Camp Antioch

Hello, and welcome to our game, Camp Antioch, which features a Japanese-American teenager and his experience in the 1940s Internment Camps. An RPG that focuses on heavy narrative and character interaction, our protagonist, Nisei Himura 緋村 二世, must balance complex issues of loyalty to family, loyalty to the internment community around him, and loyalty to himself as well. The game requires the main character to explore his surroundings and to interact with the environment and people – including both the guards and other inmates – around him in order to collect items that will eventually lead to one of three conclusions of the narrative story. The story of our Nisei will show the player the dire situation of individuals placed in the camps in an enjoyable, interactive approach to experiencing a side of American history that has been largely ignored. Camp Antioch, largely based off of Camp Poston in Arizona, serves as a blend of real history with creative narrative in order to give the player a meaningful experience.

Here is a list of everyone who created the project and some information about them:

JD Dotson is a Chemistry major from Nashville, TN. He enjoys sports game such as Madden, 2K, and FIFA; he also enjoys a mixture of RPGs at some point. He has an interest in WWII, which helped lead to the topic of the project.

Madison Garcia is an English major from Jacksonville, FL. She loves anything and everything Nintendo, particularly Zelda and Pokémon, and plays indie games on Steam because she wants to start a new race of hipster gamers. She is very interested in Japanese culture, which helped inspire part of this project.

Andrew Salchli is a history major with a politics minor from Bowling Green, KY. He enjoys first-person shooter games and Madden NFL games. Andrew is very interested in the history around World War II and the years that surround it.

Richard (Trey) Hughes is an English major and Creative Writing minor from Louisville, KY. He enjoys indie games such as Deadbolt and LISA along with games such as Skyrim and the Witcher 3. He has an interest in the history of the American West and oppression in general.

All in all, Group Desolation has had a very wonderful CentreTerm, and we enjoyed the academic aspect of gathering historical research along with the creative energy required to translate that onto the screen. We feel Camp Antioch portrays a compelling story of the suffering caused by mass panic, racism, and war. Group Desolation would like to thank the other members of History 482 and Dr. Harney for giving us the opportunity to take a unique approach to both history and game development. We would also like to thank all who played the game and gave it, along with the real-life stories of those who were unfortunate enough to have experienced the living Internment Camps, a sense of purpose.


Here is a list of the most useful research books, both primary and secondary:

  1. Cahan, Richard, et al. Un-American: the Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War CityFiles Press, 2016.
  2. Hoshida, George, and Tamae Hoshida. Taken from the Paradise Isle: the Hoshida Family Story. Edited by Heidi Kim, University Press of Colorado, 2016.
  3. Kikuchi, Charles. The Kikuchi diary: chronicle from an American concentration camp, the Tanforan journals. Edited by John Modell. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
  4. Nishimoto, Richard S, and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi. 1995. Inside an American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston, Arizona. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  5. Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, Harry H.L. Kitano, ed. Japanese Americans from Relocation to Redress. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986
  6. Weglyn, Michi. Years of Infamy: the Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. University of Washington Press, 199

Here is a list of the most useful video games that helped give Group Desolation inspiration for gameplay mechanics:

  1. The Escapists
  2. Papers, Please
  3. LISA
  4. Sometimes Always Monsters
  5. Hellblade

 

Farewell

Hello everyone,

Today I would like to send a thoughtful goodbye to everyone in the class. This short term was truly a blast. The interesting personalities that every single person brought to the room helped feed into an interactive, fun, yet informative class. So for this, I say thank you.

I would also like to discuss how this class has changed my perspective on video games. Before this class, when I would play a video game I was not focused on the historical consideration that goes into the game. The background was merely a setting for the fun game I was playing. Discussion of how certain games such as Assassins Creed and Bioshock use history to shape or inspire some aspect of its play along with creating our own game have really given me a new appreciation for the validity of video games being a means of displaying or portraying history.

