The Decision Makers Update

On our day of no class, our team met up to work on putting information into Twine and to continue to develop our multiple storylines. Most of our storylines will be counterfactuals to what actually happened in Nazi Germany. We have been searching for picture to be able to put into our game to give it a more visual and sensual aspect giving the player are better and more realistic experience.

Our main focus for today was to try and wrap up the storylines and solidify what we wanted the player to go through. Based on the players first decision, he/she will then determine whether they will be faced with the decisions that go into the Valkyrie mission or to stay a regular Nazi solider. The most fun route will be to participate with the mission and this option gives us an opportunity to present what actually happened or interesting counterfactuals to what happened. If the player makes a harsh decision or makes a wrong move such as confronting someone about joining the mission and a Nazi loyal person hears or the person decides to rat on the mission would cause Günter to die or be taken prisoner by the Nazis. In like many of the games we have played ourselves, there are moments that make us laugh or that provide some comic relief to the game. We have added this to some of the endings that are sudden and a little over the top. If the payer chooses the wrong decision and dies randomly, we do not want the player to get upset. We want them to have a fun experience regardless of whether they succeed in the game or die abruptly.

Another aspect of the storyline that we wanted to emphasize is the thought that the player takes in contrasting what happened in the 1940s and what the game is simulating. Everyone in our group finds these ideas interesting and fun to think about and we want to give the player of the game the same experience that we received when brainstorming different endings to the game. When thinking of what could happen to Günter, we got to put ourselves in our character’s shoes and think of what would happen to ourselves if we did certain actions; what would be the effects of our decisions was very thought provoking. The answers we came up with differed and we are working on trying to incorporate the different ideas into the game to add to the complexity of the game because Twine does not allow us to make a very complex and interactive game such as the ones we play on the Playstation or Xbox. We have also realized which areas of the game we need to know more about so we can retrieve more information on those areas, like the details of Operation Valkyrie.

From Sea To Shining Sea Squad

Over the course of the week, some of us have been working on some parts on the portfolio as well as continuing to work on the game. I have been working on the design document where I am describing our process and goals in completing our work. Cole Frazier is working on the historical document along with the help of Luke D. Along with that, Luke D. is also helping me my design document so that I don’t get off track when continuing to add to it. I go to him for clearance on what to include in the document, as of right now I am making immense progress in the Design Document as well as the rest of the group. I am a little over one thousand words in and constantly revisiting to adjust and add in our progress and our next goals as the days pass. In the historical document that Cole Frazier and Luke D is working on, they are adding basically all of the research we have done and all of the research we are going to do into it. It involves the primary sources and the secondary sources we have been studying individually including many different sources on the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Cruel and Unusual punishment. Luke H. is working on the video game reference document. In it, he will discuss the various games we have used as a reference in our video game process. Those games include Star Craft, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout. Each have their own individual implications into the process of the video game. We are using star craft to get insight on how prisoners being forced into war would play out. Call of Duty: Black Ops is being used as a reference for a soldier’s perspective and how life was for soldiers during the Cold War. For the game Fallout, it is being used as an example of how a post-apocalyptic America can play out in the mid twentieth century. Brenna and Luke H. have been working on the video game while inputting the groups ideas. I am not sure how far they are in the process, but we have a substantial amount of the video game done. Our goal is to have multiple pathways the player can take, almost like a Bandersnatch type vibe but without having re-dos because the goal is for the player to create their own history within the guidelines of our design.

Centrenauts Update

As of right now, we are very focused on the storyline of our game. We are currently working on all the possible outcomes that could happen. Easter Eggs are also an interesting topic we may include, but it would be like a small picture or item from actual history. There would be no steps involved in achieving such easter egg. Recently, I have been looking at other games that could potentially influence our game. Such games found so far are Pokemon Blue, Kindergarten, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty WW2, and actually a movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

In the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones works with a girl who appears to be his partner. As the movie progresses, she starts to turn on him. When she gets what she needs, she hands him over and reveals she’s part of the Nazi party. We may include a scenario where our character gets caught by a double crossing spy. We have also read on books of double crossing spies and are basing our main allied spy of such. The progress of storyline and portfolio are coming along. The game itself can be tedious at some points from what Jordan and Alex have showed me.

We should have our whole presentation wrapped up in time for presentation. I still have to work on our conclusion on whats worked and failed, but we are really looking forward to showing our game and getting feed back on 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.

Team Decision Makers: One Step From Living Or Dying

Hello everyone,

 

In today and a little bit of yesterday’s class time, we as a team have put in more work than ever into our storyline, creating even more pathways into our game to show the reality that one simple mistake in Nazi Germany could change your fate quickly. Also, we have figured out Twine quite well and at least know how to plug in our text and make the story flow and spread out. However, there are some things we need to figure out within these next few days to maximize the benefit of using Twine.

