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Eviction Notice direction and design notes

GDC17 was a great time, and I was happily surprised by the positive reception to Eviction Notice! Because of this, I want to share some of the core elements of design that drove me and the art direction that I pursued with this small-scale VR project.

Eviction Notice’s design premise is very simple. It is primarily a linear narrative where voice-overs are triggered by gazing at objects around the room, which causes them to vanish. The story is about a young woman who is being forcefully evicted from her home for political reasons. So the overall feeling is that the space becomes more claustrophobic as it empties out, even as you examine artifacts that bring up feelings of nostalgia, whimsy and melancholy.

Compared to some other interactive projects that I’ve created, the core design of the project remained the same today as it was from its outset. From the feedback the game received, it worked really well within the core strengths and technical limitations of the Oculus Gear VR (without controllers).

Here’s the first pitch I ever made on an open channel for the Dames Making Games #hyperreal game jam:

And this is an excerpt from my original game design doc, and further iterations of it really helped further tighten the core vision:

I went with an aesthetic that was developed from my other works associated with Vivid Foundry: Painterly, with colours like a more muted version of Wong Kar Wai’s films (In the Mood For Love, shown below). I wanted to create a sense of homeliness and of a fleeting moment in time (as sociopolitical impressions upon a person often are). Thus, the scene is set with a kind of smoggy, urban dusk.

I’ve always loved setting up lighting, and creating colours in both raster textures and shaders in Engine. Because this was built for mobile VR, there’s a lot more limitations for post-production, but it was thus an interesting challenge adjust the look between modelling programs and Unity constantly. That’s the fun part of being the sole level builder, to really have the fine adjustments and control over the look of the game.

Additionally, when I was travelling in East Asia in 2012, I spent some time with the Society for Community Organization, a non-profit organization for the life and dignity of those in poverty and an advocacy group for public and grassroots housing. I must’ve shipped back hundreds of dollars’ worth books from SOCO and overseas, many of which I offered to friends of the East Asian diaspora.

When reading their publications, I was struck by how the interior spaces photographed create deeply anthropological documentations to underprivileged groups, while simultaneously tell deeply personal, social stories about loss in family and community. I’ve also had the privilege of speaking to volunteers and locals there to discuss the plight of both the working poor and the shrinking middle class in East Asia, and the civil society ramifications of this. These themes thus embed inside my writing for the entirety of Eviction Notice.

These were originally research for Solace State, but some of my writing, stories and inspirations that didn’t make it inside Solace State made its way to Eviction Notice. Thus, the two interactive experiences share very similar visual language as well. In many ways, Eviction Notice is suffused with “happiness within sadness”, while Solace State is about “sadness within happiness”.* I’ve also studied civic engagement for a good few years both during and after my academic career, and sought to create an accessible story that doesn’t take the political complexities for granted. It was in having conversations with people regarding their expectations of public policy and civil society that helped me bridge the gap between writing academically to writing for interactive narratives. It’s conversations about family histories, their hopes and fears for the future, and how they seek to protect the things that are most important to them.

Thus, one of the biggest changes to the game from initial planning to its current iteration was actually the script. My friends Kwan and Jason offered the feedback that our early build with a voice-over soliloquy comes off as a lecture (which is only engaging if my politics are very similar to the viewer’s), as a cerebral experience rather than an emotive one. It led to one of my most important design changes, which was to implement an “I-spy” narrative framework to pick out the objects in a somewhat linear manner, with another voice in the room guiding the player.

Here’s one of the lines from my first script:

Compared with this one, after my design changes:

Following this, I’ve also had the privilege to work with Kaitlin Tremblay, whose narrative editing ensured that the dialogue is as evocative and natural as it can be. Afterwards, Chris Donnelly recorded Erika Szabo and I as the two characters whose voices now occupy Eviction Notice: Erika’s voice acting brought to life the owner of the flat, who is politically detained and fears for her possessions in her flat; My voice is that of her friend and the player character who helps her pack away her belongings.

