This week has given me some more to think about, I began to panic somewhat about the amount of work I had yet to do, especially without a proper alpha complete yet, however I still believe I can get everything done with minimal delays. This week I have completed the documentation, sans core research section for the learning aspect of the serious game. My game loop is finally closed, it’s not the prettiest thing, but it has a start menu, begins the main game, and you can win and lose, so that’s a good thing at least. I have had another meeting with the animators and a quick meeting with my Audio Guy, those went well, I have managed to impart the importance of claiming the assets they want to make, assigning their names to the pieces in question and answered more questions on what they needed to make. All in all, on the way to being totally deliverable, just need to get some more forwards momentum.
I have never been that good with imparting interesting stories into my games, nor making people feel a certain way about the things I do, I’m all about finding the fun and enjoying life. However, this game needs to be all about meaningful decisions and cohesive feedback on those decisions. I need to tell a story, something I haven’t really done in a long time. I’m not very good at getting people invested in things like characters and events in the usual ways, I have had to take a more foundational approach to getting someone interested in the character.
While I am not good at these things, I do understand how people usually accomplish them, as Alexander Freed, a designer and writer for Gamasutra explains in their article on meaningful characters. Having a defining introduction, laying out the characters core elements (what makes them, them). Cause the character to go through change and show how they react to that, trying to make the player engage with a growing, learning, character in a way that makes the player sympathetic or recognise something in the character. Revealing flaws, or some aspect of their inner workings to be able to relate to them or serve as a concrete basis for understanding their decisions. (Freed, 2013)
I’m not a good story teller, but one of the things I remember most from my childhood, was Choose Your Own Adventure books. These may not be the most in depth in terms of character design and truly meaningful decision-making, but one thing they did, was put you in a protagonists shoes really well, it’s not you reading about someones great heroic deeds, these are your decisions, even if they don’t really mean much, you are the one doing these things. So I based my core narrative element on a series of questions, these questions are asked of you, the player, not the character for you to watch them make decisions. I believe this is one of the real things games can do that no other medium has access to.
Although Netflix has started to blurr the gaps with the development of Black Mirrors: Bandersnatch, a choose your own adventure styled episode of the popular TV series Black Mirror. This adds a certain element of uncertainty, the idea that this is a story about your decisions, rather than a story telling you what the right decisions are. The meaning in the story is not driven by what has been told, but by how it has been told. The emotions much deeper as you are a participant, rather than a passenger.
This is similar to how I feel games should convey meaning, not as they seem to be now, something fun trying to be a story, an attempt to recreate the success of books, film, television, but as they could be, their own way of being meaningful. My narrative pits the player as you, moving from Birth to Death (whenever that may be), these are the highlights of your life, from a sickness point of view, that time you got bitten by a dog and had a rabies injection, the 16th birthday party where you caught chicken pox, all these things told through simple decisions, do you sit on the left side of the class, or right? You may not know what will happen, but a decision needs to be made, none the less.
Freed, A. (2013). Developing Meaningful Player Character Arcs in Branching Narrative. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/188950/developing_meaningful_player_.php?page=3
Slade, D. (2018). Black Mirror: Bandersnatch [Video]. United Kingdom: Netflix.
I need to complete more research, I need to finalise exactly what pathogens I need to make mechanics for, and which I can get away with simplifying. I need to find out what kind of decisions the player will need to make, and how to make them seem interesting.
- Complete research
- Complete planning for narrative elements
- Implement the rest of the Immunity Cells
- Have a full list of Pathogens to make
There has not been much additional creation this week, mostly filling in sections that need completion, this means there is not all that much to show. There is a discord group for the game now, with all the individuals who are helping me on it, feel free to check it out on the class discord (19T1 GDS220 Immunisation ). Otherwise, next week I will be submitting a ‘complete’ GDD, then we have study break, where I can, hopefully, catch up on anything I needed to do.