Cold War: 1776

Created by Team Bad Company

Chase Cavanaugh – Historical Research and Script Writing

Kaeman Filiatrault – Custom Art Design

Jon Jones – Coding and Development

Blaise Parker – Historical Research, Script Writing, Compilation of Information

Cold War 1776 is an RPG that revolves around an alternate history scenario in which the Cold War bleeds back in time into the Revolutionary War. The basic plot of the game is simple: in the Cold War, humans discovered time travel technology. In an attempt to decisively win the Cold War, the Russians go back in time to assist the British in the Revolutionary War, with the goal being to stop America from ever becoming a country. As the player, you’ll meet historical figures such as George Washington and John F. Kennedy, who you’ll fight alongside to defeat Joseph Stalin and his devious mechanical creation, Mecha-Britannia, the ultimate weapon against patriotism. The game serves as a satirical look at the history of America, poking fun at the godly standards we hold the founding fathers to, while exaggerating the vilifying way we often view the Russians. Above all, the game is designed to be a fun and campy exploration of American history that doesn’t take itself too seriously, providing historically-based caricatures of famous figures from both the Revolutionary and Cold War Eras. We believe we have created an experience that can be enjoyed by all, historian or not, and we are excited to share it with the world.

Recommended/Influential Readings:

Cover, Jennifer Grouling. The creation of narrative in tabletop role-playing games. Jefferson, NC: McFarland et Company, Inc., Publishers, 2010.

“The Cold War.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/The-Cold-War.aspx.

Davis, Derek H. 1994. “Religion and the American Revolution.” Journal Of Church & State 36, no. 4: 709.

Feis, Herbert. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.

Fiske, John. The American Revolution. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Boston, Mass: Houghton, Milton and Company, 1891.

Team Bad Company: A Farewell

Hey Everyone, it’s been a fast three weeks. In fact, It feels like it was earlier this week that I was assigned to my group. It feels like it was a couple days ago that I passionately argued against making a came about the cold war. It feels like it was yesterday that I sketched out the plans for our title screen, but today was the day that I finally had to say goodbye to the wild ride of video games and history. We’ve learned a litany of information from how video games were made to the different viewpoints on the geopolitical climate of the cold war. Furthermore, this information was churned into a wild action adventure RPG that included time travel, a giant mechanical version of the spirit of England, and the Red Czar himself.

We were able to create a compelling commentary on nationalism and how it influences our thoughts about both the Revolutionary War and the Cold War. Both time periods clearly had similarities and the game does a good job of making this apparent.  Religion, economic freedom, America has always been able to find reasons to alienate those it deems “other”. Military enemies are largely communicated in this way, and it shouldn’t be a shock as to why. As we can see in doom, it’s much easier to kill a demonic monster than another human being. Fortunately, the people I was privileged to work with weren’t like the communist or redcoats in our game. They were real hardworking genuine people, and I’m lucky to have gotten to know all of them. Thanks to everyone in Team Bad Company, everyone else in the class, and Professor Harney.  It was a great term and a great three weeks, even if it only felt like a couple of days.

The Age of DLC – Squashing Bugs, Pre-Order Bonuses, and Endless Entertainment

Let’s talk about DLC.

In recent years, video games have gotten a knack for including the ability to add data onto the base game after it’s released. It’s become so ubiquitous now that it may not seem that important. However, DLC is a big deal. For the uninitiated, DLC stands for “Downloadable Content.” Since the internet has found itself in nearly every video game player’s house and every system nowadays can access it, DLC now exists as a way to add more data onto an already released video game.

Before the Xbox 360 and PS3 (though some would say earlier depending on the title/system), if a game was released, that was usually it. Occasionally development studios would re-release a game with some of its issues fixed, but examples of this are few and far between. Occasionally this would mean a game would be released with tons of bugs that could no longer be squashed. If they were on the disc/cartridge, they were there for good.

Now enter DLC. Downloadable Content can be anything that you download and add on to an already “finished” game. It can patch bugs, it can give new quests or items, or it can otherwise expand or change a game beyond what it was at release. This is great in many ways. It allows the fun to continue for a player after a game has ended, it allows developers to keep creating content for a good game without having to invest in a complete sequel, it allows developers to allocate small teams to DLC while bigger teams focus on new, more exciting progress, and, perhaps most importantly, it allows for those pesky bugs to be fixed.

Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately this innovation in video game technology is not so innocent or cut-and-dry. DLC has caused its own plethora of problems. It allows developers to be lazier, worrying less about releasing a beautifully polished product, sometimes offloading a buggy pile of trash onto the consumer, promising “fixes to come”. It also has spawned more greed in certain developers or publishers. Gone are the days where massive games could be released, the player buys the disc and that’s that. Now, some people argue, developers can give you the “base” game, withholding content to be added for DLC later – at a cost. While it isn’t very well known if this is really the case, lots of speculation exists around the idea that devs are keeping content under wraps.

Furthermore, DLC spurns on the plague that are “pre-order bonuses”. While I could write an entire paper on why these things are essentially the toxic filth that infects the video game industry, the short version is this: game developers lure players into paying for their games ahead of time to get small bonuses. Why is this a problem? Well, if you pre-ordered the new Assassin’s Creed and it turns out to be the hottest pile of garbage you’ve ever laid your eyes on, sorry Jim. You’re out of luck. Ubisoft already has your money. But hey now you can play as Ezio! It doesn’t do much but you sure do look cool.

This is an issue which is prolific in nearly every game that comes out nowadays. A pre-order will promise free loot, cosmetics, perhaps XP bonuses or an early weapon unlock to give you the EDGE on the competition. This is as close to a pay-to-win strategy as you can get away with cleanly. Technically you may not pay any more for the game, but you are paying early to get a leg up on the competition. If it weren’t for downloadable data, there would be nothing that tells the game that you, Jim, made all us gamers look bad and gave Activision your money early for that sweet double XP and digital camo shotgun.

While these models can be set to abuse the system of DLC, there are some companies with beautiful, pixelated halos above their logos. Companies like Capcom often offer the player completely free expansions on already complete games. The first that comes to mind would be the upcoming Monster Hunter: World. The game is already complete and finished by most means, but the devs have promised to keep support strong for the game by adding in new monsters, quests, and armor completely free to the player. This will keep things feeling fresh even for someone who has put 500 hours into the game. And yes, Jim, you can spend that much time on a game and still like it. I’ve got well over 1500 hours in the Monster Hunter series.

All-in-all, DLC at its core is a beautiful thing. It promises more than it denies, it gives more than it takes, and it has proven to be an excellent thing for gamers. We now live in a world where, if a game is crap, it may not always be that way. If the developers are determined enough to fix it they can! The best part is, though, if they aren’t willing to fix it, you know exactly what games not to buy in the future.

Team Bad Company: Fortnite

Nearly everyone who pays attention to the realm of video games has heard of Fortnite. It is a battle royale style game that has recently had a large boom. It is very similar in mechanics to games like H1Z1: King of the Kill, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Though Fortnite is a battle royale game it has served as an influence on my thoughts during our game making process. Why is it such a successful game when it is really just a simpler version of PUBG?

I think that the simplicity that Fortnite exemplifies is a prime reason for its success. Being open to all age groups, Fortnite’s weapon tiers are very simple and even color coded. Meaning within the first couple of games you play you can really get a grasp of which tier of weapons is better than the others. Also, the weapons are very balanced. One would go into the game thinking that pistols are probably a last resort when it comes to combat. But in reality, if you are within a reasonable distance, pistols can actually prove quite effective. This balancing makes it to where even if you don’t get the lucky jump on all the loot, or you get unlucky with your chest loots, you still have a good shot at overcoming opponents in gunfights.

Not only is the combat mechanics of this game supreme to others, the aspect of collecting materials to build structures is a new and innovative mechanic that Epic Games decided to include in the Battle Royale version of Fortnite. This puts a huge spin on the Battle Royale genre. Being able to do this means that you can be running through an open field, and as soon as you hear that you are being shot at, you can throw up your own dynamic cover that can play to your advantage in multiple ways. Learning to build quickly and effectively is a key skill to learn in the early stages of playing the game.

This weapon tier system, as well as the material collecting, is something that I would have loved to input into our game. That is if we had the time and resources to do so. Being able to implement these systems into an RPG though would be challenging not only on the tech side but with the story side as well. How can one musket be better than the other if you are still holding true to historical accuracy? In my opinion, this would be one of those instances where we would partially put aside the historical accuracy aspect and focus on the fun and playability of the game. Because implementing that into a game makes the player have a more interactive experience with their surroundings. The weapon tier system allows the player to always be able to find an upgrade or to work towards something, meaning that they wouldn’t really ever plateau in the story.