Eviction Notice has proven to be an interesting project for me to direct, design and develop because of its small scope, but still maximizing emotional impact through visual and narrative design.

*Original quote about happiness/sadness attributed to Jungkook in a video behind-the-scenes about Run music video versus I Need U. 

 

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Halloween month brings a melancholic script to Eviction Notice VR

I am delighted that, since July 15, we’ve been working on Eviction Notice VR for the Samsung Gear. It’s something that we’ve contributed to whenever there is a moment outside of our regular work, and we have continually looked at ways that we can innovate on our way to tell a narrative story well.

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One of the major changes was in creating a new narrative, one that moved from monologue to a much more conversational story. The vision of the game was always to clear a home due to a forced eviction for political reasons, and the player can piece together the culture within which this character lived. People who played the previous build found that it was cerebral and intelligent, but didn’t engage with the emotions. And it’s a story about forced evictions and injustices that can definitely tug at the heartstrings and make people care. The script that I wrote, in contrast, felt more didactic, almost like a political speech. So, after hearing this feedback and listening to the concerns of the team, I decided to write it so that it was a cellphone conversation between two characters, and the player is helping her friend pack up everything. This gave a level of narrative immersion that really helped tell a better serious story.

We also embedded some particle effects and visuals to make the space more interesting to look at. I think, in the future, the particles need to be designed better so that they all come from a similar style of art, so that you can really anticipate a uniform visual look.

Yesterday we showcased our game for the first time at Akimbo Toronto Arts Show VR Showcase. One of the amazing piece of feedback we got from the showcase is that, the first time a player heard the voiceover react to something that she did in the game world (that is, looked at a laptop to put it away), it made her feel like the voice-over represented her actions and the gameplay felt that much more immersive. Another great piece of feedback we recieved is that the soundscape gave an embodied sense of the enclosed interior. However, those who are unfamiliar with the VR medium did take a while to get used to the gameplay and the visual space. 

We’re still going to continue to explore innovations in game design and mechanics to hopefully make Eviction Notice VR that much more immersive. This is just one of the first steps for us to approach mobile VR storytelling!

Also shout-outs to some incredible Dames in VR, female-led teams who are doing some incredibly artistic experiences in Rift VR. Nicole Del Medico, middle, is showcasing Never Forget: An Architecture of Memory, and Kim Koronya is showcasing Globes.

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Eviction Notice: Gear VR development at Hyperreal Jam and onwards

The #HyperRealVR Jam was one of the most fun and involved jams that I’ve ever had. And we are still working strong on our current game on the Gear VR: Eviction Notice.

It’s hosted by Dames Making Games at Gamma Space, a community that I’ve known for years for being incredibly welcoming and warm. Right away, I feel at home, even though our newly formed team on Slack have never worked together before.

There are some step learning curves for some members of our team that they tackled with grace, quick thinking and flexible adaptation. Chris Donnelly created some amazing voice-overs and ambient sounds, and helped scope down the project to hone in on the key lines of dialogue that our 3D objects are associated with. Kat Pavlov did an amazing job by creating a lot of assets within the 3D low-poly game arts pipeline for the first time, including a table, laptop, two pill bottles, florescent lights, first aid kit, radio, and takeout box (that’s 8 objects, you heard). Ksenia Eic breathed life into the game space with some very nice textures within a low-poly pipeline that is completely new to her too! Mic Fok made sure everything works with coding wizardry, linking sounds and interactive objects together, that the fading and highlighting shader works and works beautifully. And I did a bunch of 3D stuff like bunk beds and the room and textures, mentored the others on 3D modelling and texture work, did general quality control, level designed the room together in Unity, tried to make sure the narrative script made sense, and probably made rambling dad jokes.

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The assets we’ve managed to create within the time of the jam (recycling some walls etc. from Solace State).

