Interactive Narratives Unit: Our Game Mechanics

Our Interactive Narrative, Something Beginning with T originally was a Text-based adventure game about the rise to power of Glen Higgins, a young tech start-up CEO with secret plans to take over and control the world with nano-bot technologies. An unwilling hero, 88-year-old Patty Hoffman and her new-found friends Robin Farmer and Patt Evans fight to save the world.

You can view more about the narrative here.

When introducing a game into the narrative, we wanted to do it in a way that didn’t make the narrative weaker and feel disengaging. I came up with the idea of putting a game at the beginning of the story that it completely optional to play or not within the game.

The idea of the game is a to give context to the situation that one character in particular is. It also allows for users to understand and relate to the environment the characters are in at the end of the narrative. As this is difficult to do with just text, having the game as a visual aid may in fact make the game more engaging for people.

Our game is based in the former HQ of Glen Higgins’ tech company .EYE. The story follows the main character of Robin Farmer. Robin is a newly retired single man who moved to Spain to seek a peaceful life. Instead he is tricked by Glen to test the new app. He is placed in a testing facility and it’s not what it seems.

The demographics of this game is typically anyone who is Interested in technology and apps. We kept it quite a universal narrative for most people to enjoy. The game, however, is more for the smaller percentage of game and story lovers who want ‘extra bonus content’. As the game provides more valuable than just the text-adventure, we don’t expect this to be necessary popular, but more for the dedicated lovers of stories and games. Due to the nature of the graphics and playability, it’s demographic is aimed at Kids and Teenagers (Aged 8–16 primarily).

Prior to the creation of the game, we did research into games we liked, both visually and the mechanics of how they worked. In doing so, we found some great examples that have developed and inspired us during the creation of ours.

This game, Gears of War Special Mission had an interesting game mechanic where you could crouch down to avoid being seen by the guards. We liked this concept and felt it may work well in ours. Also the graphics were very stylised with flat design.

The game mechanics in Beware Ghost were very interesting. The character, a black square floated trying to avoid a white square. Although this wasn’t what we were looking for, it provided great inspiration and ideas around non-conventional game mechanics.

When researching for platformer games, an mechanic we had been planning on using, we came across this game built by a Phaser fan. The idea was a simple platformer with a wolf chasing you. Although the game was great, the mechanics were bad and difficulty was too hard. It felt was though they build a functioning game that looked nice, but didn’t test to make sure it played correctly.

Also when researching, we looked at trans-media storytelling for our narrative text-based and game link. We noticed that dominantly the main character is consistent throughout the stories. We decided that the story for our game would be best told using a different character and decided to break conventions.

We created a brainstorming mind map to generate ideas based from our research to help with the creation of the game.

The game is build on Phaser platform, an open source platform using HTML5. We chose to use this as it was an easy solution to code a game and is typically used for 2D Platformer style games which we wanted.

The game mechanic is capture/eliminate. The idea is to capture the stars and gain points running away from the Scientists that are chasing Robin.

The game is single-player and you play as Robin, this is a role-playing mechanic and works best to put the audience in Robin shoes and gain a greater understanding of the narrative.

One element of the game mechanics in which we originally set out to achieve, but failed on was a sense of difficulty progression. We planned to increasingly make the game harder, however due to limitation and constraints, we failed to do so. This would have added a greater sense of achievement when users passed the game.

Having a score visible on the screen is allows users to feel a sense of achievement. It enables competitiveness between players, despite being single-player only.

The victory condition mechanics have a clear goal in the game. This is to score as many points as possible, without being eliminated by the enemies. The game mechanics of a race adds a sense of emergency and pressure aimed to put players off and add a challenge for them all whilst remaining light-hearted and fun.

For the graphics of the game, we looked at the inspiration drawn from our research and decided for a traditional pixel based game. Our characters, Robin, a scientist and security were custom made with help from templates. Our aim was to visually show the environment that the character is in in the narrative story, without losing the game aspect and being too realistic.

Adaptation of real life character to pixel character

Luke created a sprite sheet for Robin Farmer: