Learning from DONTNOD

So I just watched this GDC talk today, and I learnt a very important process that I’ll need if I continue down the path of game development that I hope to follow. 

the talk was about the process that DONTNOD took when using real world issues in their game Life is Strange. They went into great detail about how they did not want to trivialise the events that happened  or cheapen the issues that they portrayed in the game, but instead wanted to portray the issues as neutral and genuine as possible. They did this so they could spark serious thought about the issues that could very well arise in the player’s life.They did this by speaking with professionals who cared for people dealing with these issues and researching people’s journeys experiencing the issues. One example they used to demonstrate how they did this was the case of (Here be spoilers) Chloe’s request in the alternate timeline. There was a mountain load of things that added together to let them deliver this situation without cheapening the result. First of all they knew that the player needed to spend time in the environment to fully understand the situation the Chloe is experiencing, and that the player would need to see a lot of the details. So by needing to see the details, the people at DONTNOD needed to make the details accurate for Chloe’s depicted situation, hence the research. They decided to take a very similar place to the player and to refit it for the new situation.Screenshot (17).png The rooms were set to depict the environment as best as they could based off blogs and stories from those who have been through this experience. There was also a lot of stuff that they altered while ending this scene to better deliver the scene. For example they removed a lot of the ui or game elements after the player makes the final decision of the scene, this was done to let the decision sink in with the player and to leave them alone with their decision. Another thing that the people in from DONTNOD spoke about was that this was the first time they give the player the option to not make a decision, having three options, to fulfill Chloe’s request, to refuse, or to not do anything.349707066.jpg This was done to let the player know that it’s ok to not know what to do in this situation, but you will need to make a decision, as the game then gives the option again if you choose to not act, but this time, with only two options.

I need to keep this process of careful and thoughtful research when I make games that are representing people who have experiences that I haven’t. For example with my running project “Shared house” I want to represent people with a lot of different backgrounds and experiences that I have and have not had. So this process will be very important in the design of these characters as well as the environments and stories I tell with them.


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