From a chance meeting at his son's soccer practice to the grim desert of a fictional, war-torn Dubai, Richard Pearsey has written an impressive resume.
And it would appear Red 5 Studios had the same idea. They've plucked Pearsey from his Sugar Land home and lured him to the sunny coast of California to work on their latest game, "Firefall".
The new year has brought a big change to the Pearsey household, so I thought it would be a good idea to barge on in and talk to the narrative designer of "Spec Ops: The Line" before he skipped town.
== The narrative of narrative design ==
Pearsey was quick to admit his job is a little harder to understand than other game development positions.
"Narrative design is a little more nebulous. I don't think anyone quite knows what it is yet, but what we do is design systems for the interface between the gameplay and the actual narrative elements in the game."
For many years, including some of today's games, story or narrative elements were introduced to the player by interrupting their game. That "dog don't hunt" if you're trying to create a seamless experience.
"The thing that I try to keep in mind most often, and you succeed to greater or lesser degrees along the way, is don't do anything or try to anything the player doesn't do," he said. "Figure out how to take your story and turn it into player actions and player experiences."
== The least helpful game job story … ever ==
Pearsey was grew up in Houston's Sharpstown area, studying at Clements High School before going to the University of Houston and earning a history degree. After a stint at law school and a law career, he decided to pursue a career in writing.
"So when things were looking like we could take a bit of a risk, I quit my job," he said. "I was in a mild panic one day after my son's soccer practice and (he) was babbling to his coach about what I had done and it turns out that this gentleman, Adel Chaveleh, owns TimeGate Studios. I had no idea, so it's maybe the least helpful ‘how to break into the game industry story' ever."
Turns out, TimeGate was looking for writers. Pearsey went on to his first game job, writing for "Section 8" and the first two "F.E.A.R." expansions.
In November 2008, Pearsey and his daughter left for Berlin to work on "Spec Ops: The Line" for about two years.
"When I started, there was the product," he said. "I knew it was going to be based on ‘Heart of Darkness'. There was character names, the settings were chosen, the tone was mapped out, the fact that there would be decisions were mapped out in the vision documents by Corey Davis who was the creative lead on that particular project, so my job was to come in and craft a narrative that fit those requirements."
== Red 5 standing by to pluck Houston talent ==
Pearsey doesn't believe he can fully leave Houston forever, but Los Angeles' Red 5 Studios proved an opportunity he could not pass up.
"I'm taking a permanent position to work on narrative design on their MMO ‘Firefall' which is an amazing project," he said. "I couldn't be more excited about it. Business wise, they are looking to completely change how people relate to MMOs and the team they've put together is tremendous."
Red 5 Studios upcoming game is drawing curious eyes. "Firefall" is an MMO, combining role-playing and first-person shooting mechanics. A demo was available at Austin's Rooster Teeth Expo in July 2012.
"I think it will have its own set of unique challenges because we're creating a persistent world. It will always be there," he said. "Spec Ops is a very linear experience for a player. There's not much deviation. You've got choices, you can do battles in different ways and whatnot, but you will always end up in the tower at the end with Konrad. We're not really sure exactly where people are going to wind up in an MMO because you create your own story and your own world as you go, which is great."
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