📰 Pathologic 2 Mindmap: A Questlog People Actually Read
Full Title: Pathologic 2 Mindmap: A Questlog People Actually Read
The game is open-world, which implies freedom for the player.
The game’s protagonist is a “weaver” connecting that which was torn. It is the philosophical concept underlying the entirety of our game.
Our protagonist walks the open world, interacting with different characters, thus drawing connections between them. People who did not know of each other’s existence will learn about each other. In a way, the protagonist collects what was scattered. And we wanted our questlog to somehow show this, to mirror the theme of the game.
And we also had another ambitious task. We really wanted the interface to emulate the protagonist’s thinking, their inner world.
Get rid of the idea of “main” and “side” quests. This task may not be relevant for every game. But we really wanted to make sure that the main quests and side quests do not fall into completely separate categories.
You know how sometimes in a game you have a codex with some lofty literary text, and then right next to it, there is a line that says “Go kill 10 rats?” Who wrote this? Is it the protagonist talking to themselves like that? Is it God talking to them? What is the nature of this text? So we wanted to somehow integrate these technical texts that any game needs into the Narrative.
Just sit down and make a drawing of your story in the form of some kind of mind map. If it consists of many separate pieces, maybe your story is not coherent enough, maybe you should think how to make your storylines more connected.
If we look at the games that are similar to Pathologic – not content-wise, but structurally – we will see that quests are usually formulated imperatively. I mentioned this a little earlier. “Go there to kill ten rats.” Who said this? Who wrote it on the map? Is the protagonist some kind of middle manager, who uses JIRA to assign themselves tasks like this? Or it is some kind of deity that sets tasks for them in JIRA?
Mindmap also combines and intertwines different kinds of information. There are some philosophical reflections of our protagonist. There are some experiences, there is lore, background information about the world. There are specific facts like “I gave my enemy a black eye”. There are specific instructions on where you need to go and what to do there.
I come there and I don’t remember who the hell gave me this quest, what we talked about. There must have been some dramatic story to this. Of course, thanks to the imperative wording, I can figure out that I just have to kill ten werewolves, but I don’t remember why. If The Witcher had a mindmap like ours, I would click on the marker and see the adjacent nodes, and the context would pop up in my head. The game would immediately remind me who it was I was talking to and why I had to take care of these werewolves.
And we know from the player feedback that people really enjoy the feeling of gradually filling the picture of the world. How it’s first empty, but then you are gradually moving towards this truth, towards the center. Connections and associations are beginning to form, So this becomes a mini-game in and of itself that rewards the player with a sense of progress and achievement, even if all they have achieved is that everyone died from plague.
If you are making some kind of Narrative-oriented open-world game with a complex plot, a mindmap can help you make the storyline more accessible. It will help the player to not get lost in the painstakingly written emotional dramas of several dozen characters.