Instructional design
Danny de Bruijn
Founder & CXO

Master intention & obstacles to create compelling stories

Understanding intention and obstacles in storytelling are essential to creating engaging VR training scenarios. An intention is the goal or purpose a character has in mind, while obstacles are barriers that stand in the way of achieving it. Combined, these storytelling components create tension and suspense and move the plot forward.

By understanding how intention and obstacles work together, storytellers can use them effectively to create engaging training scenarios for trainees with a story arc and exciting, unpredictable storylines.


The intention is the driving force behind a story - the overall goal or purpose of the narrative. The main character wants something badly, with a strong and believable intention.

Let’s say you want to create a story about safety and dropped objects. We want the main character to go somewhere to find the obstacle (in this case, a camera that is hanging loose). To build a strong intention, we have to create an important reason for the main character to be there right away. For example, a pump just broke down and needs to be fixed immediately, or you will lose an important client.

A strong intention happens at a certain time on a certain day. It must be urgent, and something super important has to be at stake. Intention can be conveyed in various ways, such as through characters, actions, or dialogue. This helps to shape the story by providing a clear set of goals for the characters to strive towards and by providing you with boundaries to work within.


Obstacles in storytelling can come in many forms, such as physical challenges, emotional struggles, or psychological dilemmas. These can prevent the main character from reaching their intention, sometimes by literally standing in their way.

For example, the intention may be to fix a pump quickly, but a camera hanging loose above the pump is an obstacle. Obstacles can create tension in stories by providing a challenge that needs to be overcome by the main character, increasing the situation's stakes and making the story more engaging.

If there are ways to get out of your obstacle easily, you need to plug your story up. In our example, why don’t we just fix the camera quickly? It will take one full day to fix it, and the important client will not accept that.

Next steps

After creating your intention and obstacles, you can add other stories or learning goals to the story. This may have been the reason you wanted to create the story in the first place. You need to build the driveshaft first, which consists of an intention and an obstacle. Without these two elements, the story won't be captivating.


Understanding intention and obstacles are essential for any storyteller. The intention is the driving force behind a story and provides a clear set of goals for the characters to strive towards. Obstacles, meanwhile, can come in many forms and are designed to prevent the main character from reaching their intention. When used effectively, these two components can create tension, suspense, and an engaging story arc.

We created a story-based worksheet to help you with this process. The worksheet includes full workflow guidance to create the best possible immersive learning scenarios with your team.

Need some help? Chat with us or email

Stay in the loop

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to get new articles, product updates and customer stories.

We use cookies to analyze website usage, improve usability and assist in our marketing efforts. View our privacy policy for more information. Click here to deny.