Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk

Twitter Thread:: Narrative Pipelines: From Conception to Release & Beyond by @ellalowgen

A very interesting thread about Narrative Pipelines: From Conception to Release & Beyond that has been taken from a GDC talk from the same authors and that introduces a very interesting concept for narrative design.

Original Thread Narrative Pipelines: From Conception to Release & Beyond.

Edited Thread Narrative Pipelines: From Conception to Release & Beyond.

Narrative Pipelines: From Conception to Release & Beyond.
AKA, how narrative pipelines can improve your stories, processes and production schedules, a thread.🧵✍️
(Information pulled from a talk at #NZGDC22 with @MelissaKoven & thanks to @swordsnarrative.)
#gamedev #indiedev

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk
Narrative Pipelines Talk Title

Many studios may not have been exposed to narrative pipelines before, and that's okay! The best time to get invested is now. When we say narrative pipelines we mean milestones and production schedules planned from the beginning to the end of a development cycle.

What are Narrative Pipelines?
What are Narrative Pipelines?

Narrative pipelines greatly benefit the quality and integration of your narrative. We love narrative pipelines because we believe they create high-quality games, facilitate more accurate timelines & increase collaboration between disciplines.

Quality goals of  Narrative Pipelines
Quality goals of Narrative Pipelines

More accurate estimations lead to tighter production schedules, and increased cross-disciplinary collaborations lead to a stronger story that is deeply integrated within a game.

Before we get to the sexy flow charts we have some ground to cover first. There are several high level considerations that must be taken into account prior to planning out your narrative pipeline.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk High Level Considerations
Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk High Level Considerations

Depending on your publishing/release model your project will have different narrative approval processes. Some are front heavy while others are back heavy. Make sure you understand how your pipelines will be impacted by your model.

Generally, original IP projects will be able to iterate more rapidly early on, while working with existing IPs will require a more rigorous approvals process throughout production.

Next you have to break down your narrative team composition. Who is doing what? Do you have multiple people spread across tasks? Or do you have one narrative designer who will not only be writing but implementing the narrative in engine?

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk
Team Composition

Once that is figured out you need to decide on what tools you are using. Are you making your own? Using third party? Are they supported? How easy are they to teach? What is the liklihood or bugs or failure?

It’s nearly time for sexy flow charts! Each stage will be broken down below.

Here is a rough break down of what a narrative pipeline can entail in the planning stage.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Planning

In pre-production there is often a lot of circling back as things are refined and clarified. (This benefits the whole team down the track.)

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Pre Production
Pre Production

Production is where a lot of companies start trying to bring in narrative pipelines before realising they need to make up for the work that wasn't done in planning and pre-production.
Production is also the time a majority of the writing will be produced.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Production

Make sure to take the time to celebrate your victories! If you've made it to release, congratulations! You've made and shipped a game! This is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of your work.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Release

And then if you will be offering DLC or are making a live service title you'll get right back to it.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Post Production
Post Production

Something important to remember during this process is how narrative will crossover with other disciplines. There is a fiction often found in our industry that writers sequester themselves from the rest of a dev team and then pop out a narrative. 🤦🤦🤦

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Post
Post Production

This is not ideal! In fact, narrative touches many disciplines in a myriad of ways. (Not pictured here are community and marketing because we were running out of space, but you can bet narrative crosses over with them too!) Give room/time for this crossover in your pipelines.

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Discipline Interaction
Discipline Interaction

And that’s all she wrote! Narrative pipelines will greatly benefit any game that wants to include a story. What’s not to love?

If you would like to see the slides in their entirety they can be found here:

Thank you!✍️✍️✍️

Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Key Takeaways
Narrative Pipelines GDC Talk Key Takeaways

Originally tweeted by Ella ‘Salty’ Lowgren (@ellalowgren) on August 26, 2022.

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