Demo day reflection

With today having been the day that we played our games for not just each other but also people who wanted to come in and see what the games looked like. After, seeing other games and our game being played in its entirety was really cool. We were able to see all of the hard work that everyone had put into their games, and how these games incorporated some aspects of history into a game that was created by our peers. Seeing the variety that each of these games provided was one thing that stuck out and allowed us to see how different people have different visions for different stories from history.

Even with two of the three groups choosing to use RPG maker there was still a difference between these two groups and the video games that each produces. One of the games being ours, Camp Antioch, having a whole world map and seeing the entire layout of where the player could go throughout the game was cool to see. The other group that produced a game where there were multiple maps where you could go different places and in different times in history. To see the variety that groups could have while using the same software was interesting to see because it re-enforced the ability to have different stories and different plans for games.

Seeing the games displayed on the big screens brought out the ability to see these games played on a large scale and that gave those who not only were playing it but who were also watching the gameplay to see the games in a better way. Also, the games produced lessons of very different types of history. One being an alternative history mixture of Revolutionary War and Cold War, World War II, and the Wild Wild West. These different time periods mean that there was a spread of lessons to learn and content of history. The fact that the content was spread out over time made it more interesting because there was no overlap in game content or timelines. All in all the demo day was a success and a fun experience.

LISA A Life Ruining Gameplay Experience

As we finish up the game, and make the final decisions about what content to cut and what to double down on, I couldn’t help but think of another game that inspired a bit of our gameplay. LISA, available on steam, is a game set in the post apocalypse where there are no women. All women in the game’s world have disappeared or died, all but a single baby named Buddy. Buddy is of course kidnapped at the start of the game and the player spends the remainder of their time chasing down her captors across the wasteland.

Throughout LISA the player is forced to choose between losing items(which make the already difficult game near impossible), losing a party member(who will disappear permanently), or losing a body part(which takes away certain attacks). I would have loved to implement this system in our game as it would have given the player’s choices more weight, they would agonize over what to choose if they knew that whatever they picked would hurt them. It would also help to set the tone and drive home the conflict between the players caring for themselves and caring for their family/those around them.

The combat system of LISA would have also been a welcome edition to our game, it is difficult and hectic and requires judicious inventory management. Every battle is a struggle and if the player isn’t careful they can actually use up too many items, leaving the player unable to progress or costing them a party member’s life. As it is Camp Antioch has no combat, mostly due to time constraints and balancing issues.

Group Desolation: The Items

 

We have decided that the game will operate as an item-collecting game for the most part. Each of the three ending decisions – either partake in a riot, escape using the riot as a cover, or stay and protect the family from intruders – must have specific items acquired in order to trigger the end riot. Our original game, was this to be a full game, would have full-length narrative quests that would eventually lead to getting these items. Since this is unfeasible in the amount of time we have, we are making the game so that a couple of items are purchasable in a shop, and Nisei will be making money every delivery he makes so he can buy those items. Here is a list of all items that must be acquired:

Machete
Works for all three categories. He will use this in the riot scene either to help cut his way through barbed wire to protect his family from intruders, or to behead Jed and some of the other guards.
In the original game, Nisei will need to be a part of the Firebreak Gang (a group of Nisei who has their hearts set on rebelling and gathering materials, i.e. dumpster diving). There are mini-quests involved, such as kissing a girl to acquire her bobby pin that will be used in lieu of a key, that will lead to Nisei and a friend breaking into Jed’s office and stealing his machete on the wall. (Nisei will have made a replica wooden carving to replace it with, like Indiana Jones). Instead, we will simply have Nisei purchase the machete.

Quilt
This is an item that the player will actually work for in the game. He will befriend a woman named Diane Miyamoto, an American whose late husband was Japanese, and since her children are Japanese, she is forced to live in the camp with them to take care of them. Her eldest daughter, Theresa, is ill; Diane asks Nisei to befriend Theresa, and there is a heartwarming scene where they make paper cranes from Nisei’s newspaper stash.
The next time Nisei will talk to Diane, she tells him that Theresa has died, and she asks Nisei to help her bury the body. As a reward since Diane cannot afford to keep all of Theresa’s stuff, she gives the quilt to Nisei.
This quilt serves in the ‘survival’ category as Nisei will use it as a blanket.

