Better Ways to Build Better Stories, with Bryant Cannon

 
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ETAO Podcast, Episode 61.

http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/etao.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/etao-podcast-61-bryant-cannon.mp3
Bryant Cannon joins us to discuss Oxenfree, its follow-up Afterparty, and the licensed, now-delisted Night School games that came in between—not to mention his previous mobile work, much of it also now delisted. As such, we talk about the melancholy weirdness of games being delisted, and more broadly, of games being treated as products first and foremost.

But mostly we talk about narratives, and how to weave them into every part of games, and Bryant’s “design-first” engineering approach as one way of achieving that aim. If story is gameplay, then the narrative designers have to be able to iterate on stories quickly, without getting bogged down in technical particulars they only half understand—and likewise, developers shouldn’t need to hard-code each individual plot point as something unique and irreducible. Bryant’s work at Night School has largely been about striking that balance, threading that needle.

We also talk Zelda. Life’s too short not to.

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• Here’s Bryant’s talk about the importance of NightScript (and ambitions of NightDraft, which we didn’t discuss on the episode).

• See Frank Cifaldi’s GDC talk for more on the state of game preservation.

• So, as I say in the intro: If we go to the katakana, It’s ムジュラ, which you’d pronounce as ma-joo-ra, and which is probably a pun on 魔女 (which means witch and is pronounced ma-jo). So yeah, I’m wrong.

• Here’s that blog post on the radio in Oxenfree.

• That quote about art never being finished, only abandoned, is probably originally attributable to Paul Valéry.

King of Kings: The Early Years is indeed a Wisdom Tree joint, just like Bible Adventures, and a Christian bookstore would indeed have been where one would have encountered both.

• That flower in Breath of the Wild are called the silent princess, for the record.

• Here’s me plahying through Zelda II, in tweet form.

• I flipped the color scheme in 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds of Uniqueness.

• Here’s that recent Game Maker’s Tool Kit about conversation as gameplay.

• The new Klei game is called Griftlands, and I have no excuse for forgetting that, since Jim Guthrie talked to me about his musical contributions to it not too long ago.

• Do check out Who Shot GuyBrush Threepwood?—not only the most recent episode, but also episodes one and two.

• Last but not least, here’s one of Bryant’s other talks, with a focus on Switch porting.
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“All The People Say (Season 3)” by Holly Hyperion.
As-yet-unnamed music from the Afterparty Original Soundtrack by scntfc.
“Epiphany Fields” from the Oxenfree Original Soundtrack by scntfc.

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70 episodes