We did a bit of preparation work days before the jam. We knew going in that it would be a narrative and artistic experience focused on creating memories and feelings in the player, rather than a VR game about skill and gameplay. As such, because we only had two nights and three days to have a working game, we decided that it makes sense for me to do the narrative writing ahead of time to create a preliminary list of art assets that require 3D models. We had decided to have a fully custom modelled environment where you can interact with all the objects that your gaze lands upon. Once an object is active, the voice-over would tell a story about the memories behind that artifact.

The game started from an idea about cultural disappearance due to a forced eviction. This small scope allowed us to focus on a small space that can still be ripe for exploration and lots of detailed objects. I wrote a story that drew from the idea of the disenfranchised classes and their lack of political opportunity in a city full of corruption. In this way, it ties itself thematically to my larger project, Solace State. The game allows you to hear voiceovers of the protagonist as she picks up the items around her tiny flat, exploring shared communal memory across generations.

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Adding different lighting and some new assets, including exterior building facades, outside window (Aug 13 update).

This was a really adventurous project because none of us have worked with the Samsung Oculus Gear VR on Android before. I have never developed for mobile, although I have some experience with the Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2. Thankfully, with Mic Fok’s familiarity with programming for Android, we created a level that demonstrated our main mechanics and feeling of the game at the jam. I also insisted on a low-poly pipeline because, at the time, we weren’t certain what hardware limitations we may be running into. This proved to be very helpful, as all of the art assets we created during the jam can be used again with baked lighting instead of realtime lighting, the latter which was much too heavy to perform for VR on the Note 5.

As of the second week of August, 2016, we are currently working hard on adding more presence to the experience. Right now, as you complete interaction with the artifacts, they fade away, until you are left with an empty room. We are adding more features that activate more interactivity through the gaze in VR, to make the experience more dynamic. Although all of the story has been written and recorded, we are adding more 3D assets that associate with those voiceovers.

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Acolyte – Wizard hands game at GGJ 2016!

What a blast at Global Game Jam 2016! My teammates Douglas Gregory, Brent Mitchell and I wanted to create a VR experience during the jam. We had Oculus DK2 and Leapmotion devices on hand. Amazingly, GGJ’s 2016 theme was “ritual”, and the idea of wizard hands felt like a great excuse to try the Leap with the Oculus!

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We created an experiential game named “Acolyte” in Unity where you learn how to spell cast from magic books. With the Oculus Rift and Leapmotion, you use gestural controls and head motion tracking to find spellbooks that fly off of nearby shelves, and cast spells to pay homage to three god statues. Your hands are swirl in front of you in smoke form. A clap forms a magic circle that creates fireballs, and you can also telekinetically grab and launch objects around. Even the bookshelves and podiums can be set on fire! When you play with the peripherals, you feel like you’re actually creating magic out of thin air – Wizard hands!

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All three of us have always wanted to try incorporating the Leapmotion into our development, but none of us have ever tried it before. A weekend jam like this was a great way for us to explore the tech’s usability and functions. So, on the Friday evening of the jam, we had a leisurely dinner and brainstormed a lot of different game design ideas. All of us wanted to create an experiential game where the player can just try new things in a kind of meditative or pensive pace. We didn’t necessarily aim for a win/lose state for this sort of game. Doug plugged in the Leapmotion hand gesture capture controller and we got to see it in action for the first time that Friday night. Just played around with it, no coding in Unity yet, but started thinking about what gestures might work better than others, due to readability of the sensing tracking device.

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Unfortunately, next morning, we ran across technical difficulties at our jam site due to incompatibility of the drivers with the Oculus DK2, and we had to relocate across the city. So it wasn’t until 5pm on Saturday that we actually got started on the game development itself. We had 24 hours! Within that time, we managed to squeeze in more than just one game mechanic, and also had a pretty game world to look at. The particle effects that Brent and Douglas created that had a depth to them are just amazing to look at in 3D VR! They really pop. The smoky wizard hands look responsive and really fit a magical game milieu.

