Space Fleet: The Game!

Get ready to join your crew-mates on a wild journey through space. You and up to one teammate have duties on board the ship: a Captain to be appeased, an intergalactic war to be fought, and a treacherous navigation system to manage. But what if this journey and your captain are not what they seem? Welcome to Space Fleet: The Game, a deck-building card game remediating the experience of a member of the USS Callister spaceship crew. Within the game, you will discover more details about your role in space and your captain’s true intentions. Does your original goal to be the perfect and submissive crew-mate change? You used to feel so free on this ship, yet by learning more about your captain and the simulation he designed, you can’t help but want to escape. The question is: can you escape in time and avoid the perils of space?

We chose to remediate the Black Mirror season 4 episode 1 “USS Callister” into a card game because the television episode itself remediates a video game in a television show. As a group, we were particularly drawn to the episode because the players within the episode are playing a video game–so meta! So we are, likewise, remediating video game play in a television show through a card game. In the episode, twisted genius-boss Robert Daly artfully collects and harbors DNA from coworkers he feels wronged him, or who stand out to him for a particular reason. An exact AI copy of the individual is placed within a simulated universe on the “USS Callister”, under the brutal command of Captain Daly. The show harkens to Star Trek in its aesthetic and simulated premise, while using the meta-reality of Daly’s ego and misogyny to critique the dark side of geek culture and gaming.

Trailer for the Black Mirror episode

We made our best effort to emulate and recreate the immersive feeling of being stuck in a video game and trying to escape, just like the narrative depicted in the episode. To focus our remediation, we chose not to include the parallel office narrative to limit the game’s complexity. We also intentionally added the twist of the player not discovering that Daly is the “bad guy” until later in the game to surprise the player with this big change. We also chose this episode because it speaks directly to power imbalances related particularly to authority or control – themes inherent in play within a system of rules – as well as pertinent themes of gender, or toxic masculinity.

Our first game design goal to tackle in remediating “USS Callister” was representing a 180° change in the player’s goal halfway through our game. We chose to make a deck building game because  it compliments having a reversible goal and demonstrating change over time, as it allows for adjustments in character well-being and traits through the addition and removal of thematic cards in the player deck. Independent of all aspects of the game, we remediated the asteroid field with its own tracker so that its reversible function could be implemented later in the game for an interesting twist. The game completely flips on its head, and now instead of working to stay away from the asteroid field and fight the villain, you must work to fly through the asteroids (safely) to reach the black hole while escaping the evil clutches of Captain Daly. This mid-game twist is implemented to remediate the surprise the characters undergo as they enter the simulation and have to transition from helping Daly to subverting his control.

Game board design by Ashley Hemenway

As a co-operative game, the system faithfully represents the concerted effort the characters have to make to counter Daly’s egotistical simulation. Teamwork in the face of adversity also makes the players feel trapped together – a key aspect of the victims’ experience in the episode. Players begin with specific cards in their deck representing rudimentary skills and some weaknesses resulting from inexperience. Over the game, players must remove negative cards from their hand and add better cards to build a game winning composition of traits in their deck. In order for the players’ to survive Daly’s madness and the plights of space travel, they must work to improve both their deck composition while keeping up with the fight with Valdack, Captain Daly’s fickle mood, and navigation relative to the perilous asteroid field. The game’s event deck produced semi-random events according to the phase of the game, of which there are four. The events are dangerous, functioning as the “opponent” and causing players to divert attention to the three trackers that keep them from being defeated. This deck is also used to mark the game’s turning point or twist–when you realize you must head toward the asteroid field rather than away from it. The Daly’s mood track is especially evocative of the action in the show. Even as player’s learn Daly is a foe and not an ally, the game still forces them to keep him happy to avoid being thrown out of the ship and losing the game. Players must continue bringing Captain Daly his coffee order, celebrating Daly’s victories, and even kissing him to keep him happy while they subvert him behind the scenes. Balancing the representation of a misogynistic enemy through game mechanics in a prominent yet considerate manner took refinement and nuance in both the artist and the choice of thematic quotations on the bottom of each card.

During their turn, players have a wide range of strategic options. They can add skill cards to their deck, trash negative cards like injuries and confusion they have acquired, play skills from their hand, or draw a new hand of cards. In order to manually move the tracker, player’s can use “Effort”, but in doing so suffer a detriment to their character’s traits (their deck) in the form of a harmful “Exhaustion” card. Players choose 3 actions during each turn to keep the game balanced and exciting. When playing as a team, players decide in which order they each take their 3 actions so as to evenly distribute the cards between players. With these mechanical features to the game, the player experiences a semblance of control, but they are still beholden to the mercy of the game’s events, just like the crew members are in “USS Callister.” 

Game artwork by Helen Loda

A challenge we faced in designing the game was balancing game complexity and meaningful choices. The twist in the game is revealed after the first play through, but we still wanted the game to be fun to play multiple times. On top of this, we wanted someone who was playing through the first time to be able to understand all of the rules. While complexity makes the game more fun to play multiple times, it can make the first play through overwhelming and even discourage some from trying a game at all. We had to balance where to add meaningful choices to the game which add complexity, and where to streamline processes which were distracting from the core experience we sought to deliver. Some key decisions were adding a variety of new skills that can be added to give the game enjoyment over repeated plays, the semi-random nature of the event deck to retain surprise, and the ability to change the starting difficulty for veteran players seeking a heightened challenge. These are the final rules we decided on: Space Fleet: The Game Rule Book.

As far as design and aesthetics of the physical game are concerned, we decided to reflect the comic-book flair of the television episode alongside dramatic stills from the show itself. We used comic book fonts on the board, and we hand-drew the Space Fleet comic logo that was briefly shown in the episode. We also used an art style that added a more modern, digital finish for the cartoon crew, staying true to the outfits worn in the source material. After the card backs, crew, and board were drawn, stills were added to fill in other more minor images on the cards, such that the entire game would reflect the aesthetic of the setting in which it takes place.

Game board design by Ashley Hemenway

Our greatest challenge in creating the game was working together to create a tangible product when we couldn’t work together in person. For example, we had to figure out how to let one person create a board, another create card art, and another put the finished product together. The solution we decided on – shipping the board and doing digital art for the cards – meant that the board and cards were not together until later in the project. This meant that it was difficult to get footage of the game for a trailer until late in the process. Communication between seven group members, who ended up in different time zones for the final week of production, sometimes proved difficult as well. In distinguishing between real vs fiction elements of the experience, those group members creating the rules (real) were different than the ones creating the art (fiction). As all communication was done over zoom and text, clarification questions were frequently needed. We showed each other reference photos throughout the design process, and we reviewed the source material together beforehand. When designing the game, the story behind the rules was given high priority, but the actual implementation of aspects of the story through card art and board design were done by people even as the rules were being developed and finalized. In the end, we were able to communicate effectively over Zoom and text to collaborate on the game, but it was a significant challenge. We learned how to keep the theming of the game consistent with these communication challenges (Zoom, distance, time zones) in place — we were able to take all of our individual contributions to the game and make them highly cohesive to create a final product that visually captures the essence of the game and the episode’s shared themes. 

If this blog post was not enough to make you want to play Space Fleet: The Game, we hope this trailer will do the trick!

