Hydras Like Stories investigates new methods for visualizing and understanding the unique qualities of multi-player narrative for improved multi-player narrative design in digital games. It uses a fictional software tool to imagine what alternate authoring practices can look like for multi-player digital game narratives. It began with research into the domains of ensemble film, tabletop roleplaying game, and groupware. Extracting a set of design principles from these other domains, I produced a fictional design tool (realized as a set of mockups and a software prototype) that was displayed both in a gallery and a set of user evaluation sessions. Wrapping the design practices in a layer of speculative fiction avoids prescription in their realization, providing what Dunne and Raby describe as “compasses,” rather than “maps,” to the future.
This software project was the subject of my MFA Thesis at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was accompanied by a thesis paper on critical software tools and multi-player narrative design that can be read here. A presentation on the thesis work was awarded the Division of Arts Alumni Association Award (one of two awards in the division) at the UCSC Graduate Research Symposium.