You have the choice to turn your viewpoint to wherever you want. But with VR we can join those two forms of entertainment in a new way. Storytelling determined by an immersed active participant, not a passive, empathic audience member. Now to jump into how Dark Souls can be used as a baseline for storytelling in VR. Its story is spread across a multitude of various subtle little places and pieces of dialogue. You, the player, then through your questing and travels eventually end up in a wooded area and discover an armored corpse.
On it, you find a shield and sword, which as you inspect appear to have religious engravings and a short line about how holy knights would go on pilgrimages and explore the dark places of the world. All of that is there to be found but it is up to you look and explore it for yourself. If you choose not to, then at least you went to a creepy forest and got some cool loot. This subtle way of storytelling that Dark Souls uses is ingenious really because it uses what I like to refer to as Scarcity of Knowledge. It requires an active player to fully entrenched and interact with the world if they wish to get the most out of it.
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It also promotes a level of replayability within the game. These are all things that are essential in creating virtual worlds in VR.
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An example of Scarce Knowledge, or probably more commonly known as withholding knowledge is from J. R Tolkien. This led to a far deeper entrenchment in the story then if they had been published together. To achieve complete entrenchment and interaction, we need players to be able to do Three things when they enter a VR world.
They need to Immerse themselves, to actually be in that place. Immersion is achieved through a sense of Presence, that they are there in spirit, and through a sense of Agency, that they are actively participating, that there are a cause and effect, that there are consequence and feedback to what they are doing. So, in the case of Dark Souls, by willfully withholding information, i.
For a narrative to progress, it will always need to be placed on some sort of rails system. The player will always be going from point A to point B to point C.
Now the problem with VR so far is that with a degree world, the player can look and move anywhere, thereby avoiding point B and C entirely if they so choose. The Dark Souls method of Confluent Narrative is switching that branching out narrative around to a branching in one, and incorporating subtle cues for the player to become aware of the story and continue on a path of discovery.
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The story is scarce here, the player is effectively in the dark. Anything they choose will be a surprise, even if they have limited choices. This concept I need to highlight is key because the illusion of self-directed agency must be given to the player. The story still has a narrative arc, and it still needs anchor points. The agency is that the player needs to move through the world, with whatever choice they make.
The player starts off with unknown limited choices, this needs to be given because unlike other mediums, games can block content. And in the case of Dark Souls, it can be blocked to the point of giving up from frustration, but the player can always choose another path. But if the game blocks content how do you make the player aware of choices that are unknown to them. This is where the environmental storytelling of Dark Souls comes into play. The narrative is everywhere.
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