For the Steampunk home project, we decided to focus heavily on narrative that is told via letters that Harriet Danvers, the player receives during snapshots of different days in Harriet’s life over a month period.
By limiting what the players know about their character, we hope to create interest in learning more about who Harriet is by reading the letters she receives from four different characters: her neighbor, her mother, an automated messaging bot service and her boss’ secretary. Through the letters written by the secondary characters, players will learn more about Harriet: where she lives, her job and her mental state. You do not interact with these secondary characters beyond reading their letters, their sole purpose is to give insight into Harriet’s mind and life, as she adapts to living alone in a new country alone to prove her independence.
As such we broke down the secondary characters to have roles:
- Mother – her letters reveal Harriet’s mental state and struggles learning a new language in a strange new city
- The neighbor – serves as bridge to learn more about the city Harriet lives in
- Secretary – players learn more about where she is working and what her job entails
- Automated Bots – gives a snapshot into her routine via reminders of rent payment, meetings and so forth
The apartment will give little hints into who Harriet is as a person encouraging players to explore and interact with the apartment. A family photo, books, papers scattered on her desk for example can give insight into Harriet on her interests, devoted to family or what she is currently working on.
We consider the apartment to be more of a passive environmental or subtle form of storytelling, while the letters are the active form of narrative telling. With these two main techniques of storytelling: we hope that players are encouraged to explore the apartment and keep reading the letters to learn more about Harriet; to essentially keep playing the game from its beginning to its end.