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Narrative Design Challenges in F2P Games | Ieva Pikutyte


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Delivered at Casual Connect Eastern Europe 2018. The F2P market is a tricky minefield to navigate. We're still learning how to enrich core loops with narrative to increase the value of our games. As play sessions and attention spans get shorter, designers must go beyond dialogue to tell rich stories. This lecture explores recent narrative techniques to boost retention for your mobile game. How do we pace and embed stories to drive engagement? Is worldbuilding effective in F2P? How can we give players agency to shape their own stories? It's a new dawn for narrative.

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Narrative Design Challenges in F2P Games | Ieva Pikutyte

  1. 1. Narrative Design Challenges in F2P Games Ieva Pikutytė
  2. 2. About Me Ieva Pikutytė Game Designer Nordcurrent • 16 years in the industry • 200+ people in Vilnius, Warsaw and Odessa • Development and publishing of F2P games
  3. 3. What We’ll Discuss issues techniques Case Study
  4. 4. A Competitive Edge Source: SensorTower, Games iPhone USA (2018 08 01) Is there a place for narrative in the top grossing?
  5. 5. Narrative... Who? Cutscene hero? Dialogue writer? Narrative paramedic?
  6. 6. Four Horsemen of the NARRATIVE APOCALYPSE 1. “We’ll just handle narrative in Beta.” 2. “You cannot tell stories in endless F2P games.” 3. “Only an epic storyline will do.” 4. “Mobile players don’t care for narrative.”
  7. 7. Challenges for Stories in F2P Mobile
  8. 8. Challenges for Stories in F2P Mobile
  9. 9. How Narrative Can Help emotionally invested positive attachments
  10. 10. Narrative Techniques to MAKE YOUR PLAYERS CARE
  11. 11. Appealing to Player Ego Kim Kardashian: Hollywood Sniper Arena City of Love: Paris
  12. 12. Giving Players Agency to Succeed
  13. 13. Only YOU can solve the crime! Murder in the Alps (Nordcurrent)
  14. 14. Worldbuilding on Small Screens • SHOW, DON‘T TELL. • PLAY, DON’T SHOW!
  15. 15. Environmental Storytelling Murder in the Alps (Nordcurrent)
  16. 16. Telling Stories in Core Loops Exposition Character building June’s Journey (Wooga)
  17. 17. Character Building Murder in the Alps (Nordcurrent)
  18. 18. Creating Engaging Characters human emotions and qualities
  19. 19. Believable and Engaging! Paradise Bay (King); Homescapes (Playrix)
  20. 20. Characters on Social Media Cooking Fever (Nordcurrent) • Character Bio • Dynamics
  21. 21. Less Dialogue is More: Case Study THE ORDER OF TIME GUARDIANS The Order of Time Guardians (Nordcurrent)
  22. 22. The Initial Results (1) The Order of Time Guardians (Nordcurrent)
  23. 23. The Initial Results (2) • Players were overwhelmed with exposition • They wanted to play the game! The Order of Time Guardians (Nordcurrent)
  24. 24. What We Did SKIP The Order of Time Guardians (Nordcurrent)
  25. 25. After Dialogues Were Tweaked • Increased engagement and retention • “Skip” rate relatively low and decreasing The Order of Time Guardians (Nordcurrent)
  26. 26. General Dialogue Tips • Embrace the SKIP button! This lasagne is our ticket to success! Just bring me some tomatoes. Will do!
  27. 27. Make the Best of Flavour Text • Sets the game’s tone and gives short narrative bursts • Item descriptions • Skills and abilities • Achievement titles • Etc. Fallout Shelter (Bethesda); Dead Island: Survivors (Deep Silver)
  28. 28. F2P: Events as Characters • Taps into human nurturing instincts • Not a progress bar, but a character to care for Farm Heroes Saga (King)
  29. 29. F2P: In-Apps as Characters Not just a currency purchase, but an adoption Kitty City: Kitty Cat Farm Simulator Game (Jam City, Inc.)
  30. 30. F2P: Narrative-based Gating • Waiting for… • Crops to grow • Meals to be cooked • Seats to be emptied Happy Cafe (Nordcurrent)
  31. 31. F2P: Social Features as Stories Happy Cafe (Nordcurrent)
  32. 32. F2P: Video Ads as Fiction Empires & Puzzles (Small Giant Games)
  33. 33. CONCLUSION engage players emotionally!
  34. 34. Thank you! Contact me: