Thursday, April 5, 2012

Final Project Proposal

Jacob Pavlovich

Video Game: Navidson Record

I am currently working towards my degree in computer science here at Pitt. I would like to use this set of skills to hopefully create a better final project than an essay, because to be honest that is not a strong part of my skills. Thus for my final project I planning on creating a small video game that would take you into the life of the Navidson family.

1. This video game, like many video games based on movies/books, will not be a complete replica of the plot line that we see with in the book. However I plan on using the background, characters and some parts of the plot to help create a world in which this video game will be sustained in. For example, the player that you will be playing as will be Will Navidson. You will have the option at certain points within the game to hold conversations with different people that Will encounters. During the dialog, the user will be presented with four (4) predetermined responses to continue their conversation and one (1) way to end the conversation. Each one of the four predetermined responses will then be assigned different values to help build a sense of morality (heavenly/devilish) quality of your character. This will help develop different paths that your story could follow. It will also help your character develop different relationships with the people in the game. Let us say for example, that your character holds a nice conversation and a good healthy relationship with Karen , then in the end she will still be there for you. But if you treat her with hostility, the chances of her character abandoning you will be high.

a. This can all be accomplished by creating a class (work will be done in java) for the characters you will interact with. This way, your “morality points” will be held in a variable within each characters object. This will allow you to hold different morality levels with everyone. It will allow you to hold healthy conversations with some, while others will return your favor and act hostile towards you too. Then to control your overall “morality level”, these points will also be held in a player object, which will base it on how many points overall you stand at. (This is based on things like: Fallout, Mass Effect, Fable).

2. When you are talking with people in this game, the level of “morality level” that you are at with each of the people will adjust how the conversation will go. Example: if you have a high morality(in good standings), they will be more willing to talk to you and give you details of what has been going on, friendlier with you, and more willing to help you. You will also have more friendly options.

a. The dialog will be based on text documents (*.txt) for each character. Then there will be a class that reads in the document and puts them into an array so a simple number can access each of the different dialogs. There will also be an array for the different responses that one can give to each one of these dialogs. However, this might also be done with a hashtable.

3. Plot: The plot will follow the path of the Navidson Record that Zambinò has talked so much about. However, the slight difference that I plan on adding is if you want, you may enter the other explorations. This will of course detract to your “morality points” with Karen. However that is part of the being the character. Maybe you do not really care that much about your wife in this game. When you go into through the doorway and into the house you will be faced with which way should you take? You will be told how much of your supplies you have left. The main thing that you will be told of is, how much fish line you have left. When you run out of fish line, I’m considering letting your character continue to go without it, however the user will have to find his way back to the fish line, without getting lost. Then again, I am not sure if I will implement this, for it might take a lot more programming to commit to this.

While you are in the house you will have to confront many of things. Including your own insanity, this will be controlled by a point system, of how long you have been in the house. Most likely will be on a count of how many turns you take in the house. This will affect how you’re other skills preform, which is similar to the Radiation system in Fallout 3 or the water/dehydration system in Fallout: New Vegas.

4. Other skills that you will have are as follows: Luck, Strength, Medical, Speech, MH (mental health).

a. Luck: The higher the luck statistic the less time you have to spend inside the house during each exploration. (if the being able to continue past the fish line is implemented, this will make it more likely to find the fish line during the shifts of the house)

b. Strength: The higher your strength will mean, if someone on your team gets hurt, you will be able to take them with you. Or if you come to a dead end, you will be able to kick through the wall/ kick down a locked door.

c. Medical: If one of your teammates gets hurt during an exploration, you will be able to use medical supplies to heal them within the house instead of having to carry them/leave them.

d. Speech: The higher your speech becomes the more likely you will be able to convince your fellow explorers behind if hurt/ or to stay and help him out. The higher it is, the better you will be off with people even if you are at a bad “morality level” with them.

e. MH (mental health): The higher your mental health, the less likely you are to succumb to the effects of insanity. Although with a low mental health, you might find yourself seeing things inside the house that aren’t even there

This is a rough look at where this game would be standing, I feel like this is something that I can reasonably pull off, and make it a fun thing to play with. Instead of working on an essay that I sometimes find hard to complete, because I’m not one who is talented with my words. This on the other hand will allow me to express my creativity while giving back to the class at the same time, hopefully creating an exciting game to play. This will possibly take many long nights to pull off, however like I’ve said before: programming is an art form. This is an art form that I am willing to put the time into, instead of mulling over a piece of paper, trying to write an essay.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Here's my summary: you want to create a skeletal rpg (using something like Bioware's morality system, which descends from the morality system in Ultima IV), which will be inspired by/related to House of Leaves.

You want to do this because you prefer programming to writing, and feel you're better at programming than writing.

As a way to avoid writing, this really isn't going to work (I also have my concerns about the volume of work involved - it's a lot to do in three weeks). What argument are making (or what theme are you articulating) about how we should understand HOL, or how we should understand the role of gaming in our world?

I'm not opposed to a video game which does some kind of critical or intellectual work. In fact, I'd welcome it - I've enjoyed that kind of work very much in the past. But a game which just happens to be set in the House doesn't necessarily do that.

So, if you want to do a project like this, you need to be able to explain why the intellectual work you want to do is better done in the form of a video game than of an essay. What can you prove/theorize/demonstrate in a game that you can't do in an essay?