After a few more weeks of designing, we have finally solidified our concepts and narrative!
DIGITAL COMPONENT: ARTSTYLE
Since we still haven’t been able to take a look at the physical space being provided to us yet, we still need to work on the blue print, but we did do a mockup physical prototype!
The room looks quite doll-like because of its smaller scale, but it’s something I want to retain in the digital room. Using RPG Maker, I did a quick digital mock of the room.
We decided to use a top-down pixel style for the digital component because it is something everyone is familiar with. Everyone knows of Pokemon or Legend of Zelda, therefore it should be easier for the players to interact with. In addition, simpler sprites means less detail, and when there is less detail, players fill in what’s missing with their own imagination. People tend to see what they want to see. It’s like when people read books they have a mental image of what the characters look like despite not having it shown to them; they may have their own image of the character that they become attached to.
Pokemon FireRed (2014) vs fanart of Red, as imagined and drawn by はとり (pixiv ID=724188)
In terms of colour scheme, we have yet to decide- we’ll probably get to spriting when we purchase the physical furniture.
Because our game is focused on providing a immersive narrative experience, the use of a character that the player can bond to was implemented. This character is a very important aspect of the game, thus a lot of thought was put into them; how old should they be? What gender? Mannerisms? Goals and Motives? These questions were crucial to developing this character and so we decided to try and answer some of these questions before moving on to designer their physical appearance. We want this character to be trustworthy, someone the player would not doubt at first, and thus we took it up to a twitter poll.
According to the poll, the majority with 52% votes voted that it didn’t matter if they were male of female, some stating that they would not trust either. Because female had the second most votes with 36%, we decided our character would be female. Since the age range of people who will be playing our game will be around 15-25, she will be presented as late teens or early twenties. After Fish listed out some potential names, we decided to name her Iris.
Now for the big question: What is the importance of this character and how does she tie into the experience? This all connects to the room itself- the waiting room. To incorporate her and the digital room, we made her an AI that was created to guide the player through the game. Many escape rooms use walkie-talkies to call staff for help. Calling for staff and having someone that is not a part of the game or experience breaks immersion, and in this narrative, Iris was created specifically for this purpose. Instead of asking staff for clues, the player can “talk” to Iris who has everything installed to help, from giving small hints to teaching how certain locks work. People tend to trust computers as they have no personality and work to only give information. As the player progresses, they can find pieces of code that upgrade Iris’s system until she becomes her own sentient personality. Working up from an AI guide that the players can trust, Iris begins to become more human like and tries to convince the player to free her. In the end, the player has the choice to restore her to factory settings and escape alone, or risk failure. Other potential narrative endings are still in development, but there may be an option to escape together if certain extra puzzles are solved.
When I take an overall look at our narrative so far, I can see it holding a slight resemblance to Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (2015). I feel like we can further enhance Iris as a believable character by looking more into other AI and android themed media.
Ex Machina (2015)
Age: Presented as late teens
Background: Iris was created to be an AI guide for players of the escape room. Instead of having staff walk in when players needed help, Iris could teach players how some puzzles worked and provide hints, as well as monitor the game progress. However, the AI program has been known to “malfunction” with the AI guide (Iris) straying away from its code and acting on its own.
Archetypes: The Innocent -> The Jester/Trickster -> The Rebel
Objectives: To escape the digital space, her AI being/role
CHARACTER DESIGN SKETCHES TO BE UPDATED!