We had other things that we wanted to include, such as three separate spellcasting powers from the magical books to correspond to each of the god statues. We’ll just have to develop that at a later time! Also this gem:

When using the fire spell on the butterflies: …What if they turned into FIREFLIES, because SCIENCE?
– Brent Mitchell

This jam was such a great experience for me! I am the 3D artist on the team. I haven’t jammed for over a year (and had completed four playable game jam prototypes in the past), so having that different rhythm of thinking about games was like a great reset button for me. As Douglas said, jams are a great way to set aside the perfectionistic qualities, something that I am still learning to do. I also love our brainstorming sessions, it’s a great way to ease into a whirlwind of learning from Brent and Douglas work out the technical and design details of the game mechanics.

 

The cool thing as well is that each of us have now influenced how an actual playable game prototype looks, plays and feels, from concept to realization. It’s so magical to be able to do that over the course of the weekend! I’d definitely recommend working on a team for any first time jammers, it’ll definitely inspire how you approach game making in the future!

Rawr!
– Tanya Kan

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Game design elements for Solace State

Solace State is in its early production stage. It is an interactive novel where you play as Chloe, a young hacker who must navigate a near-future metropolis to re-unite with her friends, and contend with both the tyranny of the great and the sectarianism of the many. For more information, please see the recent re-introduction post here!

What does it look like? The new screen captures from today show the game mechanics and art style which will stay consistent for most of the rest of the project.

In Solace State, you play from Chloe’s perspective. The core mechanic, as described in a previous post, remains simple and unchanged: You get to chose some of her dialogue and actions through contextual buttons, to try to develop and maintain trust or exploit a character or social group. This plays out in a branching narrative, similar to many story-driven games and interactive fiction.

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95% of what will appear on the screen are events through her eyes. This includes the room that you’re in, to the computer hologram pop-ups that greet you. This was a design decision that took a while to articulate, since I do want the protagonist’s face to show up now and then, but I also want to maintain immersion of a singular perspective.

This is a first design for the UI, where one character talks to you. The character will have expressions to match what they are saying, but will generally be static, similar in style with many Visual Novels. The self-cam shows Chloe’s face or nearby proximity as appropriate for the scene, and sometimes no image feed at all. Since this scene is early in the game, I chose to crop in on her eyes and reveal her full appearance over time.

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This UI design is still preliminary, and there will be other configurations in other scenes so that the holo-screens do not block a particular focal point in the background. The background is fully 3D in Unity 5, and takes advantage of its physical shaders, and therefore can include atmospheric effects such as shifting light rays, reflective moving surfaces, and much more.

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The second major game mechanic that I’ve been testing lately is the ability to find key information and extrapolate emotional narration from our main character without the use of flashbacks. This one is structured around Chloe’s playground – her hackspace – and lets the player scroll through an isometric space to find and read information. Another design consideration is that I have to consider how to write for something that will likely be read out of order – an interesting premise! The player also pieces together the architectural space gradually, which can give more flavour or clues as to what the narrative slices are about.

*Note: The grainy, blurry quality of the GIF above is because it was very compressed for web! Rest assured that the textures look better in Unity realtime, or as a Video file.

I’m quite excited about both of these gameplay trajectories as Solace State starts feeling much more interactive! Thanks for reading!

Scar Tissue Narrative Interactive Story Video game presentation at Dames Making Games, Tanya Kan and Mikki Benaglia
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Scar Tissue from TOJam 9

While buried with other work obligations, I was really pleased to have the chance to work with some really talented people at this year’s TOJam 9, the largest game jam in Toronto. For the uninitiated, it means that participants in teams of their choosing have 48 hours the weekend of April 25 to 27 to create a game from start to finish. For TOJam, there was a great creative atmosphere of students, aficionados, and professional game developers all collaborating together. The point is to try something new, or work with a new team, to put together a playable prototype. If it doesn’t work, it’s okay! It’d still be a productive weekend of experimentation.

