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Transmedia Zurich
Mark Melnykowycz

World Building and Character
Development

Dec. 2nd 2013
Colab Zurich
Transmedia Toolkit
What is Transmedia
World Building Basics

http://www.transmediazh.ch/
http://www.meetup.com/Transmedia-Zurich/
Meetups

Ideas

Experiences

Transmedia Toolkit

Story

Consumption

www.transmediatoolkit.org

Container
Why Transmedia?
Media

Channels
Story

Engagement

Transmedia

Users

Narrative

Audience
Emotions
World Building
The over-arching purpose of building a world
is to setup the context and conflict for the
characters. They may triumph in a traditional
story structure, but only because they have
the opportunity to, either by their own
devices or by being placed in a unique
situation.
Story Structure and
Conflict
A Generic Story
Character presented with challenge
Generic Hero

Generic Threat

Character overcomes challenges

Finds courage...

Character evolves

Triumphs!
Character Change Through Conflict
Character evolves
A character evolves/
changes due to
conflict inherent
in the story

Relationships
Environment
Story Development

Character Driven

World Driven

Generic environment,
used as a setting for
character interaction to
take place.

The story of a character
in a given environment,
which forces action /
conflict

...character traits stay the
same

...become a different person

How will the world affect
character development?
Traditional
action hero

Contemporary
super hero

Die Hard
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ironman, Thor, Spiderman,
etc.

Watchmen
Dark Night
Man of Steel
X-men

Simple dialogue, hero never
dies, always triumphs.

Question their actions and
place in the story, supporting
characters die, like real life.

Good vs. Evil

Good? vs. Grey Zone
World Building Basics
Characters
Characters represent
the windows through
which the audience
experiences the story
by emphasizing with
those characters and
their choices/actions.

Conflict

Story

Conflict is the reason
that characters grow
and evolve, the reason
why they change, and
teach the audience how
to live (or not live) their
own lives.

World
The world sets the stage, the context in which the
characters exist and deal with the conflicts they are
presented with. The boundaries of the world can directly
influence how conflict materializes.
World building often revolves around origin stories. If the
world exists in a certain time or physical set of laws
govern it, then logic dictates how it has evolved.
The origin story is the
logical set of events
which allow the world
to exist, similar to how
we explain our own
history on the Earth.

World

The speed and ease
which a character can
negotiate their world
will profoundly
influence how they can
overcome challenges.

Logistics

Origins

Conflict
The context in which the characters exist and deal with
the conflicts they are presented with.

World
Location

Time

Physics

Where is the world?
Is it a city, a new
planet, a coffee
house? Each comes
with specific physical
boundaries.

Time is an important
physical boundary that
can dramatically
influence characters.
Place a person in
another time or use a
world from a different
time?

If it’s a new world, does it
respect the physics of
Earth as we understand
them? Changes the basic
laws of gravity or physics
can have a profound
influence on characters.
Character Integration
Character traits can be determined after building the
world

Build
World

Character
Journey

Define
Character

Define your world,
physics, time, location,
etc.

The character journey
helps define character
traits or elements
based on the logistic
challenges of the
world.

Based on the origin logic
of the world and the
Character Journey, finetune character traits that
define who they have to
be to fit with the logic of
the world.
Character
Journey

How does a character move
around the world?

Transportation
logistics
Character
becomes sick

How would she
die?

Must go to
hospital

Never invented
gasoline, all
hydrogen
Alex McDowell
X Media Lab Switzerland
2013
Alex McDowell has working on world building aspects for many movies,
such as Minority Report, Fight Club, Charlie and Chocolate Factory, Man of
Steel, etc.

X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia
Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of
Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
At X-Media Lab I got a fine appreciation for the aspect of origin and story/
character evolution related to the framework or boundaries of the world
one wishes to create.

X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia
Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of
Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
In creating the world for Man of Steel, design logic started from the
Superman “S” and the organic-inspired form logic for the Krypton world.
The language of Krypton served to define the identity of Krypton society,
and also integrated into the spaceship and physical planet design.
More info:
http://www.fastcocreate.com/1683341/alex-mcdowell-on-creating-krypton-and-the-future-of-production-design

http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=105221

X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia
Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of
Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
Starting from organic forms, the design philosophy of Krypton included only
curved lines. Since Krypton was a dying planet, fully mined of resources, this
was reflected in the stratified terrain of the planet.

X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia
Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of
Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
Virtual World Building
and Prototyping
Physical Virtual World Building / Prototyping
In case you don’t have the resources of Alex McDowell,
how can you digitally build a world for your story?

Flexibility to
build physical
terrain

Ability to add in
elements like
buildings, tanks,
etc.

Able to use free
tools and access
a community for
support
Physical Virtual World Building / Prototyping

Unity 3D
• Multi-platform Game
•
•
•
•

development
Terrain building
Visualization
Integration of buildings,
people, etc.
Free version
Sketch out worlds
The Hobbit Map

http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/File:F27c_thorins_map_from_the_hobbit.jpg

In prototyping your world, the digital canvas can act as a way to visualize the place you’re
creating. This can allow easy play in the creation process, giving context to the world you’re
creating in your mind.
Paint terrain and
topography features
Add textures for grass,
rock, water, etc.
Add buildings, people,
tanks, etc.
Unity User Interface
Paint on topography

Load new models

Use different brushes

Load textures
Thank You Colab Zurich
for hosting!
Transmedia Zurich
http://www.transmediazh.ch/
http://www.meetup.com/Transmedia-Zurich/

Mark Melnykowycz

Liz Henry

@americanpeyote
idezo.ch
Lostinreality.net

@whereareyouliz
henrygeneral.com

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Transmedia Zurich - World Building

  • 1. Transmedia Zurich Mark Melnykowycz World Building and Character Development Dec. 2nd 2013 Colab Zurich
  • 2. Transmedia Toolkit What is Transmedia World Building Basics http://www.transmediazh.ch/ http://www.meetup.com/Transmedia-Zurich/
  • 6. World Building The over-arching purpose of building a world is to setup the context and conflict for the characters. They may triumph in a traditional story structure, but only because they have the opportunity to, either by their own devices or by being placed in a unique situation.
  • 8. A Generic Story Character presented with challenge Generic Hero Generic Threat Character overcomes challenges Finds courage... Character evolves Triumphs!
  • 9. Character Change Through Conflict Character evolves A character evolves/ changes due to conflict inherent in the story Relationships Environment
  • 10. Story Development Character Driven World Driven Generic environment, used as a setting for character interaction to take place. The story of a character in a given environment, which forces action / conflict ...character traits stay the same ...become a different person How will the world affect character development?
  • 11. Traditional action hero Contemporary super hero Die Hard Arnold Schwarzenegger Ironman, Thor, Spiderman, etc. Watchmen Dark Night Man of Steel X-men Simple dialogue, hero never dies, always triumphs. Question their actions and place in the story, supporting characters die, like real life. Good vs. Evil Good? vs. Grey Zone
  • 13. Characters Characters represent the windows through which the audience experiences the story by emphasizing with those characters and their choices/actions. Conflict Story Conflict is the reason that characters grow and evolve, the reason why they change, and teach the audience how to live (or not live) their own lives. World The world sets the stage, the context in which the characters exist and deal with the conflicts they are presented with. The boundaries of the world can directly influence how conflict materializes.
  • 14. World building often revolves around origin stories. If the world exists in a certain time or physical set of laws govern it, then logic dictates how it has evolved. The origin story is the logical set of events which allow the world to exist, similar to how we explain our own history on the Earth. World The speed and ease which a character can negotiate their world will profoundly influence how they can overcome challenges. Logistics Origins Conflict
  • 15. The context in which the characters exist and deal with the conflicts they are presented with. World Location Time Physics Where is the world? Is it a city, a new planet, a coffee house? Each comes with specific physical boundaries. Time is an important physical boundary that can dramatically influence characters. Place a person in another time or use a world from a different time? If it’s a new world, does it respect the physics of Earth as we understand them? Changes the basic laws of gravity or physics can have a profound influence on characters.
  • 16. Character Integration Character traits can be determined after building the world Build World Character Journey Define Character Define your world, physics, time, location, etc. The character journey helps define character traits or elements based on the logistic challenges of the world. Based on the origin logic of the world and the Character Journey, finetune character traits that define who they have to be to fit with the logic of the world.
  • 17. Character Journey How does a character move around the world? Transportation logistics Character becomes sick How would she die? Must go to hospital Never invented gasoline, all hydrogen
  • 18. Alex McDowell X Media Lab Switzerland 2013
  • 19. Alex McDowell has working on world building aspects for many movies, such as Minority Report, Fight Club, Charlie and Chocolate Factory, Man of Steel, etc. X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
  • 20. At X-Media Lab I got a fine appreciation for the aspect of origin and story/ character evolution related to the framework or boundaries of the world one wishes to create. X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
  • 21. In creating the world for Man of Steel, design logic started from the Superman “S” and the organic-inspired form logic for the Krypton world. The language of Krypton served to define the identity of Krypton society, and also integrated into the spaceship and physical planet design. More info: http://www.fastcocreate.com/1683341/alex-mcdowell-on-creating-krypton-and-the-future-of-production-design http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=105221 X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
  • 22. Starting from organic forms, the design philosophy of Krypton included only curved lines. Since Krypton was a dying planet, fully mined of resources, this was reflected in the stratified terrain of the planet. X | Media | Lab Switzerland 2013: Transmedia Alex McDowell – Transmedia’s Renaissance Man: Narrative Designer for Minority Report; Fight Club; Man of Steel; Associate Professor, USC – School of Cinematic Arts; Visiting Artist, MIT Media Lab (Hollywood)
  • 24. Physical Virtual World Building / Prototyping In case you don’t have the resources of Alex McDowell, how can you digitally build a world for your story? Flexibility to build physical terrain Ability to add in elements like buildings, tanks, etc. Able to use free tools and access a community for support
  • 25. Physical Virtual World Building / Prototyping Unity 3D • Multi-platform Game • • • • development Terrain building Visualization Integration of buildings, people, etc. Free version
  • 26. Sketch out worlds The Hobbit Map http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/File:F27c_thorins_map_from_the_hobbit.jpg In prototyping your world, the digital canvas can act as a way to visualize the place you’re creating. This can allow easy play in the creation process, giving context to the world you’re creating in your mind.
  • 27. Paint terrain and topography features Add textures for grass, rock, water, etc. Add buildings, people, tanks, etc.
  • 28. Unity User Interface Paint on topography Load new models Use different brushes Load textures
  • 29. Thank You Colab Zurich for hosting!
  • 30. Transmedia Zurich http://www.transmediazh.ch/ http://www.meetup.com/Transmedia-Zurich/ Mark Melnykowycz Liz Henry @americanpeyote idezo.ch Lostinreality.net @whereareyouliz henrygeneral.com