Story Trigger

“Story Trigger” was my submission to the Shacknews Jam: The Third, which had the theme “_____ with Guns”. It’s a short narrative experience framed like a D&D scenario where the player character somehow has a gun, inevitably messing up the dungeon master’s plans quite a lot! I’ll try not to spoil much but I urge you to check it out before reading on.

The game was made in UE4 using the FPS starter content. This time around I only made minimal adjustments to gameplay in favor of crafting a complete story. I began with a in-world screen that would display text and options similar to the terminal windows these sorts of games were first made on, and from there it made sense to construct a movie theatre environment for the player to move around in. The player interacts with the story by aiming at and shooting the option they wish to select.

Story Trigger centers around an unnamed character that either does not remember or does not think of their own past. The town merchant and nearby king both seem familiar with you, with the latter distinctly implying that you have saved the kingdom before. The main difference this time is that you, the player, have a gun. Nobody else in the world has ever heard of such a thing and many assume it is magical in nature. Unless told beforehand most would not even recognize it as a weapon. The result is that you are completely overpowered in your interactions with other people. What will you do when you always have the option to use unrivaled deadly force?

Back to the real world now, this is my favorite creation thus far. I’ve always been more gameplay and mechanics focused in game jams, for obvious reasons. With only a few days to make a game I tend towards finding something quick and satisfying to play, then polishing that with any remaining time. Crafting a complete story was really my only focus for this one. It was certainly more work than I had initially expected, due in large part to the branching narrative I was trying to achieve. For every decision I wanted the player to be able to make I also wanted some acknowledgement later on in the story, causing many seemingly simple interactions to turn into a mess of conditionals behind the scenes. The end result felt incredibly satisfying to me though, especially for the reactions of players as they experienced different parts of my story.

Another reason this game felt much more complete to me was the music by Melliflox. The main theme is quiet and relaxing, but transitions to a darker and glitchy version when the player shoots a character. I can’t talk too much about the other tracks for fear of spoilers, but they contributed a ton to the vibe I was going for in my story and several players complimented the soundtrack specifically! Playing your game with music for the first time is often when it clicks and feels like a real thing you made, at least for me. I hope you try out the game, and please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email with your thoughts!