The latest developer diary for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan focuses on the game’s multiplayer experience in Shared Story mode. It allows you and a friend to play different characters in the game and independently make choices that impact the story. It’s ambitious and adds a lot of complexity to what Supermassive Games has called their most branching story ever.
There are many challenges, but they say the most important part is whether it’s fun for both players. This includes timing the separate scenes so that both players are completing their parts at roughly the same time. It doesn’t have to be in the same place. One player can be in a different room or in the water, while the other is on the boat. If you are in the same area, you can hear the other person’s conversation in the background.
Making choices is the bedrock of Man of Medan, and both players are independent. When you do have a choice, the other player cannot see what your choice is or what options you have. You could offer advice on what to do, but they don’t have to listen. Choices can alter the plot direction and open up new scenes. It’s the full singleplayer experience with two people.
Early stages of development worked on making sure this was even feasible. The developers started with a massive flow chart (sexy!) and static backgrounds with text. They played and tuned the game until it worked well for each mode, before they began any recording. The branching story brings a lot of data, and the team had some big challenges to overcome to make it work.
As they mention in the diary, I’m also surprised no one else has tried this. Maybe no one else has been able to make it work. Either way, it’s a very cool take on the traditional, narrative-based gameplay. Will it work perfectly? We’ll know when the game hits the bottom of the sea and store shelves on August 30th.
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Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.