IGF Factor 2012: Storyteller

Today in our series of interviews with (almost) all the finalists in this year’s Independent Games Festival, it’s the turn of DIY narrative-building game Storyteller, from the creator of lovely curios Today I Die and I Wish I Were The Moon. Storyteller is nominated for the Nuovo award. Here, Ludomancy’s Daniel Benmergui talks Argentine game dev, how Storyteller creates a unique comic based upon your in-game decisions, and answers the most important question of all.

RPS: Firstly, a brief introduction for those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?

I am an Argentine full-time independent game developer, although most of the work I’ve done so far fall on the art game side of indie games. I studied computer science and worked on the software and mainstream games industry for almost 10 years. I believe I first got into games out of childhood nostalgia, but since then I realized there’s a historically unique opportunity for pioneering that requires a mature attitude, and freedom of action. Thus I quit. It was a terrifying jump, but totally the right decision (retrospectively).

RPS: Tell us about your game. What were its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What would you change if you could?

Storyteller is an evolution of many earlier prototypes that failed to achieve what Storyteller seems to have done: making a game out of building stories that is actually accessible.

Each story (or “level”) in Storyteller asks the player to build a comic that is actually readable by somebody who has never played the game itself. This is what I like the most about the game and what I work the most to achieve successfully. This happens without the player consciously realizing he is learning sequential narrative techniques. The ultimate goal I would love to achieve is to make every level in the game a sort of “training” for the kind of comics Storyteller enable you to make, and then unleash the editor onto the player.

Since the game is in an early stage, anything I would change, I change!

RPS: What are your feelings on the IGF this year? Pleased to be nominated? Impressed by the other finalists? Anything you worry has been overlooked?

I am happy that I have a work in progress instead of a closed game like it happened with the nomination of Today I Die. I get the feeling that watching people play on the IGF floor is going to be really helpful to me for making the game better. The fact that Storyteller is much more “gamey” than anything I did so far helps a lot.

I haven’t played many of the other finalist games, but I am looking forward to playing many of them like Dear Esther, Gunpoint, Faraway and the new version of Spelunky. There are a lot of developers I admire this year too like Terry Cavanagh and Stephen Lavelle.

RPS: Which game would you like to see take the Grand Prize this year?

I haven’t played all of the finalists in order to make an informed opinion.

RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene of late? What would you like to see from it in the near-future?

Most of my thoughts about the matter are about Argentina. We have a very small indie community, but we haven’t yet taken off in any way. There are no “big” games being developed (except NGD’s “Bunch of Heroes”), and no outstanding commercial successes, and I believe we really need that in order to prove that we can be successful back home. I am hoping this year a lot of promising games will come up, especially now that the local mainstream industry has collapsed economically due to the reduction in outsourcing and the burst of the so called social games.

RPS: And how does the future look for you, both in terms of this game and other projects?

Right after GDC, I will be staying in San Francisco for a couple of months, working on Storyteller and learning from people that are much better than me in every aspect of game development. So I am looking forward to a lot of personal growth and many adventures.

RPS: If you could talk to the monsters in Doom, what would you ask them?

I wondered what did they think about while I am not around shooting them…

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Storyteller will be out soon.


  1. AshEnke says:

    Sleep is Death much ?
    I have trouble getting interested in this game.

    • baby snot says:

      Oh no! A game that’s possibly like another game! When will this madness end?

      The dev’s blog has a bit more info.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Hopefully it’s nothing like Sleep is death.
      Sleep is death is in theory a storyteller’s dream. In practice, I wasted money for a really impractical program which didn’t really give me the means to actually tell stories. My sole opinion of course.

      Storyteller is a puzzle game in which you have to put items correctly to make the story happen: link to ludomancy.com . If anything, it’s much closer to his previous work.

      Didn’t know about this game before today, I’m now quite expecting it!

    • AshEnke says:

      Oh ok, I see, it’s indeed more of a puzzle-game meets scribblenauts.

      Now I’m intrigued.

  2. DanPryce says:

    Colour my interest piqued, or something similar. Looks absolutely charming.

  3. Prime says:

    “And all stories need a proper ending”

    You listening, Valve? :P

  4. Tei says:

    All good stories need a good ending. Are you reading, Neal Stephenson?

  5. sidhellfire says:

    RPSists! I need your help!

    There were videos of game, undone back then. Made by one person. Where you had to make actual game. The thing was about simple editor, that allowed you to create platformer/adventure. It was promising to be quite easy to master, with a lot of customization to the mechanics (triggers, views etc.)
    Stories you prepared could be played by other person, with you as a game master. And all I remember is black background, developers commentary on videos, and some drag&drop sprites. And, yes it was about to become another indie game no one heard about aiming at niche at ultimate role-playing nerds which do not form larger groups, and neither leave their desk.

    Help me remind a title, or any information about progress.

    • RagingLion says:

      You don’t mean ‘Sleep is Death’ by Jason Rohrer do you? You couldn’t do platforming, it was just top-down and the story is built as you go with the games-master reacting to what the player tries to do, although you can prepare assets in advance to try to guide the player..

    • sidhellfire says:

      Seems that in my blurry memory “Sleep is Death” got mixed with something else. I’ve certainly took the multiplayer game-master aspect out of that. And this is most important I guess.

      Nevertheless thank you!

      And someone should slap me for not reading comments first.

  6. sidhellfire says:

    Since competition in “inde developement” becomes higher and higher, we tend to have to wait longer and longer to have the game finished. If ever.

    Also, these projects would perform great if they had huge content database. And that content would be unified. Yet with small playerbase it is impossible to have that and you’re left with defaults + few you make yourself.