Supermassive Games has explained that expanding the number of narrative branches from Until Dawn to the upcoming Man of Medan has been a “key plan” of development.
Speaking to Geoff Keighley at an E3 Coliseum panel, Man of Medan‘s director Tom Heaton explained that this goal was, in part, a response to the emergence of the streaming culture during Until Dawn‘s development.
Heaton said that the team was surprised by the way that audiences engaged with the game and the relationships portrayed therein, leading to questions such as “‘How can we develop those? How can we deepen those systems?'”
The result is a game with an increased focus on narrative branching to provide a sense of agency and interaction for the player. Each branch is designed to affect the story in some way, from major plot deviations to more subtle alterations to the relationships and interactions between the characters.
However, Heaton noted that the team did not want to provide story branches without due cause. When writing its games, Supermassive starts by concepting a worthwhile core narrative and strong central characters, according to Heaton, with the options an permutations emerging from points where different paths could logically be taken. According to one of the game’s stars, Shawn Ashmore, this approach led to a script approximately 1,000 pages long.
One key difference from other games of this interactive drama archetype is that Man of Medan will not display fellow player choices as percentages once the game or scene is concluded. Instead, players will receive a kind of map detailing the course of their individual story.
Man of Medan is scheduled to launch on August 30 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as the first part of The Dark Pictures Anthology, which has several other entries in production.