All you gamers out there probably recognize that there is a spectrum of storytelling in games. On one end, you have tightly curated tales where the game is like a Disneyland Ride – you are along for the journey with a little bit of swivel control on your teacup. On the other end, you have open mechanics-based games that are a blank story engine for you to write your own path.
Soma tends to fall closer to the curated side of things, and recently, we have fully embraced that through the creation of the AltEnding story engine. The goal is to take the interactive fiction and visual novel genres and elevate them to literary levels of prose and ultimately create a series of “Books you can play.”
We always knew that nonlinear and branching narratives were challenging, but it wasn’t until we started working with accomplished writers that we realized just how large a leap it really is. From tracking all the possibilities of player agency to simply knowing how to leverage the audio/visual elements; the writing skills from screenplays and novels just weren’t translating well to games. What’s more, we realized that there are so few resources to even teach you this skill.
So we decided to fill that void with the Soma Games put on a Writers Conference – and it was a complete success! We met a ton of lovely people and had a blast sharing our collective knowledge!
Our first day was centered around “the Dream” – all the romanticized and lofty goals we as creatives like to set. Day two was “the Details” – what the tools and techniques are that we need to make the dream a reality. Overall, the feedback from attendees was great and everyone seemed to go home happy and inspired.
For us, the coolest part was that the audience had plenty to teach, too — they were so engaged and asked insightful questions that really got us thinking deeply. God totally showed up and made this event the best “first try” some of us have ever been a part of. Really hoping to do this again and make it even bigger and better.
If this interested you even a little – We hope to see you at the next one!