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Immersive Town Tutorial

Tutorial: create an immersive video game town

Video games can pull me into a narrative world more than any form of storytelling. Whether gazing into space from the deck of the Normandy in Mass Effect, exploring the gritty glow of Midgar in Final Fantasy VII, discovering the cultures of the wasteland in Fallout, or taking in the haunting solemnness of Tristram in Diablo; video game “towns” enchant players and engross us in their world. “Town” is used loosely here. Any game scene where the player can speak with non-player characters (NPCs) and take a break from the main action counts.

You don’t need to be a 3D artist or programmer to create an immersive scene using this tutorial. The  project will outline steps to use existing code and art assets to craft a  game environment, focusing on narrative techniques to immerse the player. This tutorial won’t cover how to create original environment art or program character controllers or dialog systems.

Our goal is to create something that feels like a living, breathing place with its own culture, history, and future.


Learning objectives

By completing this project, you’ll be able to:

  • Research and plan a theme for a game environment.
  • Construct an immersive game environment using free assets.
  • Use characters, cinematography, lighting, and props to create mise-en-scène and environmental storytelling.
  • Create animated NPCs with physical, psychological and social dimensions to occupy the environment and make it feel alive.
  • Create NPC barks to engage the player and create narrative immersion.
  • Create branching conversations and use conditional logic to have NPCs react to player actions.
  • Create trackable quests that give the player objectives and rewards.
  • Create interactive props the player investigate or collect.
  • Author lore using notes the player can discover and read.
  • Use the above techniques to create an immersive, narrative-driven game scene.

By David Antognoli

David Antognoli is a game developer and professor of game design at Columbia College Chicago. A game industry veteran with experience in both programming and game design roles, David has worked on projects with companies like Microsoft, Sega, 2K Games, and Nickelodeon. Now he finds creative refuge in independent game development and teaching others how to create amazing games.

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