Nels Anderson shared some of the things he has learnt making Firewatch during 2016th Full Indie summit. Being more of a systems designer, he has learnt a lot working on a narrative exploration.
Unlike puzzle games like the Talos Principle or The witness, narrative exploration games (sadly known as walking simulators) don’t rely on puzzles to keep the player going. Unlike Life is Strange or Tales of Borderlands, the player is the one deciding where he’s taking the adventure.
As a result, Nels had to learn to face five challenges which he shared with us : being shackled by the premises, working in present tense, communicating information to the player, making the game work when narrative is all there is, and playtesting this kind of game.