Master’s Thesis – Unreal Engine 4.9

Designing a game design methodology, model, and putting it into practice in a single-player level

Hours spent: 200 hours

Practical applications: immersive game design, organic (non-textual) tutorial design, level design, mechanics design, narrative design

What is Ludonarrative harmony?

Ludonarrative harmony is when gameplay and story work together to create a meaningful and immersive experience.

From a design implementation perspective, it is the synchronized interactions between in-game actions (mechanics) and in-world context (story).

The context (or fiction) ia necessary for players to experience immersion through interacting with in-game systems. Context includes level design, narrative, world state, and/or objectives.

This level had no on-screen indicators and used diegetic UI in the form of a Geiger counter to guide players through the level.

Design Goals

  • Study ludonarrative harmony in game and level design
  • Design a game design framework for achieving ludonarrative harmony
  • Prove the effectiveness and iterate on game design models while testing the theory in a level
  • Establish key principles for creating levels and games with narrative and gameplay synergy
  • Develop a practical example in a single-player level

Level Overview

The level takes place in a level representing a post-apocalyptic underground bunker. Using whitebox assets, players jump into a hole in the floor which contains the major mechanics: a flashlight & a Geiger counter.

There are no tutorials or text in the level. Players explore the cavern and complete traversal puzzles to activate a door only triggered after players obtain all 3 crystals. Once the door opens, players see a beautiful world of greenery and a 2D horizon image.

final door that required 3 crystals to open

External Links

Thesis Paper, Complete

https://www.academia.edu/34283487/Designing_For_Ludonarrative_Harmony

SMU Guildhall, magazine

https://joom.ag/llrQ/p12