 

Over the past few days, we gradually noticed that although we are not judged on how long our game is, nor are we required to make an hour long production, our game does not take very long to play through. We still desire as a group to make little bit lengthier of a game, so we doubled down on our effort to the storyline. At this point, there is at least five separate endings, but we have 3 or more in the works that could result in victory or death based on one simple decision. Due to our production taking place in such a radical place and time in history, it is accurate that one misstep could result in life or death. People were killed frequently in Germany during World War II for misspeaking and accidently disrespecting leaders. In fascist countries, a citizens were heavily punished for showing dislike toward their leaders. As mentioned today in class, this still happens with Kim Jong-Un in North Korea today.

 

As said before, our focus has been on expanding the story with more decisions and details, and this affects Twine directly. Adding more detail does not change much except putting more text into the box, but adding more decisions changes a lot. More choices equals more text boxes, therefore more text and details, but most of all, more decisions makes for a really confusing “tree” on Twine. There are lot of branches running all over the place, making it challenging to keep your focus on the correct one. Some decisions make the player come back to the same place after a couple of turns, which looks very confusing to us on Twine. As we add more, these paths may run together even more and present even more visual challenges to us.

 

Twine’s one weakness is the lack of visual for the player, so we are continuing to investigate how we can improve upon that through pictures, sounds, and text changes. We have been looking up how to do these things but it seems pretty challenging. We are going to meet up as a group these next few nights and figure them out. Adding pictures adds the direct aspect of a visual, which is appealing to the player. I’m not sure if sounds are even possible, but if they are, sounds can provide the recognizable noise of military parades or doors opening, which once again can help make the player feel like they are in the game. Changing the text design can force a certain mood shift in scenes that are more intense, causing the consumer to feel the attitude of the game more. In the coming days, we have a lot of work to do with the storyline and plugging that into Twine. I’m confident we will figure out the additions to Twine to make our game even better. Until next time!

 

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?

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 Centrenauts: New progress

Greetings to FYS159 friends:

 

Today is like the transpoint for our game projects. Yes, we are still doing the research, however, we are going to put more time on the game development at this stage. The members of Centrenauts met on Sunday night to work on the profolio and the game itself. Yesterday we talked about assigning the portfolio part to each group member, the problems about the RPGmaker, and the plan for the next couple of days. We also helped to put the texts in the actual games. (Which proved it is working later.)

 

Today in class, we were trying to figure out how to create the intro cutscenes in our game. Watching couple of Youtube tutorial videos, Alex figured out how to make the intro cutscenes. We tested the game, and it worked perfectly fine. According to our planned storyline, there should be an secondary location called pas de calais to be seen on the map. We managed to make a cutscene which there will be a plane flying pass this beach to give the players some “hints”. That means we have to work on designing the “ocean map” at this point. Also, we encountering the several bugs in the game. When our spy is out of the general’s office, he immediately walked “under” the map. We found it, we laughed at it, and we definitely are going to fix this problem as soon as possible.

 

As and addition, we are still writing about the dialogues that will appear in the gameplay. The script should be come out soon since everything is on right track at this point. Plotting these conversations in the actual gameplay is one of our huge tasks right now.  Every member of the group will join the writing of portfolio and will finish their own part on time.

Socrates, Salem, and Senator McCarthy

The term, “witch hunt,” is fairly common and usually refers to the act of accusing a person of committing a crime while having no evidence, or very questionable evidence for your claims. Whenever I hear the term I am reminded of the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is a scene in the movie in which a medieval town is convinced that a woman is a witch, so they cry out in determination, “BURN ERR!” However, when the townsfolk bring the “witch” to Sir Bedevere, who represents the town’s nobility and is the local knight (played by Terry Jones), he is suspicious of the claims against the woman. He asks for proof of the crime and one man (John Cleese) replies, “She turned me into a newt… but I got better,” thus proving that the massive mob has no absolute evidence.

I bring up this scene because it’s hilarious, but it also represents how gullible crowds can be when their safety or way of life may be threatened. This in turn will lead to quick decision making and rambunctious actions that may seem fair at the moment, but upon further inspection turn out to be horribly misguided. Such is the case of the famous Salem Witch Trials. Very similar to the Monty Python movie, the Salem Witch Trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions in 1692 Massachusetts. The trials led to the deaths of at least 25 people, 19 by hanging and one, Giles Corey, was pressed to death. These people were accused of conspiring with the devil and haunting the town. The only evidence to support these claims were testimonies from townspeople that sited visions, nightmares, and convulsions as proof of witchery. Thus, much like in the movie, there was no substantial proof for the accusations. Also Salem was a Puritan community, a very strict sect of Christianity, and the hysteria of witchery was not an unfathomable idea to many people back then. This environment and the fears of people in the community led to the death of at least 25 innocent people, showing that if fear is growing within a community, irrational decisions will soon follow.

