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A thought on development commentaries and how to implement them in Amnesia mods.

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If you're unfamiliar with Dev Commentaries in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, they're the yellow microphone icons in the game providing meta information from the developers themselves about the development of an area you're currently in.

Of course, there is one slight catch. They need to be enabled in an options menu.

Furthermore, development commentaries due to their "meta" nature, throw the player out of the experience and the immersion. That, of course, is unwanted for most of the narrative custom stories made for Amnesia. In the original game, it was most likely meant for a second playthrough, however, in the custom story community, it is rare to find a custom story worth a second playthrough.

And so I would argue that there is perhaps a third option. Instead of not communicating this feature to the player and hoping he or she would turn on Commentary AND give your story another go, how about we implement the commentary into the space between the end of our story and the credits.

A great way of doing this would perhaps be an option to either go through development commentaries or to quit out of the custom story.

In When I am no more, there is a set of established features, like achievements that already provide a place that acts as a blend of in-game environment and a menu. Allowing for the developers to put extra content without concern about the story and immersion. After all, the story is over at that point.

This idea is very common for Garry's Mod horror maps, where it most likely happened due to a lack of custom credit sequences. And I would argue that more custom stories should have similar "end rooms" as I'm going to call them from now on.

Providing space for custom content and of course, Development Commentaries.

Comments
ThomasVoidWalker
ThomasVoidWalker

It all depends on the audience.

I do not see it as a problem of "where" to put it; whether you add it at the beginning or the end as a credits option, it still all comes down to - "will the player be engaged enough or interested in watching/listening to it".

My point is that a user who's curiosity intends to actually play the Development commentaries, would do so, no matter where it's placed - as long as he's AWARE of it. The opposite is also true. If for example, I'm beyond uninterested in the commentaries after a long game, it does not matter where I see it. Quitting is just a button away and no influence would occur if I see another button offering me extra content.

It is more of an issue of awareness and encouragement rather than placement.

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Spelos Author
Spelos

And I would fully agree. I wrote this article under the assumption that the audience is interested in this sort of content. So while I definitely agree that awareness is important, I would not say it's mutually exclusive with the placement. I'd say, that both awareness and placement are important.

You might, after all, discourage an interested player from getting the commentaries if they need to play through the entire mod with all its challenges again.

And thank you for a comment, I really appreciate a discussion around here.

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ThomasVoidWalker
ThomasVoidWalker

Of course. Awareness and becoming aware is indeed tied to placement in most cases.

Anyway, I do want to bring one important aspect into this and that is the User Model.

We can both agree on the fact that the majority of users who wish to play custom stories do it for the same reasons Amnesia The Dark Descent gave them. That is, the horror and adventure theme, if we were to classify it as a "whole", ignoring the tiny details.

Some do it for plot (I am such a person), others for scares, some for the atmosphere, and so on.

Commentary is a mere addon/extra to the package. Now, do not try to get this reply as being arrogant, but I think your efforts are much appreciated being put into the actual custom story itself, rather than "side-tasks", which have a very small user base.

Tl;dr, while I understand developers enjoy giving walkthroughs, explanations and all that jargon (after all, we love to be appreciated), at the end of the day, the majority of players won't care.

And yes, thanks as well. I too enjoy worthwhile discussions.

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Spelos Author
Spelos

Yes, I think I understand your point. The thing is, I feel like it's more about thinking twice about your intent (as a developer).

Dev Commentary is one of those things that (for implementation) requires practically no development time. You only need the voice file.

Furthermore, I'd say that developers might see their own plot holes and mistakes when trying to explain their intent.

All in all, I do agree that it's not an audience feature. Rather, I'd say it's a tool for other developers, with which they could learn from one another.

And I feel like we have time to implement a feature like this in this modding environment since unlike the AAA, we have no standards to meet.

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