Questing Quest 7: Narrative Elements


Questing Quest 7: Narrative Elements

Previously, we have been advertising what we were calling “Catastrophic Events”, however, after internal team discussion, we’ve come to agree that the impression the term was giving was leading people to think “natural disaster” rather than what was intended, which was “longer, further-reaching missions with more plot elements”. Hence, we are re-branding the old Catastrophic Events as “Narrative Elements”.


Epic and Everyday Stories


Narrative elements, to be clear, are not strictly about “disasters”, although disasters might happen if you mismanage (or purposefully exacerbate) the challenges in a narrative element.

Narrative elements are basically quests with story-lines added in to give the simulation a little flavor and unique experiences since, let’s face it, quests to find more food or thin out the local shark-bear population get tiresome eventually.

Narrative elements can be the back-stories to dungeons, and the quests that players will undergo in those dungeons.  For example, the legend of the alchemist that slowly went mad and booby-trapped her laboratory as her paranoia mounted while she searched for a drug for immortality.  Others would pay dearly for the information contained in her notebooks.  (And maybe you can swipe some ideas, yourself…)

Others may be strictly social events – a string of corrupt religious leaders prompts a schism in the religion of your culture, with both sides branding the other “heretics”.  The player may be forced to pick sides… if you weren’t the one prompting the corruption for this to happen in the first place, just so you could cause civil war that would open the opportunity for invasion.

Or the player accidentally comes into possession of some magic jewelry with a claim of legal jurisdiction over the greater subset of magic jewelry, which that causes insufficient opacity upon equipping, was worn by an ancient not-quite-dead-yet warlord, and can only be disposed of with an in-person factory recall.  (Or was that one already done?)

However, Imagine Nations follows the principle that sandbox games shouldn’t force players down a single path to solving the story.  “Sequence breaks” are allowed, even if they deflate some of the dramatic impact (or just plain turn the story into a comedy) to just plain shoot the villain before the story gets rolling, or to outright out-villain the villain by doing something even more evil.


Take a look. It’s in a book.

Another reason for the rename to “narrative elements” is that not all narrative elements need actually be “events”.

Let’s say that in a player’s explorations, the player comes across the wreckage of a crashed spaceship.  Maybe the player is already at a high technological level, or maybe they’re a cave-person with extremely limited understanding of technology, but that doesn’t matter, the UFO is there, regardless of the player’s character’s ability to comprehend what they’ve found.  Inside the UFO might be clues to the identity of the alien race that piloted that ship, and maybe even translatable logs of the pilots.  Can the player piece together what happened by reading through the damaged logs? Can the player even piece together where that civilization came from, and find that planet for themselves one day?  Will the player try to return the ancient explorers finally back home… or invade their world?  Alternately, maybe there’s salvageable or reverse-engineering technology on board, if the player character can make sense of those objects.

This sort of narrative element is not something broadcast by a town crier, or announced by a cut-scene, it’s just a randomly hidden special area to explore, and make sense of, at the player’s own pace, if they choose to explore it at all.  Maybe a rumor at the local guild hall or watering hole will give hints, but it’s not something forced front-and-center on the player.  Maybe taking the parts found in one crashed UFO, and asking around about missing or damaged parts may lead to finding matching components or rumors of other UFO to find other pieces to cannibalize to recreate alien technology.  Rewarding player curiosity when they feel curious, rather than dragging players by the nose, lets players tell the game what sort of quest they want to be on, rather than the game telling the player.

– The Imagine Nations Team


This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Vaernus 3 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #2684


    Previously, we have been advertising what we were calling “Catastrophic Events”, however, after internal team discussion, we’ve come to agree that the
    [See the full post at: Questing Quest 7: Narrative Elements]

  • #3058

    Jacob Daniels

    So… let me get this straight. it is the randomly generated prodigy child of Sid Meier’s Civ (taking its advancement through history) Spore (Multiple creatures to choose from ) Minecraft (Houses to build, resources to collect) and Sims (Control over your character and his/her relations)

    It really is nice to see a small-ish start-up to truly , for lack of a better word, love their vision of a final product, but have the willingness to tweak it for the community

    I haven’t pre ordered yet, but when it shows a bit more development than Godus i will! (I feel bad for comparing this game to Godus)

    -Your Friendly Neighborhood Walrus

  • #3063


    The core concepts of Imagine Nations are the fusion of features found in all genres, and the autonomous nature of the cultures on the planets.  The player is merely a spectator in this simulation, although the features act as our sandbox, giving you the toolbox to interact based on your tastes in other games.  Obviously, at the end of the day, we’re going to look at the best games in every genre (which you’ve definitely named a few above), distill the reasons why they were great, and incorporate that greatness at some level in the features available in this game.

    You could simply watch as these various cultures interact with one another, expand from simple beginnings to directions vastly different from our own, and aspire beyond a simple town to the planet or even the entire universe.  You could also work to help shape (for better or for worse) the direction you’d like to see from your actions.  Whether or not your actions achieve the results aimed for, though, depends heavily on how much influence you really have though.

    How you interact is entirely up to you.  You could be an adventurer handling dangerous quests/missions for cultures and achieving fame (and your little piece of the reputation pie), or become a hardworking citizen in a town, raise an upstanding family, and earn their respect.  From politics to warfare, the sandbox lies in the fact that you dictate what you do without any limitations around one particular genre, and you can change the way you play at any time.

    William Phelps - Lead Developer of Imagine Nations - -

  • #3352

    David the gnome

    So to follow up on some understanding of these elements. Could I, for example, instigate/control a local group of monsters/ne’er do wells. Then wait for said towns to request help”solve their problem” effectively playing both sides of the coin to profit off of local towns and such. All while maintaining my clean hands, charismatic character. Obviously I would run the risk of exposure, but could it be done in such a way that  managing it well I could keep things quiet, without walking around with an ” air of evil”. I mean its not like people walk around with horns or halos (cosplayers being the exception). Also ways to mitigate the exposure level in the event of an incident. Like the “silencing” of the village/group, or through political/social machinations? I realize this may exceed the scope, but if it could be managed Awesome!

  • #3355


    Well let’s take this a step further here.  Not thinking evil enough.  😉

    You’re a smithy in the town, and you are the captain of the guard.  You’re thinking about how you can make a lot of money.  So you form a bandit camp that starts harassing the trade routes between towns (and conveniently taking out competition while filling your pockets with whatever loot they get).  You, as captain of the guard, start sending out troops to get rid of the bandits (directly responding to the missions sprouting up in the town), but not nearly enough to make a dent which gets the troops killed (giving you their gear to then sell off to some other town for profit).  New recruits then need gear, so you manufacture them and sell to the town (with the other smithys going out of business due to the bandits, and you making a profit off the initial sale of equipment to the town).  Effectively triple dipping on the situation, while possibly even “personally” handling the situation as patrols fail (and conveniently enough, not having to pay off the share of goods to the bandits you originally hired).  Now you’re a hero, and use your reputation to become leader of the town…and the fun really begins as you dabble in worldwide politics.

    For this to all work, you would need to make absolutely sure that you’re never seen interacting with the bandits, and the bandits don’t play against you and blow the cover.  And this is all definitely a goal with how interactions work within the game.  Either from someone in more power like above, or as a simple adventurer that’s looking for work (and creating it as necessary).

    William Phelps - Lead Developer of Imagine Nations - -

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