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Things Emerging

Emergent narrative is a term for the story telling that occurs outside of what's written specifically into a narrative. For example, in a comic book or graphic novel, what happens between the drawn panels is emergent narrative. It forms a significant part of most story telling and the creator/audience relationship. In table top games it explains why you rule over a kingdom of quite so many mines or why your deck of supplies arrive in the order they do. SSO has a significant amount of emergent narrative.

For example, in SSO missions are not solutions. Something happens, such as the ship venting oxygen, which triggers a mission requiring crew to load personal oxygen so that they can cycle the system and stop the venting. In game play mechanics the reward for this mission is extra oxygen rather than searching for and removing the cards that vent oxygen from the deck, which would be fiddly and unbalance the mission. This means the oxygen could vent again after the mission is successful. The fact that at that point cycling the oxygen was simply a plan that failed whilst if another vent card never turned up it would have been a brilliantly effective plan or why the plan failed is our emergent narrative.

So, why am I bringing it up, other than to show that I know what it is and hopefully reassure you that I know a little of what I'm doing? I suppose because as a gamer I don't entirely trust emergent narrative, primarily because I know other gamers who have created amazing, hilarious, complex narratives during games which neither earned or deserved them. Because some games leave unsatisfying gaps and some gamers save the game by filling them in. Equally, any game that asks you to tell your own story in your way needs to leave you the space to create it. So I suppose I bought up emergent narrative to make the promise that SSO is a game about space, not gaps. <