'Story Matters' - Lisa Brunette on the ironSource Podcast
We're excited to share ironSource LevelUp's latest podcast interview, with Brunette Games Founder Lisa Brunette. Highlights:
Different platform and audiences require different narratives
The first game I worked on was for the DS, and I worked on some other platform games. Those were for families and younger players.
So in the case of that first game for the DS, it was for teen girls. So that's a different audience than when I migrated over to mobile games. That became a new focus for me.
But that's a way different context than when you're in your living room with your Wii. So just taking that context into consideration every step of the way. You know, if you're dedicated to your PC, and this is your me-time, that's different. For mobile games, when I'm on the bus and I might get called for my stop, or I get my notifications coming in, it needs a different kind of storytelling.
Lessons for indie studios
Don’t let the story get in the way. I think especially those indies sometimes come to games with a novel in a drawer that they want to turn into a game. And that's usually a bad way to start. We instead start with the game and then craft a story that's integrated with it.
We don't want to turn anyone's novel into a game. That means that the story was written for passive entertainment, not for the interaction of games. So right off the bat, the first thing you want to do is make sure that your story is in service to the game.
How to write narratives for mobile games
We actually have distinct milestones that we follow on all of our projects with clients. We start with them at the concept stage, and we pitch three high-level story ideas. This is after a conversation with the client in which we understand what the main gameplay is, whether that's jigsaw puzzle or merge gameplay or match three. In our games, often that meta element is decorating or perhaps makeover, or sometimes both. And then we create a story that really attempts to bridge and merge those.
The number one reason the player is there is to play the game. They're not passive. So we're really working on what is that story that is going to merge all those three things together in this beautiful way. And we carry that through that process with every milestone.
We want things to be very short and very punchy. And, in most cases, while there's drama and interesting conflict that has to occur otherwise it's not interesting, most of what we're writing is jokes and we're really pushing the humor and being kind of meta and fun and just giving players that opportunity to enjoy.
Listen to the full podcast at the ironSource LevelUp website.
We've had a long relationship with ironSource, now owned by Unity, with many of our writers authoring industry articles:
Who Goes There? The Importance of Writing Distinct Character Voices, by Sara Hardin
The top 5 mistakes mystery writers make - and how to avoid them, by Lisa Brunette - Lisa was top writer for LevelUp in 2022 for this piece
Punchline: How to use humor to bridge player connection, by Dexter Woltman
The power of storytelling in blockbuster casual games, by Lisa Brunette