Building a Narrative | Cross-post from nmrih2.com

I guess not everyone knows that I’m the lead writer/narrative guy for the video game No More Room in Hell 2. NMRiH1 is one of the most popular Half-Life 2 mods of all time. It’s got millions of downloads and a active user base that rivals plenty of Triple-A titles. No More Room in Hell can be downloaded for free here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/224260/No_More_Room_in_Hell/

 

 

Building a Narrative

Calla Murphy spotted a long stick lying on the forest floor. It would’ve been perfect for playing Hogwarts with her brother as a child. She twirled it, mimicking the movements she’d picked up from the movies. Her hand spasmed involuntarily, throwing the makeshift wand into the darkness of the forest.She reassured herself that her squad would be fine in the end. They had the training and the tools to survive. They were smart, resourceful and they knew how to make the hard decisions.Their trek from Philadelphia to the abandoned farm house was pure pain. Friends were lost in the city, and now they had lost another. Roy Walsh had gotten sick from a bite he sustained trying to save a child in the city. They stopped at the farmhouse with the sole intention of letting Roy rest and heal until they received further orders. Then Roy had turned. And the orders never came.

Calla sighed, taking one final look at the bright hunter’s moon illuminating her in the clearing in she had chosen. She peeled back the bandage on her wrist. What was once a mere scratch had degenerated into an oozing black wound with venial electricity crawling up her arm and spreading throughout her body. The veins infected her thoughts, making her itchy… scratchy. She knew she didn’t have much time before she ended up like Roy.

She placed the barrel of her M4 into her mouth, her good arm finger her thumb into the trigger piece.

She reassured herself that her squad would be fine in the end.


Hey everyone! My name’s Jeremy Ferretti (codename infr4mer), and this is the beginning of my dev blog. I am the lead writer/narrative guy for No More Room in Hell 2. This blog post will be an introduction to me, how I came to join the NMRiH2 dev team, and what we hope to accomplish with the story of NMRiH2.

I’ve been a part of the NMRiH community since 2004 when Half-Life 2 was first released. I still remember that cold December when I first discovered HL2. I remember being blown away by all the games that were being developed as a part of the HL2 mod community. Personally I was most excited for the mod D.E.A.D. (which has long been dead), but next on my favorites was the mod No More Room in Hell. Due to their team’s outstanding community outreach I quickly became friends with everyone through mIRC and Ventrillo. Most importantly, I became friends with a guy named Maxx. We instantly clicked, bonding over our love for plants,selling drugs in Garry’s Mod roleplaying servers,creating fake videogame companies, and making conceptsfor games thatwill never (and should never) see the light of day.

As life went on, Maxx worked tirelessly on NMRiH1 while I worked on developing my storytelling career, going on to write a few screenplays, a few novels, and a few totally awesome short comics.

After NMRiH1 was released and NMRiH2 began development, Maxx decided they needed a narrative guy, someone to help develop the world of NMRiH2, to create a coherent timeline where a zombie apocalypse could take place in, to create a backstory for each of the maps so they could logically fit in this timeline.

I believe it was David ‘Dman’ Meade who suggested me for the job, having known I could produce workable writing on a tight schedule (at my best I could write 2,000 fiction words an hour). I instantly agreed to help.

Sadly the world has become over saturated with zombie stories, but being able to tell one in a unique, dynamic way on my own terms seemed like a good challenge. I knew this game would give me the opportunity to tell the typical zombie story in a way I had never seen before. NMRiH2 wouldn’t rely on intrusive cutscenes or heavy ham-fisted dialogue from mouthy protagonists as so many video games do nowadays.

Another (unrelated) draw I had to NMRiH2 was the knowledge that a great realistic zombie survival hasn’t been created yet. There have been plenty of stellar zombie games, but most of them end up turning into arcade style shoot-em-ups. But that’s a whole different story for another time.

My favorite video games are those where the story isn’t the main draw. Video game storytelling is still in its infancy. It’s still a developing field with tons of indie devs breaking grounds on how stories can be told in games. When it comes to modern shooters, there seems to a pretty popular formula: you shoot bad guys, then comes a cutscene, shoot bad guys, another cutscene. That’s not what we’re going for for NMRiH2.

Half-Life 1 did storytelling quite well in my opinion. The story is all there if you pay attention, but it doesn’t really get in the way of the game. That’s what I would like to emulate in this game. A game where the story is there if you want to follow it, but we’re not gonna shove it down your throat.

So that’s where we’re at. Out of all the dev posts, you’re probably going to hear the most from me, considering writing is something I just do. Commentary on what I’m working on also helps me work better and more efficiently.

Plans for my upcoming dev posts include the inspiration for NMRiH2, the life behind the Night of the Living Dead map, the timeline of our fictional universe, the characters we will populate the worlds with, and the ideas for the upcoming campaigns.

Until next time, infr4mer out.