The Final Stretch

Hello again everyone. As I’m sure you all know, the release date for our game is coming up soon, and so I think it is important to use this blog post to reflect on how far we have come as well as discuss what more we need to accomplish. First off, I want to give a brief overview of our story again to refresh everyone’s memory. Our game focuses on an ambiguous character who is a school teacher charged with spreading communist ideas during the cold war. While this is going on, the U.S. engages in a brief nuclear exchange with the U.S.S.R. that results in some but not total destruction. Our character is then sentenced to fight in the war as punishment for his alleged crimes against the country, which is now a very pro-McCarthyist society.


One thing that I find fascinating about our game is how far we have come with the idea that we initially started with. On the first day of class when we were still really into the brainstorming phase of ideas, the idea for this game started nowhere close to where it is now. When we first started, I was thinking about a game that was based in an alternate reality of the cold war, but it was more widescale and open world, similar to how grand theft auto works. The group generally liked this idea so we started working on it more and changing things up and adding more. Luke H. brought up the idea of how the game Starcraft uses prisoners as soldiers, and we all really liked this idea and wondered how to incorporate it into our game. Over about a week, the group did research and discussed where we wanted to go and that’s how we settled on making the game into what it was.


Luke H. and Brenna have carried the majority of the weight in writing and developing the game, whereas Nick, Cole and I did a lot of the historical research involved in making the setting for our game. While we have made a ton of headway on the game, there is still a ton of work left for us to do in the next couple of days. The game developers still have a ton of goals that they want to accomplish before the release, such as a playthrough of the court conviction. As far as research goes, and as Professor Harney always says, we plan to still be researching until the last day. The research department still needs a few sources for our portfolio writings, which are starting to be finalized for turn in day.


Lastly, I would like to reflect on what all I have gotten out of this class. The homework we have been reading and the videos we have watched have really opened my eyes up to how important the topic of history is in the discussion of video games. It has also made me think back to multiple games I have played in the past and the relevance of history that was used in the games. Thanks to everyone for following the progression of our game thus far, and I look forward to our audience getting to play it.

From Sea to Shining Sea: Coming together

Today was a very productive day for our team. In class, Nick continued working on the design document and started describing how we used and researched our sources. We have really pulled together some great documents to back up our storyline and he is working hard to define what that process looked like for us. Luke H. and Brenna made some great progress in the development of our game on twine, developing multiple new story lines and adding onto pre existing ones. It has been really unique to watch how as new ideas develop, we get more ideas for additional research. As for Cole and me, we continue to work on the historical aspect of our game, working on papers and finding new sources to use. The chemistry on our team works very well because everyone is engaged and respectful of everyone else, while not being afraid to speak out on how they feel on certain aspects of the game.


Today specifically, I started thinking about how to write the historical context challenges paper. At first glance, I thought the paper would be easy, but I then realized the promt was asking not just for basic challenges, but real moral and social challenges that our team has faced. As a team we discussed what some of these challenges might be, and Luke H. said something very interesting that I think will be a great topic to discuss in our paper. He told me about how when Brenna and he were developing the game, they weren’t sure how defined they wanted to make the character. We didn’t want to give a race, age, or any other details so that we could leave this aspect to the players imagination, giving the game a more immersive presence. However, everyone in the group did refer to the character as “he” during the process of making it, which seemed normal until Luke pointed something out: the majority of teachers are female. This then caused me to pause and wonder why we had associated the player with a male identity, but Luke had the answer to that too. Because the character was being sent to war, and we very rarely associate war with female soldiers, everyone automatically started saying he. This then caused me to realize how historically, this created a challenge for our game. A big part of our game is the fact that our teacher is being punished with a tour of war, which as I said earlier, is largely associated with men. The 1960’s was also a more traditional time, so the likelyhood of women being sentenced to war would have been extremely absurd, even to the amped up McCarthy society we created. The challenge for us now we have a situation in which a good amount of players will associate the character as a male, even though we never defined his identity to the player.


In future class periods, my team will discuss this issue and decide how we want to adress it. The game is coming along suprisingly well, as well as the time left in this class is falling suprisingly fast. Well folks, thats all the writing I have for this week, I look forward to writing to you again soon.

From Sea to Shining Sea Squad Day 4

Hello everybody, today in class our squad did a great job getting into a groove and working diligently. We discussed a couple of the big issues surrounding the cold war and what we wanted to incorporate into our game. As Luke H. discussed in his presentation today, we are focusing on a story in an alternate reality where the cold war actually broke out into actual warfare. Our character will be submerged into the warfare as a punishment in the court system, even though the crime he commited was not serious. We really liked these ideas, and Brenna and Luke H. are putting together an awesome story line backed with research from Cole, Nick and me.


When we were researching things about the cold war and what types of things we wanted to incorporate, we discovered that there were tons of programs that the U.S. developed in case the war did happen. In the first few days, I had suggested that we maybe incorporate the Star Wars program that President Reagan had thought of in his presidency. This program seemed really appealing because it was a nuclear defense mechinism that the U.S. could have used had the Russians fired a warhead at the states. I remembered learning briefly about this program my junior year of highschool in my APUSH class, and so I brought it up for discussion in our group. In the beginning, everyone in the group seemed in favor of the use of this idea, since it would be perfect for the U.S. to have this type of defense in the cold war. I selected a source from the library (shown below) that had tons of information on the potential nuclear sattelite defense. However, we made the decision as a group to not make this one of the big points in our game, as we would be doing too much and we would be stretched too thin.


Even though we decided not to use this, I want to use this blog post to tell about why I find this fascinating, and why I think it could potentially play a role in our game if we had more time and resources. To start, the star wars program was a nuclear defense program that Reagan was in favor of, which consisted of both sattelite and surface to air missiles used to shoot down enemy nukes before they hit the U.S.. This program came a little later on in the cold war then when our story is taking place, which is one of the reasons we decided not to use it. However, the idea is very appealing to our group as game makers because there is so much we could do with it. For example, the player could be in the danger zone of an enemy nuke and need to shoot it down via a satellite missile in order to save themself and their fellow soldiers. Or, there could be a side mission where you are a member of higher ups in the pentagon and have to stategically place the satellites in order to defend the U.S. in the best way possible. We had many other ideas surrounding the Star Wars program, but those are some of the better ones in my opinion.


I think the idea was so appealing for two reasons. First off, the Star Wars program isn’t that far off from what actually happened (it was legitimate enough for a president to consider). This would be useful for our group because the player would still have the authentic feel of realisticness that we are trying to implement. The star wars program is widely known by historians as a program that was almost implemented, which is would make the experience very cool and add to the “what if” factor. The second reason is that this program is just really cool. The fact that we had scientists working on a space defense program that could literally blast nukes out of the sky seems super awesome to me, and I’m sure it does to others as well.


As I come to an end, I would like to discuss another factor about the program that I think is super interesting and could be implemented into the game. Reagans Star Wars missiles, since they were able to shoot down enemy nukes, could have given the U.S. a huge advantage in the war. If the U.S. could defend itself (at least from nukes) while still able to fire theirs, the U.S.S.R. would have to do some serious thinking. This could have been an awesome ending to the conflict, both because the U.S. would have won, and that we didn’t get blown to crap doing it. Thank you all for reading, I’ll be back next week.