The Decision Makers: Contrasting Our Game with Subnautica

Hey everyone,

Our game is based in Twine so it is a completely text based game with (potentially) some minor visual elements incorporated. There are many games like this out there and they have some advantages to them, like being able clearly state what is happening in the game and give the player certain paths that you want them to take. This allows for a streamlined story that can have multiple endings, but it also limits the player’s experience to the one you want them to have. In this post I would like to delve into a different game that I personally am a big fan of that has major contrasts with our game. I really enjoy survival games, especially one in particular called Subnautica. Unlike our game, Subnautica is not historically based (at least not based on real history), text based, or streamlined in its story line. Instead, it gives a terrific futuristic story driven almost entirely by the actions of the player. This can allow for the player to believe that they are the hero of the story but since there is not always clear options of what to do (or too many options at times) like in text based games, the progression of the player can be halted because they aren’t sure of what they should do.

Subnautica’s story starts with the player frantically trying to launch an escape pod from a ship in orbit above a planet that is only designated by a serial number (4546B). After both crash down onto the ocean world’s surface and after you puts out the fire in your life pod, it is up to you how to progress and survive. All that you have in the life pod is a PDA (tablet that tells you important information that has been collected), a fire extinguisher, two small bottles of water, two nutrient bars, and two flares. You have to manage your hunger and thirst throughout the game as they are always decreasing so these starting goods are only good for a pretty short amount of time. Your life pod crashed a kilometer or two away from the ship and the pod landed in a shallow area similar to a coral reef. Also in your life pod there is a fabricator and a damaged radio, both mounted on the wall of the pod. The reef is abundant with alien life, both plant and animal and it is up to you to figure out how to use items you are able to pick up. As you find materials and use the fabricator to make useful tools to perform a variety of tasks, you learn more about the world you are stranded on. One of the easiest and most necessary tools you can make is the scanner that can scan nearly anything and upload the data to your PDA so you can learn more about your environment to survive. You can make a repair tool as well and once you repair the radio you start to receive distress calls from other life pods and eventually from a ship that says they picked up the distress call and are on the way to help. The ship fails to rescue you for a completely unexpected reason (spoilers for those who haven’t played so I won’t go into detail) and the story gets a new twist. All the time you are exploring and crafting new items to go deeper and learn more you have more aggressive creatures and areas to deal with

This is all just in the first two or three hours of game play and it usually takes the average player roughly 35 or so hours to finish the story line because of how the game is designed to be led by the exploration of the player. While both Subnautica and our game are driven by story, our game, even if we were to turn it into a full fledged game with all of the details that we could want to incorporate to be included, it would not come close to the 35 hours to be completed. This is simply because text based games are usually not terribly lengthy games because it would be hard to keep the player invested and intrigued in the game for that long without an absolutely stellar story and way of presenting it. While both types of games are driven by story and are able to deliver fantastic stories, the way that they are able to do so are very different. Each style of game is better suited for a different kind of story. For example, being a soldier in Nazi Germany may be able to be a survival game but not in the way we are presenting it, being a game in which one character cooperates with others to achieve their goals in wartime. A text based game is much more suitable for this situation since dialogue is a major factor in the game we wanted to design. Likewise, the setting and goals of Subnautica would be difficult to make into a text based game because of the elements that it tries to give the player. Exploring and gathering materials and all of the other key aspects of a survival game are just not that well suited for text based games, like how our game is not as well suited for the ability for the player to sort of choose every action they may want to take in a game. However, both types of games can and have given great experiences to their players.

The Decision Makers: Defining Barbarianism

Hey everyone,

In today’s class we focused quite a bit about barbarians and what it really means to be barbaric. We came to the conclusion that a barbarian was somebody who appeared to not have a culture and were essentially simpleminded and violent. When examples were given of past barbaric groups, it was shown that the definition we gave barbarians may not have actually fit them. The examples given were the Mongols and the Vikings. While both are known for their vast military strength and desire to conquer, their other actions are oftentimes overlooked. While the Mongols did take over vast regions of land and were viewed by many as barbaric due to their apparent lack of culture, there actually was a culture there, it just was not the same as those calling them barbarians. They were just more focused on a more oral history than written and had different religious views from some, so some had no issue calling them barbaric after looking at their actions and beliefs. The Vikings have a similar story. They shared many qualities with the Mongols so it comes as no surprise that they are still oftentimes referred to as a barbaric society. However, like the Mongols, their society was simply based on different premises than those judging from a distance. While I’m not trying to defend their actions, some of which were brutal, there is little doubt that they would not call themselves barbarians and would likely see themselves as doing either the right thing or at least be easily justified.

