A Narrative Approach to Level Design.

Core Principles:
- Using the story as the true vision for gameplay.
- Treating games as storytelling medium: Gameplay and storytelling are one in the same.
- Examining story themes and expressing them through game design.

Movie Inspiration:
- Surface: Interstellar / Europa Report / Life
- Subsurface: The Abyss
- Alien Mega Structure: Alien - Aliens / Event Horizon / Pandorum

Europa Descent will feature a wide variety of narrative delivery methods:
Mixing Player Agency (Allowing for gameplay) vs. Certainty of Delivery (Telling the story) 

- Environmental Storytelling: Low Certainty, High Agency
- Triggered Dialogue: Variable Certainty, Variable Agency
- Narrative Systems: High Certainty, High Agency
- Cutscenes: High Certainty, Low Agency

EUROPA DESCENT - Story Constants:

WHY: Theme
Survival, Exploration, Curiosity

WHO: Characters
Lowell (Player Character - Android) & Deming (2nd Android) / Light Ones (Aliens - new to Europa) / Old Ones (Aliens - have been on Europa for millions of years) / Previous expedition logs/wreckage.

WHERE: Setting
2087, Europa (Jupiter Moon), Cinematic Approach, Surface, Subsurface and Alien Mega Structure exploration.
Feelings that these spaces create: Isolation, Verticality, Vertigo, Claustrophobia, Foreign / Alien

EUROPA DESCENT - Game Variables

WHAT: Plot and events -> Mechanics
- Summary: After crash-landing on the frozen surface you must survive the harsh environment, interacting with your co-pilot and continue your prime directive, exploring the subsurface for signs of life.
- Breakdown: Story - Learn about the setting / aliens. |  Gameplay - Survival: in a hostile environment - Escape: The Old Ones / Outwit: Stealth, Puzzles
- Genre: Three Phase - 1) 3rd Person Liner RPG / Survival / 2) Side Scrolling Action / Survival Game 3) 3rd Person Liner RPG / Survival

WHEN: Time of events (relative to each other) -> Pacing
Linear storyline, Parallel storytelling,  Slow - suspenseful moments, Quick ramp into and out of action.
- Story: Fast moments: Cutscenes, QTEs / Slow, tense moments: Environmental storytelling, data logs, radio transmissions.
- Gameplay: Fast action mixed with slower, tense moments
-- Movement Incentives: Threat, Objective (Survive, Breadcrumbs, Reach the Lander etc), Movement (movement around the player, other NPCS), Time Limits
-- Movement Deterrent: Tension (perceived threat), Obstacles, Change in gameplay movement (Puzzles, Dialog and Path choices)

HOW: Presentation -> Tone
- Setting the Tone: Cameras and viewpoint, Lighting, Colour Pallet, Writing (characters, menus, UI), Character Performance (acting, VO), Music and SFX
- Story Overview: Suspense and danger, Camera Control (tight vs wide) tense music, personal moments, moments of levity. Omnipotent point of view.
- Gameplay Breakdown: Cinematic’s Introduction/Key Moments, Third Person* Survival (Surface gameplay) Side Scrolling Action (Subsurface gameplay) Third Person* Survival. Tense Music and Atmospherics.
*Note during the Third Person sections of gameplay there will be brief First person interaction sections.  



Europa Descent gameplay is broken down into the following key spaces, this modular aspect allows us to work on sections concurrently and have varied gameplay styles for each yet maintain a unified narrative.  Each section will be broken up into multiple Dreams depending on engine memory load and story path chosen.

+Click to enlarge



Section 1 RED

Camera: Cinematics with some first and third person elements.
Movie Inspiration: Ship exterior and interior shots 'Alien', 'Interstellar' and 'Moon'

This section will be mainly comprised of pre-animated cinematics and background narrative elements. Intractable gameplay will be minimal as these opening scenes are primarily used to set the initial mood and provide historical context for the project.


chapter 1 - Surface:

Section 2 - 9 Yellow

Camera: Third person with limited first person interaction.
Movie Inspiration: Survival gameplay 'The Martian', 'Touching the Void' and the obvious 'Europa Project'

The surface of Europa is an inhospitable frigid environment filled with a wide range of lethal hazards. With no life-signs the players main combatant will be the environment itself, incorporating moon-quakes shifting ice, crevasses (kilometres deep) and cryo-volcanoes.

Chapter 2 - SubSurface:

Sections 11 - 26 Blue

Camera: Side-scrolling Sub gameplay.
Movie Inspiration: 'The Abyss'

Once the player descends below the surface they will be presented with a network of caves ranging from cavernous to claustrophobic. The player will journey deep into the ice shelf using a superheated boring machine that contains a mini sub.


Chapter 3 - alien megastructure:

27 - 37 Green

Camera: Initally Side-scrolling then third person.
Movie Inspiration: 'The Abyss', 'Pandorum' with 'Tron' inspired ship interiors. 

After exploring the network of subsurface water filled caves your sub enters the oceans below and you will be guided towards a large Alien Mega-structure.  The Green section above sees the player exploring around and inside this structure.