My focus as a World Designer on Generation Zero is on environmental storytelling. During my first year I've created over 60 different locations in the world, some are minor scenes that make the world feel alive and interesting to explore, and some are bigger locations related to missions. I have also worked with narrative, panning and writing narrative collectables that you can find in the world.
My main tasks have been to give life to the world. I've worked in detail with telling different stories that fit with the tone and world of the already live game. I also always try to make my locations contribute with something new and unique and feel memorable to the player.
My Internal Guidelines
Every place should feel logical and be justified to exist within the game world. I always ask myself why the place exists, what were people doing there before the game story started? What are they doing there now?
Strive to create visually appealing/cool scenes.
The stories I tell shall fit well together with the game and immerse the player further into the world.
Every location should contribute with something new and feel unique.
Every location should interest the player and make them want to explore it further.
Scroll down to see pictures of how I've worked with these guidelines in some of my locations.
I spend approximately 1-2 days per location.
I am responsible to choose what to include in the locations and what narrative to convey.
Responsible for all final propping, lights and gameplay functions in the locations I've worked on.
Some terrain work.
Narrative Design and creative writing for in game narrative Collectables.
Work as a part of the game's live team. The game had been live apr. 2 years when I came on so I had to get an understanding for the already existing game.
Team size is around 30 people.
Telling Memorable Stories
Guiding the Player in Interesting Ways
Here I go over my design thoughts for the eight different places that the level consists of. This part is focused on level design, flow and pacing, as well as world building and narrative design.
Setting up guidlines
The island is a sort of limbo. People who don’t accept their death come there and are gathered up in urns by soul keepers, where they stay until they are ready to accept their death and move on. So the overarching theme of the game is death. With this as my base I came up with design guidelines to help create a world that would evoke the players' interest.
All places shall relate the theme, preferably in different ways.
The player shall always feel interested in what's around the corner.
Each place shall make logical sense.
The places shall feel filled with secrets for the player to explore.
The places shall answer some questions about the world, but at the same time create even more questions.
In some of my locations I try to tell extra memorable stories. I use the existing props to create visually strong scenes that hopefully will intrigue the player and make them start thinking about what has happened at the location. Here I have told the story of a serial killer who makes little installations with their victims.
Draw Interest from Afar
Sometimes I place burning cars or trees, or corpses, on the outskirts of the locations to make the players realise that something has happened there and that it might be worth to explore. Sometimes an added trail leading into the forest is enough. Here I have added some make-shift fences and the graffiti to "stay away".
Hook the Player by Raising Questions
When the player gets to a location I want to make them interested in what has happened there by making them ask questions. What is in the fenced in house? Why is there blood in the trunk and in the wheelbarrow? Why is there a stack of plates with an apple on top in the driver's seat?
I sprinkle pieces of narrative all over the location so that there are little things to discover in every corner.
The Reveal: answer some questions at the same time as creating new ones
At the center of the location I try to be more specific about the story I want to tell. I want to answer the questions I previously asked, for example the blood and apples in the car are shown placed on corpses. Preferably I also want to raise new questions here, to make the place stay in the player's mind. Who murdered these people? Why do they have apples on them?
Continue the story in another location
To deepen the story of this serial killer I've continued the story at another location - using corpses arranged in similar ways with apples on top of them to make the players link the two locations together.
In this second location I give another perspective of the story and show the apple garden where the killer takes the corpses for their final rest.
Scattered over the apple garden are arranged little installations for the player to find if they explore - to maybe understand a little bit more about how the killer's mind works. It also gives me the oportunity to place these little installations at other places in the world as small hints about where the killer has been.
The killer's hut
This location contains a little hut where the killer sometimes sleeps and spends some time - which is a great opportunity to show more of their personality! Here you can see that all the little objects that the killer use (like food, soap, toothpaste etc) are arranged similarly to the corpse installations. There's also some doodles, and the embroideries that the killer likes.
This is a very small location, but it contains a type of mystery that I am fond of. Inside the stone circle the terrain is different, with mud instead of grass, and you can find two caps and two rifles, but no sign of any humans. And outside the stone circle are lots of dead machines. As if two humans made a stand against the machines inside the stone circle (even though there is no obvious cover there) and then they somehow disappeared. This hints at something supernatural, but without stating it clearly. It's all up to the player's to interpret it how they want.
Showing the overarching narrative of the war against the machines by telling human stories
The majority of my locations are used to tell the overarching story of machines attacking the area - how people died but also started fighting back more and more. With my locations I want to show different ways to survive and cope with the sudden war against the machines. I try to include as many little details as I can showing the personality of the humans who inhabit this world.
Civilian Stories - make the world versatile and alive
I try to vary my locations so that not all are focused on the main narrative. To make an interesting open world I believe that a lot of different narratives can co-exist. Even in a war-zone there is room to build places where children have played and built little huts, for example. With the civilian stories I tell the story of how people lived in this area before the game story started, little special places that are left relatively untouched by the ongoing war, and show the signs of human life.
Are you interested in getting to know me some more?
Please don't hesitate to contact me! I'd love to explain more about my work, or get to know you and your project better!
Thank you for your time <3