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My writing is experimental. I’m uninterested in standard story structures and tropes. In my two longer works of fiction I’ve told time travel stories in chronological order and switch perspectives without warning (sometimes within a sentence).

I’m attracted to your storytelling tools because they allow me to break free of convention.

https://admin.typeform.com/form/results/file/download/jtlEaQ/hox2U3T16RVX/6d94a912741e-mkagle___FableLabs.pdf

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Begin forwarded message:
From: Matthew Kagle <forethought@yahoo.com >
Subject: Narrative Designer
Date: February 27, 2015 at 12:13:11 PM PST
To: FableLabs Jobs <jobs@fablelabs.com >
Reply-To: Matthew Kagle <forethought@yahoo.com >

Dear Fables (Fablettes? Fabians?),

I’m emailing you about the Narrative Designer position posted on your website. As you can see from my attached resume, I’ve worked on the stories of several games and have an extensive non-entertainment writing credentials. I’ve also self-published a novel which spent over a year on the Amazon bestseller lists (http://www.amazon.com/Pinhole-Matthew-Kagle-ebook/dp/B00BVFLY6W ) and have experience in the game industry as both a designer and an educator.

But enough about me, I want to get to your questions. They’re pretty fun.

Here’s what I’d like to see in a game: I want the player to be both the protagonist and antagonist simultaneously. This might take a moment, so bear with me.

We pay a lot of lip service in the game industry to interactivity in our stories, but it’s an illusion. Sure, we claim we give players choices, but they’re horribly limited. Take the example of Mass Effect 1. Near the end of the game (spoiler alert) you get a moment to talk to the Big Bad Guy: Harbigner. During the talk, Harbinger offers to let you switch sides and join it. When I played the game, I screamed “Yes! Let me join you! WE WILL BRING PEACE TO THE GALAXY!!!!”

Of course, that wasn’t an option. Sure, I wouldn’t have gone through with that choice, but I would have liked to have the choice. Here’s what I’d like to make:

The player starts the game and plays through it like any other game. For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s a standard fantasy RPG with an evil overlord whose minions kill the player’s family. At the end of each level, the player switches over to the villain sitting on his or her throne.

“Master!” the Creepy Little Servant Dude says. “There are rumors from an outlying district. The prophecy (you know, the one about the child who will defeat you?) have come true. What should we do?”

Then the player gets to decide the response. Options could range from “Meh, it’s probably another hoax.” to “Kill it! Send every available monster!” to “I shall meet with this whelp myself.”

At first, these options would mainly control type of encounter, difficulty level, etc. As the game progresses, however, more interesting choices appear. For example, halfway through the game, the overlord would say:

“Now, it is time to reveal the great secret I’ve been hiding!” And the player gets to choose “The hero’s faithful sidekick is really my servant!” or “I’m his/her parent!” or “We’ve been working together all along!” or “That magic sword is really cursed!” or even “I put happy pills in the coffee this morning!”

The possibilities are endless and none of them would require development-slowing gameplay decisions. If locations and dialogue are planned carefully enough, development costs should barely change.

Anyway, that’s what I’d do. Let me know if you’d like to talk. I’ll be up in the city for GDC all next week and have plenty of time.

Matthew Kagle

P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve applied to this position before. You rejected my application because you were looking for someone more qualified. Since that time, I’ve had some more experience. Also, I rewrote my resume to point out my writing credentials more.

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