Flask and Molotov Cocktail
While the flask is labeled under the ‘survival’ category and the Molotov under ‘riot’, both are acquired from the same quest. These two items will be in the actual game as well.
Nisei will speak to Sango Watanabe, the wife of alcoholic husband Hideyoshi. She tells Nisei that she is sick of his drinking habits since they are causing the family to go broke, and she essentially asks Nisei to steal the alcohol from Hideyoshi next time he passes out. When Hideyoshi does pass out, Nisei will venture into his room and has the option of taking either the flask, the Molotov, or both.

Reports on Father’s Arrest
Taking the same action that applies to the above machete, Nisei breaks into Jed’s desk and finds reports on his father’s arrest. While most of the content has been blacked out, Nisei discerns that his father will remain in jail permanently, which angers him to no end.
Our group is discussing whether this will be an item in the actual game or not considering this would be a weird thing to purchase from a store.

Fur Gloves
After a nisei, Ben Akutagawa, tells Nisei about a hole in which jackrabbits get into from the outside wall. After learning that his sister, Naomi, has been getting cold. Nisei slays the jackrabbits and skins them to make gloves for her.

Gauze
Akane has been getting scars from her work, so Nisei purchases gauze for her from the market.

Preservatives
After finding that Satoshi, Nisei’s little brother, needs more food, Nisei goes dumpster diving to get some for him.

Camp Antioch: Character Creation, Player interaction and More.

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to talk about character creation on RPGmaker MV. Through this post I will also give an update on Group Desolation and how our game is coming along.

In our internment camp we are using 20 non player characters; these characters include children, adults and guards that will populate the camps. The character creation design offered by RPGMaker MV lends itself to many challenges. the challenges do not lie in the functionality of the creation however they lie in the decisions about the actual characters’s appearances. One of the first challenges that I came across was the limited skin color selection. There are probably three realistic skin tones, two being two shades of Caucasian skin and another that is a generic brown tone that can be used for a variety of races. For our Japanese internment camp, this tone seemed most appropriate for the group we are working with. Another part of the creation process that I find important to discuss is the hair style choice given for each character. In the RPGMaker character creator , there are two different sections that the hair is broken into; these are the front and back hair. In most of the choices offered for the front hair, there are only long and straight options. I cannot say that I can ask for much more out of this game maker. On the map these character will look more pixelated and reminiscent of Gameboy era Pokemon games in its graphics. Creating male children has been another challenge of the the RPGmaker, so far I have not found a way to make a child that is male. There is only one hairstyle that is offered for the child character on RPGmaker. If this problem continues then the players will be created as adults and made to look as young as possible with the knowing that it is not accurate.

Beyond creating the character, to create interaction with the main character come in the form of events. These events can be used to create a variety of situations involving the main player. These events can range form a simple text interaction upon  touching the character to creating a shop function and exchanging goods for currency. So far no actual coding has been needed to accomplish our basic request at this point. The game has began to see its early form setting into place. The script and storyline is near complete; once the script has been completed we can then begin to start linking the script to events with npc’s on the map. That will set the main basis of the game; the majority of the game will rely on interaction with the surrounding players in the map.

As a group we have taken roles in the portfolio due at the end of the term. We have divided the parts up and assigned sections to each person. We are on schedule to produce a game and portfolio as scheduled at this point.

Group Desolation: Characters & Anecdotes

Seeing as most of our group’s blog posts have been updates, today I’m going to take a change of pace and instead discuss an interesting person we’ve come across in our research who will heavily influence a character in our game.
Since our game features a main character who is employed by a barracks manager, we’ve decided to draw inspiration from a man named Rich Nishimoto who worked at camp Poston. Nishimoto is the perfect person who existed in true history to base a barracks manager of off. Let me explain why.

Who was he?

