When indie dev studio Night School set out to create their debut game Oxenfree, they had one goal in mind: merge storytelling and mechanics as closely as possible.
At least, that's how cofounder Sean Krankel told it during his GDC 2017 talk on the topic, which delved deep into the design decisions the team made in the course of making a supernatural teen thriller about exploration and communication.
According to Krankel, it's worth taking time to look at every aspect of your game through the lens of two critical questions: "Why is the player playing this?" and "What is the player doing while we have them?"
For Oxenfree, the "why" turned out to be the player defining the game protagonist's story, and the "what" was a set of mechanics built to make interacting with the story feel novel and, more importantly, personal to the player.
It was a good talk, and if you missed out on it the first time you can now go back and watch it (completely free!) on the official GDC YouTube channel.
About the GDC Vault
In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its new YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.
Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.
Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech