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Level Design Workshop: Designing for Non-Linear Story Discovery in 'Tacoma'


Steve Gaynor (Co-Founder, Fullbright)

Nina Freeman (Level Designer, Fullbright)

Location: Room 20, North Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 20

Time: 10:00am - 11:00am

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Summits - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Tutorial

Tutorials: Level Design Workshop

Vault Recording: Video

Telling story through level design is crucial to many games, and when environmental storytelling is central to the experience, the shape of the level describes the shape of the story. But what happens when each major story segment is shaped in a completely non-linear way, while remaining tied directly to the environment? How can you design levels that both tell a story, and allow the player to explore that story in an organic, self-directed way? Designers Steve Gaynor and Nina Freeman from Fullbright share lessons learned during the development of their latest game, 'Tacoma', Fullbright's follow-up to the genre-defining 'Gone Home', and how you can apply these techniques to your own process.


Examples and techniques for integrating story into game levels, and for structuring game levels to support the story-shape your game is built around, from linear to non-linear progression.

Intended Audience

Working and aspiring level designers, level artists, and narrative designers/writers.