Who is Ken Rolston? He’s the guiding light behind The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and IV: Oblivion. If you’re interested in interactivity, interactive storytelling (of any kind), and/or computer games as a career, you should play and understand Ken’s games.
What is narrative design? It’s a title that didn’t exist five years ago, back when I took a break from the interactive industry. At the time, the designer of a game was akin to the director of a movie, and that held true regardless of the type of interactive entertainment that was being produced. The problem was, some games were so heavily narrative — and some designers so completely unprepared to control and author a narrative experience — that game-centric designers started becoming a detriment to the final products they were producing.
Narrative designer as a title recognizes the fact that putting a story-centric game together demands particular skills — just as does game design and art design and architectural design (level building). A narrative designer handles the storytelling in an interactive work, either on their own, or by directing a team. If you’re interested in narrative design, you should be interested in what Ken Rolston has to say.
Speaking of which, here’s Ken on consistency, one of the most important aspects of interactive design:
Filling a game’s world with appropriate content that sets the tone — in-game books, artwork, maps, signs, languages, and so on — is paramount to crafting consistency and believability.
“The best thing you can do is find artifacts that feel in the mind like they’re touchable. They’re evidence of another world,” Rolston said. That extends to every corner of the design, even the fonts used in the game.
— Mark Barrett