I just got finished playing a few hours of Fortnite with my friends, and as I was playing I couldn’t help but think of ways we could have put some of the aspects of the game into our game as well. So that is why this blog post is about this great game.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Recently, my roommate and I decided to go see the new Jumanji movie to see if did the 1995, Robin Williams classic prequel. Not only was it a great movie and one of the better movies I’ve seen in the past year, but it was also based around a video game. For those who haven’t seen the original, first, watch the original because you’re missing out on one of Robin Williams great performances. Second, the idea behind the movie is that a board game named Jumanji, based around journeying through the jungle, comes to life in the real world, and the only way to end the madness is to beat the game. Well, in the newer edition, the Jumanji players are sucked into the video game, and take the role of their selected video game characters. I believe that the movie is not only entertaining, but it makes a serious underlying point. Video games bring together people that would otherwise never talk to each other. The four high school students sucked into the game were a nerdy, timid guy with little self-confidence, an IG model with no awareness of her surroundings, an education buff who rarely enjoys herself, and a jock with no regard for his grades. They all have obvious differences, but when sucked into the game and forced to take on their video game strengths, they work together to solve their shared dilemma. This dynamic isn’t just seen in the movie, though. For me, I see it consistently. Being in a fraternity with a very diverse group of brothers, one common attribute stands out: everybody fucking loves video games. Whether you like adventure, multiplayer, sports, or strategy games, there is a video game for every type of person, and when forced to come up with a group solution to a single problem, camaraderie is built. Outsiders view video games as nerdy, lazy, and unnecessary, but those of that have played it know that it means much more.

Team Bad Company

Time Travel as a Medium in Story Telling

Hey everyone, today I wanted to focus my article on how time travel is portrayed in storytelling. Since time travel is a big part of the story in our game, it felt appropriate to talk about it as a medium, and some of the influences we used for how we structured it in our game.  I will use two specific examples from pop culture. These examples include Doctor Who and The Terminator. Though there are more great examples in literature and video games, these two examples are some of the more iconic.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who uses time travel to the greatest extent humanly possible. The Doctor is an alien from a race of “timelords” that are immortal, and he/she travels around in a ship that can go anywhere in space and time. The ship is called “The Tardis”, and yes, it is overpowered. Because The Tardis can go anywhere in space at any time, it essentially functions as a huge plot device. The Doctor also iconically takes a human sidekick along with him/her, who doesn’t understand time travel and is jolted into a life of adventure. The people or creatures the doctor interact with change pretty much on an episode basis (this is what is so clever about the show). However, there are some villains or characters who run into The Doctor on multiple occasions that understand who he/she is and what he/she does. The show is famous for its campy atmosphere.

The Terminator

In this 80’s era Scify, a robot comes back from the past in order to kill Sarah Connor before her son John Connor can be born and save humanity from a future where machines have taken over the world. In order to stop this, the John Connor of the future sends back Kyle Reece, a human soldier, to save his mother. In this movie, Kyle is aware of time travel and the future that will happen. Sarah, on the other hand, is not and must put her faith in a stranger in order to stay alive. Time travel is used as a plot device in this movie, but unlike Doctor Who, it is more limited. Kyle doesn’t have a portable device or vessel that he can travel through time with, so it acts as a one-time plot development. Like in Doctor Who, the dynamic of the duo is similar in The Terminator. Kyle is more experienced and explains the sinister plot to his “companion”.

Cold War: 1776

Our game incorporates elements from both these classic time travel stories. The idea of Kennedy coming to the past in order to prevent a change in the future is a concept that our team borrows straight from The Terminator. We also include a level of camp that is comparable to the Doctor Who series. The difference being that we borrow from movie tropes and history for our camp, as opposed to the established continuity that the show uses. We additionally use the storytelling idea of a wise time traveler to explain the context of the story. This is adapted from both shows, and it is very effective for explaining the overall plot.

The Revival of Nintendo

Nintendo

The name brings certain images to mind: an undeniable behemoth in the gaming industry, colorful characters like Mario, Link, Pikachu, Kirby and more, and family fun. It could be argued that Nintendo, in a sense, is the messiah of the gaming industry. After the game market crashed in the days of Atari and E.T., Nintendo brought forth the NES and saved the world of games. Despite the incredible success of the NES and its successor, the SNES, the years passed and Nintendo seemed to be losing traction. The Gamecube was successful, but after the almost exclusively family-friendly library of the Wii, the Wii U couldn’t hold a candle to its competitors in terms of technical prowess or unit sales. For a while, many people were left asking one question. “What happened to Nintendo?”

