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The Stanley Parable Helpful Development Showcase: Paradoxes

The Stanley Parable Helpful Development Showcase is an extremely insightful and informative look into what it takes to make a video game. This week: How to actively sabotage the quality of your game.

The Stanley Parable Helpful Development Showcase is our way of connecting you to the development of The Stanley Parable by giving you a small look at what's been going on behind the scenes. Each week we'll give you a tiny peek into what it takes to make a game like The Stanley Parable, the creative challenges we come up against in the course of development, and how to not judge yourself as a person for the quality of choices you've made in your own life. These are just a few of the topics we'll cover in this incredibly useful blog series.

Reader mail comes to us this week from Martin I. of Michigan:

I just played the Stanley parable and I have to tell you that the story in your game is a wreck. It makes no logical sense, contradicts itself, there’s no central consistency in even the loosest sense of the word. Seriously did you even look at what you were making?

Thanks Martin, it’s always a pleasure to hear responses like yours! Here at Galactic Café we take a lot of pride in creating storylines that resemble trainwrecks, totally devoid of value, impenetrable in every way, even bordering on spiteful toward the player.

This week: How to actively sabotage the quality of your game's story

Wrecking your own game isn't just good for your players, it's also tremendously rewarding! To demonstrate, I'm going to start with a video game whose narrative is extremely high quality, and work my way down toward filth.

Here's our example game. It features two characters, on the left is Marsh and on the right is Chev.

To see the story, let's look at their characters' Attributes. In this case, Chev and Marsh's Attributes determine their relationship with one another.

This is a high quality story.

If your goal is to deeply impact your players, to inspire them with an emotional tale of the human condition, stop now. You won't get any better than this.

On the other hand, if you want a game that alienates and harasses your players, causing them to feel weak and unloved in a cold, brutal world, well then let's continue!

We're going to add another Attribute to Marsh to help confuse and contradict the story.

Great! See how already the narrative has stopped making total sense? That's the effect that we're looking for here.

But we're only just getting started, let's take it another step forward.

What??

your players should be asking at this point,

How can Marsh both love and not love Chev?? How can Chev love Marsh and not actually know her?!?

This is an appropriate response, it means that we're getting closer to infuriating the player with a huge pile of narrative nonsense. But someone stubborn enough could probably still make some sort of artsy bullshit sense out of this game, so let's push it even further.

Fantastic, I think you're getting the hang of it now! Keep going.

YES. I LOVE IT. MORE!

Hm. Okay, I think you stumbled a bit there, it's actually totally plausible that Marsh could be Swedish. In fact, if anything this detail probably causes the story to make MORE sense. Could you come up with something else?

Perfect! You can clearly see from the screenshot that Marsh has arms, this Attribute sends us further into Nonsenseville.

UIHIWREHT872781FHNFDUIAS9I98HAAJFJKE

...is probably what your players are thinking right now as they're playing your game. They came here for a normal, rational, coherent story! And instead they got a life lesson about not trusting me to give them something normal.

That, and the story of Genghis Kahn.

Could we take this even further and confuse the story even more? Of course we could, there is always more nonsense out there, always new piles of shit to heap onto your work, always a greater sense of sheer hatred you could be conveying to your players. Believe in your dreams.

But this is just a tutorial, meant to get you started in the right direction, to inspire you and your future work. So let's stop here and reflect on how far we've come. To actually step into the lives of Chev and Marsh.

Here is a screenshot of our game in action:

BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS.

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