POYONG

Poyong is a VR 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 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 elements of the game

  • Crafted narrative delivery systems

  • Wrote all dialogue

  • Designed scripted cinematics along the critical path

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

  • Researched and highlighted standard VR storytelling best-practices

    • 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 an underlying disposition system to the player's 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 choices and in-game behaviour. Example: player continues to throw away their weapon—NPC 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 events in Malaysia and Indonesia to heighten the narrative, 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