Our trailer for Space Fleet: The Game

Thanks for reading/watching,

Group 3: Maya Diaz, Stone Edwards, Davis Glen Ellis, Ashley Hemenway, Dylan Kistler, Helen Loda, and Emma Waldman

Credits:

Trailer Production: Maya Diaz and Stone Edwards

Game Mechanics/Rules: Davis Glen Ellis and Dylan Kistler

Game Artwork: Helen Loda

Game Board Assembly: Ashley Hemenway

Card Assembly: Stone Edwards

Card Design: Dylan Kistler and Maya Diaz

Game Design Document: Maya Diaz, Davis Glen Ellis, Ashley Hemenway, Dylan Kistler, Helen Loda, and Emma Waldman

The Final Journey: Remediation of Ulysses

Tennyson’s Ulysses struck a chord when I read it. The story of a hero of before whose story is complete, reemerging to find a new story- something about it appeals to me. I wanted to recreate a scene from it using RPG Maker, but a series of technical mishaps prevented me from using it. My secondary plan for a visual novel didn’t pan out either. No Ulysses dating simulator, sadly. Luckily, GameMaker Studio worked for my hardware, and I was ready to begin.

The next step was to construct an idea of what I wanted the game to have. I was well aware of the pitfalls of reaching too far, but Ulysses on its own was a bit boring for a game. I was debating on a boss fight of Ulysses reminiscing on his adventures, but as a first-time game designer, I settled on the easier idea, the classic arcade asteroid shooter, reimagined as Ulysses journeying through a sea to the Western stars, as a sort of imagining of what this final journey took him. With the themes of death in the poem, I wanted a more solemn atmosphere

I drew some pixel art for the spires that would shoot out from the sea and pose as obstacles that you could shoot down with a cannon, as well as a simple pixel ship. After that, I dove headfirst into tutorials to try and understand the language behind GameMaker, and I was able to carve out a little program of my own. However, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to have the ship register when it went out of screen to progress to the next room, so I tried to make do with some long objects and collision detection script and lo and behold, it worked. And with my last obstacle overcome, my game was complete.

GameMaker Studio excels at being intuitive with its drag and drop code blocks as well as a great user interface. It was fun to learn how to connect objects and sprites, and the video guides they had were helpful to familiarize with the documentation. As for the game itself, I’m proud of creating it. It’s simplistic, but it’s something I’ve made myself. With more time and experience, there’s a lot more I could have done to develop it further but there’s no way to gain experience like diving into it.

Ignore my cursor, please.

Arnav Pandharipande

The Making of Catching Ferris

Our group’s initial discussions focused on what type of game we wanted to create and we eventually all came to agree that we liked the idea of a side-scrolling platformer similar to that of Braid or Super Mario Brothers.We looked into using GameMaker and RPG Maker as well, but decided that the Unity platform seemed like the most efficient software to implement our design ideas through while also allowing for seamless collaboration between multiple group members.

Braid Inspiration
Super Mario Bros Inspiration

After discussing various potential topics to base the game on, our team ended up in a conversation regarding different films from the 80s. We wanted our project to be a remediation of one of these films and we narrowed our options down to three: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and The Goonies. We eventually decided on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as there were several different conflicts within the film that we felt would allow us to create an interactive experience exploring these situations. We also decided on this movie because we felt connected to Ferris in a way. This is the first semester that we have not had a single break, so sometimes we want to be like Ferris and just take a day off. When beginning the design process, a single player game seemed like the obvious choice and we wanted to mix it up and rather than making the hero the protagonist, the player must play as the villain (Principal Rooney).

Principal Rooney and Jeanie Sprites!

We chose the scene of Rooney going to Ferris’s house because, after deciding that a game more similar to Braid would be easier to create in Unity, we established that this scene in the movie naturally has a lot of obstacles that we can recreate. In the movie, Rooney drives to Ferris’ house and his car ends up getting towed after Jeanie kicks him; however, in order to make the game more interactive we chose to have Rooney walk to the house. Walking was essential in order to incorporate the added challenge of fighting off the dogs while searching for the three keys, collecting gems, and avoiding Jeanie.  Additionally, we found this scene to be one of the funniest in the movie! After downloading Unity, we collectively found that the 2D template was set up perfectly for the game type we chose.

As the goal of the game, we wanted to pay tribute to the never-ending humorous tasks laid out for Principal Rooney in the movie, while also keeping the tasks relatively simple as to not overwhelm ourselves with the novel process of game design. The first task we agreed upon was having the player, or Principal Rooney, have to collect 3 keys before entering Ferris’s house. To complicate the task of collecting these keys and remediate the storyline of the movie, we created vicious dogs that must be avoided in order to progress through the game. To further incorporate the storyline of the movie into the game, the player must jump over Jeanie at the end as to avoid getting painfully kicked! Lastly, we decided that in a vein similar to that of the Mario and Sonic games, we wanted to include coins for the player to pick up. Rather than directly copying those two games with either rings or coins, we elected to use gems. Although gathering the gems does not give you an extra life, they offer a small minigame within the main journey to Bueller’s house. Consistent with the plethora of tasks Principal Rooney had to juggle at once to find and catch Ferris, we thought this added mini-task of collecting gems to raise the player’s score was appropriate. 

The Patrol Path for the dog sprites

A big challenge for our group was the steep learning curve of Unity. None of our group members had any experience with this software or even the game design process in general. One of the biggest issues we had was figuring out how to change the sprites of the players and the enemies. Over time, we were able to problem-solve and create sprites for Principal Rooney, the dogs he had to fight off, and even one for Jeanie outside of Ferris’s house! We also experienced technical issues with Unity; we had a lot of trouble figuring out how to export sprites in a file that could be viewed by other group members. Once we had changed the sprites, we also had to change some of the properties of the player and the enemies within the platform level to ensure that each entity was still functional. Furthermore, it took us a while to figure out how to publish changes made in Unity so that the rest of the group could see the updated changes; this made collaboration quite difficult because it was hard to see the most up-to-date version. Overall, using a software unfamiliar to us was quite a challenge; however, if Ferris Bueller taught us anything, it’s to never give up 

On the other hand, one of our greatest successes was our group dynamic. We worked extremely well as a team and were able to problem solve together in order to work through the challenges posed to us. Each member did a significant amount of work and an immense amount of effort was put into this project by all parties. Additionally, another success was the remediation of the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off into a game! While some adaptations were made, the creative way of expressing this scene with Principal Rooney in the movie through gameplay was a great success.

Overall, we learned a lot about the game-making process. There are so many different complex components that go into it. From the content creation to the actual designing of the game, there are many moving parts that come together for the final product of the game. Additionally, through the remediation process, we learned a lot about the balance between giving a work a new meaning while at the same time building on what came before. One of the most important lessons that we learned during this process was that while unfamiliar challenges seem daunting, hard work and collaboration will always provide a solution. Our group learned a lot about teamwork, as we inspired each other to keep going in the face of the unknown. No one in our group was afraid of the challenge, so we were able to accomplish the result that we wanted. As tribute to Ferris Bueller, we also learned that skipping school every once in a while is not the end of the world 😉

Credits:

Jack Hollier: Game design, video/image Collection

Makenna Pierce: Game design, sprite editing

Brian Campe: Game design, document creation

Charlotte Tucker: Trailer editing, document creation

Christian Catanese: Trailer editing, document creation

Whitney Brown: Trailer production, video collection

All: Document review, project approval

The Shining, A Text-Based Narrative Game

Classic ‘Here’s Johnny’ Clip from the Movie

Our game design took inspiration from Choice of Games, LLC., a company that hosts and publishes multiple genres of text-based narrative games. When remediating a scene from a visual movie like The Shining, it was easier to see how we could take the visual and auditory information from the movie and transcribe it into the text form for our game. Creating the game also posed an interesting task to us because of the creative nature of the alternative ending and alternate choices along the original story line from The Shining’s infamous chase scene. Each group member had at least one of the 7 main choice options to choose from and write the contextual information proceeding the choice, as well as the different choice options and conclusions following those choices.

