Nazi Germany: The Survival of Günter Schmidt

Team Decision Makers

Nazi Germany: The Survival of Günter Schmidt is impacted by Operation Valkyrie which was the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazi Party. Take part in the events that lead up to July 20, 1944, and make your contribution to your beloved country. Each choice you make will influence the outcome of the game and the survival of Günter Schmidt. Will you be the Hero that causes Operation Valkyrie to succeed? Or will you be the cause of its downfall? Or will you choose to join the Nazis in trying to stop the plan from being successful? You control your own destiny! The importance of historical accuracy in our game attributes to the experience that each player will have. The decisions you make leading up to the finale will be based on your own perspective and the need to survive. Nazi Germany: The Survival of Günter Schmidt is a point and click adventure game that will allow the player to create their own ending to World War II. Best of luck!

 

Members:

Kaden Gervacio- Centre Freshman from Boyle Co, Kentucky. He enjoys playing sports games and shooters. He particularly likes RPG and games where you have to create your own story in that universe.

Logan Wolf- Freshman from Cincinnati, Ohio. He enjoys sports games and shooters, especially Call of Duty. Huge fan of history related games and maps that take part in famous locations especially places from World War 2.

Fisher Evans- Freshman from Boyle County Kentucky. Enjoys shooter games as well as survival games. Big fan of games that allow the story to not be obvious or upfront and need to be discovered by the player (especially Subnautica)

Will Ahrens- Freshman from Sandersville, Georgia. He is a big fan or sports games such as Madden and The Show and first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty.

Edward Lee Major- Freshman from Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Enjoys strategy games, first-person shooters, and free-roam games. He finds interest in the underlying theme of the games and the storyline they follow.

 

Important Sources to Reference:

Bartov, Omer, and Mazal Holocaust Collection. 1991. Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fraser, David. 1993. Knight’s Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. 1St U.S. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Grant, Bennington. “Just How Historically Accurate Was Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie?” CHARGE! May 23, 2018. https://watchcharge.com/just-how-historically-accurate-was-tom-cruises-valkyrie/.

Manvell, Roger, Heinrich Fraenkel, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Mazal Holocaust Collection. 1965. Himmler. First American. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline. http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/hitleryouth/hj-boy-soldiers.htm.

Weale, Adrian. 2012. The S.S.: A New History. London: Abacus.

Valkyrie. 2008. MGM.

 

In all, Team Decision Makers was able to enjoy Centre Term and still create a good game that focuses on moral dilemma throughout history. Our group met multiple times over break to discuss the plan for the week and to set short-term goals. The group’s dynamic provided a variety of perspectives throughout the game creation process. This variety attributed to the ten outcomes of Günter Schmidt’s life and the impact they have on the German state. The combination of our group members helped our group create an experience for players that will give them the opportunity to be a part of history. The Decision Makers would like to thank all of the contributors to our game and hope players enjoy their experience!

 

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.

The Decision Makers: Inspiring New Pathways

Before discussing the overview of the new pathways for our game, I wanted to give an update on the use of Twine. Yesterday we discussed exactly how we wanted the layout of our game to be presented. The beginning of our game is going to have similar aspects to the Call of Duty franchise campaigns, where players are provided background information and the scenario at hand before the start of each mission. When discussing military history, we want to be as close as possible with the dates and locations of the game so the players can feel a sense of realism. Twine can provide us with the presentation we desire while also helping us develop our decision based game.

 

Our group work today was very task-oriented. We have been discussing new pathways for our game over the past week, but want to determine our favorites to begin the construction of our game. Developing our protagonist, Günter Schmidt, is a task that is very complex. To provide players with enough information to understand the position that Günter is put in, but also ensuring that players stay interested is a difficult compromise. One of the problems that we are running into is that we are trying to be so historically accurate with our dates that our actual thought into the playthroughs themselves is being neglected. We wanted to get on the right path today by finishing two of our playthroughs involving Günter joining the Nazi army and his participation in Operation Valkyrie. Players will be given the option to join Operation Valkyrie or to remain loyal to the Nazi party and try to stop the plan from unfolding.

 

We further developed our storyline today by adding more options for the player to have control of the situation. After observing the script we have created so far, we believe that we can develop a game that will contain several historically accurate scenarios through the life of a made up character. Our game created in the World War II era and will provide players with the experience of a Nazi soldier. We met last night to watch the movie Valkyrie to get more ideas on how to interpret the operation into our game. The movie sparked several ideas about how we wanted to portray the assassination attempt on Hitler while still providing players the opportunity to make their own decision. We have discussed several outcomes of the operation including a counterfactual ending where Hitler is actually killed. The life of Günter Schmidt will be influential in the outcome of the destiny of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler regardless of what pathway taken.

 

An interesting idea we played around with after Fisher’s presentation today was the idea of having a playthrough for Günter to join the Schutzstaffel (SS). The SS was an organization that was crucial to the rise of power for Hitler and controlling all resistance against his agenda. One of our sources, The SS: A New History by Adrian Weale, hopefully will provide us with a vision of what it was like to be a member of the SS during the rise of Nazi Germany. If we make Günter a SS soldier he could play a role in stopping Operation Valkyrie before the assassination attempt on Hitler can happen. The idea is not completely set in stone yet, but we believe this could add another exciting ending to our game.

