Non-linear Storytelling

Non-linear storytelling is about telling compelling stories within a matrix of narrative options, rather than via a linear script. Those options could be new planets to explore or starships waiting to be encountered, or the behaviour of the vessel and its systems. Each is a situation to be navigated by the crew, who choose what to explore, how to respond and where to go next.

A situation could be as simple as a routine asteroid scan or the equivalent of a TV episode with mysteries to solve and dramatic tension to resolve.

Actors or Crew?

The crew will travel into deep space using a hybrid of Earth-derived and alien technology, just sci-fi enough to let slip the constraints of current technology but familiar enough to allow us to model and simulate the behaviour of systems realistically. Like the real world, things in a simulator must happen consistently but within the limits of what the simulation can be made to process.

This consistency allows the crew to train on the use of systems so that they can devise and execute responses to any situation that arises.

The systems are complex enough to be realistic and provide enough response options to enable storylines to progress, but not so complex that they take too much training or frustration to master. For participants, all the experience and learning of a forty-year career must be represented over a few months with a couple of hours per week effort.

Having the crew know enough about their systems to respond to a situation is critical to non-linear storytelling, as the expected response to a situation can’t be found by turning the page of a script. Cues are presented to the crew as sensor data or system readouts and how those cues are interpreted and acted on will determine how the story progresses.

Story or Game?

Non-linear storytelling should not simply guide the crew down a predefined narrative. Each situation needs more than one possible response option depending on what the crew spots or what they choose to prioritise.

This doesn’t rule out seasonal story arcs, but the crew can’t be led by the nose down them. For example, the storyline might have the broad goal that the crew will make first contact with one of two major alien civilisations. The crew will need to pick up clues to the location of either civilisation during the season and depending on crew responses either civilisation might be met first. The storyline adapts accordingly.

What Can You Do?

With an environment as flexible as this it's not surprising that there are multiple ways to participate, depending on your areas of interest and how involved you want to get.