The project my team and I are working on is an extension of the classic heist story, where a character must make their way through a secure facility to steal something of great value. There is some universal appeal to a heist, and we feel that it ties in very nicely with some of the standard ‘choose your own adventure’ cornerstones. Specifically, we plan on tying in elements of mystery and puzzle-solving in order to make our story engaging. Our story focuses on a recent college graduate and his two friends, who get involved with a museum heist. One of the other graduates will serve as a kind of coordinator, and will be our tool for passing important information on to the player that their character would otherwise not know. The other is kind of the ‘inside man,’ and will challenge our player to keep another person in mind when they are making their decisions. Our story paths are going to branch out quite a bit, which I feel cements the validity of our story as a work of interactive fiction as defined in Literary Gaming. The introduction stresses that interactive fiction “would lose something of its aesthetic and semiotic function if it were removed from [the digital] medium.” We can’t reflect the branching story and puzzles we wish to create through a static medium.
Mystery is a challenging sensation to create in a text adventure. We want the player to be drawn into the story, and for them to want to continue in order to reach the conclusion. However, if we leave the player confused and unsure of what’s going on, it’ll have the opposite effect. We can’t really use visuals or other media to get our point across. Literary Gaming, defined literary video games as experiences where verbal components are the foreground. One of the methods we are using to mitigate this confusion is providing distinct choices to the player every time they need to provide input. Under the hood, every text adventure game has this going on.
For every fork in the road, there are only so many paths you can take. The program will only be able to understand and act upon the specific responses it’s programmers expected and coded in at that location. We plan to turn that into an asset for the player. By showing them those choices, we can be sure the player will not be lost simply because they can’t find the words we expected them to type in at that location. Our group got this idea from one of the Case Studies we played: ‘Open Sorcery.’ This text adventure game took user input by turning specific words in the display text into the choices. While playing this game, I was never lost as to what I could do, but I also never felt like I was being constrained by the choices available.
Our group is working together very well so far. The overall idea for the story came out of the time we spent in class brainstorming. We did a great job of building off of each other’s ideas in order to get to the semi-final story we have now. I am the most experienced coder in the group, so my #1 focus is going to be the difficult parts of the game code. Ella and Neil have been focused more on the writing.
However, as the project continues, we will all mix around and I predict each of us will work on all parts of the project. As of right now, I’ve been working on a few Python functions to serve as helpers when we are writing out the full code of the story.