AI Narrative : Narrative mapping (General/VR/AI)

In this post I’m going to further flesh out the relationship between world structure and narrative structure, look at the various models and apply these to my current projects. Ultimately this will lead to focusing on AI Narrative which will firm the bases of practical experimentation over the next few weeks, using the new app.

Many stories are written using the three act narrative model as it provides a strong narrative arc which emotionally engages the viewer. It is one which is very familiar and can be found in countless stories.

So for example, hero sets out on their quest in their first act, only to meet a character who leads them to experiencing the 2nd act, that which sets up the challenge they must overcome, which directs them down a line to overcoming this into the 3rd act of resolution. End.

In VR, the player is immersed in a world where they can seemingly go anywhere. They do not necessarily follow a linear track unless the world around them is designed in a way that gives them very little choice but to do so.

Players interaction with the environment or characters in the scene, are pivotal to where players could go next and so are a key narrative device.

My thoughts are that each act could be structured as three levels (3 scenes in unity). Within these worlds there could be a multitude of characters, environments and endings (When I think about this I can’t help but chuckle at the many days and weeks spent reading the fantasy fighting novels as a teenager, and particularly the many fingered and thumbed marking of pages as if doing some kind of hand yoga).

This structure would lead to a high level of complexity. This would be difficult to manage and could lead to a breakdown in narrative structure, leading to the loss of story identity (the hook/tag whatever you pitched the project as anyway).

Narrative Mapping 

There are many different structures that are used in game narrative. Below I have used models to illustrate this quickly.All Diagrams used for reference only and are attributed to Kano Ashwell, S. 2015.

The Time Cave

Copyright Kano Aswell, S


Copyright Kano Aswell, S

Branch and Bottleneck

Copyright Kano Aswell, S


Copyright Kano Aswell, S

Open Map

Copyright Kano Aswell, S

Sorting Hat (Branch & Bottleneck/gauntlet)

Floating Modules (non-structure)

Loop and Grow 

Copyright Kano Aswell, S  

I never lift content from another blog but I needed some visual reference on here. Kano Ashwell has a much better grasp of game narrative structure but as I would never use any content on my blog without fair attribution (as I’d hate that to happen to my work) please check out These Heterogeneous Tasks Blog for a much more complete description.


In Lunarium, I have been working with a model that includes a linear structure to begin with in the labyrinth, which then becomes an open world, then branches into two paths which then can be open world but ultimately ends in two endings.

©️ 2020, Sarra Hornby. All rights reserved.
Sarra Hornby 
Experimental VR Exhibition of Works

©️ 2020, Sarra Hornby. All rights reserved.
Loop and Grow Narrative Model 

AI Narrative Modelling

There are many really interesting things about the Charisma.AI app, the primary one is that the app makes it easier to write intuitive interactive stories. However, the app also helps to analyse the effectiveness of the narrative structure. This can be used to great effect when identifying which parts work well and which need improvement. It could also be used to modify a story to amplify an experience. This analysis is critical if it is essential that key plot points are experienced by participant/player/reader/audience.

Next Steps 

After much research in which I have attempted to better understand narrative, VR Narrative and AI narrative; I’m going to begin conducting sone practical experiments.

I’m going to begin by properly reading the Charisma docs and then apply this to a really simple (and I mean simple) narrative, within the Lunarium world.

So for example, I could begin with the Mystic of Lunarium’s backstory.

Why did she imprison innocent young teenagers in her sinister and aboding world?

I could then think about the Experimental VR Narrative and consider how AI might assist in this narrative experience … (This is a lot more tricky).


Recommended Reading:
Story by McKee
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Evaluation of an automatically-constructed graph-based representation for interactive narrative
Accessed 28/05/2020

Kano Ashwell, S. 2015. Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games.

  2. Accessed 28/05/2020