Post news Report article RSS Feed Open development vs. spoiling the story

We've explained the virtues of open development in depth, but it's not obvious how this development strategy should apply to the Overgrowth story. I've already seen brief discussions about this occur in IRC, and given the 92 comment reaction to Aubrey's storyboard post, I think people may have some strong opinions on this issue.

Posted by jeffr on Oct 29th, 2009

We've explained the virtues of open development in depth, but it's not obvious how this development strategy should apply to the Overgrowth story. I've already seen brief discussions about this occur in IRC, and given the 92 comment reaction to Aubrey's storyboard post, I think people may have some strong opinions on this issue.

Please feel free not to watch this.

The Problem

The first time you encounter a good story is usually the best time, and until someone builds a machine that can cause strategic lacunar amnesia, we will only experience stories for the first time once. While treating the story like every other part of our development would still be interesting, it could also spoil the magic of the player's first run-through of the finished game. Therefore we might want to consider following options:

Option 1: Wait Until The End

We can hide all the core story elements (campaign levels and story-related art assets) until the whole single-player campaign is finished. Then, when everything is ready, we reveal it all at once.

Option 2: Multiple Installments

We can release story elements in segments (like chapters) along the way so that the polish is there, but we don't have to wait until the very end.

Option 3: Individuals Decide

We could let preorderers individually choose whether or not they want to see story-related content. One danger is that people might not be able to resist checking out the story early, but may then immediately regret doing so (I'm sure there are some people who feel that way about the video embedded above). Another danger is that people who peek at the story early might end up leaking details and ruining the plot for those who have chosen to wait.

Option 4: Nothing Special

We could keep it simple and just throw story assets into the builds like everything else.

What's best?

We still have some work to do before this becomes an immediate issue, and no matter what, we'll continue to include all the latest tech features and modding tools in our builds. But since the story options are mutually exclusive, we thought we should ask for your thoughts on this issue instead of guessing in the dark. What option seems best to you? Is there another approach I haven't mentioned? (permalink)

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Post comment Comments
Dra6o0n Oct 30 2009, 12:58am says:

In overgrowth, I think lore is a bit important so you'd need to tell the story while they are playing it. Otherwise you'd make a separate section that documents the lore in overgrowth, and parts are unlocked as you progress through the game, etc.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Noremakk Oct 30 2009, 1:27am says:

Lore may be important, but leaking story details casually in updates and pre-release reports creates a hell of a lot of buzz. Then, when the devout follower gets the game, they are able to identify all of their enemies, companions and situations by name and have the thrill of feeling how it all comes together for themselves, even if they already know how it all goes down.

0 votes     reply to comment
Tallon_hunteR Oct 30 2009, 1:52am says:

only release **** that is from the tutorial section

+1 vote     reply to comment
symbolzzzz Oct 30 2009, 5:40am replied:

I think (like Noise) that option 1 is the safest , but it might get boring not knowing anything you are doing especially if the game is long so Nr 2 seems to be the best one.
(sorry about the reply i must have pressed the wrong button)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Noise Oct 30 2009, 2:31am says:

Option 1 is the safest and most logical.

+2 votes     reply to comment
SliderFF Oct 30 2009, 2:44am says:

hard selection... but i like second option.

+1 vote     reply to comment
stenchy Oct 30 2009, 6:18am says:

There are a lot of hidden cost/benefit situations I can see with the implementation of each of these choices, but I think this is definitely one area where the end user shouldn't 'have it his/her way'. Being able to experience the story in a dis-jointed fashion (or having the choice to) will only serve to cheapen the narrative.

Installments will associate very heavily with episodic for many - would you subscribe to a timeline in which each part would be delivered?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Joe_Shmoe Oct 30 2009, 3:16pm says:

I say dont release any story elements that are crucial, release only those that should be common in the universe, like characters the player should know, some towns or cities that should be known about, basicly anything that should be common knowledge to the characters to create the sense of familiarity, but leave the story out, do not reveal any events or development of the story that will make it predictable, so no spoilers =\

+1 vote     reply to comment
Orac| Oct 30 2009, 10:55pm says:

I want to play through and work it out myself. The game would lose a lot of its appeal if the story is revealed without even having to play the game.
Overgrowth would become more like the game adaption of a book, and the ending, twists, characters, and events would all be quite boring to me.

...But that's just me.

+1 vote     reply to comment
aerozol Oct 31 2009, 2:18am says:

You don't have to explain everything...
You can release story related shots/art that really make people curious, rather than spoiling plot developments. Be selective. People can still give feedback on different aspects of it you release 'openly', and it can also whet their appetite for more.
If you're releasing stuff that is a bit of a spoiler though, I would be pretty upset, and it would definitely dilute the gameplay a LOT for me. Unless your story sucks, in which case don't worry about it ;)
Edit: So.. Combination of no. 1 and no. 2 would be my choice

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kissaki Oct 31 2009, 9:05am says:

Only talk about the silhouette of the story, the initial basics you will learn when starting to play the game and only show things that won't spoil the further story.
Wait until the end in terms of spoiling the story.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jokerme Nov 2 2009, 8:51am says:

I won't tell a thing until I finish my mod :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
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