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*Title art by Pete Cimino.

Psysis: Narrative Writing & Design, Sound Design 

Psysis is a short narrative game prototype that I created with a group of three other students at UT for an assignment in our Game Prototyping class. The assignment was to create a prototype for a game with a narrative focus, and our team completed it over the course of a week and a half. I was in charge of the project’s writing and narrative design, outlining and developing the game’s setting, characters, and plot, which all informed and provided the foundation for the rest of the game’s key elements.

Game Plot Summary

Psysis follows the story of two teenage brothers, Carlos and Freddy, who try to find the cause of a strange pattern in which boats passing through a nearby area of the ocean have been mysteriously disappearing. When they drive their boat out to investigate, they suddenly lose control of it and crash on a nearby island, which they soon realize is where all the other missing boats have crashed as well. The game follows Carlos and Freddy as they uncover the mystery of the island and the unknown power that seems to be causing the strange happenings.


Initial Discussion and Collaboration

  • Discussed and collaborated with team to develop basic premise

  • Summarized and developed premise in planning documents that outlined characters, setting, and plot structure

We started off the project with an initial idea of having the game take place in a tropical jungle setting. From there, we decided on a “stranded on island” premise, after which I began to work on developing the narrative in more detail.


Planning and Documentation

  • Designed and wrote a narrative document summarizing game’s plot in full

  • Wrote a script containing all dialogue in the game, both in cutscenes and during gameplay, as well as any other necessary details, such as character movement and animations


One of my goals in writing the script was to give the two main characters strong personalities that would play off of each other well for fun and entertaining dialogue. This decision informed a key element of the gameplay as well; I suggested having Carlos fight the enemies and Freddy craft the items in order to make sure the characters’ dynamic extended to the gameplay, making the game as a whole feel more cohesive.

Environmental Storytelling

  • Worked closely with environment artist to convey elements of the narrative and setting through details in the level environment

The ruins found in the second area of the game encourage the player to wonder what fallen civilization could have once lived on the island. 

Additionally, mysterious floating rocks can be seen throughout the ruins and increase in frequency as the player progresses, suggesting that whatever magical force the island harbors is getting stronger.

Challenges & Iteration

  • Limited storytelling resources

One of the biggest challenges I and the rest of the team encountered was writing a story that could be easily conveyed with very limited cutscene animation and completed in a short amount of time. I approached this by keeping cutscenes focused on easily implementable dialogue between characters, and by keeping any necessary events as simple to convey as possible. Here, for example, a door slamming closed is conveyed with a simple sprite change and sound effect, as well as the characters turning and reacting to it with dialogue.

  • Documented feedback from Playtests and iterated work based on feedback

Quick notes taken by a team member while receiving feedback from playtests. We took note of the most consistent criticisms of the game, as well as what people seemed to enjoy, in order to ;make the improvements that we thought were both impactful and achievable in the time we had.


Project Success

My team and I all ended up being quite proud of what we accomplished with Psysis in such a short amount of time. The game’s different elements came together well to form the story we had intended to tell, from the writing to the environment art. By the end, the whole team was excited and enthusiastic about what we had created, and we discussed working on the game further even after we turned it in. For me and the rest of the team, Psysis was a great exercise in successful narrative design in games.


​Team members

  • Character art by Jordan Jenkins

  • Environment art by Pete Cimino

  • Game logo by Pete Cimino

  • UI Art by Victor Do

  • Scripting by Victor Do


  • Sound effects and music from

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