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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Independent Games Summit: Sparking Curiosity-Driven Exploration Through Narrative in 'Outer Wilds'

Kelsey Beachum  (Writer, Independent)

Date: Monday, July 19

Time: 8:30am - 9:30am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Outer Wilds' development began with one main goal: Create a game that motivates players to engage with and explore an open world not through assigning missions or other forms of explicit gameplay direction, but instead through a more diegetic and player-determined approach to game progression. What resulted was an odd, experimental space exploration game that relies on inspiring and rewarding curiosity as players explore a dynamic solar system caught in a time loop and unravel the world's nonlinear story. This talk explores narrative's role in achieving Outer Wilds' primary design objective of curiosity-driven exploration, and examines specific narrative design choices and their effects on player experience.


Attendees will take away a better understanding of how to support a player-directed, nonlinear narrative and curiosity-driven exploration in an open-world setting.

Intended Audience

Writers, narrative designers, and other creative stakeholders interested in how narrative design and story can inspire and support player exploration, especially when interwoven with other disciplines (such as gameplay or level design) or in nonlinear, open-world settings.