Master’s Thesis: Designing for Ludonarrative Harmony
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.
- 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
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.