Individual Game Design: Initial Ideas

The week seven class brainstorm was an interesting exercise and I generated more solid ideas than I imagined I could come up with in ten minutes. Despite this, I’ve decided to remain with my initial plan to combine my game with my artefact for BCM325: Future Cultures, based on the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) game theme, which traditionally appears in book form. However, I will be producing my game digitally. Although the legacy-style CYOA books are experiencing diminished popularity, video games adopting this theme are a “booming industry” (Tyndale et. al 2016), perhaps because narrative acts as a significant support structure for adventure-style games (Dickey 2006).

The original inspiration was one of my favourite childhood books which was based in a medieval world populated with dragons and knights. The story unfolded in a CYOA style to engross the user in a quest to save the kingdom. My story, however, will not be a quest, but an exploration. One potential challenge will be establishing a balance between a ‘fun’ game that my audience wants to play, and one that explores the philosophy of simulation theory, a much more serious and thoughtful theme.

bcm300
A representation of a generic blueprint for a choose-your-own-adventure themed game (source: Geeky Gadgets)

 

I have been working on the same digital artefact (Simulation Mindy) across most of my digital media subjects so far. My most recent feedback for this project, at the end of DIGC202: Global Networks, suggested I consider open-source narrative as a potential avenue for this project to develop further. I’m currently putting together an interactive exploration of simulation theory for Future Cultures. This plays with the notion of future humanism and the idea that our universe is completely simulated by a computer. Once the basics of simulation theory have been sufficiently explored in this game, the story will branch out into a more ‘classic Mindy’ style narrative. Although the latter half of this project will complement the first half, it will also act as a standalone story. This part of the project is what I’m aiming to pitch as my game for BCM300: Game Making.

I had already begun constructing a prototype of this game via WordPress, however Richard has since mentioned there are various platforms and apps designed specifically to make these stories easy to construct, such as Twine. For now, I plan to stick with WordPress, but the potential to build this further through other platforms will sit at the back of my mind.

Similar Games

Similar products include the CYOA novel House of Danger, which comprises of 144 pages and 20 possible different endings, so a larger scale than my end artefact is likely to be. It’s written in second-person narrative and the story centres around escaping the House of Danger. My story will be written in third-person narrative to encourage the reader to take on two different personas; one is the quantum computer scientist designing a simulation experiment, and the second is the unassuming product of that experiment.

 

warning
An excerpt from House of Danger (source: ibid)

 

Mechanics

The mechanics in this game currently comprise of a WordPress URL for each potential option. Every so often the story reaches a dead end, which explains to the responder how their configuration of events has caused the story to halt and provides a link back to the beginning to explore the story in a different way. As such there isn’t really a way to win this game, but merely explore the consequences of two personas’ actions. Being a one-player game, there isn’t a strong competitive element.

Current prototype

The prototype is functional but not complete. This allows me to refine is constantly as I publish it. After experimenting with it, I’m mostly satisfied with its progress thus far, so the next step is to ask others in my target market to test it out and provide feedback.  I’m attempting to increase the ‘fun factor’, which will be more apparent when Mindy’s story opens up at the end of the current character’s story. Because it’s a digital creation, I’ve been able to constantly edit my working prototype.

The initial prototype, which I constructed at the beginning of the semester, is a typed brainstorm that outlines the strands of the story and how they link. Although my ideas are changing dynamically as I move along with this project, I am constantly referring back to this for inspiration.

progress
A segment of my blueprint. As I complete each ‘page’, I highlight it to track my progress.

Target Audience

My main potential target audience lies in the Sims blogging community (which makes up most of my current audience), a somewhat closed niche I came across during the initial construction of my artefact in 2016. Additionally this game could attract an audience comprised of a teenage age group. Although the philosophy theorems I’m unpacking could be understood by the 10-13 age bracket, the mature themes in the later story are not really appropriate for a young audience. Therefore it will be marketed at an MA 15+ audience and I will attempt to ensure the game is enticing enough to capture their attention.

 

 

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