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.

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Catherine – It’s Just a Little Fun

So, yesterday I popped Catherine into the 360, pretty much knowing what to expect by playing it.  Adult drama with a puzzle game attached.  And I played the game for about three hours before I put it away.  I might not go back to Catherine for a while, but that’s ok.  Three hours was enough for me to really evaluate what I wanted to out of it.  This was the nature of the game’s difficulty in relation to its story.

Now, I could go into a rant here about games and story and how story is treated in Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun (On page 86 Koster even says, “my background is a writer, so this actually pisses me off.”).  Instead I want to talk about how Catherine is fun and what it is teaching us.  I will needless get back to story and challenge just that which Koster is so pissed off about.

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