Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Final Project Proposal: Game

            My final project plan involves making a story-driven game that’s playable in the span of 10-20 minutes. Gameplay would involve progressing through a world and solving a series of puzzles with multiple solutions, with each possible solution in some way testing the player’s morality. One possible puzzle might involve a seemingly impassable hole, with the most obvious solution being to push one robot companion into this hole to function as a stepping stone. This robot would be gone forever, his life sacrificed for the perceived good of the others. An alternative solution would be finding a hidden narrow path earlier in the world, using a small character to fit through it, then going through a series of trials to reach the other side of the hole, push an object into it, and allow the other characters to pass. It would require the player to be aware of their environment and determine whether they prefer immediate reward for themselves or shared benefits between the entire group.
            I intend to bring in elements of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and One-Dimensional Man, as well as references to other novels. I’m not quite sure at what level I’d use themes from each story or what aspects I’ll be using, as that’s something that’ll evolve with development of the game. One element I’m planning for the game is having the player weigh the risks and benefits of each action. For example, there may be an item that may seem appealing to the player and has an unknown function, and obtaining it would require injuring or possibly sacrificing a member of the player’s team. This tool could be something that would assist the player with their journey and ensure the survival of the party, or it may be something that ends up being a destructive waste of time, showing that the player cared more about material goods than the value of life. This is a gross simplification of the materialism criticized in One-Dimensional Man and the actual game would involve a deeper insight into it.
            The reason I’m choosing to do a game for this is because it forces the player to engage the material of the books we’ve read. It’s possible to read every single piece of text we’ve been assigned without actually considering it, but a game forces us to think about our next move and balance the consequences of our every action; when these decisions directly tie into material we’ve read, players would hopefully recall what they’d previously read and see some of those ideas in action. Of course, a game won’t be as explicit with these references as an essay would, but it would require the reader to have actually read the source material to pick up on the references instead of simply trusting the writer’s analysis. It also forces the reader to actually test how well they align with the message of each text. One might say that they agree with the points of One-Dimensional Man, but testing those concepts in an implicit manner and engaging students with the material would show whether or not they would be willing to apply those ideas in any way, and at the bare minimum test their understanding of the content. A game would also allow for an audience beyond just this class, and people who’ve never read anything that we’d discussed in class could still take something from the game; however, a person who’d never read One-Dimensional Man would have zero interest in an essay analyzing it.

            Now I’m sure a big concern is whether or not I can finish this—I’m very confident that I can. I’ve been making games for about six years and I’ll be recycling some parts of an engine from a previous project of mine, but still adding a considerable amount of new elements to it. The biggest reason I want to do a game is because it’s something I can make for class that will benefit in ways far beyond a mere grade.

1 comment:

Adam said...

This is fascinating and well-considered. I love the idea and the details. I'm not worried about you finishing it - you can always turn it in partially complete, at worst - but I'm worried that the actual writing component will be sufficient. If the game itself is mostly/entirely text (e.g., Zork), you're fine. Or if it has substantial passage of text (written or in voiceover), you're fine. But I need something pretty substantial as a formal requirement (under some circumstances, I'd go so far as to accept annotated source code, at least in part).