Embedded Narratives in Procedurally Generated Environments

Thomas Lund Nielsen, Eoin Ivan Rafferty, Henrik Schoenau-Fog*, George Palamas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Procedural Content Generation can help alleviate the workloads of designers, with the drawback of reducing their control over the final product. At the same time, many games have a growing focus on conveying a narrative using environmental storytelling which requires a high degree of control to embed in a virtual environment. This paper seeks to reconcile the apparent conflict in these two approaches, and explores a method in which Procedural Content Generation can be used to create virtual environments with embedded narratives. This is done using a Space-Time Drama Manager to dynamically place narrative elements in the virtual environment. A prototype game was developed and evaluated in a between-groups test (n = 69). Participants in the control condition all experienced the same environment, while those in the experimental condition each experienced a different procedurally generated environment. No significant difference was found for any of the measures. This was attributed to the fact that it is possible to convey an embedded narrative consistently to players, even when the environment which contains the narrative elements is procedurally generated, yielding a different experience for each participant.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICIDS: International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling: Interactive Storytelling : 13th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2020
EditorsAnne-Gwenn Bosser, David E. Millard, Charlie Hargood
Number of pages14
Publication date4 Nov 2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-62515-3
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-62516-0
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020
Event13th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling - Department of Creative Technology of Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Nov 20206 Nov 2020
Conference number: 13


Conference13th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling
LocationDepartment of Creative Technology of Bournemouth University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science


  • Procedural Content Generation
  • Environmental Storytelling
  • Embedded narratives
  • Narrative experience
  • Space-Time Drama Manager
  • Adaptive Storyworlds


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