Progress on the game was a bit slow at first due to some unforeseen circumstances, which put one of our group members out of commission. As a result we ended up assigning aspects of the project to focus on based on what we were more familiar and comfortable with. Sarah and I would focus on the story and text of the game, while helping with code, while PJ would focus on the coding while helping with the story. To this end, we created a collaborative google doc for the story section of the game, which was nice as it gave the entire group the ability to view and edit the same document. However, there is unfortunately no easy google doc for coding, and the nature of coding makes it difficult to work simultaneously. So we decided to try and focus on our areas separately before coming together for a meeting the night before to be able to work together in the same geographical location, which would allow us to combine our disparate parts into a whole product. To this end I have written an outline as well as a chunk of the actual dialogue, mapped with pseudo-code.
The idea for our game was inspired by another Game Called The Stanley Parable, which despite being a 3d game with a navigable environment, bears remarkable similarities to the text adventures of old. The game features a narrator who describes the player’s actions before they happen. However the player is always given multiple options, including doing the opposite of what the narrator describes. The idea is that it challenges the traditional conceptions of a game, where there is a defined win point and when the game tells you to do things, you generally assume that by accomplishing them you will eventually win. However this game has no win state, but merely multiple endings, most of them bad. The same principles were applied to our game, as we decided that the narrator would actually have the worst interests of the player character at heart, and thus by following what is the perceived path to victory, the player will be working directly against his own interests.
The narrator of Stanley Parable
This approach to the game allowed us to purposely mess with the ideas of encoding/decoding, as we encoded information that was purposely meant to be interpreted the wrong way, as since the player is assuming control of a character with 0 motivation or backstory, so that it is easier to empathize with. Then we provided the player with a path to follow, and given the tactical lack of other leads or details to grab onto, we hope that the player makes incorrect assumptions. This in particular is what makes this type of communication so interesting, since in a traditional piece of writing, the reader has no agency, and can only follow the path the author has designed. Whereas in a text game the roles are changed since while the creator can design and lay out a narrative or path, the agency belongs to the player of the game, who can choose to follow or subvert the game designer’s narrative.