The WRKS Games Process - Letting the Story Lead
So here at WRKS Games we talk a lot about being story driven. What does that actually mean? Doesn't every company say that?
Both good questions. It helps to start out taking a look at how game company's typically work. Most will start out creating a trailer for the game concept. They use that trailer to get the team excited about there work and then spend a boat load of time creating a game design document. You can verify this by looking at the dev blogs of pretty much most game companies.
There is no right and wrong way to do it. But we do think that starting out that way tends to lead to a situation where the entire effort is then limited to the vision you had when designing the design document. You tend not to push boundaries when you start out by drawing a box.
When we talk about being story driven, we mean that literally. The first thing we do is not, visualise. We don't write design documents. We don't create trailers. We write a script. Thor and the writing team sit down and write a story. We write that script quite similar to how movie writers do it. Here is a picture of an excerpt of the introduction to Blood Bond.
We spend a lot of time on this, to try and figure out what story we are trying to tell. How is it emotional and engaging? What real world experience are we drawing parallels to? How will this energise the gamer to experience it wanting more?
Once we have nailed this (typically a 1-2 month process) we then visualise flow. Here we see how our storyboard artist David Fater took to creating those story boards.
This takes another 1-2 months. Notice that nearly 4-5 months have now transpired and we have not decided on the platforms, type of game or genre yet. Once all this is done we will then spend another month or two working collectively to define visual concepts to give the team a feel for the game world. These are done in black and white concepts like this great work from Florian Herald, who did our world concept art for us.
Now finally with all this in tow, I begin my first game prototyping. I will absorb the text and visual story we are trying to tell and ask myself "what kind of game would allow me to tell this story the best?" This can be a good 4-6 months of prototyping testing, trying and re-starting on things like art style and level design - until the process itself reveals the game we are building. For a more in-depth understanding of this, check out our first dev diary below.
And now at long last we are able to tell the world about the game and the style we are developing, because until this point....even we do not know. So here at WRKS Games, when we say we are story driven....we mean it very literally. Its at the core of how the company creates and the very DNA of our process.