The Centrenauts: “I Don’t Know” and Solving the Unsolvable

Happy Almost-Friday Everyone!

Today, The Centrenauts did what we normally do: we wrote dialogue, designed maps, worked on our portfolio, and continued research. However, today there was a certain weight over us. Earlier on in the class, Yue gave her presentation and, during the Q&A at the end, she was asked why Juan Pujol García wasn’t accepted as a spy by the British government. Yue gave the only answer she could and that any of us would have given: “I don’t know.” Dr. Harney quickly assured that that was a perfectly acceptable answer—and it most definitely is—but hearing that “I don’t know” really brought to attention all of the “I don’t know”s that comes with our project.

Our game is about a spy during World War II and Operation Bodyguard. But, what did a spy actually do during the war? Specifically, how did they collect and return information, how did they relay false information, and how did they keep their covers? I only have one answer to that question: I don’t know. There’s no way of knowing what an undercover agent did during the war, as it was and likely still is classified information. Methods, tactics, and strategy are unknown to us because there are no books that detail how exactly Juan Pujol García did what he did. The books only say that he did do it.

So, how do you make a game about the actions of a spy without knowing what exactly a spy does? With Dr. Harney’s favorite word, of course: research. While we’ll never know exactly how a spy did their job, we can get a solid idea through research. When a book says that pigeons were particularly important to a spy’s work, we can assume that these pigeons carried messages for spies. When it says that false information was relayed back to Germany, we can assume it was the spies who did the relaying. There are many assumptions that can be made if you have a good understanding of the context around a topic. So far, our group has a pretty good understanding of the contexts of Allied spies in WWII.

As we move forward, our focus shifts more to Nazi Soldiers and life in the Third Reich and that opens up even more “I don’t know”s. But, I believe our group is ready to meet the questions with no answers and give them plausible answers. With the term slowly coming to an end, we’re looking forward to keeping you updated on our progress on the game—which is directly tied to the process of solving “I don’t know” with research.

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 Desolation Progress Update

On Friday, through the weekend, and bleeding into Monday we have read to better understand the conditions within internment camps in the United States during WWII and begun to work through the RPG Maker tutorials. As of Monday afternoon we have also officially begun working on the map for the game and are continuing to look into RPG Maker’s capabilities. Specifically, we are going through the tutorials and wiki and the like to see what kind of survival/resource management elements we could include in our game. Our current vision for the game is for it to be a somewhat survival focused RPG which will follow the life of a 19 year old Japanese-American who is tasked with not only obeying the restrictions of the internment camp, but also must help care for his mother and younger siblings.

The main themes we wish to explore through this are what it was like to be a citizen of a country one moment and have your life torn asunder the next, along with the conflicts within an oppressed group this change could cause. That has been our primary motivation for making the protagonist a second generation immigrant, as it seems natural that they would be more conflicted about what the United States had done. To keep the focus on these themes the game play will be largely survival and choice focused rather than combat focused, as the goal is to make the player worry more about the consequences of their actions rather than the rewards. Overall progress is going well.