This week we got briefed on our new project that will be shown at the school’s exhibition in several weeks’ time. The theme for the project is “home” but we are allowed to interpret and present it in any form we wish too. Matt and I are project partners again, with a new programmer assigned to us: Lanz.
For the project, our original concept was homesickness which would be shown through the text messages between the player and a non-playable character (npc), ending with a phone call incoming. We planned on having the messages being in another language to establish the player is from another country, having it slowly be decoded till all messages are readable by the player. Lanz believed that it would not be enough to establish the idea of the character being homesick. This led us to evolve the idea of showing the player adapting to their new home environment. We planned on showing this through additions appearing in the apartment such as a family photo, books and etc. Implying the apartment is becoming more lived in, that the character is turning their new apartment into a ‘home’. We wanted the player to interact with these objects to learn their significance and learn more about the character they play as. This would be on a time limit to force the player to go to bed to start a new day.
On Wednesday evening, we pitched the idea to the class and heard the feedback from fellow classmates. This lead us to modify the idea going from having it set in a modern day apartment, we are going with a steampunk-esque apartment and having letters arrive in the player’s apartment via a pneumatic tube system. These letters would be between four characters:
- The mother
- An automated letter/telegraph ‘robot’
- A friendly neighbor
- A co-worker or the player’s boss
We included the idea of having the player being in a foreign country, established by having some of the letters being in a foreign (aka gibberish) language. This would imply the player character is not from the country they now reside in. We agreed that the letters from the mother and ‘bot’ will be in English. The neighbor’s letter will be a mix of gibberish and English, indicating that English is not the neighbor’s first language. The co-worker/boss’ letter will be in gibberish, based on the idea that when you join a company, you are joining their culture not the other way around.
The player can be seen composing their replies to the npcs. If we have the time, we plan on allowing the player to customize part of their letters via choosing the topic/sentence to add in the letter.
A lot of the feedback from fellow classmates had two common points: remove the timer as they felt it would ruin the flow of the game, and we agreed with that opinion. The second one was regarding the language as we originally considered using a real language (e.g Mandarin) but as it was pointed out to us, other languages do not have the same sentence structure as English. This heavily applies to Mandarin, the language we were heavily considering on using before the game pitch. We decided to take their idea of creating our own ‘fake’ or gibberish language in the end.
Since this is heavily reliant on the story being told via letters to push the game forward, we decided that I would be the ‘creative’ lead; meaning I am in charge of the story/letter writing.
I was tasked with creating a prototype of the player’s apartment that is ready by Monday. Matt plans to pitch the game idea to the animators to aid us in creating assets we need. My plan is if I can finish the apartment prototype before Monday, to use the time to flesh out the characters a bit more (similarly to a backstory) and draft a few letters as examples.