After writing the narrative part of our text game, the next step was to include the coding component. Using ChoiceScript, our group member Daniel (the only one with coding experience) was able to run a couple of tests with the working narrative. He implemented the coding language alongside the narrative we had written to start on turning our game into a playable format. We were able to successfully create the text-based narrative game that has since shown no issues in its playability.

We based our group decisions around what we could do well, and what would be compelling to our audience. A text-based video game, despite its challenges, sounded very interesting to our group. With our limited computer skills, we felt we could make something much more compelling with text, rather than with visual components. After deciding on a text-based format, we chose to recreate the final chase scene of The Shining, because everyone in the group had either seen the movie and loved it, or hadn’t seen it but really wanted to. Additionally, The Shining is very popular as a book as well as a movie, so we felt that a lot of people would be interested in our game. Specifically, we got to take an in-depth look at the motivations of Danny and Wendy. Understanding the complexity of the climax of The Shining, allowed us to grasp the danger and severity of their situation to a higher degree. Trello was a resource our group was new to, but it proved a very efficient way of dividing up work clearly. Finally, as a group our collaboration skills were present in all stages of the assignment, and we were able to achieve a working dynamic that is desirable in all group projects.

We believe that our group’s strong point was our designation of work. We were all able to pick up pieces of the project and make sure we split off the work as evenly as possible. This made creating the game a fun and less stressful activity. We also made great use of the Trello, allowing us to see what each other had finished and what more work had to be done. We found success in breaking down the last scene of the movie and understanding a lot of the moving parts. Therein lay the problem, though, as we now had to create alternate scenarios for each major beat of the last scene. Though we resolved the issue quite easily, it was still a brain tease to think up many different possible scenarios that could stay true to the story. In actually coding the game, we found success in translating our choice map into Choicescript. It was a pretty easy transition in that we were able to correctly code all of our premade choices/outcomes. A failure that we can see is the lack of visuals. As our project is solely choice based, we did not put a focus into visuals, possibly creating a half baked atmosphere. We discovered that while Choice of Games supports images in the game, we were unable to access this feature because we would have to submit our game through a review process with the company, Additionally, we did not get to implement stats such as choice trackers or how many times a character has made the wrong choice. We could not devise a good way to implement that feature into the design of our game because of the limited choices we were able to implement in a single scene remediation.

We faced personal and group challenges in the making of the video game. Participating in something that is collaborative in an environment where there was no in-person interaction was especially difficult, but we found ways to make it work. Two members of our group are asynchronous so, even when there were face-to-face meetings in class, our collaboration was limited significantly. However, we formed a group chat and discussed our ideas there, which helped make our roles clearer. The Trello board was helpful as well especially when we couldn’t meet, as it helped us stay on task and outline our project visually. A personal challenge stood out when doing the actual remediation of the scenes from The Shining. Being loyal to the plot of the movie, and adapting the scenes to fit in better with the video game was a challenging, but rewarding experience as we got to make an older story new. We also had to write alternate endings to The Shining, but it was a fun creative challenge.

Game Trailer:

Escape from the Overlook Game

Game download available here (requires Node.js): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/291lae7jdw71xbt/AAByVQnjI0vWCriQlKAWAU-3a?dl=0

Credits (Group 9)

Emma Catharine: Created and managed the Trello board, provided context for the opening summary of the game, created Choice 6 and the following context related to each choice, contributed to part of the game design document and posted it to the blog, used past experience with Choice of Games to guide our game design decision process, helped outline the video review process

Isaac: Created Choices 3 and 5, was involved in the creative process of choosing a scene from The Shining to remediate, created the video for the game review, turned in video

Olivia: Created Choices 1 and 2, was involved in the creative process of choosing a scene from The Shining to remediate, created the script for the game review

Louis: Created Choice 4 and the ending summary to the game, narrated the video for the game review

Daniel: Created Choice 7, transformed the text narrative that was written and reviewed by all group members into a playable game by using ChoiceScript, sourced images of coding process and from the The Shining for the video game review

Hunger Games: Choose Your Own Adventure

We chose to remediate The Hunger Games because its story can be felt throughout many of the most popular games today. Games within the battle royale genre such as Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, and the Survival Games mode in Minecraft, owe some of their inspiration to Suzanne Collin’s 2008 novel The Hunger Games and its 2012 film adaptation by Gary Ross. We thought we could expand on the genre by creating a text-based game that emphasizes the significance of the combatants’ choices on both a practical and moral level. Giving players limitless time to think about decisions made instantly by the participants in a battle royale creates a unique experience, especially for those familiar with the genre.

We selected the cornucopia scene specifically because the choices made during those first few minutes have a pivotal impact on the tributes’ chance of survival. For example, half of the tributes are killed during the cornucopia bloodbath. This harrowing scene perfectly encapsulates the mortality of the Hunger Games. 

In our remediation, the player can choose one of five characters to play as. Along with the main protagonist Katniss, we created separate story lines for Peeta, Cato, Thresh, and Rue. One of the ways we added variance between the characters was giving them different amounts of health points. Throughout the story, the player will encounter situations where their character will lose health. Players using Thresh should not be afraid of these scenarios, as he has the highest health, but if the player is playing Rue, you will definitely want to keep an eye on your health. Running out of health points is one way to lose, along with running into a dead end in the storyline. To compliment this design concept, the characters have different odds of winning, regardless of health.

The results of many of the player’s decisions are influenced by luck. The Hunger Games and people, in general, are unpredictable, and we did not want the player to control their gameplay like they can in battle royale games. You could make the smart, logical decision, but events can unfold wildly. One benefit of this variance is that you could replay the game in the same way but get a different ending. This enhances the game’s replayability, allowing the player to experience the derangement of The Hunger Games over and over again.

Our game was made using Twine, a tool used to create interactive stories. The process of creating the basic storylines was straightforward and required minimal coding. The health variable and random events required some coding knowledge – luckily three of our team members have a programming background. Our original attempt of the game was on Twine 1.4.2, but we soon switched to Twine 2.o once we realized we could not implement randomness on Twine 1.4.2. We used one of Twine 2.0’s three styles, Harlowe, to embed the variables and randomness into our story. Our decision tree could have been simplified through heavier use of variables to keep track of, for example, which weapon the player had; however, it felt more intuitive and visually made more sense to create different branches.

Every path in the story, as displayed on Twine 2.0

Twine does not support robust collaboration, so much of our work was done during Zoom calls where we all discussed narrative choices and one person translated it into Twine. Another difficulty with Twine was managing the story as its complexity grew exponentially. Trying to minimize the branches while not sacrificing the gameplay we envisioned was an interesting balancing act. Our final difficulty with Twine was that it does not easily support visual and audio integration. We had many ideas to turn our game into a more immersive experience that, due to time and technological constraints, we ended up relegating to our video trailer. Overall, we appreciated Twine’s simplicity and would recommend it to anyone trying to design a small text-based game.

Through developing our game, we learned about the intricacies of remediating a popular work. It was crucial to stick to the scene we selected while simultaneously creating a work that is our own. Our goal was to immerse the player in the world of Panem, but since we were only using text, we needed to make sure that every detail of the story respected the original. Additionally, as a group, we learned a new perspective on storytelling. Telling the stories of five different characters was a unique challenge because each character needed differences even though they were occupying the same setting.