Image result for richard shigeaki nishimoto hq

Rich Nishimoto was born in 1904 Japan. From primary school throughout high school, Nishimoto spent his schooling years at prestigious boarding schools while his parents moved to San Fransisco. In Japan, he attended an Episcopalian school, where he learned English and was exposed to American culture. He eventually graduated Stanford with a B.S. in Engineering and got his first dose of racism so painful, he dropped an engineering career altogether. At a senior banquet, when businesses were recruiting seniors, Rich noticed he was being neglected; when he asked a friend why, his friend replied, “Look at your face. It’s Oriental. No one will hire you.”

Between this time and when he was relocated to Poston, Rich worked for brokerage firms, courts, and as a translator; he also met a woman, Yae, and had two children with her. In 1942, the family was moved to Poston, where a friend told him “[you] have the appearance of a Nisei, and act like one, yet [your] thoughts are typically those of intelligent Issei.” Within a couple months of relocation, Nishimoto became foreman of the Firebreak Gang, a group of Japanese laborers who cleared debris. He was voted block personnel and resolved disputes quickly and efficiently, a result of his extensive education. He was very active in peaceful camp protests, doing things such as resigning official positions and boycotting to get his point across. He used his social skills to recruit Nisei and intelligence and connection to Japanese culture to recruit Issei and cleverly intimidated those who didn’t want to participate in participating (including cripples & the blind). He became the official supervisor of the overall camp, observing and gathering information from the internees to document the result of the internment camps for the Bureau of Sociological Research (BSR). To put in perspective how much the BSR respected him: the average sum for Poston employees was $14/month; $19/month for doctors, dentists, medical personnel etc.; Nishimoto was making $80/month in his prime. He was nothing short of a weapon due to his education, experience in business and social analysis and data research, connections to all Poston leaders, block manager, and connections to both Issei and Nisei communities.

Thanks for that long, boring history lesson, but how does he fit into the game?

The character in our game has been renamed Rich Fujimoto because he is not a carbon copy of Nishimoto. What will carry over are his levels of intelligence, his job (in all areas), his leadership and speaking skills, his aversion to racism, and his cleverness. What will not carry over are his family (they will not be mentioned), and clearly we will not be explaining all this biographical information in the game. Hopefully, we will be able to carry over these traits to Fujimoto and make his level of education and leadership ability apparent to the player.

From what we have read so far about Nishimoto, he appears empathetic yet straightforward and unwavering. While we hope that Fujimoto can carry these same qualities as well, he is currently ambiguous and a little darker than Nishimoto. In the game, Fujimoto attempts to convince Nisei to join in on protesting, but nonviolently. It is a running theme in the game that Nisei is very similar to his father, something that screws him over with Jed, the head guard, who puts him on watch, but who earns the respect from Fujimoto as he sees the potential of harnessing the same fiery passion in the Himura men. Fujimoto opens by mentioning Nisei’s name and connecting it to personality:
…Himura? What a haunting but beautiful name: Red Town. A symbol of blood, fire, the sacred forces of life.”
As the first encounter between Nisei and Fujimoto continues, Fujimoto indirectly states that he is planning something against the government, but is ambiguous for safety reasons (also, it will sound badass). He guides and warns Nisei about his job and how it will fit into a larger plan. Here is a quip from the current script (subject to change):

The line “if you kick a dog around several times, eventually, he will bite you” was an actual saying Nishimoto used to recruit Nisei into his peaceful rebellions. I love this line because it’s a strong image and represents exactly how Nishimoto was thinking, and it also shows that he knows exactly what was going on. I truly hope we can convey this in the rest of the game as well.
Due to the shortness of the game, it is unlikely that Nisei will be speaking to Fujimoto often, so we will have to find a way to get all of these aspects of Nishimoto into Fujimoto with very limited space, but I have hope that it will turn out well.


