Pittman's Sunless Sea

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Sunless Sea is an intricate game with several branching narratives and interesting in game objects such as monsters, islands, ports, and resources. The game currently rewards exploration with the discovery of new stories and regions. Although exploration does currently reward the player in Sunless Sea, the act of exploration is not linked to the rewards. In other words, the stories are independent from the act of exploration. In order to properly combine exploration with a branching narrative, Sunless Sea should incorporate a mission where the player should be prompted to select a storyline that displays a progress bar of their exploration of docks in the Unterzee. After completing certain percentages of exploration (10, 25, 50, 75, 90 and…show more content…
As I began playing Sunless Sea, I became frustrated with the lack of incentive for exploration. Sunless Sea has the perfect platform for exploration: a vast sea with scattered ports and monsters. The only thing lacking with current exploration is tangible progress, and a meaningful narrative outcome. Pittman’s fifth function of maritime culture inspired the branching narrative component of my storylet. Pittman states: “I would add a fifth [function] which seems to be extremely important in maritime culture particularly, and that is to give individuals a sense of control over uncontrollable events and elements” (Pittman 201). Pittman makes a valid point. Much of nautical culture is based upon the dangers of the unpredictable ocean. Thus, a sailor’s beliefs and decisions are often based upon the difficulties of life at sea. While some of their beliefs and mannerisms have scientific backing, some superstitions are designed to give a sense of control over the uncontrollable (the forces of nature). Similarly, I created the separate reward choices in order to give the player a sense of control over their destiny. Some players will choose the reward that they desire, and others will pick one with the assumption that the reward mission will be easier. While giving the players enough agency to select their reward, it was important to keep the choice of reward missions beyond their control. Having elements beyond the player’s control brings an element of realism into the storylet, and also leads players to develop strategies/mannerisms that account for the unpredictable. Some of these strategies may be grounded in logic, while others may be done for good luck or out of habit (similar to some superstitious nautical folklore). Another element of nautical folklore that inspired this storylet was the line ceremony.

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