Our game can be downloaded and played here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9u8vzt21xgffxtd/HG_ChooseYourOwnAdventure.html?dl=0

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Credits:

Concept Collaborators: David, Joshua, Likem, Nicole

Game Designers: Likem, Nicole

Document Writers: Nicole, Joshua, David

Trailer Director: Kai

Journey to the Dark Tower: A Minecraft Group Project

Deciding on a Work to Remediate:

When deciding on a work to remediate, our group immediately gravitated to Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. Ostensibly, it seems to be reminiscent of Ulysses or the ending to The Lord of the Rings trilogy; both of which invoke imagery of heroic knights who—unsatisfied with their lives as ordinary citizens after their journeys—are seeking to continue their adventures. Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came puts a sinister twist on this theme: the knight in the poem is fairly sure that this quest will end in his death. This unique dark undertone was something that we thought would be really interesting to attempt to remediate.

Deciding on Medium to Create our Game:

When our group read Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, the standout theme that shone through was the knight’s extremely unique combination of determination and resignation. The knight seems to have realized throughout the poem that continuing upon his journey will likely end with his demise, but he continues on anyways in order to follow in the footsteps of countless brave knights before him; if he is to face death, he will do so alongside a fellowship of noble heroes. Capturing this theme—of the knight being destined to a death while looking upon the Dark Tower, but continuing onwards regardless of any obstacles or thoughts that might change his mind—was one of our primary objectives while remediating Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The solution we came up with to portray this theme was to remediate the poem as a parkour course in Minecraft. Minecraft provided us with the ability to create a scenario in which the player was invincible (by equipping them with overpowered armor that made them essentially impervious to damage) while still retaining the sound and perspective of “taking damage” when struck by enemies or traps. Further, creating the game with a parkour aspect allowed us to create a game that was still challenging, despite the player being invincible. This gave our game a unique gameplay experience; the player feels like they are in danger when struck by enemies due to the sound and physics of taking damage being retained, but the player is in no actual danger. We did this in an attempt to instill the player with the emotions of the knight in the poem; they are under all sorts of duress, but realize that they must continue on and are “locked in” to this fate that they have chosen.

Another reason we chose to utilize Minecraft was because our group decided to be fairly ambitious by remediating multiple scenes of the poem, each of which we wanted to convey different feelings; for example, the creepiness of interacting with the hoary cripple in contrast with the awe-inspiring view of the Dark Tower at the end. Minecraft was a tool all of our team members were familiar with which allowed us to be confident that all team members could make an equal contribution in the game design process. Furthermore, we were able to break the game design into three distinct thematically driven sections which allowed us to work desperately but concurrently on the project at large. We did not feel extremely confident using game-designing software that we were less familiar with to express vastly different emotions in different sections of the game.

The Dark Tower acts as the location of the ending of our game.

Remediation Process:

We chose to remediate the poem in 3 stages:

  1. the knight’s encounter with the cripple
  2. the knight’s journey across the river
  3. the knight’s death at the Dark Tower

Following this structure, we broke the game up into 3 parts: an “exposition” stage in which the player is equipped with armor, a stage in which the parkour is done (this is mostly contained to the river section), and the ending section in which the player dies at the Dark Tower. Our group contained five people, so we broke up into pairs of two to create sections (Brandon unfortunately was given the task of creating the tower on his own!). At the end, the sections were pieced together and gone over by everyone to ensure the game looked uniform and well-composed.

Our remediation of the hoary cripple at the beginning of the game.

Challenges:

One of the big challenges we faced was manipulating the Minecraft terrain. We wanted to instill a feeling of dread and doom in the player, but much of the Minecraft overworld is vibrant and green. There was really no efficient way to dispose of all of this, so we attempted multiple things to make the game look more imposing; using TNT to blow up grassy areas and replace them with rock and sand, creating walls to hide picturesque scenes from the player, and making the player play during a thunderstorm, all of which were decently effective at offsetting this problem. We also faced challenges piecing together the three separate sections of the game that each pair created; we had to carefully coordinate where each section started and ended in order to make the game seamlessly transition through sections. This was quite challenging as everyone was working on the game at different times.

The parkour section of the game was the second distinct part of the game.

Successes:

In terms of successes, we think that the game really does a good job of capturing the unique duality of despair and determination felt by the knight. We had this in mind from the very beginning (essentially by choosing our genre of game and choosing to create the game in Minecraft) and we think that it conveys the theme we desired very well. Further, although utilizing Minecraft put some limitations in what we were able to do, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the options available to us in terms of what types of blocks we were able to place.

Recreation of a the body of a dead “knight” who came before the player. Being able to recreate this with skeleton heads was an unexpected but welcome surprise!

Takeaways:

Would we choose to use Minecraft again? Probably not. We chose it because it was an environment that was able to portray the theme we wanted, but the issue with having everything already preset was that we had limited agency to create as we liked (i.e., our previously mentioned issue with pre-created Minecraft terrain). Throughout this process, we learned that the less framework you are given with game design tools at the beginning, the more you can shape the game to your exact specifications. We also learned that it is important to strike a balance between theme and gameplay. Entering the project, expressing the theme of the knight being doomed to his fate was our primary objective and our reason for choosing to use Minecraft. However, we focused so much on the theme that perhaps we left gameplay as a bit of an afterthought. In the future, if we were to make another game, we would put more foresight into making sure the game was just as fun to play as it were related to the poem. The games we have played throughout the semester —especially Lord of the Rings Online—all did an immaculate job inducing an entertaining gameplay experience while still honoring the media the games were sourced from. Creating our own game that remediated another work definitely gave us a greater appreciation of the successful balance that games like Lord of the Rings Online are able to strike between riveting gameplay and paying homage to the original work.

This group was a pleasure to work with and we hope you enjoy our project! A group photo and our trailer are attached below.

Group photo on top of the Dark Tower.

Credits:

Game Storyboarding/Development: Philip Gubbins, Will Henke, Brandon Jacome-Mendez, Karl Schreiner, Jeffrey Cheng

Game Construction: Philip Gubbins, Will Henke, Brandon Jacome-Mendez, Karl Schreiner

Game Design Document: Jeffrey Cheng, Philip Gubbins, Karl Schreiner

Trailer: Karl Schreiner, Brandon Jacome-Mendez

Trello Board Coordination: Jeffrey Cheng

Remediating Orpheus and Eurydice

Keani – Inspirations

Going into this project, we were equally nervous and excited for how we would use our skills as majority English majors to make an interactive and engaging game. We knew that we wanted to focus on retelling the Ovidian tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, but we struggled with figuring out the best format for this. We wanted something that equally required our players to engage with the text while also giving them the feel of a traditional game that provided multiple paths and outcomes. We didn’t want it to require too much background knowledge for people to be engaged, but we also didn’t want it to be so simple that it resembled something like a Buzzfeed quiz. We ended up getting inspired by a Hogwarts Digital Escape Room, and its ability to use a google form to create an immersive gaming experience. We decided that we would make an interactive google form to explore our tale, and went on our way.

The trailer to our Game Design Project, Produced by Nicolas Prada-Rey

Jade – Branched Logic and Game Flow 

The opening poem of the game was created as a riddle that introduces players to the game in a fun and creative way. This poem hints to what is to come without outright saying the conditions of the game (creating a small game within a game). Then the enter player name functions as a traditional video game element, but also allows us to see who has played our game. From here, it goes into the story of Orpheus and Eurydice which is foundational to understanding the story of the game since this is the remediated text. To tell this story, (inspired by blackout poetry) we bolded the terms absolutely crucial to the synopsis of the narrative, but opted to leave the rest of the text and make it a lighter color in case players were interested in delving deeper into the details of the story. In question 1, we make players choose one of three virtues to lead them on their journey. This question was inspired by the opening sequence of Kingdom Hearts where players have to choose a sword, a staff or a shield which determines their player development. In our game, you choose between Truth, Love, and Death which foreshadow the three possible endings players will get. From here, moving into Question 2 we continue this branching and again ask choose players to choose a word deriving from their virtue that decides what will be the first question they encounter.

