Weird West – How It Accounts for Emergent Gameplay

Lucas Loredo, a narrative designer on Wolfeye Studios’ upcoming immersive sim Weird West, gave a talk at this year’s GDC that revolved around the challenges of designing a game with a high degree of freedom and possibilities for emergent gameplay. This Game Developer (formerly Gamasutra) article shares a transcript of sorts.

Here are the opening paragraphs to get you started:

Wolfeye Studios’ Weird West is being made by a team of veterans who’ve long worked within the immersive simulation genre. It’s a type of game infamous for enabling player choice, sometimes to the detriment of designers trying to make sure they still have a fun, coherent experience.

At GDC 2022, Weird West narrative designer Lucas Loredo discussed this particular problem, and offered some useful techniques for immersive sim developers to manage the multiple narrative ends that can emerge in this game genre.

Loredo’s fundamental principle was that immersive sim narrative designers are trying to wrangle with a genre where the “verbs” that define gameplay can “hit” story elements. In Weird West, a player can befriend a local sheriff, they can also shoot the sheriff, they can also lure the sheriff into a fire tornado that they started, but in such a way that they are not directly responsible for the sheriff’s death.

If the sheriff is a key path forward for Weird West’s story, that presents a number of design challenges and branching ends to account for. Here’s how Loredo broke down the tools that Wolfeye uses to wrangle and imagine all that content

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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