Narrative Design for Indies: Getting Started

  • Edwin McRae

A quick sample of Narrative Design for Indies: Getting Started, by Edwin McRae

Why is Narrative Design different for Indies?

Money, money

You either can’t afford to tell a AAA fidelity story or you have a different motive other than making great swags of cash, like raising awareness, making people think or generally improving the human condition.

Regardless of your motives, I’m genuinely sorry to say that story is expensive.

That leaves us with a bit of a conundrum, doesn’t it? How do you afford to hire an experienced narrative designer on an Indie budget? Actually, that’s an easy one. If you only need that writer for an hour or six then no problem. If you have a 200,000 word JRPG epic to produce then you’re arguably not making an Indie game.

The question is not really how you can afford a writer. The question is much do you need a writer?

That’s what this book is about. Helping you work out what your story demands will be before you bring a writer in to make them happen. Because here’s the thing...much of my freelancing career has been spent working with Indie game developers, asking them lots of tricky questions in order to establish exactly how they are going to tell their story within the limited means they have available.

I’m not complaining. I enjoy that sort of thing. In fact, it’s pretty awesome to be able to help someone finally express the narrative that’s been festering within for umpteen years. But it’s hard not to feel bad about getting paid to tell people things that they should already know. And most of the time they do actually know it. They just haven’t thought about it in the right way, mainly because they haven’t had the right questions to ask or haven’t been aware of the narrative tools at their disposal.

So that’s what’s on offer here. The right questions. The right tools. The hammer and chisel with which to craft your story rather than the diamond-headed drills and high-powered laser cutters that you simply can’t afford. Well, that’s actually a tall order for a book of this modest magnitude. There are far more nifty things you can do with a hammer and chisel than we can hope to cover here. In the meantime, this little book will get you chipping away and hopefully save you a bunch of money in the process.

Save the narrative design budget for the important bit...making your story happen. For now, and for the price of a Big Mac combo, let’s see if we can help you tell your Game Story within the means of Indie game development.


About Edwin McRae

Edwin is a narrative consultant and mentor for the games industry.

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