Narrative Design

Blending his experience as a writer and an engineer, Bradley Plaxen has found a niche solving story problems in the world of interactive media, games, and VR.

Currently, he works as a Narrative Designer for the studio People Can Fly, working on their upcoming game Outriders, which is set for release next year.

Defiant Studios

As a narrative designer for Defiant Studios, Bradley worked with creative director Roland Lesterlin to build out story-worlds and narrative mechanics for non-linear AAA video games. He created story charts, motion capture diagrams, and gameplay design documents to create a consistent narrative vision across departments. Additionally, he worked in-engine on the implementation of these features in the Unreal engine. This included localization and other asset work in Blueprints.

Branching Narratives

Bradley has worked on branching story projects both personal and professional. Designing for these games, he developed unique approaches for confronting the numerous challenges that come with creating non-linear interactive narrative.

Kognito Health Solutions
As a full-time writer for Kognito, Bradley designed branching dialogue-tree games using Unity and the studio’s proprietary in-house software. He created conversation flowcharts for internal and client-facing usage, some of which had over 100 nodes. To build these conversations, Bradley utilized various navigation structures, variables, and scoring systems to direct the player’s path.

Testing these conversations, Bradley developed systems to track whether or not characters had revealed pieces of information, sometimes using software to help manage the thousands of possible pathways.

Example of a Kognito branching conversation.

“One of the Family”
As the lead designer for the game One of the Family, Bradley developed an original system for branching a story in VR using prop-states instead of traditionally implemented dialogue choices. Instead of selecting what characters say, players impact the progression of the story by affecting objects in the room.

A player choosing to unload the gun

Through playtesting a prototyping, Bradley iterated on a gameplay flowchart with 32 different possible pathways leading to 10 different endings.

The final game was nominated at the Intel University Games Showcase at GDC and presented as a featured booth at CHI conference in 2017.

Voice Over & Motion Capture

Drawing on his experience directing for the stage, Bradley has worked with actors on multiple video game projects in a variety of capacities.

Voice Over
While earning his Master’s degree in Entertainment Technology, Bradley served as the sound designer for several games including One of the Family. His responsibilities included writing, directing, and ultimately recording all voice overs.

Actors in the booth being directed by Bradley for the game One of the Family

This work extended to his time at Kognito, where writers were also responsible for directing actors and editing their own recordings. Bradley has edited and cleaned thousands of lines of directed dialogue in Adobe Audition.

For Defiant Studios, Bradley worked hand-in-hand with the VO outsourcers throughout the casting process.

Motion Capture
As a director, Bradley did all the staging and scene-work with the actors for the game One of the Family. Because the game was being captured for VR, the player’s anticipated location had to be taken into consideration throughout the process, and Bradley often stepped into scenes to play the part of the spectator.

Bradley in the background observing the two leads recording a scene

Additionally, while at Defiant Studios, Bradley worked hand-in-hand with the animation, music, and motion capture teams to create documentation which served as the framework for every motion capture shoot.

Skills and Applications

  • Story Diagrams
  • Dialogue Systems
  • Cutscene Implementation
  • Quest Design
  • Localization