Kingdom Hearts opening sequence

 This branched logic continues throughout the game where each question represents one of three actions based on the fate of Orpheus and Eurydice (looks back and loses love, does not look back and saves love, or sacrfices their life for love). Each answer choice in the question also represents one of these actions, routing players to unique questions based on their answer choices until they reach an ending that is dictated by their choices in the game. We wanted this game progression to mimic the butterfly effect where every choice mattered and impacted the next sequence of the game. This was one of the most challenging parts of the game due to the limited functionality of google forms (which is not a game production platform) as well as coordination between all group members focused on writing separate questions. We also encountered trouble when it came to routing players to title screens that introduced each new retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story from which the questions were drawn because google forms only allows a linear progression from section to section (so we had to copy three sections of each title screen and send them to three different questions). Furthermore, we had to make sure each path was distinct and players could not click through every question and ending so we had to make every question required to avoid this problem. 

Tiffany – Selecting Works to Remediate 

One of the most challenging aspects remediating the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice was to find multiple retellings of the Ovidian tale that would fit smoothly into the creation of this multimodal game. Many different works were researched, and after scouring the nuances of various retellings of the tale, the following were selected due to their potential:

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, film, directed by Céline Sciamma, 2019

Inception, film, directed by Christopher Nolan, 2010

“It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”, Song, Written by Arcade Fire, 2013

“Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”, Song, Written by Arcade Fire, 2013

Asterios Polyp, graphic novel, written by David Mazzucchelli, 2009

All of the works listed above were either based upon, drew inspiration from, or had allegorical references to the fateful love of Orpheus of Thrace for the beautiful Eurydice. It was extremely interesting to dissect and discuss how the original Ovidian tale was faithfully retold and or skewed to complement the different storylines that were found across these different mediums. In each respective section of the game, each game designer selected different aspects of their own retelling to focus on; by further analyzing our respective works, each game designer was able to contribute to the game in a manner that conveyed the uniqueness of each retelling, while also upholding the narrative progression of the Orpheus and Eurydice tale.

We drew inspiration from the themes of our respective works in the creation of this game, especially Asterios Polyp, for the works that we analyzed succeeded in provoking greater questions about identity, fate and existence. Our game design team worked to pay tribute to this notion in our game, by creating a game in which each player is characterized, fated and advised based on the choices that he/she/they make.

Jazmyn – Portrait of a Lady on Fire Remediation 

The first section proceeding the introductory aspect of the game was the remediation of the French film Portrait of a Lady on Fire directed by Céline Sciamma. This section of the game lent itself to several unique challenges because it set the tone for the rest of the game’s cryptic questions but also because its source material is an international retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, which heavily emphasizes cinematic/visual effects instead of dialogue to convey its narrative resemblance to the Greek myth. Careful considerations and editing were done to select the scenes that went with each game question. The scenes could not be too vague or we risked losing the player to early frustrations and confusion, but also could not be too simple or we risked jeopardizing the game’s puzzle-like features. There had to be a perfect balance of the amount of time the player spent watching the videos and then answering the questions.

 One technical obstacle we had to overcome was navigating the platform of google forms, which is usually used for surveys, but we used to structure our game. Videos could not be embedded directly, so several film scenes had to be uploaded to YouTube before they could be properly inserted into the game. Another technical aspect of the game design process was writing the riddles for the questions themselves, since different group members were assigned all questions for each type of media we had to collaborate on the structure of our rhyme schemes and the content of our questions. As a game remediating primarily literature, we had to make our game appeal to a wider audience than just English majors and classics enthusiasts, which lead us to incorporating rhymes based on different retellings of Orpheus and Eurydice. Again, we found inspiration in the narrative progression of escape games as we wanted the player to have to read in between the lines to find the pathway that spoke to them in the moment. For our game, there are no right or wrong answers as the player is immersed in the journey to hell and back again in the name of love. 

Tiffany- Asterios Polyp Remediation 

Incorporating Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli’s innovative graphic novel, presented many challenges and unexpected demands. Throughout the novel, Asterios, the titular character, envisions digressive flashbacks and re-lives through key turning points of previous events in his life. More specifically, Asterios journeys into strange alternate realities during his daydreams which are represented as the Underworld. Initially, I had wanted to incorporate this multiverse phenomenon into my questions for the game. However, presenting the overlapping storylines in a concise manner that was also easy to follow proved to be very difficult. Due to this, I decided to emphasize the moral values and insights that were gained from reading this introspective novel. I believed that this would tie in better to the game as a whole as well. Similar to how Mazzucchelli questioned how a person becomes who and what he/she/they are, my questions inquired the players of our game to delve deeper into abstract contemplation and their own dispositional attributions.

Asterios Polyp Cover

Puja – Inception Remediation 

Creating the questions on Inception came with the difficulty of giving the player enough background and understanding of the movie to answer the questions thoroughly. Inception is a movie filled with many, many plot twists, which was challenging because we wanted the player to understand the plot in under 5 minutes to keep the game relatively short to play. While there might be players who have seen Inception before, we wanted players with no background in Inception to be able to play this section just as well. Because of this, selecting the Inception trailer to place in the game took combing through many trailers with different scenes and different amounts of detail. After choosing the perfect trailer, it was tough to write questions that fell strictly within the limits of that scene. We knew the questions would center around Cobb and Mal, since they are the depictions of Orpheus and Euridyce and that the questions would center around their love, so we had to find different situations in which Cobb made decisions about how to love Mal. 

The real trailer to Inception, which we could not have used because it is way too confusing

The group faced many complications when embarking upon this journey to create the game because at first we wanted to center around the remediation of three distinct myths: Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, and Daphne and Apollo. However, we came to the conclusion that this would cause too much confusion for the player, and chose to focus more deeply on one myth: Orpheus and Eurydice. This would allow us to explore multiple remediations of Orpheus and Eurydice rather than just one of every myth. This allowed us to give the player a deeper understanding of the one myth and the remediations of that myth. 

Keani – Arcade Fire Songs Remediation 

Incorporating the songs “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)” and “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” by Arcade Fire came with the difficulty of figuring out the best way to form questions. If the questions focused too much on analyzing the text, the game quickly became an English quiz, and if the questions focused too much on the opinion of the player, the game became more of a personality quiz. In order to find the right balance, it required figuring out a sweet spot that required the students to analyze the text while also using their own personal interpretations. It was also important and difficult to figure out the most vital lyrics of each song. It was necessary to find lyrics that could be interpreted in multiple ways, but that also highlighted the main messages of the original tale. I debated using lyric videos for the players to watch as they listened, but didn’t want the video to take away from the lyrics or cause confusion for the player as they went to answer the questions.  

Nick – Trailer and Game Play Experience

Finding my role in this project was difficult as I am the only one in the group taking this class asynchronously, and I also was unfamiliar with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. As a result, we decided it would be best for me to work on the trailer of the game as I could take everyone else’s part to learn the original Ovidian tale as well as its retellings. Creating the trailer was not particularly difficult as I knew what I wanted as the backing track right when I watched the video clip we were using of Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I wanted to include the four retellings we were using in our remediation as part of the trailer so that the player would know more or less what to expect. Additionally, I used some of the text from the game in the trailer to provide some continuation between each other. The biggest challenge of the trailer was including gameplay and game design. Given that our game is a Google Forms journey, it was hard to find exciting ways to include this that would maintain the emotion evoked by the rest of the trailer. However, I think by showing a brief before and after of the form itself accomplished this goal and also lets the audience know what style of game it is.

