We are used to having different stories tell on different platforms. Movies are on movie screens, written stories are on the pages of books, and video games are on consoles and PCs. More often than not, stories try to stay on their side and do not try to enter someone else's territory. Yes, as a rule, there are adaptations of a work, for example, a film based on a game and vice versa, but this is not about that. Now, in this era of huge franchises, the lines between movies, games and books are blurring, thanks in large part to transmedia storytelling.
Different platforms - one story
It is important to understand that transmedia storytelling is not just a case where the same franchise exists on different platforms. For example, "Resident Evil": there are games and there are films, events take place in the same setting, but are not connected. In this case, it is cross-platform, when one franchise is presented on different platforms, and it is united only by the setting, and not by a common story. Although the series of games has transmedia inclinations.
Transmedia is a way of expanding one story, plot through narration through different media: books, games, films, comics. This concept is like spider webs that come together into one big picture when you look at them as a whole.
People want to absorb more and more information about their favorite universe and jump from books to screens. It also helps expand the audience; the more the universe grows, the more difficult it is to find its starting point. Thus, a beginner can start learning it from almost anywhere. The concept of transmedia was explained by Henry Jenkins in his book "The Convergence of Culture", where he says that the term "transmedia" as such means "through the media" and can be applied to seemingly similar things, but the essence means different.
And if in the film industry everything is better with this, then with games all the tension. This is more or less developed in eastern gamedev, but Japanese transmedia is fanatical at times. Therefore, in order to understand better, it is worth starting with something Western. We have one such good example - the story of the hooded killers.
Leap of Faith
When the first Assassin's Creed game came out, the creators hardly thought about expanding its world. Altair's story has been fairly linear and monotonous throughout the story arcs. The series only claimed to be a sequel, but not spin-offs. But Assassin's Creed had something to help it grow to its current size.
If in a classical work there is one conflict, which is resolved according to the plot, then a setting is created in the transmedia, in which other conflicts may arise. And in the thoughtful transmedia work, there is also a set of rules and items that will make the setting unique and stand out. For example, given the presence in many games of such elements as: magic, dragons, different races and an ancient era, you can tell exactly where The Elder Scrolls is, and where is Dragon Age.
And that's exactly what Assassin's Creed has. This is the conflict between the Templars and Assassins, stories on different sides of the barricades, particles of Eden, forerunners, hidden blades, hoods and, of course, a leap of faith.
Growing in breadth
After the second game, Ubisoft began to raise their brainchild. So, the book adaptation of the game by Oliver Bowden was released Assassin's Creed: Renaissance. In fact, it was just a passage, written in artistic language. And they pumped into it some ridiculous moments of the description of the gameplay that were difficult to adapt.
At the same time, Ubisoft released a mini-series Assassin's Creed: Lineage, which told about the "assassin" deeds of Father Ezio. We were shown the origins of the conflict, which we eventually rake in the game and understand why everything turned out that way.
The next effort was the continuation of Altair's original story in the PSP game Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines. The game and its plot were second-rate, but it is important that Altair's actions led to consequences that we will see later.
The real "Big Bang" in the Assassin universe happened after the release of the last part of the story about Ezio in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Why exactly after her? Because of Altair, who in the fourth game, like Ezio, was the most important character in the plot. He is the most legendary assassin who has gone from a self-confident impudent to a wise old man who studied the artifacts of antiquity and rethought the credo, changing its essence as a whole.
The first game of the series only superficially showed us the transformation from an asshole to a "not an asshole", and in Revelations he is already presented to us as a legend. And all these lengthy metamorphoses between games, which we should know, were described in the book "The Secret Crusade". She just perfectly tells us about his life, revealing how Altair became the one who reinvented the credo.
But we did not forget about Ezio, whose old age was shown to us in the animated series Assassin's Creed: Embers. There, our beloved Italian lives peacefully in his villa, until his peace is disturbed by Shao Jun, an assassin from the Chinese branch. She says that the Templars destroyed the branch and asks for help from the master. Ezio helps her with advice, and also gives her a mysterious box, thereby saying goodbye to the craft of an assassin forever. In the end, he dies quietly.
The continuation of Shao's story is offered to us in Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, which smoothly flows into the next part of Chronicles: USA. After her, the adventures of the USA assassin Nikolai Orlov ends in the comic series "The Fall". All this is an example of how history flows into different media and maintains its integrity.
Alas, there are also disadvantages. A characteristic feature of transmedia is that all products are of different quality. If one is a cool story, the other is a hastily written piece of no value to the general lore. So, for example, in "The Fall" the story of Nikolai Orlov is completely useless for us as a reader.
At the same time, parts of the comic devoted to modernity tell how the brotherhood lives in an era when the order is almost destroyed, the Templars have world domination, and the murder of people is now a serious crime that the assassins do not want to commit. And all this is shown much better than in subsequent games.
Another problem is that it is difficult to predict the plot in advance. So, in the series of graphic novels "Desmond", we are told about the events between the third and fourth games and the journey to Monteriggioni. During this, Desmond studies the memories of two more assassins, and the whole team also calculates the traitor among the group. It would seem that such important events, and downright striking, that they were not reflected in the games themselves, as if they did not exist.
As a result of the third game, Ubisoft found the perfect concept for themselves. After each part, they released novels dedicated to the past of the heroes of the game or their relatives, such as "Assassin's Creed: Forsaken" about Haytham Canway from the third game and "Assassin's Creed: Underworld", which tells about Henry Green, starting before the events of Syndicate and ending with the final mission for Evie. Now the main episode has turned the other way and has gone deep into the distant past.
Doing and Doing Transmedia: Nier and Kingdom Hearts
This was an example of good transmedia construction. And if we still talk about the eastern market - the benchmark will be the Nier series, which includes not only games and books, but also whole plays that are important in the plot. What can I say, Yoko Taro, the creator of the universe, very much at odds with her and came up with the chronology of the huge world and its conflicts.
On the other hand, semi-transmedia pieces like Kingdom Hearts have their holes. There are tons of spin-offs to play on different platforms [and even mobile phones! ], manga and light novel. And the problem is that if you have not read and replayed everything, you will not understand the plot of the same third part in principle. Although in a transmedia work, the makings of which the series has - this is unacceptable.
To summarize, we can see from Assassin's Creed that transmedia storytelling in games is a very interesting thing that helps expand the multifaceted art of games. On the other hand, it is imperative to use it correctly so as not to alienate a potential new person interested in the universe.
The Topic of Article: What is transmedia storytelling?.