Barbarians is a term that nobody really identifies with and for good reason. The term does not really have any good attributes tied to it besides brute strength, so it’s not surprising that it is a term that is only ever used to describe a group that is viewed as a lesser society. This plays pretty well in our game and how it will play out. Since it is centered around Nazi Germany, which was brutal and has been called barbaric, our group has to be able to show this in game in a kind of delicate way. We have to show it in a way that is both not horribly offensive and also in a way that is at least somewhat accurate to the actual culture in place during the time period. We worked on the story of our game today and this was one of the issues that came up (again). After today’s discussion however we have a bit of a different view on how to approach showing the culture of Nazi Germany. We can look into the reasons people have called the nation barbaric more and see how we can implement those aspects of the nation’s culture in a way that is both accurate and not too graphic in certain parts. Since we are using Twine for our game, the graphic imagery will be easy to leave out since it is a text based game, so we are looking more into setting through description than through imagery to combat this potential problem. While images are still going to be implemented (we are getting very close to putting them in Twine) the majority of the game will be text oriented. The story is getting close to completion with certain ending already being completed so after the remaining¬† paths are created, imagery can be prioritized and it will look like a more completed game. We agreed that the game should definitely be finished (or at least story completed and images gathered) within the coming days and then we can move to other tasks. For now though, we are looking at how to show the culture of Nazi Germany in our game in the right way.

The Decision Makers: Preparing for the Work Ahead

Hey everyone,

Today was the third day of class and during our team’s work hour we were able to nail down several important details about our work to come that are going to be vital to help prepare for and set up some tasks in the coming days and weeks. We set up a relatively primitive timeline for what we plan to accomplish by certain dates, as well as if a single person is going to be responsible for completing it, and if so then we decided who would be the one to do it, or if we would work on the task as a group. An example is that we decided that since there are five essay parts of the portfolio and one non essay portion about our plan of action, each person would be given one to complete (I am responsible for the paper about the games we used as a reference for ours) and the plan of action would be completed as a group. We worked quite a bit on the plan of action today and were able to complete a significant amount of it.

During this time we also helped Will with his personal presentation tomorrow and decided who would present on for the coming presentations based on who wanted to talk about what topic. After this was discussed the potential story line that the character we are developing which will lead to several different endings based on previous actions taken in the story. However, since some of the actions the character will take will more likely than be based on actual events, it makes contingency a bit of an issue to work through. One example we pan to incorporate is Operation Valkyrie which was based on the idea that Hitler would be assassinated and the operation was where the Germans would arrest Nazi leadership and take over leadership of the nation. Since it failed in real life, the game could give a situation where it succeeded if certain choices are made or it could fail like it actually did if another path was chosen by the player. However if the player takes the path where the operation succeeds then we have to work out what that means for the impact it will have on the game play because we will have to base the remainder of that path of game play on events that did not actually occur but still has to be believable enough that it is coherent with the rest of the game and fun for the player. We talked about this issue for a decent amount of time and I believe we are coming closer to the best answer we can think of. As of now there are no concrete ideas about where the story could head after the success of the operation, only a few ideas circulating.

After discussing the potential future of our character, we realized we needed to first have a strong background story for him for the rest of the story and game play to flow coherently. While there are no details set in stone we agreed on the basics of the character: that he would be a German, most likely from the Hitler’s Youth program, relatively early on in the game the player would decide where his loyalties would lie, and his name would be G√ľnter Schmidt. The rest about the stories potential endings and our character’s background were put off to tomorrow after we had thought about it more and when we had more time to work together.

At the very end of class we started to look up images to go along with the game and finishing that was put off to tomorrow as well since we only looked for a few minutes to get ideas in our minds. After today’s work I would say we’re doing pretty well for a start and we seem to be progressing at a good rate.