|Total Mayhem Games
|Narrative Design, Game Writing, Worldbuilding
|May 2020 – January 2022
|PC/PS (4 & 5)/Xbox (One & S/X)
I was the narrative designer and writer for We Were Here Forever, following a pleasant collaboration with Total Mayhem Games on this title’s predecessor: We Were Here Together.
I helped develop the game’s plot, added detail, consistency and substance to the game series lore, provided (story) text for puzzles, wrote all screenplays and dialogue for trailers and cutscenes, and instructed voice actors how to best record their lines.
Most trailer texts and key texts in-game were written in rhyme and often contain coded or cryptic information that hardcore fans of the series will discover and appreciate.
Being the only writer on the project, I strongly championed having the plot progress based on the internal motivations of the key (non-player) characters in the story.
Tasks and Responsibilities
- Propose and write the overarching plot and themes of this instalment in the series
- Write cutscene screenplays
- Write lore snippets, such as letters, graffiti, diary pages, official documents, that illustrate daily life in Rockbury and Castle Rock (not implemented in the released game)
- Weave lore into puzzle texts, where applicable
- Create briefings for new areas that detail the what, who and why of a region, to be used by artists and designers when developing the world and associated gameplay
- Write and compose a song that details the tragic history of the denizens of Rockbury
- Sketch designs for artists, to be used to create stained glass windows
- Write (rhyming) texts for trailers
- Provide barks that play during puzzles
- Provide instructions and context for voice actors
- Support and expand the worldbuilding of the series
- Report to the creative director and management
- Champion story and its manifestation with the department leads
- Providing concise texts for puzzles that firstly instruct the players on how to solve the puzzle, and secondly teach players about the game world and its inhabitants
- Telling a story to players who primarily want to talk to themselves and are not that interested in listening to narrative
- Writing texts for trailers and cutscenes that rhyme without them becoming bloated, meaningless, or overwrought
- Write certain texts in Middle Dutch and find authentic medieval Dutch names for the four families of the resistance
- At the end of the Chapel, the Resistance reveal how they escaped via song. Finding the right tone, messaging, and information density for the lyrics were tricky, as well as pairing it with fitting music. I even produced my own rough composition at one point, based on Dutch barrel organ music and featuring the ‘solved puzzle’ audio cue, when the creative director wanted the music to be a cheerful celebration of the Resistance achievements.
Learnings and Takeaways
- How to entice players to pay more attention to the narrative while accommodating their desire to continuously communicate among themselves
- How to create a narrative that reveals and conceals at the same time, to illuminate the overall story while maintaining a sense of mystery
- How to write effective briefings for art and design team members
- How to efficiently discuss story needs and requirements with other departments and knowing which battles to pick (and drop)