Nonlinear Narratives: City Watch Post-Mortem

Background City Watch My game is about a girl who has to decide her own path in life.  She starts out in the City Watch, which is where she currently works as a knight for the city.  She is supposed to prevent and stop crime from happening.  She is assigned a major task, to find and take down the thieves’ guild in the city.  A problem with that, however, is that she is a kleptomaniac.  She has to infiltrate the thieves’ guild while struggling not to steal stuff.  Or she can give in to temptation and steal a lot of stuff.  It is the players choice to decide whether they want Lena to stay true to the CIty Watch or steal things and truly become a member of the thieves’ guild.  The characters in the game can also help influence her choice.  The captain, Morgan is very kind and caring to all her members; she treats them like family.  And Rob, the person in charge of the thieves’ guild, isn’t all bad.  He helps people who are in need and takes care of orphaned kids.  He provides people with a family as well.  So, the ultimate goal of the game is for Lena to decide whether she wants to stay with the City Watch and demolish the thieves’ guild, or leave her place at the City Watch and join the Thieves’ Guild.

Lena can walk around and talk to people in each level of the game.  There are many items to buy, pick up/steal, interact with, and people to talk to.  Depending on who is around, when Lena steals objects, dialogue options will change with Morgan and Rob.  If a knight is around, Lena will lose favorability with Morgan, but if a thief is around, Lena will gain more favorability with Rob.  To get closer with specific characters, their approval rating will have to be a certain level, so stealing items is a necessity, as well as doing heroic and just quests.  Heroic quests will improve Morgan’s approval rating without necessarily decreasing Rob’s.

The McGuffin in the game is the sword that Lena has.  It was given to her by Morgan earlier on in her life and it serves as her connection to the City Watch.  It changes/ disappears altogether depending on specific actions Lena takes throughout the game.

The abstraction in my game is how there is not a set path to follow, there are different options on how to progress the story, and there are multiple things to do at once.  This ties in with the nonlinearity of the game.  There is not one way to play the game.  Each playthrough of the game would be different because there are different side quests to take, different things to steal, different outcomes of the game.  Nothing in the game follows one path.  The forward and backward loops also tie into the nonlinearity.  The loops correlate to the approval ratings; doing a good thing will generally increase your approval with Morgan but decrease approval with Rob, and vice versa.  Depending on how the player chooses to play the game doing a good/bad thing will make one side of the game easier while making the other side harder.

My game says a lot through a little by using environmental storytelling.  The way places and characters look says a lot about them.  The outfits I chose for Henri and Morgan tie them together at the City Watch making them look like part of a team.  Lena’s outfit has the same boots as Henri and Morgan, but Lena has a much more casual look about her to make her blend into an average person.  The thieves don’t really where armor because they don’t need to.  They have more casual clothing to help them blend in because they aren’t supposed to stand out.  A thief that stands out is not a good thief.  That’s why Lena starts out with basic clothing.  She can get armor later in the game to help add to her defense, but her look should stay fairly basic.  Items within the environment also help to enhance the setting.  The setting is a mix between fantasy-medieval and realistic-modern.  There are items scattered around like smartphones and electronics.  There are working lights, but there aren’t cars.  There are typical RPG style vendors where Lena can buy and sell certain goods.  And the factions- City Watch and Thieves’ Guild are inherently fantasy tropes.

The nonlinearity of my game helps expand the theme and story because the purpose of the game is to choose your own path.  The player should feel free to follow whatever road they want to, and by not having a strict storyline, it allows the player to do what they want.  The ability to be free may also change how the player feels throughout the game.  By learning more about one person may affect how they want to play the game.  Discovering different parts of the game builds onto the world and influences the player’s decision without forcing them to do anything.

I think I have used the power of minimalism within my game.  I tried to give life to the environments and character through how they look without having anything be too cluttering.  The look of people and places should be simple but telling.

In a way the player can see what is important.  They know from the beginning what one option for the ultimate goal of the game is.  And they can soon learn the importance of one side or the other side.


Henri’s face

  knight sprite

Henri’s sprite

Lena Front Sprite  

Lena’s sprite

Morgan Sprite

Morgan’s Sprite

        Lena Face

Lena’s Face

    Morgan Face  

Morgan’s Face

  FullSizeRender (1)  

original sketch for Lena


Lena’s sword given to her by Morgan