Alter is a third person platform adventure game.
You play as the child Chinue, daughter of the Spirit Goddess Keres.
Your quest is to help your mother rid the world from the corruption that plagues it, by entering the spirit world and destroy the trees of life that resides in each world.
Time period: 7 weeks
Team Size: 11 (3 Designers, 3 Programmers, 3 3D artists, 2 2D artists)
Roles: Narrative Designer & Scrum Master
Design the game around a feeling
Design 3 different but connected locations
Design 1 emotionally complex moment
Design 2 character with distinguishable traits
Narrative Design Document
Early on we had the idea that we wanted the player to travel to a spiritual realm. This lead me to look up religions that dealt with spirits. After doing some research I decided to take most of my inspiration from the Northern Asian religion of Tengriism when creating the mythical part of the game and its origin story.
The backstory of the world, how the people became nomads, how Keres became corrupt etc, was explained in small rock carvings dotted around the main hub . While these did not give a thorough explanation on the backstory, they did give hints to a larger world.
As I was researching the religion I also started to take inspiration the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongols as the culture of the people of this world. They became a nomadic people that traveled the world in large caravans. While this was not something you saw in the game, it helped us in the development, with the most notable being that it helped our artists to find inspiration on how the main character would look.
Protagonist - Chinue
Chinue is the main character of the game. We wanted a silent protagonist for the game, to avoid the character saying things that the player might not agree with.
I wanted a character that the player could feel a connection to and feel for. So I wrote her as a small orphaned girl in a big dangerous world. Why I wrote her as orphaned was to add a more emotional connection in the end, when she gets the choice of either save the world or be with her mother.
The name Chinue is a variant of a Mongolian name meaning "Blessings of God".
Antagonist - Keres
Keres is the main characters mother. She is the spirit goddess of the world and the creator of the world. I wanted her to seem kind in the beginning of the game, but as it progressed she would become more and more deranged and stressed.
I choose the name Keres for its Greek meaning, which is "Evil Spirits".
We wanted the story to build on the feeling of trust, but the way that we choose to interpret that was by rather build it on the feeling of distrust. The Narrative arc I used when building story was the "Overcoming the Monster" but with the added caveat that the player does not know that the monster is Keres.
The way I set about creating a distrust between the player and Keres was to make her seem more erratic and stressful as the players cleared the spirit worlds, to contrast her from how she was at the start of the game. This was to get the player to start doubting her and what she says.
Stage 1 Corruption
Stage 2 Corruption
I also set about this by making her say things that contrasted with what the player saw. So as the player cleared levels and the world became more corrupt, Keres would say things like "Look how beautiful the world has become". This was to make the player feel unease in what she said and make them doubt her.
All this would lead up to the end where the player would get a choice. Either to destroy the last tree, or to kill Keres.
Here would be the emotional climax. What I wanted to achieve with this was for the player to feel conflicted. On one hand to save a world that is dying and on the other hand the little Girls mother. I wanted them to stop and think and not rush headlong into things.
Cooperation between Gameplay and Narrative
During this project we managed to find a good relationship between gameplay and narrative. I managed to keep a narrative that easily could change with the gameplay, but there were also times where we could change the gameplay to suit the narrative without any major problems.
During the project I acted as scrum master for my team. This was something that I had never done before. But after some trial and error, I, along with lot of good input from my team, managed to create a scrum system that worked for us and that helped us along well in the process.
What I learned for being a scrum master was how efficient a development process can be if you apply the scrum methodology correctly.