GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

View, browse, and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by topic and format.

For more information about conference topics and session formats, visit the GDC Showcase Conference page.

Exploring Hidden Stories in the World of 'XCOM 2'

Justin Rodriguez  (Senior Environment Artist, Firaxis Games)

Date: Monday, March 15

Time: 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm

Track: Visual Arts

Format: Discussion Session

Vault Recording: TBD

This GDC 2018 talk will feature real-time interaction with the speaker through online chat messaging during its scheduled broadcast. 'XCOM 2' and 'XCOM 2: War of the Chosen' offered a linear story for the player to experience. It became apparent during development that some of the strongest, most memorable experiences came from the emergent narrative created by players as they watched their soldiers journey through their campaign, mission to mission. Considering this reaction players and developers had to the game and the 'XCOM 2' team's goal to create more procedural environments, Senior Environment Artist Justin Rodriguez started experimenting with decorating the levels to include small, micro-stories that would enhance the player's fantasy as they progressed through the game. Justin's presentation will explore the various components of environmental storytelling he scattered, hid, and placed in plain view, as well as illustrate details of his process.


This session aims to inspire environment artists to place dynamic narrative elements in their work, helping to immerse the player in their own emergent story.

Intended Audience

This insightful and entertaining talk is geared for level designers and environment artists. While the talk is aimed at processes to be used in environment art pipelines and world-building, writers may gleam an interesting perspective in developing details for game levels.