Armando Troisi and The Fourth Element

Armano Troisi Talks to VFS Game Design Students

On Friday, January 18, to kick off the 2013 Game Design Expo I went to a presentation by Armando Troisi at the VFS Game Design campus. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the VFS game design alumnus. I quickly learned that Armando Troisi is a “somebody” in the video game industry — he’s Narrative Director at 343 Industries, who developed Halo 4.

After he spoke about who he is and where he is in the world of video game production, he opened up the floor for questions. I have recently started learning Interactive Narrative Design in the Game Design program, so a lot of what he had to say was central to my current projects. The information he shared was so relevant and informative that I was compelled to speak to him afterwards, if only just to shake his hand and say “Thanks”. As his allotted time came to a close, I looked over my notes to recap. That’s when I noticed that I had missed something.

Three out of Four Elements

Armando had mentioned the four fundamental elements of interactive narrative design, but I only had 3. My notes would not be complete without the fourth fundamental element, so now I was determined to speak to him and figure it out.

I was again impressed by Armando as I watched him interact with the few students ahead of me in the line. He took time to learn names, shake hands, graciously accept praise, and give insights as needed. The student in front of me asked three questions back-to-back, and the line behind me was growing. I was thinking, “Good thing my question only requires a one word answer.” And that’s exactly what I was expecting. But instead, when Armando heard my question, he took the time to really elaborate and explain it. Not only did I learn about all four of the elements, I learned their importance and role in the design of a good interactive narrative.

I now had all four elements, and it meant a lot to me to not get just a one word answer. Armando went the extra mile to teach me a golden nugget that will certainly help my design process throughout the rest of the program at VFS, but also in my career as a video game designer.

And in case you’re wondering, the four elements of interactive narrative are as follows:

  1. Narrative: The script with which the story is told
  2. Drama: The events and acting that tell the story
  3. Presentation: How the narrative and drama are delivered both visually and thematically
  4. Interactivity: The cornerstone of telling story through gameplay; The balance of giving players a choice while immersing them in a compelling narrative.