From Sea to Shining Sea Squad: A general update and some thoughts on Twine

Greetings all!

 

The From Sea To Shining Sea Squad is buckling down for the sprint to the finish. We have been hard at work on elements of our portfolio for several days now and grappling with Twine to create as best of an experience that we can in time for presentation. However, it is proving difficult to set things in stone in either part of the project, because we keep having new ideas and concerns popping up all of the time.

 

Our strategies for tackling the portfolio have changed from day to day, but by collaborating and exchanging ideas for the essays we have all become more engaged in the process of world building and our historical understanding of our setting. An element of the portfolio that we appreciate is our ability to explore and explain ideas that did not quite make it into the final game or did not make it in fully. This allows us to better communicate our influences from other games, difficult choices we had to make and why we made them, and how exactly our counterfactual world all ties itself together.

 

Our development of actual gameplay in Twine, while being quite enjoyable at times, has presented challenges in creating the atmosphere we seek. In order to create engrossing, vibrant script to immerse the player, a lot of effort has to be put into the writing of different scenes and chapters of the game. Although we already have a very solid sequence of events in place for the player to navigate through, we want to make as best use of our medium as we can. The team views the text-based RPG as a genre with extremely high potential but also being easy to totally miss the mark unless we devote significant energy towards perfected the atmosphere and immersion of the player through interesting characters and delivery.

 

A fascinating element of our engine, is heavily tied to a concept that Daniel Reynolds describes in his essay What is Old in Video Games? Reynolds explores the effect that the technological aspect of videogames has on the experience they give as a medium. In the case of games made with Twine, this is quite important. The story that we are creating could be told with text in a physical book with tags attached to the players’ options directing them to a certain page that contains the output of the decision they have chosen. There is a great difference in experience between flipping to a page with text already printed on it and a screen, which must read code to manifest the text on a display. One feels like it has already been played out and that there is nothing new being created, and the other gives the player a greater feeling of agency, because their display has changed before their eyes according to their decision. This creates a cool feeling as developers that our story could not have been made in our vision without the existence of this technology, even if the only thing that separates us from literature is purely the medium of viewing the text.

 

All in all, morale is high. The From Sea To Shining Sea Squad is hard at work to bring you all enjoyable gameplay next week, and we are confident that we are on track to reach our goals of creating an immersive and enjoyable perspective for our players to explore

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