Zynga: Indiana Jones Adventure World was all about the story

Indiana Jones Adventure World
Indiana Jones Adventure World

Story had been at the center of Zynga Boston's Adventure World well before Indiana Jones came along. During a talk on social game narrative at this year's GDC Online in Austin, Tex, Zynga designer Steve Williams and staff writer Jonathan Myers made a point of that fact, and went well into detail on their process for crafting story-heavy content on a weekly basis for the game.

Myers and Williams touched on the fact that social gamers are either time-strapped or attention-strapped, which lends games like Adventure World to a constrained narrative structure. But some of the best work is finished under constraints, no? The two, fortunately, figured out a way to deliver long form narrative in smaller chunks, stringing players along on a series of quests.

Ultimately, the duo decided that the meaty chunks of narrative should be optional, but the general gist of a given story should be told through gameplay. Which is arguably how a majority of mainstream console games operate--few come without the option to skip cut scenes. What was most interesting to hear from Myers and Williams was that Zynga was interested in narrative before LucasArts was involved, and the Boston team had about one month's worth of story content at the ready.

The focus on story in Adventure World is so apparently strong that the team even once included a choice for players that directly affected their story. This is something normally exclusive to traditional role-playing games, like Mass Effect. However, it hasn't been seen since in Zynga Boston's work. Is that it for such interesting narrative power in social games? Not according to Myers and Williams, but it's unlikely we'll see it in future Zynga games.

Are you interested in narrative in social games, or are developers wasting their time? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.