Day 2: Design

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In our welcome email to each participant, we asked that each prepare a story to present to the group; one which could either be original, traditional, fact or fiction. We spent the entire first half of today listening and discussing a wide array of myths, character types, games, books and science fiction theories. Some of the concepts that became popular within the group were puzzle-adventure quests, such as the classic point-and-click adventure “The Longest Journey”.  We were also drawn into a debate about the mysterious Skull and Bones secret society at Yale University, which boasts several powerful American men as members. Yet again, we couldn’t help but touch the subject of the misrepresentation of women in games, as a participant presented a summary of her favorite book, “The Two Princesses of Bamarre”, which includes a strong and multifaceted female lead.

The group got to know each other a little better through discovering each other’s tastes and preferences and together we discovered that there were several, mutual goals in mind for the game’s story concept:

1. Everyone agreed to making the main character a strong, educated and brave Mohawk woman

2. We wanted the story set in modern day (or an alternate modern day world)

3. We wanted to avoid the typical Native stereotypes showcased in most media

Some elements of certain stories were highlighted as favorites and we began the process of converting these bits of information into a flowing tale. After some more discussion over lunch, we launched into how to take these decisions and tales and translate (trans-mediate) them into a playable game format. Another debate arose as to whether we should show and/or make reference to some sacred Native objects, but it was quickly deemed not only potentially off-putting, but we wanted our story to go beyond the typical tale of the “spiritual Native” stereotype.

AbTeC R.A. Alicia Fortier then made a more detailed presentation on the MDA concepts touched upon by guest Stephanie Bouchard the previous day. We learned more about Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics as well as watched some game play examples that could work with our engine with a isometric perspective, such at “Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light” as well as “The Cave”.

More decisions were settled upon as we plowed through. Such as our character having the ability to access another, perhaps spiritual plane/dimension where she can see things not present in the normal world and retrieve hints. We also fully settled on the idea of this being a puzzle game with potential stealth elements. Our character’s goal would be to retrieve (perhaps to re-appropriate) an article stolen by some old and evil secret society (a reference to the Skull & Bones) and she uses modernized versions of traditional skills in order to discover secret hatches, get past security, open locks, get through mazes, etc..

With those vague decisions/preferences settled, it was time to paper prototype. The purpose of paper prototyping is to make a quick sketch of your game concept that others (even non-gamers) can play with and therefore give feedback without having to spend much on resources should the idea fall-apart OR, worse, be deemed “not fun”. Because we decided on multiple challenges, the large group broke up into sections so that the specifics could be more finely tuned.  Afterwards, we came together to make our puzzle ideas corporeal onto a map and rearrange them into a more pleasing order for story flow.

By the end of the day, we had a semi-functional map laid out which included mazes, forest, excavation site, secret hatches and moving guards. Hopefully our play-tester guests tomorrow will not only be able to navigate the world, but have fun in doing so!