21.01.2019 change 21.01.2019

Narra: Polish philologists will help game developers

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Literary scholars are creating software that will support game developers. The research tools used by Polish philologists will facilitate designing complex narrative structures and extensive plots similar to The Witcher.

Video game industry is developing intensively in Poland, says Dr. Piotr Kubiński from the Faculty of Polish Studies at the University of Warsaw, who combined his gaming passion with professional work, initially as a journalist, then as a PhD student at the Institute of Polish Literature. His dissertation concerned video games. His current research and development project Narra is expected to benefit the industry.

According to Kubiński, many companies create games that often have complex storylines and narrative structures. Creating a world, in which the player can learn, be entertained, participate in adventures and improve skills is a complicated process, involving several dozen people or more. They include writers, screenwriters, artists.

A GAME IS COMPOSING AN OPERA AND BUILDING A BRIDGE

As part of the research and development project Narra, Dr. Kubiński and an interdisciplinary team develop software that supports game developers. Research tools will allow to design of the game story faster and cheaper - so that the story branches out depending on the player`s decisions. Designing different variants of the storyline means that many variables have to be taken into account. The tool will allow to fully use the potential of the medium - the game.

"Unlike in traditional film and traditional literature, in role-playing games the player`s activity determines how the story unfolds. If the player acts honestly or dishonestly towards another character in one of the threads, helps or does not help someone, kills someone, discovers a secret - the game will continue in a different way. If you design a branched tree, you have to take all this into account to avoid contradictions, and ensure that each choice has a value for the story development. The more variables, the more demanding it gets" - explains Kubiński.

"Narra - a tool that comprehensively supports the process of creating a story in video games" - is co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development. According to the creators of the tool, it is designed to facilitate and expedite three stages of the process of creating the game: plot prototyping, logical coherence testing and implementation of the plot in the development environment. Narra is expected to open the market for gifted writers with no IT experience.

Dr. Kubiński quotes Frank Lantz, who said: "Making games combines everything that’s hard about building a bridge with everything that’s hard about composing an opera. Games are operas made out of bridges". In his opinion, it is an outstanding engineering art and solving logical puzzles in one.

"Just as a writer needs a good text editor, a complex tool is valuable for an author of stories and dialogues. We determine what video game developers need and develop a suitable, complex program" - concludes Dr. Kubiński.

According to the project website Narra.pl, market research has shown a lack of tools for creating video game stories and their use in games. Writers, publicists and scientists who take up the subject, point out that the creation of video game plots is complicated and requires controlling numerous variables. Creating mutually complementary stories in various media requires a well-designed world - and the best use of the medium`s potential. Well-designed worlds make the recipients want to come back, explore them - and even live in them.

PAP - Science in Poland, Karolina Duszczyk

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