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A Minimalistic Approach to Storytelling Design

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Posted by Ross Manthorp on 25 July 2019

Eduardo from Green Lava Studios takes to our blog with a light-hearted and humorous take on the writing in their similarly themed, popular clicker game, My Name is Mayo. Take a read!

My Name is Mayo might be one of the simplest clicker-styled game out there in the wild. One of the reasons for this approach was to keep storytelling as basic as possible, with the easiest mechanic we could imagine: "A click".

The game is all about a jar of mayonnaise telling its life stories to the world; from love stories to an existential crisis testimony. Since this is a clicker, all you need to do is click the jar of mayonnaise a certain amount of times to keep unveiling new information about the main character, who will simply be referred to as "Mayo".

As the player keeps clicking Mayo, the stories unfold via in-game achievements that require a certain number of clicks in order to be unlocked. The stories keep themselves as absurd and ambiguous as possible, in the sense that people usually even wonder about the gender of a jar of mayonnaise.

The game’s art style and music are inspired by American 1950’s commercial art; it even drew inspiration from cartoons for the writing and illustration designs. The achievements themselves paint the picture of Mayo’s stories, leaving the player to wonder "Is this how Mayo actually looks like?" Whatever people’s interpretation of the stories, in the end, this game is about a literal jar of mayonnaise and nothing more.

In total, the game features 4 main stories and random facts. Each storyline is represented with different colors for the text, and some have visual changes to Mayo:

mayo

The stories will be unlocked periodically and out of order, but they are simple enough to follow that the player will not be lost during the clicking madness.

The Red Story

This story was designed to make the player understand how unlocking full storylines is accomplished. As the player keeps clicking Mayo, an "Achievement Unlocked" sign will appear; prompting the player to check on the achievements in the Pause Menu; this is done in order to understand that the Red Text and Logo are related to the continuity of a story. Really, it’s a basic feature to help players see the relation between colors and their respective storylines. Finally, the reason the text is red, is because it is known to be a color that stimulates energy and action, perfect for the lesson intended for this part of the game: You can unlock a story by clicking.

As the player progresses, more storylines will be unlocked, but they will get to a point where no more stories will appear. Most players don’t realize they can actually select an achievement until several hundred clicks in, which by design, helps them advance into the total number of clicks to unlock the ending. Only by selecting an achievement, can the player continue the game. This Red storyline takes a few hundred clicks to fully unlock, approximately 5 minutes.

mayo

The Green and The Pink Story

Both the Green Story and Pink Story are very similar. In that, they both follow a little bit of introspection from Mayo. It’s not about resolving their personal issues, but just revelling in their absurdity. Maybe a player could take some of what Mayo says seriously, but both stories show some graphic alterations to Mayo itself, in the spirit of its absurdity.

The Green Story sees Mayo through their life, struggling with what they wanted to do with it, and their relationship with their father. As the player unveils this story, they can make Mayo wear different… stuff, to illustrate that point in life. The achievement design during this phase is with a pinup model in a sort of old magazine ad, since it takes place in the past.

As the clicking continues, we wanted to grab the player’s attention with a mayonnaise situation. We designed this story to test the perseverance of the player since it will unveil an interesting side of the mayonnaise personality. Players will unlock outfits and explicit designs (as explicit as a mayonnaise jar can be). This story will follow Mayo in its journey of self-discovery, as it openly discusses their feelings. Similar to the Green Story’s achievements, it uses the pinup character, but they are colorful and varied. To fulfill this story, it takes more than 2000 clicks.

The Yellow Story

Inspired by the fantastic 1951 cartoon Symphony in Slang, by Tex Avery, the Yellow Story tells a romantically awkward situation with one of Mayo’s dates. By this point, Mayo is very comfortable talking about whatever, so it’s simply meant to entertain through the most absurd visual imagery for the game. Its achievements are cartoony and lively and full of expressions.

Just like the aforementioned cartoon, this story is told with a graphic interpretation of its slang, for example, the line "But I forgot my apartment was an armpit, so I was screwed!" is represented as follows:

mayo

Random Facts

The random facts are scattered throughout the whole playthrough of the game. As the name implies, it’s literally just random facts you can find anywhere. The inclusion of this "storyline" isn’t random though, as it is simply a distraction from the other stories. What we really intended to accomplish with these random facts, was for the player to produce dopamine as they learn little bits of information. This was inspired by the hypothesis of Nicholas Carr in his book "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains"; where he states that people feel rewarded with new and different information needed for their survival.

All in all, our true inspiration in making this game was simple: We just wanted to make a game about Mayonnaise.

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