A look behind the scenes at Wayward Strand – That’s Gaming

Today, game studio Ghost Patterns takes an in-depth look at the creation of their first game, Wayward Strand, by sharing never-before-seen early footage, history and inspiration for this curious story. Wayward Strand launches on September 15 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Wayward Strand follows 14-year-old Casey as she spends the last days of summer vacation aboard the floating airship that has been converted into a hospital where her mother works. As a fearless journalist, she is also fascinated by the unique patients, staff and visitors. as by the ship itself. The game unfolds in real time, with characters acting on their own, independent of Casey.

Art Director Marigold ‘Goldie’ Barlett is heavily inspired by immersive theater and real-world comics, says Art Director Marigold ‘Goldie’ Barlett: ‘Interactive theater is extremely ripe for writing and for incorporating vignettes from everyday life. There’s plenty of room and space to place these moments between the larger plot points and jumble of storylines.” Creatively and technically, this mode of storytelling presented endless challenges, leading the team to create new tools, implement real theatrical techniques, and invent new processes shared for the first time.

Decentralization and design

Decentralizing the protagonist’s story is a rarely explored, experimental area of ​​video games. Narrative co-directors Jason Bakker and Georgia Symons explain how they approached equality in multi-linear storytelling – “each character has as much potential to ‘advance the story’ as the player does, regardless of what actions they decide to take,” says Jason . Thematically, this makes sense given Casey’s place in the world. Georgia explains: “It seems to be taken for granted by many game designers that NPCs have to wait for the player to arrive before they do anything. Our main character is a 14-year-old girl in 1970s regional Australia .She doesn’t have divine agency, so why would we design a game where the player controlling her does?

The biggest shift in the game’s direction during development was camera placement and spatial design. Originally, Ghost Pattern envisioned a single-story 3D environment with carefully planned camera setups to feel like each scene was a frame from a comic book, but due to the nature of simultaneous storytelling, this was changed.

Goldie explains: “It was cool, but it meant that the cameras were often quite tight in a scene, which meant that the players couldn’t see the hospital action around them as often as we would have liked. Now we have a version that fits the simultaneous nature of everyone’s busy schedules, helping the player better keep track of which character is where, when, and with whom, while reminding them that they are in the air of a ship.”

Sound director Maize Wallin says of the pivot: “I think this change to a side view is one of the biggest experience differences. This side view of the dollhouse makes it much more obvious to the player that there are things happening around them all the time.” Originally the ship was set up to be “cut in half” or “barrel” in width, Ghost Pattern worked with Su-Yiin Lai, an architectural consultant, to create the final longitudinal designs.

Grades and achievements

The decision to tell Wayward Strand as simultaneous, overlapping stories was made early on, so it was undoubtedly difficult to write these different personalities, but Goldie says: “It was fun! Often I would have a conversation with someone – my mother or an aunt or a friend and they told me a story about someone they once knew and I thought to myself ‘that’s SO something for Esther to do.'” Jason adds that this storytelling “allows each character to have quiet moments, time for itself. Each character can be the center of attention for a moment, after which the player can follow them as they return to their room and be with them as they process what just happened. Just like real, living, breathing people do.

Not only was the plot writing and delivery collaborative and simultaneous, but so was the recording of approximately 18,000 lines of spoken dialogue – over the course of six weeks, the team spent 30 days in recording sessions with their actors in four studios around the world. . world. This corresponds to about eighteen feature films. Wallin recalls, “we designed and rehearsed the whole process of taking actors through the script, as well as how to direct and shoot them on the day.” Appropriately described as a massive undertaking, Maize continues, “it was a big learning curve, but we’re quite proud of how we’ve managed to bring the systems together. We also have music that’s diegetic and even intradiegetic!”

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