The source for biographical information on Nishimoto:

Nishimoto, Richard S, and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi. 1995. Inside an American Concentration Camp: Japanese American Resistance at Poston, Arizona. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

1-16 Update

Today with not having any group time in class due to the fact that we do not have class tomorrow and will still be able to meet as a group and collaborate on what we need to in order to continue working on out video game and our portfolio as well. This was what we discussed as a group, continue the work that each of us are doing on our own for both the game and the portfolio. The fact that we can meet tomorrow during the day or tonight allows more time to work on the certain aspects of each part of the project to be worked on for a longer time before we come back as a group and work together and collaborate on the project. Some possible things for discussion that could be talked about, in the time that we spend as a group working, are some more information for the two upcoming presentations along with some more insight and design for where we want the portfolio to go.

 

As we work towards the end goal of finishing both the game and the portfolio, as a group we need to and will keep in mind the amount of time that we have left in order to finish the necessary aspects of our game. A major part of what we will need to do effectively, as a group and on our own, will be manage our time well and appropriately. We will need to maximize our remaining time in order to make the best game and portfolio. To do this we will continue to divide the work up to make sure that we get the work done and that it is of quality.

 

As for class today, it was interesting to see different types of videogames and how there are very different ways that they can and do represent their characters. After seeing these various types of games, it reinforced the idea that the games that all three of these games are going to be making can and will be different from one another. Also, it was good to see that the characters can be differently represented. The fact that we got exposed to different games and how they differently look and the way that the characters and other aspects of them appear allows for us to have a little bit more freedom in our design, because we are reassured that games do not have to be in one specific way or have to have one appearance for their characters.

Group Desolation: The Story and Events

We are happy to say that the story of our game has basically been finalized and the script, which we can just copy/paste into RPG Maker, will be completed very soon. This is also an exciting time as we have begun to populate the map with NPCs and can begin setting up the event markers for the main quest. If everything goes well we should be able to begin to playtest the majority of the story by Friday night. Along with this, we have begun to look into generating an in-game cutscene to introduce the main character to the player as the beginning moments are heavily scripted and do not require the player to be in control. Having this scene be completely under our control could also help in making the player feel like they are stepping into the shoes of a predetermined character rather than stepping into the game as themselves. This would immerse the player more fully in the world, something we as a group have decided is very important for the success of our game. Our game, like Always Sometimes Monsters, is based more on the choices the players make and the consequences of those choices rather than combat. The player will be made to fight at a certain point and will be provided a very clear goal, but immersion and the bond the player is able to form with the main character are most important at this stage. This a bit difficult to manage with the limited development time and limit on demo length, but we are working hard to address this.

Group Desolation Progress

Hello everyone,

 

Today we started with a brief progress report form each group member and what they are doing individually. This is a direct reflection of the group roles that were established earlier and mentioned in an earlier post as well. With the reflection of what each person is doing on their own last night a majority of what each of us did along with the assigned readings and History Respawned episode to watch, we worked on our sources and going through them to solidify what each source had and what they brought to the table in terms of information that would be good for our game and our portfolio. The sources were also determined whether they were primary or secondary sources. With the presentation being on Monday we helped JD who is presenting on the primary sources, we worked on getting the primary sources and what they had in terms of information and how they would not only help the game and portfolio, but also how they would help JD in the presentation and ensuring that the primary sources have information that will be helpful to our project.

Also, the script that was discussed yesterday was also mentioned today during our time together. Madison is continuing to write it mainly and the rest of us are helping with the research to ensure that the script is historically accurate while still being a fun game. Also, we all are adding to the script and reviewing or editing it wherever it is necessary. The script is a main part of what we will be working on this weekend along with the continued research to help propel that game along.

The map of the game is finished and the next step in terms of the actual video game development is now to make the player characters and the non-player characters. These will be the characters that carry out the script that is being written. Also, these will be the characters that act out the research that has been done to ensure that the game is historically accurate. For example, one non-player character will be the guards and how they interacted with the internees, and there will also be more NPCs that are fellow internees in the camp that we have created, which is camp Antioch. These characters will be the ones who carry out other stories that have been found in the research phase of our project. Therefore, these people will be the more “boring” figures in the game rather than the main character who will be able to act out through player control.