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THE FOREST PATHS METHOD FOR NARRATIVE DESIGN

By Alexander Swords

Some paths are found. Some paths are forged. Some people want to be led. Others just want to explore.
 
The Forest Paths Method is about recognising how concepts of drama can be applied as a theoretical framework, and then wielded as a method to develop narrative design at any part of the design process, on any scale. The result is a “player first” approach that allows any narrative designer and their team to move away from relying on conventions from other (linear) mediums and create bespoke structure and narrative devices for their project that integrate play from the beginning. Helping to recognise the power of your stories, built on the design pillars of a game.

It’s also a tool and should be treated as such. This is vitally important. Treat it like any other tool in your toolbox. Use it as intended. Use it as unintended. You’ll get better with practice, and then you’ll find ways of using part of it, or multiples of some parts working together. Use it to create, use it to analyse, use it for fun, use it to get weird with your ideas.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Swords has 20 years experience working with stories, creators and their audiences. He’s currently wielding this experience as a writer and narrative designer on Totem Teller and Anytown: Garage Sale Monsters, and is the creator of the Forest Paths Method for Narrative Design. The Method is a structuralist approach to understanding story in an approachable and collaborative way, and is being used internationally by developers, researchers and educators in games and screenwriting. Prior to this he’s worked for independent game developers in Berlin, AAA in Sweden and has worked as an independent artist, arts manager and audience development expert. Advising government, arts organisations and educators, he’s an advocate for diverse stories and their writers, understanding the transformational power of story and helping creators explore the narrative potential of any medium.