approach There are so many verbs in a story; how many of them will become game mechanics? Losing focus on player agency Things must happen, no matter player preferences. Will the player perceive to have control? Losing design resilience When the development will be in late, cutting things will be quite harder
  • 18. Better starting from game mechanics? Not if narrative is a core aesthetic
  • 19. Starting from the Theme What is the game about?
  • 20.
  • 21. Game Theme Loyalty vs Selfishness The game is about ambition and the being part of a group. Both Gameplay and story provide a conflict for the player as she goes in each of the two directions.
  • 22. What is the series about? Drama arises from the relation between the main characters, which share the same interior conflict: • They must be unattached, arrogant, brutal and ruthless (the world goes this way) • They are (still) human beings with feelings and desires
  • 23. From the player perspective By showing their weaknesses or lingering on moments of humanity, the camera gives to the audience the opportunity to bond with the main characters. Those moment are actually rewards for the player which is constantly looking for humanity.
  • 24. How is the conflict staged in the game? We must spoil the gameplay a bit…
  • 25. Game Concept SUBURRA - THE SERIES GAME An adventure/detective game which puts you in the role of Aureliano, Spadino e Lele on the trail of a suitcase stolen to the vatican and asks you to choose between loyalty and personal profit.
  • 27. Unity of purpose For the player to feel the sense of progression he must advance toward a clear, desiderable goal. So, the playable characters mush share a common interest. The series' episodes in which Spadino, Aureliano and Lele are more bonded by unity of purpose are the 5 to 7. Ep 5-7 are also the ones with more “reward” scene
  • 28. Hero’s journey In the series: Can't find my place > I rule the world (from inadequate to overcoming father) In the game: I'm part of a team > I come first (from comprimary to leading role)
  • 29. ACT 1 - SETUP ACT 2 - CONFRONTATION ACT 3 - RESOLUTION Chapter 1 Main actions: talk, explore Main message: Find the searched-thing to get the reward-1 Main clue: Start searching from here Meeting: sharing mandatory Chapter 3 Main actions: fight Main message: This is your enemy Main clue: You should look down there Meeting: Sharing is quite useful Chapter 6 Main actions: talk, fight Main message: searched-thing is more precious than you thought Dilemma: A. Go on with the plan for reward-1 B. Run alone for reward-2 If A: Ending1: Clan-mates blame you for something and keep for them most of Reward-1 If B: Main clue: Here's how to get reward-2 Chapter 4 Main actions: explore Main message: Get ready for the battle Main clue: Searched-thing is there Meeting: Sharing demanded, probable quarrel Chapter 2 Main actions: explore, fight Main message: This is the trail Main clue: You should look for this Meeting: Sharing is very useful Chapter 5 Main actions: fight Main Message: is union in strength? Main clue: here is the searched-thing Meeting: Sharing demanded, quarrel is sure Chapter 7 Main actions: fight, talk Main message: Betraying was the best thing to do Ending 2: You get reward-2. Clan-mates will never know Story Structure
  • 30. At the end of every chapter you’re invited to a meeting with your clanmates. At the meeting you will be asked to share information and items you found. You can decide to: ● Share all the items: All your items will be redistributed. You’ll get a poor result. ● Don’t share anything: You tell to clanmates you didn’t find anything at all. You won’t able to switch character in the next level. The meeting rule
  • 32. Narrative Level If I'm loyal, I’ll get the "lame" ending If I'm selfish, I can't switch player Gameplay Level If I alway share, I’ll be poorly equipped If I never share, I'll be killed by clanmates Theme and conflict
  • 33. AR Mechanics The player can hide in his real room an item from the character's inventory and reducing the disadvantages coming from a "share" choice. BUT The item can be found from any other player of the game: you might try to cheat and be cheated yourself! Working for resonance
  • 34. Design the whole experience
  • 35.
  • 37. Bonus slides The end is never the end is never…
  • 38. Hero’s journey 1 Call to Adventure: AC got a chance to get money 2 Refusal: AC at home, feeling far from the goal 3 Meeting with the Mentor - Crossing the threshold: AC finds a trail to follow 4 Tests, Allies and Enemies: AC talks, menaces, punches npc. AC gets from a clanmate the information to progress. 5 Approach: AC encounter his enemy and has the first tough fight. He gets closer to the suitcase and gets a gun. 6 Ordeal: AC and clanmates are involved in a shooting and defeat their enemies. 7 Reward: AC find the suitcase. Crisis in the clan. 8 Road Back: [1] AC decide to return the suitcase and share the money with clanmates [2] AC decides he'll claim a bigger reward. 9 Resurrection: [1] AC is hurt but alive. He got almost no profit and he decide next time he'll care of himself first [2] AC is hurt but gets a large profit. 10 Return with the Elisir: [2] AC is happy for succeeding to exploit the situation. He knows he wont have problem to hide the truth.

Editor's Notes

  1. Tomb Rider: in cutscene si vede Lara super dispiaciuta per il cerco – subito dopo puoi sbloccare una skill -> guadagna XP per frugare corpi animali
  2. È un problema grave se narrativa è core aesthetic Sospensione incredulità – esempi firma per terreni, scassinare porte Achiev - gunpoint
  3. Migliore esperienza narrativa implica una curva di interesse abbastanza precisa – meglio se guidato Esempio: gioco di corsa, sorpasso all’ultimo momento
  4. ICO – Niente barra salute, niente particolari mosse di attacco (evitare che giocatori si concentri sul combattimento) Firewatch – il sistema di navigazione non introduce un livello di separazione tra giocatore e gioco – esempio in Suburra SMS per meeting
  5. Abbassi la tensione proprio dove dovrebbe essere più alta -> rovini l’esperienza Lasci passare idea che in un gioco storia e gameplay siano aspetti separati e giudicabili a parte (es. film Storia / Regia )
  6. Nella serie personaggi hanno imperativo morale di autorealizzazione..
  7. I personaggi sono in fuga da una morale crudele. Cercano un posto e sanno che devono trovarlo all’interno di quel mondo. Sanno che devono essere feroci, spietati Non cercano di cambiare le regole.
  8. Giocatore vive lo stesso conflitto. Quando mi affeziono a pg? 1. Gli succede qualcosa di ingiusto (compassione) 2. Fa qualcosa di umano (simpatia)
  9. lealtà - tornaconto
  10. Come viene vestito il tema? Per arrivarci dobbiamo svelare qualcosa
  11. Ogni capitolo ha una funzione narrativa (message) e un indizio (gancio per prossimo capitolo)
  12. Punti di interesse e estetiche . Nota che il riferimento non è solo a estetica narrativa e fantasy.
  13. La storia è stata definita inizialmente solo a livello strutturale