Freelance writer Meg Jayanth tells GDC attendees some of the secrets behind Inkle Studios’ mobile hit

80 Days writer: ‘Tempt your players into making bad decisions’

Encouraging gamers to make different choices, perhaps the wrong choices, can be the key to a great narrative.

That’s according to Meg Jayanth, the freelance writer behind Inkle Studios’ popular mobile game 80 Days, an globetrotting adventure based on the iconic Jules Vernes novel.

During her talk at GDC, entitled ‘Leading Players Astray’, she explained how luring gamers down alternative paths can make games more memorable to them, GamaSutra reports.

“My job as a writer was to tempt players into making bad decisions,” she told attendees. “A bad strategy decision might lead them to a more interesting story.

“It’s the near-misses, the catastrophes, the daring escapes that players remember and talk about. It’s the adventures they weren’t expecting to have that make a game memorable.”

She added that this often prompts players to share and compare stories with friends, thus encouraging exploration in other players.

Of course, creating enough alternate paths for players means devoting time to writing a lot of content that many gamers won’t see, but Jayanth says Inkle Studios “saw that as an advantage, an opportunity, rather than an inefficiency”.

The total word count for 80 Days is over 500,000 – more than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

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