No Response: Story Writing and Reviews (Interview)

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Recently, Will and I reached out to the developers of the popular Itch.io game, No Response.  No Response has gained a lot of praise for its story, which the developers describe as a “beautiful yet harrowing story of love and loss”.  When I received a free copy of this game, for review, I was ever so disappointed that it wouldn’t run on my non-gaming machine, but the developers were unbelievably nice and helped us get another copy to someone in the team who could review it.  Instead of my review, I agreed to do an interview with the developers, Yarnspinner, about the game, and other projects that they have coming.

1 – How do you approach storywriting?

We are firm believers that each component of our games should contribute
to the story. Our process begins with a certain aesthetic experience that we intend to evoke, which we then attempt to deliver through everything that the player encounters. We map out our key story beats then break them down into their core components: What
emotions and information are we trying to convey? How do we intend to deliver that experience to the player? Whilst our games are written to tell a specific story, we encourage the player to interpret it in their own way. This makes the experience more personal by allowing every player to take away a unique aspect that resonated with them.

2 – What is it like dealing with criticism on a game like No Response?

Thankfully

No Response has been extremely well received so far. It is currently holding an average rating of 4.5/5 on itch.io, which we’re extremely pleased with! We are a small team so when we do receive criticism we take it to heart. However, all criticism is constructive, so

The game’s trailer.

we take it on board and view it as a learning experience for our future projects.

3 – What were your goals for the game?

As Yarn Spinners, our primary goal is always to create a compelling, memorable, emotionally resonant story. However, we’re not content with simply telling a story – we want to facilitate introspection in our players. Our games attempt to provide an insight into the player’s own life and make them reflect on their ethos, even after the game has ended.

We like to take a different approach to the fast-paced storytelling seen in AAA titles. Slow things down a little, then dissect the mundanities and normalities of life. As such, in No Response we wanted the player to reflect on the process of grief, loss and their own mortality.

4 – Have you any plans for releases elsewhere?

We’d love to release both No Response and our previous title – Causeway – on Steam at some point. At present we’re focussing on making our next game as good as it can possibly be. It’s by far our most ambitious game yet in terms of scale and content, so we can’t wait to show it to the world!

5 – Finally, where did the idea come from?

The concept for No Response emerged from the Global Game Jam. During the event, participants are provided with a theme to base their game on; in 2018 this was“Transmissions”. Ultimately, we want to experiment with different methods of storytelling and we thought that using a mobile phone as a method of conveying a narrative would be an interesting approach. We took what is typically a two-way communication device and ‘broke’ it – allowing the player to only receive incoming transmissions.

Conclusion

Despite this particular article being the interview, not the review, I couldn’t recommend supporting these developers enough.  It is clear to me that these developers care about the details in their game, and don’t like to follow the trends in terms of storytelling.  As they mentioned, they seem to have a very positive approach to constructive criticism, which is the best way to approach criticism. In conclusion, though my PC can’t run the game, when I eventually do get a machine capable of running the game, I will most definitely give it a go, and for $1 USD (or more – depending on your donation), I don’t see why I shouldn’t.

Big thanks to Yarnspinner for being really awesome and helpful through the creation of this interview.  Be sure to check out the game here on itch.io, and check out our review, when it is released.

Game: https://yarnspinnergames.itch.io/no-response
All images are credited to the developer’s itch.io page.

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