Developer Q & A: Balancing Prey Storytelling and Player Choices

Talos-1 runs on eels.

This large space station is set up in Arkane Studios’ recently released emergency sim PreyTreat its inhabitants’ wastewater by sending it to a large tub where it is consumed by things. When the eels are big enough, they are caught and slaughtered, and the meat is sent to the station restaurant and sent back to the crew as sushi to establish a self-sufficient energy cycle.

“I thought about what I really needed, such as the layout of the station and how to get inside and outside the station,” says the lead designer. Ricardo Bear.. And this particular detail, well, was inspired by Bear’s experience of installing a septic tank in his house. It opened him a world of drainage and infiltration, and how it is based on the careful balance of living things to break down wasted in his own home.

“Of course, NASA experts would say that Talos-1 didn’t have this technically, but we spent a lot of time on that level of detail,” Bare says.And the eel, as interesting and glossy as it is, certainly symbolizes the coherence of the theme. Preyworld of. This is a real place that makes sense. And it’s a crew with a similarly coherent set of characters, most of whom have recently died.

“You are moving the space station right after the alien horror wave, and it’s not even over happening in some places.”

To play Prey Choosing a relationship between their life and your character, Morgan You, as well as their last moments. Throughout Talos-1, there is an intertwined web of timelines that records events of alien attacks that have wasted it. Covering them is a web of keycards, clues, and items that guide you through various departments and areas, from HR to power plants, cargo compartments to crew dormitories, escapes and station destruction.

“There were some turning points in game development that needed to be stopped and rearranged in the timeline, like a big time,” Bare says. “It’s not a game that comes to the area a few months after the terrible thing happened. Not long ago, it happened when you were running away. You’re on the space station right after the waves of horror of aliens. Is moving, and it’s not even over happening in some places. “

Talos-1 was destroyed with the same imaginary rigor as it was put together. The level designer sits with the bear and other members of the team, tells exactly what happened when the alien attacked, how the body lay there, and why the person lay there. I explained exactly if I hid there. “We had the level designer create a timeline for such a lot of space. Five minutes later, this guy did this. Ten minutes later, this guy alerted. It rang. Fifteen minutes later, the guards tried to install the turret. “

Such consistency is important for games where players can’t know exactly when they come across things and, in fact, whether they notice or choose to make it irrelevant. For conversations that players can hear, Bear and his team need to understand what the player may have done by that point and how that will affect the player, a simple scenario. It led to various permutations of situations that looked like.

For example, consider three characters who may be in Morgan’s office during the game. Robot January has been there from the beginning, and later Miheira Ilyushin and Dr. Igwe can go there. Either may arrive first and for some reason may have decided to destroy January. So when they call you to keep you up to date, they may announce that there is a wrecked robot there and ask what happened. Or you have an operating robot and Dr. Igwe may have already arrived. It must be created with all permutations in mind.

It was very inspired System shock, Prey Is much more open, and its quest defines a route that runs vertically and horizontally across the station. The main storyline takes a systematic route to visit each area in turn, while the various side quests inject the relationship between the storyline and the character to create interesting additional connections between locations.

“We deliberately adopted a strategy that gives players more room and freedom when consuming story bits.”

To encourage these quest lines, designers at each level were tasked with coming up with side quests that started at their own level and ended at someone else’s level. “One designer, Steve Powers, Ultima In my days at Origin, I came up with two characters from different departments that steal company secrets and sell them to competitors, “Bear says. “To do that, they created some dead drops. One can request things and the other hides them so they can be smuggled from the ship. Pick this up and all the loot Of all the dead who can steal goods, drop yourself. “

However, Arkane doesn’t know how a player approaches a particular quest, when to receive it during playthrough, or when to start engaging. “Depending on when you go to find the smuggler’s dead drop, you can have a radically different experience. Also, when you get on the space station, you have to move the entire station wherever you are on the space station. You may feel like, or you may be standing on it, “says Bear.

Still, the quest feels different depending on the general attitude of the player. Completionists may consider it as yet another fetch quest to overcome before checking from the list, but another player revisits the area, encounters new monsters, and goes into an area that was previously unnoticed. You may find an opportunity to discover that you can enter. .. Some players are overwhelmed by learning about new characters, while others ignore it and feel that the game has few stories.

“We need to start explaining all the out-of-order madness that players can do and make it work.”

But, as Bear says, I’m not sure if he and his team managed all the paces well, but it was all part of the plan. “We deliberately adopted a strategy that gives players more room and freedom when consuming story bits,” he says.

And Arkane has come a long way with this strategy.Some key elements of PreyComprehensive themes and storylines are seeded throughout Talos-1 so that many players don’t come across them or fully understand what they mean.But the feeling of discovering these secrets for yourself and realizing them PreyThe story timeline is even more intertwined than I thought was one of the game’s greatest joys.

Who is one of the most influential in December? A side quest that explains the true background of Morgan You. By the time it started, it turned out that Neuromod’s experiments were being conducted on her (or him, depending on Morgan’s choice at the beginning of the game), hoping to learn more about how to give humans new abilities. I am. Also, removing Neuromod will erase it until the person’s memory is installed. Also, in the past, she created an AI called January that fits her memory and personality as a guide for the future.

But then December is displayed.Here’s what I found during the quest: (Note, spoilers continue in this and the next paragraph): December is another AI, built by Morgan before building in January. January leads you to destroy the space station to prevent the possibility of aliens invading Earth, but December just wants you to escape. And since they are both traces of Morgan’s own personality, they are an illustration of how they were floating between neuromod experiments, one time towards selfish behavior and another towards sacrifice. ..

The quest guides you to several places where clues to this history are hidden. In Morgan’s quarters, there is a computer in which she focuses on her relationships with other crew members to remind her of her relationships with other crew members between experiments. Her office and room have an unfinished robot chassis, indicating that she may have created some AI. Her brother Alex’s room has a safe with her series of recordings, and the station counselor’s room has another recording listening to Morgan’s fractured psychological assessment.

Initially, this revelation was planned to be done through a single voice log. “But when we started playing the game, we realized that we didn’t bring this theme home enough. It didn’t exist enough,” says Bear. “rough [Colantonio, Arkane president] You need to adopt the idea of ​​December as well as audio logs and broken robots. Let’s put December into the game. You understand that it’s only January and Alex, but what about you when you get a call in December? !! “

The details have grown organically through the development of the game. Level designer Albert Melanda noticed that Morgan’s office could be the key location for her dormitory and had a bag of supplies to suggest she was preparing to escape. I thought there might be one. “We need to set aside the fact that players can do this at any time. Instead, at least in my way of working, the flow chart shows the ideal path,” says Bear. “If I wasn’t distracted by anything, had access to everything, and followed clues, what are the five steps I would take?”

Then I created a dialog from that skeleton and set goals so that I could follow it from start to finish. “Now we’re going back to the beginning and putting in the permutations. What if January dies? What if we shoot as soon as we meet in December? Skip the December meeting and instead What if you first find the vault behind Alex’s Looking Glass? And start explaining all the out-of-order madness that players can do and get it to work. is needed.”

Prey Adopt emergent sim principles and prioritize player choice above all else. However, it carries the risk that the player misses or forgets an important point, PreyThe world of is built with consistency that you can trust, relax, and know that you can find the answer in detail when you need it.

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