Dev Log #1: Design Process

Hello friends! I’m Jennifer U from Team 1 (aka CYFISH). Our team consists of me and Fish. I live in Fish’s closet.

 

CONCEPTS AND CHANGES

We were prepared to create a 2D pixel RPG game. We initially considered this route because what we wanted to achieve a strong narrative game with a major focus on player emotions and empathy. This could all easily be done in RPGMaker as neither of us are actual coders. As we kept discussing, however, we realized this was not particularly a game we wanted to make for our final year of the program. The RPGMaker genre was something we were both very familiar with; hundreds of thousands of such games exist, yet none stood out much in terms of gameplay. Yes, RPGMaker would have been a simple platform for us to complete a game and yes, it would have achieved our goal of a narrative and  visual appeal, but how would it stand out from other RPG games or even our peers? Our capstone year allows for so much more experimenting and freedom, so why should we do a game that we could easily do on our own time without help? We are in a game design program after all. It’s really not to say that RPGMaker is not a good enough tool- in fact, the engine and community has been growing so much. I could go on RPGMaker games (or I could just link to my alternate devlog done for our original concept), but let’s move on!

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Goodbye Doggo, you will be missed.

Our project adviser Jose Rueda discussed with us about how the lack of programmers in our group should not stop us from pursuing a potential greater idea, and gave us examples and inspiration of interaction design projects and installation pieces. After further discussion, we had a new idea.

 

Meet “Flipside”

Flipside is an interactive game using both a digital and physical game space that parallel each other. The player is brought to a room and locked inside with the game device. In the digital game, the player is introduced to the exact same room in top down view. The visual style resembles old RPG games on the Gameboy. In the digital game, the player is introduced to  a character who also seems to be locked inside the digital counterpart of the room. The player must control the character in the game to find clues which will help them solve puzzles in the physical space and vice versa. By working together with this character and exploring both the digital and physical game, the player will learn more about the mystery behind the theme and narrative, with the ultimate goal to escape. In 20 minute to 1 hour game (depending on how fast players can complete the puzzles),  we want the player to feel completely immersed in this world that is shown through just one room, with the theme centering around empathy and morality.

The main highlight of this game is that both the physical and digital space is interactable and reactive of each other. If the player moves a photo frame from the wall of the real room, the interaction is processed into the game (the photo frame is knocked off in the digital room). Another potential puzzle involves finding numbers for a PIN that needs to be inputted into the digital room.

Another interesting aspect we will be testing is AR (Augmented Reality) with phone cameras.

Escape Rooms

Real life escape rooms were originally based off of escape room games you could find online. Nowadays, escape rooms have been a successful rising trend and business in Toronto. Being an avid escape room customer myself (I’ve been to 5 different locations and completed around 20 rooms over the summer), I’ve found that it is an extremely immersive experience.In addition, a lot of rooms use cool tech that really enhance the game.

opening-your-own-escape-room-facility

What I find is lacking, however, is usually the narrative. Although thematic, many escape rooms have very common themes and narratives such as Haunted Room/House, Prison Cell, and Ancient Cave/Tombs. It’s rare to find a room that connects the story and puzzles together well and in a unique way (with the exception of Escape Games Canada).

 

Research and Technical Questions

A lot of research needs to be done before we get started, mainly surrounding the technical aspects. How will we build this room? How will we make sensors work? What kind of sensors are we using to trigger things? What platform can we use to develop this cross physical/digital game? Considering we got the go signal for this idea yesterday, we still have a lot of designs to solidify. Hopefully all this will be fleshed out in the next entry. Until then, we do have plans of action; we plan to contact some escape room managers in Toronto and see if they can give us some advice and show us what kind of technology they use to build their puzzles. If we can figure out one wiring/sensor puzzle, the rest should be easy to do. We also have to look into what platforms support these devices. For now, I’ll be fleshing out the game mechanics.

Stay tuned!

+++

Works Cited

ESCAPE GAMES [Photo] Retrieved from http://escapegames.ca/opening-your-own-escape-room-facility.php

 

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