Narrative

Create characters and put them in the setting. The story should play out according to how those characters would interact according to their personality.

Focus on the characters.

Don't fit the narrative around big plot points and ideas, allow it to grow organically from start to finish according to the realistic desires, likes, dislikes, etc of the characters.

The Witcher 3 is the Narrative Bible for video games.

The Gameplay should be informed by the Narrative. If a certain obstacle would makes sense to be overcome through combat, then it should be. But there are many obstacles that wouldn't need to be confronted with violence and the Gameplay should change in order to accommodate this. For example entering the Prison City of Harnost Nostra where the Great Dragon Uran lies dormant. You have the option to attack the Dragon directly about halfway through the level, after traversing much of the city and defeat his minions, completing puzzles, etc. But you can choose not to, and to continue through the level evading him and completing more side objectives which will ultimately achieve the same goal of escaping the city with the treasure Uran holds. Like finding a special invisibility cloak in an old Wizard's tower which allows you to sneak past (albeit with some difficulty as Dragons can see with more than just their eyes) which will also give access to some interesting lore tidbits and the very valuable invisibility cloak. Or perhaps another side objective to meet up with a dormant spirit of one of the old residents of the Citadel, who will distract Uran in exchange for something from you. There should very often be more than one way to complete a main objective, and often the ability to complete many of the available objectives. Some should cut others off from being accessed however if it would not make sense in the context of the narrative. The Narrative leads the Gameplay.

Another example of Narrative leading Gameplay would be an enemy performing a ritual to deny access to a certain area. They wouldn't logically perform the ritual outside of that area, they would want to be as protected as possible and would perform it on the other side. So you will have to find some alternative means of getting across, or find some way to dispel the ritual from the other side. Instead of simply going and killing the ones performing the ritual because the Gameplay demands it. Everything within the game should be internally consistent within the logic of the world itself, and the gameplay should be designed to deal with these situations in their own logical way.

There should be three major threads to the game's narrative. The more magical, esoteric side of things involving Asher, The Black Conclave, The Cult of Aberration, Sirien, The Menhir, Uran the Deceiver, Decilus, The Seventh Legion, The Crestfallen, etc. The underworld of crime infesting the major cities of the game involving organizations like The Red Messengers, The High Table, and crime lords like Jin'sija of Xin. Exploring the world of crime and all of the strange customs and traditions included. The final thread should be wrapped up in the exploration and discovery of the world itself, mapping out new lands, discovering new creatures and adding them to the bestiary, hunting powerful Demi-gods and other monsters, getting involved with The Slayers, The Goldwater Company, The Corcosian Dragonhunters and other mercenaries from The Northern Free Marches.

The Asher thread involves many of the larger dungeons in the world, encourages you to delve deep into Inscription, Alchemy, Lore, Augury, etc. You will meet many Legendary figures and discover lost secrets, hidden temples and ruined cities, uncover magical artifacts and battle the greatest of Sirien's Lieutenants.

The Underworld thread is set almost exclusively within the major cities of the world and involves many important characters therein, encouraging stealth, trading, persuasion, dialogue, etc. You can either play on the side of the law, aiding characters like The Black Swan of Linden, or working in the shadows as a member of one of the many criminal factions, eventually earning an invitation into The Red Messengers themselves.

The Exploration thread helps to give purpose to the overworld, giving many concrete objectives and interesting plotlines to follow while exploring the world.

Each of these threads are interwoven. Example: A material dropped by a specific Aberration might be highly valuable on the black market or might be a crucial material for some equipment needed to take down a powerful beast, and that is just an example of how a material might encourage crossover. Some quests should clearly connect one world to the other depending on it's place within the narrative. The Goldwater Company perhaps acting in concert with one of the criminal organizations in Longtown for example. Or a corrupted Menhir affecting the creatures in the surrounding forest calling for the expertise of The Slayers or Regulators.

The Exploration thread will eventually culminate in the battle against Uran, which is also an optional part of the Asher thread. The Crime thread will lead to the revelation that many of the aristocracy are puppets of Sirien, which can have a large effect on the Asher thread. The Asher thread will require you to dip your toes in the other threads quite a bit more often than the inverse, encouraging you to develop them alongside the Asher Thread and take advantage of the benefits gained along the way. For example: Having completed all of the pre-requisite quests along the Exploration thread will give access to The Slayers and Regulators as allies in the battle against Uran. Having discovered the true allegiances of some of the major players in the culmination of the Crime thread will allow new options to open up, like assassinating or otherwise removing them from power and replacing them with trustworthy allies who will aid you in the later part of your quest to find the Staff of Sinai.

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