Upon playing the completed game for the first time, I found myself very engaged in the accompanying films, music, and literature. There are many different retellings of this story, but these worked together very well. Additionally, given that they are different forms of media as well as different genres, I think this game could capture the attention of various groups of people. The opening poem and the story of Orpheus and Eurydice at the beginning do well to set the tone and explain to the player what they are about to embark on. Furthermore, the flow of the questions are very logical which makes the game easy to understand. Each question has a direct link to the previously referenced media and makes the player really think about their decision. I appreciate how this game can be played over and over to experience the different outcomes. If played sincerely, one can learn a lot about themselves through this game.

And now, play the game for yourself by following this link:

https://forms.gle/mi63nMawBNn8kRL89

Story of Suspense: Adapting Witness for Prosecution in an interactive medium

Group Eight

We all love Agatha Christie’s Witness for Prosecution. While it has any graphic scenes of violence, the chill down the spine after exploring the twisty, well-conceived plot will not likely be cast away shortly in our memories. Thus, we are interested in improving the story’s plots, especially in making them more interactive.

Considering all the alternatives, we decided to remediate the story into a text-based video game using Twine. As a story belonging to the detective genre, Witness for Prosecution places greater emphasis on a persistent plot rather than “slowing down” to provide the readers a close-up of specific scenes. In other words, progression plays a great part in the detective story. A text-based game is thus most suitable since it has greater focus on the procedural aspects of the gaming experience. Furthermore, it retains some level of fidelity, and even achieves some sort of homage, to the original work, since its main medium is still textual.

While the original story can be roughly divided into three scenes, we decide to focus on the scene where the lawyer meets the “old woman”, which is the climax of the story. Many aspects of the scene provide an atmosphere of suspense. Taking place in a poor neighborhood where the lawyer would generally not frequent, it gives an unusual setting, conveying the unsettledness the lawyer would feel in an unfamiliar atmosphere. The woman’s peculiar language and erratic behaviors also add to the suspense, as we are made to wonder why she would do such things. Since we do not have a lot of time, we focus on it to yield a quality we would be most satisfied with. We also set the lawyer to be the playable character. In an ideal condition, we would like to remediate all three scenes of the story and have both the lawyer and the woman as playable characters.

First, we identify the main “conflict” in the story to be between the lawyer and the woman. The woman, marking herself in disguise as a much older woman, tries to make the lawyer accept the forged evidence she provides. The lawyer, on the other hand, is obsessed with finding the “truth” behind his client (the suspect), so that he can rest the case well. We remediate such conflicts in our rules. Clues possible to debunk the woman’s lies are hidden in the game, and the player should try the best in discovering as many of them as possible. When the player discovers a clue, a message—starting with “Evidence Received”—would notify such a partial success. With enough evidence, the player can unlock either a good end (clues gathered to show the woman is lying) or a bad end (fooled by the woman’s plots).

Our original draft sticks mostly to the original plot of the story. However, the original story does not give much “clues” to imply how the woman is lying, so we have to take a bit of creative license. A specific clue we considered was in the style of handwriting. We looked into how, according to the writer’s personal preferences, some letters could still look similar despite attempts of forgery. In general, we expand the number of clues by creating more small details the player can pick up. The player can choose to examine the bed, table, and some of the woman’s personal belongings.

Besides focusing on diversifying the clues, we have also enriched the plots to provide much more options than the story’s linear narrative. Freedom of choice is something we try to strengthen in the gameplay’s rules. Particularly, we give the player the possibilities of saying different things. For example, when inquiring from the housekeeper where the old woman lives, the player could choose to be either nice or rude to the housekeeper (the former earns the player one of the clues). The ending is also no longer a binary opposition of finding or not finding enough evidence, but more complex scenarios besides whether the lawyer succeeds/fails in his job. For example, the lawyer could gather enough clues but still receive a “bad ending” if he chooses to ignore them with a guilty conscience or his sympathy for the woman. In such ways, we used creative means to expand the linear narratives of the original story with many branches of possibilities.

Our work goes beyond the textual form. A lot of descriptions covering the lawyer’s thoughts were given in our original plan, but they—being words in large stanzas—lack the nervous immediacy the lawyer would likely feel. To make the player feel more immersed in the game, we look into adapting hypermediacy, finding many pictures to complement the story’s background. While words require the intensive workings of your own imaginations, images give the player a much more direct sense of the surroundings. For us modern people, it might be a bit difficult to imagine the decrepit neighborhoods in a 19th Century London, but the pictures convey such historical scenes in a clear fashion. Furthermore, we apply filters to some of the photos, making their overall tones suitable for conveying a variety of emotions. We have also looked into giving the game background music for different scenes, so that they subtly convey what the lawyer feels in such situations.

We learned the process of remediating a literary artwork to the platform of a computer form in this project. We not only familiarized ourselves with software available to make a game (Trello), but also paid a lot of attention to the process of remediation between artistic platforms. Most importantly, we enjoy the possibility of expanding and adapting the story’s thrilling plots to a new media. If we were to continue on and create a full game, we would not only remediate the whole story, but also allow players to play from multiple perspectives. For example, once you complete Mr. Mayherne’s storyline and unlock the right ending, you can play as Leonard Vole and try to get away with murder. Additionally, you could play as Romaine and try to pull off the disguise. Other than more endings and choices, we also would create more detailed evidence, such as designing handwriting for each character. However, overall we are proud of how we were able to turn “Witness for the Prosecution” into an interactive game and enjoyed the process.

Finally, this is a link to the html file which houses Group 8’s game. To view the game, just copy and paste this link into your browser:

elizlekah.github.io 

The link to the Trailer:

Credits:

Programming and digital work: Elizabeth

Story script: Avery, Jack, Qingyang, Zhixian

Finding Photos/Music: Avery, Jack, Qingyang, Richard

Document: Avery , Zhixian

Trailer: Richard

Ozymandias Remediated

Game Design Document: Ozymandias

         Creating something new is one of the great abilities of mankind. Stories of creation are some of the oldest known to man, as they can even be traced back to the Old Testament. These stories of creation have long captured our imagination, and authors have realized this for generations. From Pygmalion, in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to Shelly’s Frankenstein, people have always been enthralled by the idea of something new being made, and the consequences of such creation. However, with creation comes the consequential and often disappointing understanding that nothing built by man can last forever. The great human desire to create magnificent things, coupled with the knowledge that those inspiring creations will ultimately crumble caught the attention of our group. Thus, we turned to the poem Ozymandias by Percy Shelly. This poem highlights the finite window of human creation and importance, and our group knew that it was the piece we wanted to recreate.

         The goal of our project was to remediate the poem into a first-person controlled video game environment. The first question we had to ask ourselves was what we wanted our project to encompass. We decided that we wanted to create a desert landscape with the ruins of Ozymandias laying strewn across the overworld. The other aspect that we decided on very quickly was that the centerpiece of our game was going to be a puzzle. Just as poems need to be taken apart and solved in a sense, so does a puzzle. Only when all of the pieces are seen together as a whole does one fully understand the purpose of either the poem or the puzzle.

Once these preliminary decisions were made, the tasks had to be split up between group members. Luckily for our group, we had a variety of skill sets. This allowed us to divvy up the tasks to those who would do them best and most efficiently. Creating and coding the game, writing the game design document, and making the trailer/review video became our main tasks. So we started working, and here is what became of it.

Choosing what we would create

When starting to create the game itself we needed to decide as a group what we wanted the end project to look like. The basic idea was to create a desert landscape with ruins of a great statue and other structures strewn across the visual plain. This sort of grand setting filled with the remains of an older world was the type of aesthetic our group was looking for. Once this was decided we realized that there were two different scenes we needed to create: the desert landscape and the puzzle itself.