Platform art by Mikki Benaglia

We created a team with Eric Roberts as Programmer, Oskar Pruski as Composer/Sound Designer/Artist, Mikki Benaglia as Artist, and me, Tanya Kan as Designer/Writer/Artist. Because Eric Roberts has a lot of experience with 2D games, I was inspired to try my hand at designing a 2D game as well. He told me to stick with my strengths, which is writing and art direction, while I am simultaneously trying something new. I feel like this is a great advice for many jammers, especially for those, like myself, who have not played the designer/producer role under a jam’s time constraints. As such, I designed an interactive novel-platformer game hybrid, under Eric’s advice. The whole idea is that whatever one player goes through narratively will not be the same experience as another player’s, even if the number of platforms is static.

The story is about a superstar so stressed out by the pressures of her industry (and plastic surgery) that she skips in and out of time, and creates disarray of her “private” life as a result. The narrative itself has been living with me for some time. It first inception was in my little Twine experiment, Sound is a Spectrum, which is playable (but narratively incomplete) on this site.

Scar Tissue Interactive Game spreadsheet preview of dialogue

As also recommended by TOJam organizers, we came prepared with a list of programming priorities. I also created a spreadsheet of all of the game writing/dialogue and corresponding art assets. I created a Grooveshark playlist of the atmosphere that I was trying to set. On Google Drive, I defined the look of the game with reference images with consultation with Mikki, and then we all tried out these experiments at the jam itself! Eric went with an engine structured around 2D called Godot, currently in beta, as he wanted to test drive it at the jam.

Jam version of the game is available for download on itch.io, but is unfinished:
Scar Tissue as created at TOJam in Godot, programmed by Eric Roberts, designed by Tanya Kan

After the jam, I realized that I quite like the idea behind the game as a free release. As such, Mikki and I have continued to adapt the game. We changed the game engine from Godot to Unity, even though the languages are not compatible, because I am trying my hand at programming for the first time. I went with Unity because I really like the documentation and community that Unity has to address most of my questions, and I know that the Engine is flexible around the development needs of my future games. It was definitely an interesting learning curve to say the least, but not as much of an uphill climb as I feared! The other part is also that I can ask silly, simple questions of my Toronto friends about programming.

 

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Now, for this new version, we have a lot more art assets to augment the story. Each platform is meant to have a different visual design to hint at the story inside each of its collectable dialogue boxes. Mikki designed and illustrated about 2/3rds of the platforms and they inspire me to have better design for those that I am in charge of! We tightened the art style so that it is more unified in the fashion illustration meets Dadaist hybrid. I am also playing around with the inclusion of some harder-to-reach platforms so that we get more narrative variety, and have some great friends to help out with the programming side!

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Mikki and I were very kindly invited to present our game at Dames Making Games Speaker Social, where we shared some of our design considerations! It was a fantastic experience, where we received positive and constructive feedback. Thank you DMG and Bento Miso! Here’s the unabridged Powerpoint slides if anyone’s curious.

Update 2015: Scar Tissue is currently on hiatus.

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Babel at Bit Bazaar: Write-up of our experiences!

Babel’s team had a great time in its first outing at Bit Bazaar’s Arcade. Bit Bazaar is a Toronto celebration of comics, arts and crafts, and the local game development community, brought to life at Bento Miso by Jennie Faber and her team of awesome volunteers. For the short amount of time that I was able to peel myself away from Babel’s station, I was able to get to know some really diverse and engaging talents from Toronto’s comics and game development scene.

