POYONG

Poyong is a VR, choice-based narrative experience allowing players to embody Harun Zukifli, a youthful village leader struggling to locate his closest friend and defend his home from invaders. Players, as Harun, encounter and negotiate with a conspiring demon trapped within a family’s heirloom blade.

Role

Narrative Designer

Tools

Unreal 4, Notion, Milanote, Blender, Figma, Adobe Creative Suite

Deliverable

Vertical-slice VR prototype with multiple endings

Duration

Three months

Core Responsibilities

Constructed narrative premise - designing and advocating for all story-related aspects of the game

  • Crafted narrative structure, designing delivery systems

  • Wrote all dialogue

  • Designed in-game cinematics along the critical path

  • Advocated visual storytelling for a compelling and immersive experience in VR

  • Researched and highlighted standard VR storytelling best-practice

    • Found subtle ways to subvert those conventions

  • Worked closely with the development team to design and implement the dialogue system using behaviour trees

    • Implemented and balanced the pairing of the underlying disposition values to player in-game choices and their corresponding dialogue​

Highlight

Poyong is a branching narrative with an underlying disposition system that responds to player decisions, making the course of the narrative contingent on player dialogue and in-game behaviour. Example: player continues to throw away their weapon—dialogue dynamically responds, and their disposition counter increases, inching the player towards a new branch of narrative. It was exciting to anticipate player behaviour and draft distinct paths to affect disposition—responding with both dialogue and in-game cinematics.

Using Unreal's Behaviour Trees, we were able to associate the dialogue codes shown below with a disposition value. This allowed player narrative choices to have a greater impact on the game outcome, even in a 15-minute vertical slice prototype.

Gameplay

Southeast Asian culture and history are relatively under-explored in western media, especially in the VR space. With our team’s personal connections to Southeast Asia, and more specifically to Malaysia, we recognized an opportunity to construct a rich and immersive environment sampling and celebrating Malaysian and Indonesian culture and history.

 

I developed a reservoir of research regarding spiritualism and significant historical moments in Malaysia and Indonesia to bolster my storytelling, providing a more culturally embedded, immersive experience. Fortunately, I was also able to leverage the lived experiences of my teammates for basic cultural references as well.

Snapshots