Mary DeMarle is helping shape the script for Ubisoft's new Splinter Cell game.In an interview printed in new book Game Design by Deborah Todd, DeMarle has recounted the exact design process behind the latest game, explaining that the writer and development team are working very closely, with the design and screenwriting disciplines helping inform one another.
"I work with the creative director to plot out what the game experience is going tobe, and I would out how to carry out his vision of what experiences and feelings we want the player to have through the game mechanics and make sure the story reflects that," explained DeMarle, who works at Ubisoft as a narrative designer having started her career with work on Myst III: Exile.
"When I define 'story', I'm talking not just about plot, but what I call the two levels of story in the game. There's the high level, which is the plot, and then there's the low level, which is the player's experience of the game and the story - what he tells his friends of what he did."
The aim, she explained, is to make sure that the story is much better integrated into the game itself - so she is closely collaborating with the Splinter Cell 5 creative director and another of the game's designers, working to make sure the game mechanics and the story convey the correct experience.
She added: "I work with the level designers and say 'Here's the story we're trying to tell; here's the experience we want the player to have.' Then through the script and events team we ask 'What's the best way to convey a story?'"
A contact screenwriter then takes the story pointers in blueprint form and fleshes it out.
DeMarle believes that the industry has to rethink how it builds its links between story and interactive experiences, and follow Ubisoft's lead: "Really, what's needed in the industry is a position we call narrative designer, where you're working as the game designer and also bridging the gap between story and game design."
Game Design: From Blue Sky to Green Light by Deborah Todd (ISBN: 9781568813189) is published by AK Peters.