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Although we are really only one month into crucial development time, and even less if we count that towards building our showcase level, it was a great way for us to really come to face how to develop as part of a community rather than in isolation. It was also a great milestone for us to aim for. Some might say a little prematurely, given that we were rubbing shoulders with game devs with over a year in development for the games that they are showcasing. At the same time, we already share a common understanding that, regardless of the game, the development process comes not only great design and focused themes, but a lot of consistent hard work. We learned a lot from these experienced developers and how they connected with their audience at the Bit Bazaar Market.

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We generally got great critiques and feedback from people who engaged with our niche game, and we really want to thank people who tried out our game to give us such thoughtful feedback! We heard back that the atmosphere clicked with a lot of people who tried our game. Some found that the pacing and melancholy was different from the norm but was an interesting vision that usually isn’t articulated in video games. Some really got it, that it was meant to be an artistic interactive experience in the same vein as games like Dear Esther and Cat and the Coup, or even closer to arthouse cinema, from which it gained its inspiration (Chungking Express and other Wong Kar-Wai films). Personally, I am delighted by the interest from academics, who see potential of Babel as a way to describe and contextualize difficult narratives of political and personal identity within the format of interactive puzzles.

At the same time, we want to push the boundaries a bit further to blur the categories of artistic and emergent gameplay experiences, so we will look to redesign better puzzles, both relying on logical and lateral puzzle-solving. We know that we can push the emotional emphasis to the game a lot better, while more gradually revealing themes and conflict of the narrative. We will keep honing the script, level design, art, and game logic to that end!

Thank you Bento Miso and the Bit Bazaar organizational team for such a great experience.
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Alexander Martin (@Droqen of Starseed Pilgrim fame) checking out our game! Thanks for the feedback! Looking forward to incorporating the changes.

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Yasin really liked our game! Thank you for all the fantastic feedback!

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Thank you team! From L to R: Me (Tanya), Blake Withers, Mikki Benaglia, and Rob Richard.

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For the video walkthrough of the prototype level, click here!

 

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Sound is a Spectrum: First chapter released for a new Twine game

This is just something that I just started developing after coming out of Bit Bazaar and the first Babel build. I started thinking up the idea of creating a slice-of-life story of a girl who grew up in an entertainment agency and wants more than anything else to step into the role of an idol, just because that’s all that she grew up with. As everything else that is so manufactured and under the watchful eyes of another, I think there’s room to create a world of dreams as well as insurmountable nightmares, pressures, and fears.

I created this chapter in Twine over the course of eight hours (with plot outlines that I’m not showing you, of course!). Some GIFs are sourced from performances. Unmoving images are my own.

You can play the first chapter here.

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Playable Oculus Protoype: Double Blind level building

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Double Blind is a project that first started in Aug 2013′s Indiecade/Oculus VR Slow Game Jam.
It is a multiplayer PC first person game using the Oculus Rift Head-Up display.

It features a tag game between two to four players, where one person plays at the Medusa, and are able to freeze other players in their tracks. The other players seek out fortunes in the ruined temple within which she resides…

I was the Lead Artist for this project. The majority of the art assets, excluding pillars and the Medusa herself, are created by me. I also designed the look and feel of the world based on Creative Director’s greybox. I designed lighting and also build some shaders in engine. It is built in Unity.

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‘Encasement’: Finally, a solo weekend jam game at Dames Making Games

So I completed my first solo weekend game jam games at Dames Making Games (@DMGToronto) at the Snacktember members jam! It was a lot of fun, and definitely a test in self-judgement and self-reliance. Prior to this, I have completed Ludum Dare 26 (themed “Minimalism”) as a floater and the Oculus VR Jam (3 weeks long slow jam for the Oculus Rift) as an Art Lead. Snacktember’s theme was “tropes, especially inspired by Feminist Frequency’s Tropes Vs. Women”.

I figured Twine would make a great starting point for me to really flex my design muscles of out how narrative games really works. This would be a great way for me to figure out how to design for my real baby, Project Babel, to have naturalistic narrative progression in interactive game form. I have never learned Twine until this jam. Thankfully, my initial impression is true: It really proved to be a great exercise in not just creative writing, but also in game design.

