The From Sea to Shining Sea Squad had our second brainstorming session today, and we’ve made significant progress in having a solid idea for our game. We’ve settled on the outbreak of nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the peak of the Cold War as the setting that our game will explore, but we want to take a look at the personal experience of a U.S. citizen made to fight in the conflict following the nuclear exchange.
During our brainstorming, we discussed the lore of the Terran from the StarCraft series. A key feature of the Terran Dominion’s army is that they use their convicted criminals as soldiers. We were specifically interested in the personal experiences that would be produced by such a criminal justice system, but the nature of StarCraft as a an RTS game is not very conducive to conveying that personal experience. Our game could explore how a government might justify this system, and how this dystopian system could come about in the U.S. during the Cold War. It could be presented as a more moral alternative to capital punishment, as the rest of society might benefit from their fighting, and could hinge on the 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution.
Our team also discussed how we would create an authentic experience appropriate to the time period. We plan to research what other games in this period have done to successfully create a believable and detailed playing experience. The nature of Twine as our development platform gives us the opportunity to make a believable setting in the mind of the player, but this will require careful attention to the details of the period in order to create an enjoyable, interesting, and accurate atmosphere.
The team is now researching into what points of contingency may need to be changed in order to make the breakout of armed conflict during the Cold War possible and historically sound. We are thinking of making The Cuban Missile Crisis the spark that ignites the war, but we want to find more reasons for why the two powers may have been just a bit more belligerent to tip this instance over the edge and into actual military conflict.
At the end of our brainstorming, we started to hone in on what areas each member would focus on, and how we are going to spend our group time working. Some members of the team will specialize in creating a believable atmosphere within the game purely through the writing and details of the world, while others may focus more on finding the historical contingency points that may need to be altered in order to make the alternative history of our game make sense. These roles are still very flexible though.
A challenge we are anticipating is creating a real sense of agency and freedom in a game where we have a specific experience we want the player to have. We are going to work to give the player choices that may have effects in the short term, but overall the story will remain unchanged. Hopefully this, in tandem with experiencing the world through the perspective of our protagonist, will be enough to create that sense of immersion we seek.