Unique narration perspectives

I’m kind of curious how other people feel about games with unique narrators- I think with most of the games I’ve played through COG the narration is done in a second person, mostly neutral perspective. But I’ve wondered what it would be like to have one where the narrator would have a strong perspective of their own that might skew how the player sees the game (basically an unreliable narrator, but I feel like it’s a little bit different when it’s a roleplaying game).

The most recent example I’ve found was Disco Elysium, since even though the narration is technically the lead character, the narration is sometimes extremely biased and factually incorrect, based on that misinterpretation*. Does that have a place in COG, d’you think? I feel like it might be interesting, but I can also see why it might end up just frustrating people too.

*please no spoilers, I’m only a little bit into the story!

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Strong maybe. I won’t deny that it can be done really well and bring reader some new enjoyable experience, but if I see narrator who has own opinion in IF it will be almost certainly a pass for me.
Narrator can strongly influence the suspension of disbelief; I would advise to treat the narration with extreme caution.

But you can always make a short demo, look at the reactions and decide how to move forward. At least ot will be something rare and unique.

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Not sure if it counts, but I really enjoyed Street Jam. That game has a very distinct narrator who pretty much has as much personality as the other characters in the game.

I def believe that if you are able to pull it off, then go for it! I personally love stories where the narrator is an unseen force. I say play with it a little, see if you like the writing style, and whether it sounds natural or not. But, I would treat this narration as narrator, meaning, as a character. I haven’t really thought about this before so this has been fascinating to think about, haha! Thanks! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

  1. If you want to make a peculiar narration, make yourself sure to not make it unintentionally annoyng and/or confusing

  2. Remember that readers love to be surprised but no one like lies and be taken for an idiot

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The MC in @wildelight’s Mind Blind is an unreliable narrator. They are not wildly unreliable, but the player can’t trust that everything that Button perceives is correct. Considering how popular the game is, I’d say that the answer to your question is yes—there is a place for that kind of storytelling in IF and specifically COG/HG.

Personally I think it’s really interesting and compelling as a concept. Unreliable narration via the MC’s limited and biased perspective is one way in which the player can see the effect that their choices have. If I choose to create an MC who is cynical and mistrustful, there’s a great opportunity for them to then (mis-)interpret the intentions of a character or the outcome of an event, etc based on those biases and give me, the player, a bad take. As with all things, this creates more work for the author, but I think the payoff can be worth it!

I think this is a good point to remember. Imo, an unreliable narrator (at least if they are the MC) ought to be mistaken or biased rather than lying outright to the player. Bonus points if the game provides unbiased info to the player and it is only the MC’s interpretation of that info that’s faulty. The player might still believe the MC’s interpretation by default, but it leaves space for a thoughtful player to see how the story and narration diverge

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I would play it if you intend to make that type of game.

Definitely, I think even when you’re giving twists or making things vague it’s important to let readers be able to figure them out. Lying/assuming the player didn’t figure it out/giving no clues about the truth will be more frustrating than entertaining.

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I’m currently writing an IF story with a 1st person narrator. I’m not sure if they’re considered an “unreliable narrator”, but they will sometimes question the player’s choices and/or refuse to comply. I think it’ll be more fun than frustrating, but I guess I’ll find out when I post the WIP~

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I think it works as long as you establish that the the reader is there to guide the main character, not to directly participate in the story (using first-person perspective is a good way to do this). IF inherently lends itself to “bland” narrators because of the tendency for readers to self-insert, so it’s definitely more difficult to write biased/unreliable narrators than in traditional fiction.

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