From Sea to Shining Sea Squad: Close to the Finish Line

Hi Everyone!

The From Sea to Shining Sea Squad has been hard at work for the past three weeks in order to create a fun, interesting game based on the Cold War. We’ve been working almost nonstop for our last few days in order to make our portfolio and our final product of our video game. Who needs sleep when you’re a video game developer? We met for an 2 hours after class and then 2 more later in the day to finish the game and put some finishing touches on our portfolio. We felt like it was super important to make the portfolio as good as we could possible make it while also maintaining the focus on our game. We also, despite not being able to finish all of what we wanted to finish for the game, gave it our best effort to bring the game to an ending spot that we were proud of. If anyone tells you that it’s easy to make a game in three weeks, they’re lying! However, it’s still tons of fun!

Today in class was Demo Day where we got to display our game to the others and vice versa. This had me and, I think, the rest of my group pretty nervous. It’s a little scary putting so much time and effort into something and then finally have people get to play through the game. It was really exciting getting to see everyone enjoying our game as well as being able to enjoy other groups’ games. I know Luke and I were a little apprehensive about putting so much detail and visualization into the game since we were the ones in charge of making the game. However, it seems like that was a high point about our game in other people’s opinions. It was interesting seeing how everyone in the class decided to create their games based in the 20th century and seeing how each group brought that to life through Twine and RPG Maker.

Though we were faced with a few challenges throughout our process like keeping our game historically accurate while still focusing on our counterfactual, we had so many successes that are worth highlighting. We all got along really well and right from the beginning had a clear idea of what we wanted to focus on when creating this game and really the pieces just started to fall into place. We all had a good idea of what each of us wanted to focus on throughout the process of making the game and the portfolio and we were able to get it done in a relatively short amount of time. We found researching to be and easy and constant process. (We were literally researching until yesterday.) However, this did make for our best possible version of From Sea to Shining Sea. I think I’m justified in saying that all of us had a blast making this game and are really proud of  it.

Fun Fact #1: From Sea to Shining Sea came about kinda on a whim and ended up fitting our game really well as the protagonist is from California and is forced to travel to Washington D.C., from west coast to east coast. It’s also pretty ironic which is fitting for the humor of our group. Our game is touches on the idea of cruel and unusual punishment and the “witch hunt” of McCarthyism. From Sea to Shining Sea is a lyric from an American patriotic song about freedom thus creating some irony with our title and our game.

Fun Fact #2: Throughout the game, the protagonist encounters many different people as they go through their journey in this “post-apocalyptic” counterfactual. Some of the characters’ names are a reference to each of the developers’ names. It’s a little silly and we thought of it kind of last minute but we thought it was a fun easter egg to have stuck in there.

From Sea to Shining Sea: Morality in Video Games

Hello everyone!

A lot of people think of video games as button mashing, violent nonsense but there are so many games that are more thought-provoking than what we typically think video games can be. A lot of creators today are attempting to add elements into their games to help the player get more out of it than just a fun experience. When a player is extremely immersed in a game, it allows them to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and input their moral ideals into their gameplay. Games such as The Walking Dead: Season One through Season Four, Fable, and Detroit: Becoming Human, choose to tackle the idea of morality in different ways.

The Walking Dead series chooses to tackle morality with a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies. This game forces the player to make timed decisions with dialogue and actions that inevitably changes the course of their gameplay which leads to different endings that continue on later in the series. As the player becomes more and more immersed in the game and involved with the characters, they begin to make moral decisions that they would make in real life, if they were in that situation. For example in Season One, you find two characters in trouble and you can only save one. One character is the child of a friend of the main character and the other is the son of the family’s house you are staying in. No matter which you chose, tensions rise among characters causing the game to change to your moral ideals. The game challenges the player’s morality and ultimately sets up who the player wants to have with them at the end of the game.

Another game that brings in the idea of morality is the Fable series. This game allows the player to be “good” or “bad” either which will bring about different options and different ways of playing the game. Being good allows for its perks but so does being bad. This idea of being good or bad, though it overly simplifies the idea of morality, allows the player to explore different moral choices while playing a game that they wouldn’t necessarily agree with or choose to do in their own lives.

Another game that deals with morality, despite its mixed reviews, is Detroit: Becoming Human. This game’s idea is heavily influenced by racism featuring the idea of AI becoming deviant and rising up against humans. The game revolves around three different main characters story that, depending on how you play, their stories eventually intertwine. This game is heavily decision based which allows for many moments of deeper moral decisions. The player has the option of remaining loyal to the humans, becoming deviant, making friends and leaving them to die. With the hundreds of combinations of decisions, there are so many endings that could potentially reflect the player’s moral ideals. For example, in the game, one of the characters is posed with the dilemma of shooting an AI in exchange for information. The moral dilemma that the player faces is would you shoot the AI because it isn’t really alive or would you not keeping in mind its potential to become deviant. The game, overall, poses a lot of interesting moral dilemmas.

We, as a group, think adding a moral component into our game is really something worth considering. We think that because we’re using Twine, we may be able to set up moral dilemmas throughout our games within our text adventure. A lot of questions, however, can be presented from this subject in video games; Should video games tackle morality?; Do video game creators have agency over a player’s choice or are they truly being able to tackle these concepts of morality themselves?; How best can the From Sea to Shining Sea Squad add that element of morality in their game about the Cold War gone wrong?

From Sea to Shining Sea Squad: Plans for the Future

Hello Everyone,

Today, the From Sea to Shining Sea Squad, spent time laying out our plan of action because we really wanted to have a document that laid out our time with deadlines for ourselves. We had a few ideas about how we wanted to make our plan of action such as splitting up the sections within the portfolio and working on them before we started on the game. Then refining the portfolio, once the game is finished. Another idea was to finish our research and start on the game and then move to work on our portfolio. We all agreed, no matter what the final plan of action turns out to be, that we wanted to try to stick closely to our plan of action to eliminate stress and maximize our time.

Our team discussed splitting up some of the sections of our research. We decided on Luke H. and I would work on researching games that we could reference to make our game the game that we want it to be. We also decided that Luke D., Cole, and Nick would work on researching history that could help us build our game to fit the Cold War era. We thought that dividing and conquering would help us get work done and then we could help each other write the different sections of the portfolio closer towards the end of the term.

We discussed adding the idea of McCarthyism into our game. McCarthyism was the campaign launched in the United States against communism. It was basically a “witch hunt” during the early 1950s to purge the U.S. of alleged communists despite the fact that most people were not communists. Though this predates the time that we’re aiming for in our game, we thought that the idea of McCarthyism fits well into the chaos of a dystopian system that came about if the Cold War had progressed to nuclear war. This idea of the “fear” of communists and then persecuting them and forcing them to fight in the war would create a “counterfactual” that still pays attention to the details of history.

Our team also looked at an interesting game that we considered using as a reference for our game. The game, called Fallen Hero: Rebirth by Malin Rydén, is an “interactive novel” that allows you to choose the path of the story. The game is solely text which allows the player to use their imagination to create their story. We thought that this was an interesting game to reference for ours because we’re using Twine, a text-based game creator. We liked the idea of creating a story with our game and creating choices for our player to let the story become their own in a similar way that Fallen Hero: Rebirth does.

In conclusion, our team has a lot of momentum and so much enthusiasm for this project that the future for our game looks incredibly bright. We’re hoping to finish the bulk of our research soon and begin making our portfolio as soon as we can so we can start working on our game.