Tying into our game, the Cold War was a period of suffocating fear for many Americans. The threat of nuclear war was as tense as ever before. Cuba contained missiles that could reach the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was looking to spread communism and destroy capitalism. All of this led to mass hysteria in the U.S. that is known as the “Red Scare.” This tense and fear-driven environment led to more “witch hunts” in the U.S. almost identical to those of Salem. This time they were led by the fear of communism within the U.S., a threat that was preached by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy made numerous accusations against people within the U.S. government and CIA, citing treason, espionage, foul play, disloyalty, and every other term that could label a person a trader or a “commie.” While most of these claims flung out of his mouth as effortless as breath through his lungs, and they contained no sense of evidence or support, people fell for his trick because they were so afraid of communism within their government. McCarthy knew this and he used it to his advantage to gain popularity and votes throughout his time in office. His endless accusations eventually coined the term McCarthyism as “a campaign or practice that endorses the unfair use of allegations and investigations.” The practice of McCarthyism throughout the Cold War led to many irrational decisions, most notably the cases of Julian and Ethel Rosenberg. The two were accused of heading a spy ring that informed Soviet forces about nuclear technology that the U.S. possessed. On June 19, 1953, the two were put to death via the electric chair. Although it was never proven that they committed these very serious crimes, new evidence suggested that the accusations of a spy ring were true and thus they were assumed guilty. However, it is plausible that had this case not been during the Cold War, these two would have not been put to death, especially due to the fact that at the time of their deaths they had not been proven guilty. Much like the trials in Salem, the circumstances of the trial played a key role in the punishment of the accused. Both Salem’s religion-dominated society and the nuclear tension during the Cold War led to the fear-based, irrational decisions that killed many people.

We plan on using the idea of McCarthyism in our game while also drawing on the example of Socrates. Socrates was an Ancient Greek philosopher who was charged with treason because his teachings of an organized state, as taught in the Republic, defied the Greek model of democracy. He was accused of treason and sentenced to death for his teachings, much like our character. But what I want to highlight about Socrates was his environment. Socrates always taught that an organized state should be led by “philosopher kings” instead of run by the masses, because the masses are subject to irrational decisions similar to Salem and McCarthyism. At the time of his own execution Greece had just lost to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War which caused great strife within Greece. So when Socrates praised Sparta on systems of government, the masses looked to punish his disloyalty. In a way Socrates predicted his own death because he fell subject to the whims of the masses and the irrational decisions they made, much like the victims in Salem and the Rosenbergs.

All of these examples were taken into account when we decided to make our main character a teacher. Our main character will be accused of corrupting minds similar to Socrates. Our character will also be overwhelmed with the sense of helplessness that comes from being prosecuted with no substantial evidence similar to the victims of the witch hunts of Salem and Cold War McCarthyism.

 

The Value of Absurdity

Happy Friday everyone,

Yesterday and today in class, we discussed some sections from Playing With The Past, a book that dissects the relationship between history and video games. Within these sections, the idea of counter-factual history in video games was presented. Specifically, it mentioned the Assassin’s Creed series and DLC that was for the third installment. Assassin’s Creed III is based in the American Revolution and follows the Native American character Connor as his involvement in the war increases. The DLC was called The Tyranny of King Washington, and yes, it calls Washington “King.”

In this DLC, George Washington sets up a monarchy in “The United Kingdom of American” and declares himself the king. I remember when I first saw this DLC’s trailer back in 2012, my mind was blown. What an insane idea, I just played this game where I help the 13 Colonies overthrow the British, and now I had to fight George Washington! My 12-year-old mind exploded a little, but why?

This DLC is the definition of counter-factual. In reality, a democracy was put in place, and a monarchy would have gone against everything the founders believed in. This part of history had been crammed into my mind over and over again by teachers reading out of a textbook with Washington’s face on the cover. The idea of Washington being the enemy was different and exciting, subconsciously I started running through the history I knew to be true and then asking, “what if?”. A part of history that had previously been just another section in a textbook was now revitalized.

That is the power of video games. They allow one to “play” with history and to engage with it, instead of just reading facts. The question of “why?” is extremely power in history, as we have learned in this class. With this DLC in mind, why even do something like this? Granted, it is mostly for monetary value, but I think that it also has educational value. It helped little 12-year-old me to consider how a different system of government would affect America and then to visualize that difference in the game. This is undeniably valuable, even if the concept of the DLC is absurd.

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