Nintendo has always had a philosophy that revolved around creating a great experience for its consumers. In the first days of 3D, Nintendo made the mistake of staying with cartridges as opposed to the newly emerging CDs, but the argument was that cartridges would load faster and were the only medium suitable for the complex 3D graphics that systems would have to load. It was a mistake done to try and improve the player experience. When they realized their choice was wrong, they fixed their issue with the Gamecube, moving over to mini-discs that still offered greater storage space but fast load times, while also helping to protect Nintendo games from piracy. Then the Wii came out. While systems like the Xbox 360 focused on hardware power, Nintendo looked to make an affordable game system with revolutionary motion technology. A system that the whole family could play on together, enjoy, and not break the bank.

Everything up to this point had been great for Nintendo, but the Wii U proved to be the black sheep of the family. The system’s core values became drowned in the gimmicks of the gamepad and poor marketing. People didn’t even know what the Wii U was, with many believing it to be an incredibly expensive expansion to the Wii. With a high price that didn’t match the power

and steep competition from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo seemed to be trying to break into more adult territory with the Wii U’s slightly more diverse and mature library, yet didn’t bring a system with the chops necessary to do so. The Wii U, while an excellent system in its own right, lost way of the Nintendo vision and was a commercial failure.

Then, sometime in the last couple years, something incredible happened. Nintendo’s secret project, “NX” had some details leaked. For the first time, we were introduced to the idea that Nintendo was making a system that could be both portable AND a home console. When I first saw the rumors, I thought this would be the end for Nintendo. They had already been failing because of high prices for weak, gimmicky hardware. Now they were going to make a system which was expected to perform as a home console, but using a platform limited to the power-saving nature of portable devices? I was prepared to mourn Nintendo as a hardware company, expecting them to go the way of Sega after their swan song, the Dreamcast, still wasn’t enough to save them from failing hardware sales.

However, Nintendo did the unthinkable. The Wii U was the martyr that made Nintendo realize they’d lost their way, and the great new maverick that is the Nintendo Switch emerged, as if from nothing. Boasting a portable form factor, a focus on flexibility and multiplayer fun, an HD 720p display, and quite satisfying battery life, the Nintendo Switch is a true no-compromises system. For the first time ever, a player can bring graphically-intensive games on the go, play them at high resolution, and make it through a whole cross-country plane trip without running out of power. The Nintendo Switch is a shocking success story, delivering absolute grand-slams of video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, BOTH of which are acclaimed as the best games in their series (and Game of the Year in terms of Zelda). The best part? When the day is over and you’ve made it home, you can slide the switch into its dock and play games on your home television, in the beautiful FHD 1080p that your 50″ screen deserves.

The Switch is something special, evidently more so than even Nintendo thought. They couldn’t keep them on shelves when they were released, and it’s quickly become the most sought-after gaming console to hit the market in a long time. It isn’t an iterative improvement like the PS3 to the PS4, it’s a revolution in Nintendo and in the gaming industry altogether. Yet, amazingly, it does all of this while returning to the focus of the player. The Switch isn’t gimmicky. It genuinely puts the “fun” in functional and it can only get better as time goes on, with more fun games coming out daily. Personally I can’t wait for Metroid Prime 4 to blow me away.

Nintendo could not have impressed me more with this system. The Switch truly is a return to form for Nintendo and, more than anything, is a love letter to video games and the many players who enjoy them.

https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/29/rating-nintendos-names-for-its-home-gaming-consoles/

Bad Company 1-16 Update

Hello everyone, I know this post is a little late but I hope you all find it well. Our group has been working tirelessly and have really been working towards creating this fun and interesting game. The parts are all starting to come together!

 

We have officially decided on what our full story is going to include. We are going to start out with our tutorial level as described in previous blog posts. The player is going to wake up in a tavern in revolutionary Boston. When they walk outside the player will fight through squads of British soldiers, and finally, at the end, they will fight a British commander who is troubling the townspeople. I won’t go into the details of the big ‘spin’ that we are putting on the traditional revolutionary war story. But it involved figures from the cold war era using time travel to alter history. Once the tutorial is over there will be a ‘back to the future’ level where our player and their party will travel forward in time to the white house in 1963. After this brief, but interesting, level, the player and their party will travel back to the revolutionary war time period where they will travel around the colonies helping out multiple revolutionary era figures in different battles and other events that they might run in to. The first figure that the player runs in to is George Washington. We meet George Washington as he is about to cross the Delaware River on his way to carry out the surprise attack at the battle of Trenton. But, once the party helps the first president cross the Delaware, they run into some unforeseen resistance. The end of this level ends as the revolutionaries win the battle of Trenton. George Washington then joins the party and the party continues. The party ends up growing to a group of 5 total people, including the player character, and the last level of the game includes a large battle between the player and his party, and an entity that is representative of the United Kingdom.