Play it here!

Mind, it’s a prototype, built and learned in a cumulative 16 hours. Yes, minor grammatical and sentence structure gripes.

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I also really wanted to pay respects to the theme. After significant questions marks popping up all over the space above my forehead, I figured I’d go with something that is both a familiar narrative theme to me, but also a challenge to write. I wanted to subvert the damsel in distress trope by putting the player in the role of a woman who is under house arrest for a politically motivated charge. It’s also a story about friendship and redemption. Yes, you are actually being put in the situation of  “Peach in a Castle” in the style of pragmatic realism, not a male-oriented fairytale. When I say that it’s based on familiar themes, it is because I take to reading both polisci analyses and political film thrillers.

What I really enjoyed:

  • Taking the time to write out a comprehensive storyline summary (about 5 pages long), suggesting the relationships of characters and their environment ahead of time.
  • How CSS really isn’t that hard, even though I probably shouldn’t have prioritized at all, but it was fun to make the Twine look unique and fit the storyline.
  • Seeing the Twine build get updated and then seeing how all the “scenes” flow together.
  • I liked my own thematic take on subverting the damsel in distress.
  • How basic Twine is so easy that I was surprised by it. Simple but powerful.
Wow, too much text! Here's a picture interlude of something that visually inspired me. This is by Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters, Carnival, 1947. Dadaist art is a response to the horrors and illogic of war. Header image is Dadaist-inspired graphic design by Jack Deane, student of Manchester Metropolitan U.

Wow, too much text! Here’s a picture interlude of something that visually inspired me. This is by Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters, Carnival, 1947. Dadaist art is a response to the horrors and illogic of war.
Header image is by Francis Picabia, Hera 1929.

What could be done better:

  • Oh my gosh, so much. I had a loss of faith on the second day that I was spending way too much time in areas of the game that the protagonist is “alone”. But it turned out that it was my best writing. Thankfully, I didn’t axe any of it. (What Henry Faber (@henryfaber) said is right: Don’t change your direction halfway through the game jam. Stay the course.
  • I had not had the time to do 66% of the game. I honestly thought that I would be able to get maybe 75% of the writing done, if not all of it. Writing well takes longer than expected, but now I know how to time myself. I need to basically start thinking of it as I do with anything like a 3D game:
    1. Create a something akin to a greyboxing but in Twine, laying out all the branches of the story. I was so enamoured by Twine that I started writing chronologically; I fleshed out the descriptions and felt so connected to the story that I was emoting it. Even though emoting is actually kind of harmful to happiness and stamina for a project like this.
    2. Then, figure out which pieces of the story are the centre stage pieces, the ones that are the high points of exposition in the narrative. That’ll give it better flow, just like in a 3D level.
    3. Good texturization is important, though, because it helps sell the atmosphere as realistic and suitable for the world that it’s meant in. Same for 3D level design as it is for interactive novels. I should have approached it more strategically, maybe working out some of the dialogue parts out of chronology, but only after the skeleton/”greyboxing” has been established.
    4. I actually haven’t tried the above method yet, but when @HenryFaber mentioned it, I was like like “oh”! I just talked about this in a presentation! Hahah, spot on.
  • Related to the above point, I actually didn’t have enough time to flesh out the exposition via dialogue as much as I had hoped (Part II). It’s rushed and I know it, and empathy for my characters therefore takes a nosedive. It’s because they’re not three-dimensional enough for me to implicate what their motivations and contradictions are.

Like all game jams, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it. Dames Making Games is such a welcoming community for me to explore more unusual game content such as a story about a woman’s gradual agency even in the most limiting of circumstances. I’m very blessed to be part of such a community and to receive such positive feedback and thoughtful advice from the members and coordinators there. Thank you for making it a great experience! Special thanks to @alexalksne for reading through some of my first Twine passages and letting me know that it hit the right tenor.