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 Cole Frazier is working on the historical document along with the help of Luke D. Along with that, Luke D. is also helping me my design document so that I don’t get off track when continuing to add to it.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 In the historical document that Cole Frazier and Luke D is working on, they are adding basically all of the research we have done and all of the research we are going to do into it.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.

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.

 

From Sea to Shining Sea Squad: Progress

Good Afternoon,
Since our last blog post, we have made immense progress in our history research on the Cold War. As a group we have gathered many different source materials to help us gain insight in the problems that arose during that time period. As a whole we want to figure out specific details that would enable us to play with the continuity of the cold war while maintaining the main conflicts that went on. We are using many primary and secondary sources to help us navigate our game to make it believable.
As of right now, Luke H. is working on the video game process and figuring out different aspects we can use in our gaming storyline. Luke D., Cole and I are doing online and physical research to get a complete understanding of the Cold War and how we can use our knowledge to help Luke H. and Brenna with the storyline as well as looking into mass incarceration to help fulfil our vision for this game. One of our goals is to make the video game accurate in terms of the dangers and fears of the Cold War while giving room for realistic fictional story that would align with the events of the Cold War and issues involving mass incarceration. Another thing I helped with on the game is drawing up a few concept pieces for our video game that Luke H. can go off of when describing certain things. For example, I drew my idea of a courtroom for our game and different clothes the main character would wear so its easier to describe the character when writing the game.
In order for us to stay on track during this short term, Brenna has created a plan of action (which she has wrote about in her last blog post) so we know what to do and when to do it. Another goal of ours is to maximize our time frame so we can use minimal effort and still get an amazing grade. There’s a whole timeline of specific days that we will work on different things and making sure that we get what we have to get done consistently.
Today during group work time, I made my way to the library to get a few more primary source materials on the Cuban Missile Crisis which solidified our choice of making that our alternate timeline kick off. The sources I gathered were four books written in the 21st century (for updated information on the Cuban missile crisis that older books might not have). The names and authors of the books are “High Noon in the Cold War” by Max Frankel, “Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited” by James A. Nathan, “The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality” by Sheldon M. Stern which show different ways citizens of the United States panicked and prepared for all out Nuclear War and finally the memorable “Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Robert F. Kennedy which is a book on the Cuban Missile Crisis through the eyes of the brother of the President.
-Nick Alicea

From Sea to Shining Sea Squad: Some Core Concepts We’re Working With

Greetings all,

 

The From Sea to Shining Sea Squad had our second brainstorming session today, and we’ve made significant progress in having a solid idea for our game. We’ve settled on the outbreak of nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the peak of the Cold War as the setting that our game will explore, but we want to take a look at the personal experience of a U.S. citizen made to fight in the conflict following the nuclear exchange.

 

During our brainstorming, we discussed the lore of the Terran from the StarCraft series. A key feature of the Terran Dominion’s army is that they use their convicted criminals as soldiers. We were specifically interested in the personal experiences that would be produced by such a criminal justice system, but the nature of StarCraft as a an RTS game is not very conducive to conveying that personal experience. Our game could explore how a government might justify this system, and how this dystopian system could come about in the U.S. during the Cold War. It could be presented as a more moral alternative to capital punishment, as the rest of society might benefit from their fighting, and could hinge on the 13th amendment of the U.S. constitution.

 

Our team also discussed how we would create an authentic experience appropriate to the time period. We plan to research what other games in this period have done to successfully create a believable and detailed playing experience. The nature of Twine as our development platform gives us the opportunity to make a believable setting in the mind of the player, but this will require careful attention to the details of the period in order to create an enjoyable, interesting, and accurate atmosphere.

 

The team is now researching into what points of contingency may need to be changed in order to make the breakout of armed conflict during the Cold War possible and historically sound. We are thinking of making The Cuban Missile Crisis the spark that ignites the war, but we want to find more reasons for why the two powers may have been just a bit more belligerent to tip this instance over the edge and into actual military conflict.

 

At the end of our brainstorming, we started to hone in on what areas each member would focus on, and how we are going to spend our group time working. Some members of the team will specialize in creating a believable atmosphere within the game purely through the writing and details of the world, while others may focus more on finding the historical contingency points that may need to be altered in order to make the alternative history of our game make sense. These roles are still very flexible though.

 

A challenge we are anticipating is creating a real sense of agency and freedom in a game where we have a specific experience we want the player to have. We are going to work to give the player choices that may have effects in the short term, but overall the story will remain unchanged. Hopefully this, in tandem with experiencing the world through the perspective of our protagonist, will be enough to create that sense of immersion we seek.

 

 

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.

Group 1: Bad Company – Day 2

Hello everyone! Day two for team Bad Company has been filled with intense discussions about some of the key aspects that will go into our game, including which software we will use, as well as a complete overhaul of our story line! With this being said, we made good progress towards putting these abstract plans into action!

Our discussion about which software we are going to use carried over from day one. Where we were introduced with multiple options. We narrowed down these options to GameMaker and RPG Maker. While RPG Maker is a much more simple program, a couple students from our group are skilled with technology and feel confident about being able to make a game with GameMaker. Because of the added complexity, GameMaker would allow us to do more with what we have. We would be able to customize certain aspects of the game that we would not be able to if we were using RPG Maker. With this being said, Jon and Kaeman, who are our tech guys, will play around with both of these programs in order to decide which they feel more comfortable with.

 

While those two are hard at work with that issue, Chase and myself will be working together in order to begin to formulate the story line and the lore behind the game play. In yesterday’s post we described that the main idea of the game would be based around the revolutionary war, with interesting elements from ancient Japanese culture. But because of the difficulties we found from tying those two very different time periods together, we completely scrapped the ancient Japanese idea. But with that we had a void to fill. In replacement of the ancient Japanese culture spin, we decided that we were going to introduce cold war era technology to the settings and events of the revolutionary war. The game picks up as that President John F. Kennedy time travels back to the 1770’s in order to save the revolution after the Soviet Union traveled back in time in order to help the British wipe America off of the map! JFK brings with him new, ‘futuristic’ at the time, weaponry that had never been seen before. The player creates a character and with the help of JFK, and other revolutionary war figures, drives the British from the homeland and will eventually win the revolutionary war.

 

The idea behind this interesting spin on the original story of the Revolutionary war is that the race for technology that occurred post World War II produced the invention of time travel. Russian scientists were the first to develop it, and in turn were the first to use it. Because of the tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States that were present in this era, the Soviet Union decided that they would attempt to alter history in order to ensure that America never became a thing in the first place, so that they could claim the spot of the world’s largest superpower.