The desert was easy to decide on because it is laid out plainly in the poem, “the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Having exact imagery to base our project off of made things a bit easier in terms of decision making. This wording allowed for us to decide on a simple flat landscape for our project. The textures would be made to look like sand so as to imitate our desired desert landscape. In the far background the sand appears to slope upwards to give the feeling of being in a real desert, with the end of your field of view blending into the sky to create a realistic feeling horizon. This expansive and empty feeling is taken from the line “boundless and bare” as it should feel like there may be no end to the desolate land around them. You are alone in this destroyed and empty land which should help elicit a similar feeling to the one you gain from reading the original piece.

After deciding on our setting, the first object was chosen. “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/Stand in the desert” is the first mention of physical structures in the poem. As it is the first thing the traveller talks about in the poem, we knew that the scale of these legs needed to be very large compared to everything else in our scene so that they stood out immediately to the player when they entered the game. In the poem itself Ozymandias says he is “King of Kings”. This is quite a bold statement, and signifies that the setting that we were going to create needed to be grand and on a very large scale. For this reason, our group decided to use a model of the statue of King Ramses II to depict what a statue of Ozymandias might have looked like for real. King Ramses II, along with many past leaders of great empires, loved grandiose creations, especially those created for him and in his image. 

Along with these “trunks” of King Ramses, we felt that the player would gain more from seeing what happened to the top half of the destroyed statue so that the true scale and size of the sculpture could be seen and experienced by the player of the game. In order for the size and scale to really make an impact on the player, other pieces were needed in the landscape of a size more similar to that of the player. For these objects our group chose what looked like the remains found in an archaeological site of an old egyptian/mediterranean civilization. The ruins strewn across the landscape near the statue highlights the eventual collapse of previous grandeur. In the poem, the pedestal of the statue reads, “…Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” However, now, “Nothing beside remains.” The player can see that everything here was once grand and beautiful, and yet sadly nothing beside remains are left.

The second part of our game was the puzzle aspect. This was created originally in a separate unity scene that we would incorporate into the larger desert scene later. This puzzle is a six piece 3D puzzle that when put together depicts an old illustration of what life may have looked like back in the time of the great King Ozymandias. This part of our game is in first person also, and was initially coded with a Virtual Reality control scheme so it should feel even more like a hands on exercise in a lost and forgotten world. Once the puzzle is successfully completed, a pyramid rises out of the ground as a “reward” for the player and acts as a testament to the rise and fall of different empires and civilizations, and a dramatic reading of the poem begins. As we learn from our past, we should be so lucky as to create more grand structures and creations for mankind to marvel at. It is a (hopefully) never ending cycle of creation followed by destruction. The knowledge that nothing will ever last forever should never impede our ability to create beauty. Ozymandias and our game stand as reminders to the importance of having history to look back on in the first place.

Creating the individual Objects and Puzzle

The first things that needed to be created were the puzzle pieces and sand terrain. To create these objects we needed to start with basic cube shapes. These cubes heights were decreased and textures were imported in order to give them their appearance. In this case we imported sand textures from an asset pack for Egyptian style topography. In order to make a large desert landscape, copying the same object over and over and repeatedly adding it next to each other was necessitated. The difficult part of this process was determining the correct height for each of the objects relative to one another in the game. Not only did the objects need to physically make sense next to each other, the textures needed to be applied to each of these objects in order for them to look appropriate and uniform in reference to one another.

The next set of objects that needed to be created and configured were the pyramid and sand dunes. The pyramid was a little bit more simple to create as the model is entirely made out of cubes. This set of cubes was turned into a prefab which is a function of unity that allows you to create and store properties on a multi-part object with all of its components, property values, and so on. The sand dunes were more difficult to construct because they had to be rounded into trapezoidal-esque shapes in order to resemble their real life counterparts. The modification of the initial cube shapes into these more rounded ones was done in blender by modifying the vertices on the object. Once it was put into the desired trapezoid shape,the appropriate textures were applied to the pyramid and sand dunes in a similar manner to how we did it with the puzzle pieces and original sand terrain.

The next task that needed to be accomplished was scripting the gameplay. This meant that every scene that we were going to make had to flow into one another seamlessly. The script that needed to be written was such that when the puzzle was completed the pyramid would emerge from the ground and the reading of the ozymandias poem would play out of the game’s audio. A puzzle panel script was developed that ensured if the pieces were placed in the correct position on the panel, the pyramid would appear. It is important to note that the script was added to the pyramid and not the puzzle because the pyramid is the object that was being affected by the completion of the puzzle. This script included trigger events that would cause certain actions to unfold on screen. In this case, the pyramid was raised out of the ground a certain magnitude in the y direction as soon as the puzzle was completed.

There is also a first person controller on the game which allows for the gameplay to feel like you are walking through the game yourself. The first person aspect allowed for a more immersive experience when exploring the ruins and desert landscape. In the puzzle portion of the game a VR system was incorporated to allow users to have a “tangible” experience with the canvas user-interface (the puzzle). Several scripts were made to allow the player to face the canvas from where the VR camera was positioned and move the camera accordingly based on the position of their gaze.

The one real issue our group ran into was the fact that we had two separate games created that had to be integrated into each other. In the end we could not get the puzzle to work in the larger first person controlled environment so we had to keep them as separate programs.

What we took away from the project

The best thing our group did was split up the workload. We realized quickly that the skills of our group members varied, and thus making each of us do equal amounts of the same work did not make sense. Naturally, we decided that giving each person individual tasks would make the process of making our game, and subsequent parts of the project, much smoother. There were three main tasks our group had to complete: the coding and creation of the game, the trailer/review video, and the creation of this game design document. Once we had this organized, the creation of the game became much easier. With two of our group members working on the hands-on coding and object creation, the rest of us were able to give outside ideas and suggestions on what we wanted in the gameplay. Also of note is that our video creation was more difficult than expected as our group did not have access to the iMovie video editing software. This, then, resulted in a manual creation of composite shots, transitions, and title cards, which is much more intensive and difficult than using the premade iMovie templates.

Throughout the semester, we have played a wide variety of games, with each game teaching us something new about the world (and worlds) of video games. Lord of the Rings Online introduced us to MMORPGs, while simultaneously offering an incredible remediation of arguably the greatest fantasy epic in recent history. Braid shows us the potential for video games to serve as symbols and metaphors for our humanity and our flaws therin. Papers, Please exemplifies the concept of procedural rhetoric by plunging the player into a world where morality is defined by laws of authority. Gone Home illustrates the lush storytelling power and potential of video games, and Portal combines many of these elements in an argument against the growth of human dependence on technology. However, despite the vast differences found in these games, they all have one thing in common that was impossible for us to ignore: they were all made by someone else.Creating Ozymandias gave us the unique opportunity to create something of our own. Although none of us thought it would be easy to create a video game, we naturally feel a newfound sense of respect towards professional game creators and of pride in our creation. This assignment gave each of us invaluable insight into the challenges and (sometimes) consequent triumphs of game making. Whether we were on the creative side of development or the programming side, we each now have a much greater understanding of and appreciation for game design, and we are excited about our future endeavors in the exciting and ever-changing world of video games.

