Reid Kimball’s thoughts on using using the montage in games made me think of a character generation system for an RPG that takes the form of a series of mini-games, Wario Ware style, starting with the character at a very young age (choose a favourite toy) and gradually becoming older and making more meaningful decisions (choose from three different shirts to wear on the first day of school, choosing a hairstyle from a hairdresser’s catalog, a series of quick problems based on different subjects taught in school, a sports-flavored minigame).

After the montage is finished, a short summary can be given of the effects of each minigame on the character’s skills and stats, or they can be left hidden for the player to discover themselves. It would be more fun than rerolling random numbers over and over. Ideally, since the player must make their choice within a small time frame (5-10 seconds for each minigame), they would be encouraged to choose quickly, based on gut instinct, rather than overthinking each decision. The minigames in the montage could then be used as a form of light psychological profiling that would tailor the character to the player’s choices, and perhaps present the player with situations throughout the game based on these split-second choices.

The minigame montage could take the form of a series of decisions that create a branching tree-like structure with more decisions based on the choices made. Or it could be more like a personality test, with the results dictating the character’s affinities and possible romantic interests or dilemmas throughout the game.

It could start with a the character’s parents shopping at a baby goods store. They would be considering whether to buy the blue onesies or the pink ones (or the green or yellow ones!). Depending on the colour chosen, the character is male, or female (or randomly chosen but with something different in the case of green and yellow. Perhaps the green onesie decides the character’s gender randomly, but they tend to be a nurturing, growth-oriented person. The yellow one also requires random generation of gender, but the character is a more analytical, mental type of person). Depending on color chosen, the next minigame would show the character as a baby of the appropriate gender, and would show them in a playpen with an assortment of different toys, or crawling around under a christmas tree with a number of distinctly shaped gifts under it. The goal of this minigame is to choose a favourite toy. There would be some shaped  very concretely (a dinosaur or other animal, a toy sword, a doll) and maybe one or two with very generic (cubic box shape) which would be the surprise toy. Perhaps this minigame could show different relatives holding each present, and the choice of present also increases the character’s affection towards that relative and vice versa.

The main issue with an interactive montage would be to create context while at the same time maintaining the dynamism of the montage as a storytelling device. The player would need to be able to infer meaning from each ‘vignette’ presented in the montage and know what input is required from them in each case withing a relatively short window of opportunity. That is why the first thought that came into my head was Wario Ware, with it’s microgames and vivid imagery and single word instructions on how to play.

That’s just my take on it, though. It definitely seems like it would be a better way to deal with long periods of elapsed time with few major occurrences than just a black screen with “…10 years later…” on it. The other major advantage of a montage like this is that isolated major events occurring within the timeframe condensed into the montage could actually be played out as (slightly or greatly) more intricate interactive sequences, either within the montage itself or separated by individual montages.

The montage would go on, with each new minigame posing a different situation that the player must resolve by making a choice within a small window of time. The game would keep tabs on all choices made, and present new situations based on previous choices. At the end of the montage, the player would end up with a pretty well defined character (within certain parameters of varying meaningfulness within the game) with an established history that the player is familiar with in broad strokes, ready to embark on their adventure.