In Protocol Aurora, players take control of a repair robot named Io, who reawakens in the Northern Aurora Station many years after its abandonment. In order to restore the Aurora Station, and thereby return power to the WorldGrid, Io picks up the Capacitor, a tool that is capable of storing and releasing energy from the Aurora Borealis.
With this new tool, the player must guide Io through the arctic to gather Aurora Energy by defeating the constructs, strange combinations of aurora energy and natural elements which have taken over the arctic. Traversing across unique geographical locations, the player will lead Io to turn on each of the four research stations that surround the Tower, a black behemoth that rests on the North Pole, and once gathered enough energy from the Aurora to power the entire globe.
Players will be rewarded as they explore with a rich, beautiful, desolate world, new weapons to help them confront the aurora constructs, and knowledge on the history of the Aurora Station, the people who once occupied it, and why it came to be abandoned.
- Integrate a strong narrative into the game
- Allow the player to understand the narrative through gameplay
- Collaborate with artists and level designers to create environmental storytelling
- Write story encounters to reward player exploration
Cinematic and Gameplay Trailer
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My goals in Protocol Aurora were to create a game that had a narrative that players could understand simply through playing the game, while giving interested players the ability to gather more information about the past. Each of these goals was achieved through a different technique.
I coined the term narrative branding to describe narrative elements that are not overtly placed or presented to the player, such as cut scenes, dialogue, quests, or lore. Instead, they are small, frequently recurring events that the player will be able to see or feel throughout the entirety of the game. One of the most notable elements of narrative branding was the prevalence of the aurora in the game. Io, the enemies, and the Aurora Station itself are all powered by the aurora. Therefore, I strove to ensure that the aurora effect was all but omnipresent within the game. Instances of this can be found in the enemy shaders, which imitate the aurora style, and the health station, where aurora rays drop down from the sky to repair Io.
Echoes of the Past
For more overt storytelling, I created the system of the echoes, or ghosts, that show scenes of the past. When the player finds a ghostly deploy point, they can drop the capacitor in the aurora beam to stimulate the energy and observe two figures from the past. These record significant moments in the history of the aurora station, and allow the player to gain additional information about why the research station was built, what happened there, why it was abandoned, and how Io fits into the story of reactivating the station. These encounters are entirely dialogue driven.