Game Trailer:

Credits:

Game Development: Max Beck, Justin Yu

Game Design Document: Joseph Finkelstein, Peter Taylor (additional)

Trailer/Review Video: Alex Leroux, Pat Demarco

Audiovisual recording: Peter Taylor

Trello Board Operation: Peter Taylor

Gone Home: Braid Edition

Upon first considerations of where to go with this project, our group quickly hit a roadblock. With the wealth of digital works discussed in class available to us, we needed to come to a consensus regarding what to remediate. It did not take long for us to realize that when it came to the literature and films, our tastes varied, so much so that it did not seem fair to force any member into working on a story in which they had no interest. Struggling to find common ground in our first meeting and drifting off into different ideas, it was Nicholas who pulled us back together with a wild idea: remediating a pre existing game…in the form of a new game. Such an idea brought us back to our shared love of games, they very thing that beckoned us to enroll in this course.

Limiting our choices to the video games played during the semester eliminated the tyranny of choice we struggled with. With a little more discussion, we landed on a mutual fondness for the format of Gone Home but the story of Braid. All that was left was to combine the two in a crucial scene, one that was practically decided with the name of the former game, as we had, gone home to Tim’s central house.

The reference used throughout the game design process to make sure the rooms were a faithful recreation

Of course, there were plenty of worlds to explore based in fantasy and a general disdain for time and physics, so why choose something as seemingly basic as a house? Well, as can be seen through playing Gone Home, a house can hold an anthology of histories. It literally does so by holding the paintings in Braid that already begin to remediate Tim’s backstory. As a static hub through which our protagonist jumps from one world to the next though, we do not get enough time to appreciate the detail of Tim’s home. As such, we threw players in our game right into it.

Beyond honoring the hidden value in a home, we also honored the playstyle of Gone Home, and many walking simulators like it, by making our remediation three-dimensional. Doing so added depth to the story in multiple ways. In a literal sense, we made a two-dimensional story 3D, bringing the story into a dimension players should be more familiar with, considering it is the dimension we live in. Immediately, the three-dimensional aspect provides players with a more immersive experience. Because we included a control to rewind time and physically retrace pathing through the house, this added a fourth dimension to interact with. Braid’s time reversal mechanic pushes it from simple platformer to an entirely new genre. In the same way, allowing for this mechanic in a 3d-environment allows for more compelling gameplay given that narrative is no longer limited by a linear progression.

There is also a new depth to the house with a true exploration aspect. Changing the scale to that of a person exploring a real house, players now have to seek out the different rooms and discover what lines the walls one at a time, whereas in the original game everything was static and right in front of the player. Seeing everything at once detracted from the value of the details of the house, so limiting the perspective offered a better chance to highlight the unique objects. 

These objects were difficult to find at times when making the game in uNity. Already, we were limited by free versus paid-for items, trying to invest nothing more than time and effort into making the game, but doing this while producing a faithful remediation of the original game proved to be a challenge as well. The original Braid game has a style and animation unique from many games like it, so finding 3D objects that reflected this design took some extra searching. Over time, the sought after assets came into our view, but we then hit another roadblock: copyright laws. Some assets were free online, but not necessarily from the original creators. In an effort to craft a professional game, we avoided illegal acquisitions of assets despite some being more available through this avenue. Using Blender to create our own assets was considered, but treading on so much new territory already in the game-making process prevented us from learning how to achieve this.

Interior decorating!

A significant challenge in moving from the concept of remediation to applying it was transforming our ideas about artifacts in Braid into realized code. That movement from the theoretical perspective, which is only limited by imagination, can be frustrating due the real and significant limitations of implementing what we brainstormed. Writing code takes time – ideas have to be translated into pseudocode before pure code. Rendering takes a certain amount of computing power to be devoted to it. We aimed for an aesthetic that would convey the complex emotional narrative work present in the content of Braid and the structure of Gone Home with the resources we had available.

Working in 3D space was a new experience for our game makers. Nick learned a new programming language from scratch to produce the game we are introducing today. It took a deep dive into tutorials and bug fixing, but the time and effort was well worth it. 

Using tutorials to learn how to create the first person player model

The game makers’ expedition into the world of game development taught us about the care professional developers must put into games, care that we often take for granted when any action does not work perfectly. Even something as seemingly simple as lighting can become burdensome when trying to make it look realistic. 

Creating the ground check for the jump command. Doing some physics and math to set the velocity with gravity to make sure that the character falls at the correct speed depending on how far they are falling

Realism was one of the many goals when translating a 2D game to 3D space, so even objects that looked so miniscule in the original game needed almost surgical placement to avoid looking out of place, just as the character’s movement had to resemble that of a real person walking through a house.

Created the character with the camera object and controls

Alongside the three-dimensional aspect of walking simulators, we took the first-person point of view that many contain as well. Seeing Tim with his crisp hair and suit was fun for the start of the story, but being locked into an outside perspective limits how connected players could feel to the game. Walking around and experiencing the house for oneself gives them the freedom to form their own opinions and judgments about the dwelling and the story surrounding it. Putting the power of forming one’s own narrative resembles another first-person game we played: Portal. Here, the player is quickly made aware that they are some type of lab rat. While there are some rules and procedures in the game, the player is ultimately free to explore the room however they see fit. With the power of the portal gun, they have even more freedom to test the limits of each level. To simulate such freedoms, we maintained the time controlling aspect of Braid, allowing the player to rewind time, much like one of the many time-manipulating abilities displayed by Tim in the original game. Moving one’s own character back in time rather than watching Tim move backward brings that much more attention to the new medium of this story.

One major roadblock that we ran into after compiling and having the game built and ready to play was its capacity to run smoothly (or at all) on computers with lower processing power. Since the design work was done on a gaming computer with adequate video RAM, the testing process that utilized other computers was negatively affected by this. Unfortunately, we never found a solution to this playability issue because it would have required importing new assets and adapting the shaders we had already applied in the game environment. With more iterations of the design, we could create a demo that balanced visual quality with accessible performance on a variety of computer models. Similarly, if we had more time with the game’s interactive and aesthetic design, we could have really fleshed out the characters of Tim and the Princess alongside the working of time, memory, and forgiveness by creating voiceover monologue and allowing objects to be retrieved by the player. Ultimately, limitations are part of the design and implementation process, and we crafted an experience with the time and resources afforded to us.

Time takes on an extra role in the house; it tells a story of the present while so much of Braid is told in the past. As Tim’s home acts as a base through which he enters new worlds, ones that reveal more about the past, we can see his return as Tim’s constantly returning to the present. The home, unlike the fantasy world with clouds to chariot Tim across levels and talking dinosaurs to provide exposition, the home is rooted in reality. It has notes on the fridge and boxes packed and tucked away. Books and speakers line shelves, and scattered toys reveal stories untold by the original game. Remediating it allows players to walk right up to these items and acknowledge their existence, bringing new curiosities forth about Tim’s true history. His story is already ambiguous and has led to some pretty wild theories, but focusing on the details of his home can bring about all new ideas. Do the toys allude to Tim once having had a kid, or does it indicate that this is his childhood home? Are those boxes packed, and if so, are people coming or going? What books have piqued Tim’s curiosity over the years? The house appears to be in a state of transition, due to being sparsely furnished, however, many of the most prominent objects remaining are glasses and bottles of wine, some of even spilled sideways. The player has to wonder whether some terrible mistake has been made that has left the house in the state that it is in. A lone computer monitor upstairs displays some kind of command prompt that may signify Tim’s potential work as a nuclear scientist. All these questions can come to mind as one takes the time to explore the house rather than jump into the next world. These moments of contemplation make an already intriguing story all the more interesting, and give players all the more reason to invest time to uncover the real story.

House completed. Getting the screenshot for the title screen

See the game in action!

Credits

Game Development: Nicholas Grimaldi

Game Design Document: Sage Francis, Zoe Pehrson, Aidan Wells, River Thompson

Trailer Production: Amanda Schremmer, Zoe Pehrson

Trello Maintenance: Sage Francis, Nicholas Grimaldi, Aidan Wells