 

While the story has finally come together and members of our group are working hard to code some of the specifics of the game, the rest of the group is hard at work taking care of the writing portion of the class. We have created an outline of our portfolio that is pretty well set. We will be writing in hopes of having a first draft of the portfolio done by Friday or Saturday in order to give us all time to edit and revise the portfolio in order to make it is well written as possible. In our portfolio, we are planning on going in depth into some of the historical research that we have conducted in order to make our game as historically accurate as possible. In addition to the historical research, we will also be describing certain aspects of the game that we would have liked to put into the game, but we could not do so because of time and technological restraints.

 

Bad Company Progress Report

This past weekend, Blaise finished the storywriting for our pilot scene of the ‘Midnight Ride’, and I finished the writing for our ‘Back to the Future’ scene, in which President Kennedy returns to Cold War era White House with our created player and Paul Revere. While we hashed out the final dialogue and plot of our respective scenes, Jon worked to improve the battles within our game, and built more scenery. Kaeman finished the cover art for the start menu of our game, which I have to say looks pretty freaking dope right now. He also worked to get the avatars created for our British and Russian soldiers. In class, we mainly discussed how we were to break up the portfolio and exactly what we would discuss in each of our chapters. Blaise almost has the introduction finished, and will soon start writing about the historical research of the Revolutinary era. I’ve been working on the section discussing the influence of other video games seen in our own games, and will also write about the problems we had in our game involving historical context. Kaeman will write about the history surrounding the Cold War Era, and will also write our conclusion. Jon has been tasked with the design document, and timeline of our project. We are much further than expected, but we also understand that there is much more work to do.

The Space Race and U.S. Motivations for Going to The Moon

Hey Everybody, today I decided to talk about The Space Race. More specifically I will be focusing on why the Americans shifted their aim towards putting a man on the moon, and how we will reflect that in our game. I wanted to do so as The Space Race is how my group and I are explaining the time travel used in our game. In our canonical universe, The Space Race was a cover-up for a race between Russia and the U.S. to successfully engineer time travel. The Russians wanted to use time travel in order to keep the Americans from winning the Revolutionary War, so that they would have no large enemies to compete with after World War Two. The U.S. then utilizes time travel to keep this alternate future from happening. Our game will mirror the actual space race by having the Russians initially ahead of the United States (why they are able to go back in time first) and then having the U.S. beat the Russians (beating the British and Russians will be almost symbolic of the U.S. going to the moon).  Kennedy’s use of propaganda speech in the game will allude to his motivations for getting a man on the moon.

In reality, the U.S. did technically start the space race, but they were behind the Russians at every step of the journey up until the moon landing. Kennedy, the president who famously pushed for putting a man on the moon, had initially been very dismissive about the importance of continuing to fund NASA’s research and development.  Given America’s firm spot at second place to the Russians and Kennedy’s lack of approval, it is hard to see why he would support such an expensive allocation of his administration’s resources. However, Kennedy needed The Space Race in order to maintain public approval. After the Bay of Pigs failure, Kennedy was desperate to win back the public. By choosing to go to the moon, not only did Kennedy’s administration pick a task far enough into the future that the Americans could possibly beat the Russians, but they were able to generate enough American propaganda to save the presidents approval rate.

For anyone who has grown up in the American public education system, gilded ideas of the Cold War and how we triumphed over the Russians were dominant. The Apollo Moon landing, The Miracle on Ice, and the fall of the Berlin wall are all seen as victories for lofty ideals such as “freedom” and “liberty”. The idea that Kennedy could have possibly had his doubts about beating the Russians in the space race is problematic for the narrative that Americans are expected to believe. it is in this way that it joins The Vietnam War and the Bay of Pigs. The particular era is looked at through rose-colored glasses in a very similar way that the Revolutionary War is. The moon landing is very comparable to the Boston Tea Party or the signing of The Declaration of Independence.