Most of our current projects here at Wero are one-off games. There's one project we have which is a fair bit more complicated, and draws on a number of skills we've developed in other industries, namely film and television. Status Quo is an episodic story-driven game. It's likely going to take a long time before we secure the funding we need to kick it into high gear, so in the meantime we're working on the storytelling.
Whereas with other projects our story might be just enough to hold the gameplay together, this project is all about the story. It's about talking with characters, exploring the environment - being driven forward by a desire to solve a mystery.
We're working with a couple of dynamos in our "story department" (we'll have more on them to come). One is a comic book nerd, and the other is a sci-fi nerd. We mean "nerd" in the most flattering possible application of the word: these two are passionate about telling great stories. We're also all approaching this as a world building opportunity.
Yes, we're all tackling the project as if our world it will one day spawn billion dollar Hollywood movies and triple A games! Okay... that probably won't happen, but we're making sure it's designed that way anyway.
Here's what we've been up to:
1. Developing a "world bible": this document is getting pretty lengthy as we capture all the decisions we've made about the political, economic, historical, and environmental facets of our world.
2. Characters: In addition to outlining the psychological, social, and physical details of our characters, we've been discussing their lives before and after the events of our story, so we can pull them into future story telling in our world.
3. Lore: we've been developing the history of our world across hundreds of years. Not only does this give us a significant amount of material/artifacts to make our world feel a little bit more alive, it gives us opportunities to explore some of the more interesting events via other media.
There are certainly a lot of big players in the "transmedia" world, many siphoning off marketing dollars from Hollywood trying to create content to promote feature films. Others, like the latest Disney acquisitions Marvel and LucasArts, have been building worlds for years and then selecting pieces of the story to extend across games, comics, and movies.
Star Wars, which seems to me like one of the first major "transmedia brands" had kept meticulous track of its "world" right from the beginning. They didn't nail it with every piece of content, but everything they've made (or allowed to be made) played a particular role in developing the characters and the stories in the universe. Just watch the Clone Wars cartoons and Star Wars: Episode III will make just a little more sense... or play The Old Republic MMO to see how the universe got started.
As a tiny studio all we can do right now is develop what we think is compelling IP. We're bringing all the passion about great stories that we can muster to putting memorable characters and environments in front of players. We figure if we develop sandboxes for future stories - and one of these sandboxes becomes one that people like to play in - then we'll be on our way!