Disseminating the Fantastic

Like with my posts on the uncanny and the abject, I am here providing the raw text of my description of the fantastic, a literary genre described by Tzvetan Todorov in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. The fantastic (and Todorov) is extremely straightforward, but this particular theory is actually key to the work that I’ve been doing. As such, I may have spent a bit more time describing it than needs be, but I want to make sure everything is clear (something you can help me with). In any event, here is the text of the final theory being described by my thesis.

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Disseminating Abjection

As in my last post, I am trying to make sure that my thesis writing is accessible to a wider audience. Since psychoanalytic theories are difficult to grasp without a psychoanalytic background, I am doing my best to distill texts down to meaning. This time, it is for Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abject, as described in Powers of Horror. Kristeva can be more difficult to understand than Freud, so I have tried to be redundant in my description of the abject. Although it is not required, the following text will have expected you to have read the previous passage on the uncanny.

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Some Potential Design Project Ideas

I just thought I would make a quick post and describe some design ideas I am considering working on, particularly for MFA projects that may come up. These are not all of my ideas, but I tend to have new ideas and remember other ideas quite randomly. This is just a list and short description of each. They are in no particular order (except the order given by headings). If you are interested in one project or another, or would like to see a different project, just leave a comment!

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Childhood: The Open Studios Version

Friday, I participated in my program’s yearly event, Open Studios, with the game I’ve been working on all quarter. Overall, it went pretty well. Four of us were stationed in an arcade on the third floor of the building, and we had quite a lot of traffic, despite being out of the way. There were four of us in the arcade and it was pretty busy. I won’t talk much about the event here, but I will talk about the version of the game I had for Open Studios.

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Childhood Dev Update — With Pictures

I’ve been busy working away at My Childhood on the RS Anthony. It’s coming together rather slowly, mostly because of other obligations getting in the way, but that is just excuses. I want to make this process open and transparent, so I really want to give a long overdue post about what I’ve been doing. At the bottom of this post, I’ve put a lot of images that I’ve taken while I’ve been working. In this post, I’m going to first talk about what I’ve been working on, then about some changes I’ve made to the design, and finally what I’m going to be working on next.

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Designing with PGDI: My Childhood on the RS Anthony

Over the last week I have come up with concepts for three games (game 1, game 2, game 3) that were made using components from PGDI as a backbone to inform design. This is part of an ongoing, transparent design process for my work this quarter. Yesterday, I decided on one of the design concepts to work on for this project. If the title didn’t give it away, I’m going to be working on the third concept, which I am titling “My Childhood on the RS Anthony”. Here, I’m going to outline what the game is about and what I am going to work on right now. Note that this is a transparent design process, so I will be discussing things like the way the game ends, and any surprises the player might encounter. I have been kind and have decided to try out a highlight to reveal method of hiding anything surprising from general view. If you see an area of blank text, highlight it. You were warned, though.

The Concept

My Childhood on the RS Anthony (short title: Childhood) is a game about a child on a space research station where the children have begun developing superhuman abilities. The player controls one of these children, and customizes how the child looks, and ideally their starting ability (let’s call the abilities Psi). The research station is fraught with problems, and other characters in the game will present their problems to the player, and the player is allowed to help, hinder, or ignore the characters and their plights. Whichever choice the player makes, the player will need to navigate the station, using Psi to access areas and to find a mcguffin, which will provide a new Psi for the player to use. As the game progresses, the player will acquire more Psi, and the route to acquire new Psi will require more from the player. Also as the game progresses, the consequences of the player’s choices will be shown, and none of them will be entirely positive outcomes. The game will end with the player discovering that the child they have been controlling was manufactured by the research station, perhaps in an effort to weaponize children.

The Questions

I have a bunch of questions that I still need to answer:

  1. What am I going to build this game with?
    1. Options are Unity, GameMaker, Inform 7 (text game),  or something else
  2. What is this game going to look like?
    1. What will the characters look like?
    2. What will the environment look like?
    3. Do we need a font? Which?
    4. Do we need a GUI? What will it look like?
  3. What will the controls be like?
  4. What perspective is this game going to use?
    1. Options are top-down, first-person, over-the shoulder, follow behind.
  5. What options do players set for their characters?
    1. What appearance options will the player get to set?
    2. What personality options will the player get to set?
    3. What ability options will be available to the player?

I could go on, but that’s enough for this week. I already have some ideas. First, to accommodate my project being displayed in a studio setting, it would be nice if I could get the game to work with a game pad. This can be easily done, though, if I use Unity, since game pad functionality is built into the engine. If I’m using Unity, then I’ll probably do 3D, since Unity is good at doing 3D, and I don’t want to learn the 2D functions in the next few weeks. If the game is 3D, I don’t want to have to make very complicated models, so I’m probably going to do something with cubes for characters, perhaps stacking some cubes on top of each other. I’ve also been curious as to how it would look as a first-person game, but the game would probably do better with a third-person camera, probably following behind, so the player can see their customized character at all times.

That’s already a bunch of questions answered. Now just a dozen or so more before I get into the deeper questions, like what content is in the game, what the narrative is like, how does the gameplay work, etc. You know, trivial stuff. That come next week. Maybe with some mockups.

Designing with PGDI: Set 3 Conceptualization

I’m back again for the third set conceptualization that I laid out in a previous post. To recap, this series of three posts is my taking three sets of PGDI components and coming up with general designs that emphasize those components. I’m writing these posts to be transparent in my design process, since this is essentially a test of how useful PGDI is for driving design. This post will largely be unstructured freewriting, with me just wrestling with the components at hand.

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Designing with PGDI: Set 2 Conceptualization

A bit ago, I proposed three different sets of randomly-generated components for designing a game with PGDI. In the last post, I worked out a concept for the first set of components, a game about a minor god trying to gain a following among both the people and the larger pantheon, in order to ascend into greater divinity. In this post, I’m going to work through the second set of components, in order to find a concept for that game. The eventual aim is to select one of these concepts to be made over the next eight weeks, as part of my first quarter in my MFA program.

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Designing with PGDI: Selecting Components

This quarter, I am expected to present something at Open Studios, an event that showcases Digital Arts & New Media student work (plus a few diligent people), in various stages of completion, in a gallery-like setting. I went through a number of possible projects before I finally settled on Designing with PGDI. Designing with PGDI is a project that follows game creation from blank slate to a working game, using the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI) as a tool for design. PGDI is a model I developed, over the past three years, for describing digital games (and apparently doors) and their players. Follow the link if you want to know more. The first part of the process is selecting some components to focus on for the game I’m going to design.

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