5 Tips on Writing: With Lead Narrative & Game Designer Liudmyla Mishchenko

Hey there, my name is Myla and I’m a game and narrative designer from Ukraine, who now resides in Germany for safety reasons. Here are 5 Tips on Writing that I’ve learned along the way!.

My career path started in 2012 in casual games when I was hired through a friend to help them write quests for a free-to-play game.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, so it was a great help in understanding how video games work. I’m self-taught in game and narrative design because back then there were very few source materials available, and I had to figure out a lot on my own through playing myself and gathering user feedback.

I’m an active fiction reader, and at some point, I just started writing my own romance and adventure books for fun. And again, by publishing online, I received live reader feedback, which taught me about the public’s expectations better than any screenwriting book. It came in handy when I was hired to work on an interactive stories game.

What's your top tip for hooking a user?

Give them what they expected, but make it unexpected. Your audience knows things will eventually unfold, so ensure it’s unpredictable enough to surprise and intrigue them for further events.

Connect with Myla on LinkedIn.

What's your top tip for plot development?

When I design a plot, I always try to follow the storytelling curve. I write down all the interesting plot twists in the story to ensure there is enough content and events in between and the story pace follows the curve.

What's your top tip for character development?

Don’t forget to balance the characters’ traits. While black and white colors may look great on canvas, mixing them in a story allows for the creation of more realistic personas.

Everyone has a motive for everything they do; villains who are simply evil and heroes who are merely nice aren’t particularly appealing. Allow your characters to have flaws.

5 Tips on Writing: What's your top tip for creating meaningful choices?

Meaningful consequences. Imagine it’s real life, where you can’t just replay the level. The greater the weight of the consequences, the tougher the choice, and the more meaningful it becomes to you.

What's your top tip for world-building?

I often base my worlds on existing historical empires and events. If you’re struggling to find a solid reason for a conflict between two parties, you can always open a history book and derive another life lesson to incorporate into your own story.

5 Tips on Writing: Which games or stories have you worked on?

For PC gaming, as a game and narrative designer, I’ve primarily worked on HOPA games for the BigFishGames publishing company. These games typically consist of short detective mystery stories, where players solve cases, chase culprits, and help restore peace and justice.

My role was to ensure that the gameplay and story I crafted complemented each other and were engaging. In mobile gaming, I’ve contributed to the MyFantasy interactive stories game, targeting a younger women audience with romance-based plots.

In my position as the Head of Narrative, I was responsible for ensuring that the plots were captivating enough to keep players engaged and the characters were compelling enough for romantic pursuits.

What are your strengths in writing and narrative design?

I write short, but make it sharp. And ensure I avoid ludonarrative dissonance. Also, my games or stories have never ever been called tedious.I consider it an achievement.

5 Tips on Writing: What's your favorite story, in any medium, and why?

Video Game Assassin’s Creed II. Niente commenti! 🙂

If you could wish for any interactive audio story related to a video game...

Tough question… I would say What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s always nice to hear some interesting memoirs.

About the Author
Chris Mahnke
Chris Mahnke

Christian Mahnke is the author of the most successful interactive audiobooks “Iron Falcon” and “The Magic Forrest”. He has also written branded interactive fiction stories for companies such as Disney and Audible. Currently he is stuck in the tutorial of The Witcher 2.

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