 

Over the weekend we are meeting to work on our game in Twine and discuss the goals we want to achieve throughout the week. The plan of action we developed for this week went very well and provided us with a layout of the things we needed to get done. Our focus on the pathways today was very crucial to provide players with the opportunity to enjoy our game. We look forward to seeing our ideas come to life in the software!

 

 

The Centrenauts: The Choices We Make

As our group progresses with our videogame and I continue working on our narrative and story, it is becoming more and more clear how important choices are in history. History isn’t simply a collection of names, dates, and places; rather, it is a series or a process that involves the subjective decisions of a human being. For example, Alexander the Great didn’t conquer Persia simply because he conquered Persia—instead, he conquered the empire because he made a series of choices within the context of the period that would lead to success in that specific conquest. The choices that this specific conqueror made were made without the knowledge of what exactly would come next; his choices were subjective to him.

This subjectivity is extremely important when thinking history, and it is especially important to our group as we craft the decision-making process within our game. As Jordan mentioned in his last blog post, our videogame will contain player choices that will change the outcome of the videogame: a series of poor choices will result in a Nazi victory during D-Day and a series of good choices will result in an Allied victory during D-Day. It is up to the player to make these decisions based on the context that they are given. Rather than letting a player make decisions based on prior knowledge of what will happen, we would rather have the player immerse themselves properly in the game and make subjective decisions.

The best example of this so far in the narrative of our game is the series choices that a player makes regarding sending stolen German information back to the Allies. For this situation, a player must take into consideration the weather, volume of ingoing and outgoing mail, and the busyness of radio channels. There is no clear answer in this prompted choice. It is up to the player to weigh their options and think ahead of what might happen if they make a certain choice, as there is no specific historical precedent for them to rely on during this encounter. The player must immerse themselves, recognize established patterns, and make a choice based entirely on context.

These subjective choices are how we plan to keep the game immersive and replayable, but it is also important for the historical authenticity of our game. We’d like the choices that players make during gameplay to matter in the course of the game’s history, so we aim to add weight to nearly everything the player does. When a player makes a choice, it will alter history (even if it’s only the history within the game) in the way that any choice in an RPG should.

As we ourselves continue to make choices during the production of our videogame, we will keep you updated and informed! For now, we are focusing on research, narrative, and map building. By the end of this week, we hope to have our plotline drafted and our game on its way to being properly produced!

Drafts of Choices

 

The Decision Makers: Preparing for the Work Ahead

Hey everyone,

Today was the third day of class and during our team’s work hour we were able to nail down several important details about our work to come that are going to be vital to help prepare for and set up some tasks in the coming days and weeks. We set up a relatively primitive timeline for what we plan to accomplish by certain dates, as well as if a single person is going to be responsible for completing it, and if so then we decided who would be the one to do it, or if we would work on the task as a group. An example is that we decided that since there are five essay parts of the portfolio and one non essay portion about our plan of action, each person would be given one to complete (I am responsible for the paper about the games we used as a reference for ours) and the plan of action would be completed as a group. We worked quite a bit on the plan of action today and were able to complete a significant amount of it.

During this time we also helped Will with his personal presentation tomorrow and decided who would present on for the coming presentations based on who wanted to talk about what topic. After this was discussed the potential story line that the character we are developing which will lead to several different endings based on previous actions taken in the story. However, since some of the actions the character will take will more likely than be based on actual events, it makes contingency a bit of an issue to work through. One example we pan to incorporate is Operation Valkyrie which was based on the idea that Hitler would be assassinated and the operation was where the Germans would arrest Nazi leadership and take over leadership of the nation. Since it failed in real life, the game could give a situation where it succeeded if certain choices are made or it could fail like it actually did if another path was chosen by the player. However if the player takes the path where the operation succeeds then we have to work out what that means for the impact it will have on the game play because we will have to base the remainder of that path of game play on events that did not actually occur but still has to be believable enough that it is coherent with the rest of the game and fun for the player. We talked about this issue for a decent amount of time and I believe we are coming closer to the best answer we can think of. As of now there are no concrete ideas about where the story could head after the success of the operation, only a few ideas circulating.

After discussing the potential future of our character, we realized we needed to first have a strong background story for him for the rest of the story and game play to flow coherently. While there are no details set in stone we agreed on the basics of the character: that he would be a German, most likely from the Hitler’s Youth program, relatively early on in the game the player would decide where his loyalties would lie, and his name would be Günter Schmidt. The rest about the stories potential endings and our character’s background were put off to tomorrow after we had thought about it more and when we had more time to work together.

At the very end of class we started to look up images to go along with the game and finishing that was put off to tomorrow as well since we only looked for a few minutes to get ideas in our minds. After today’s work I would say we’re doing pretty well for a start and we seem to be progressing at a good rate.

The Centrenauts: A Dive

Hello all,

Today was day two for the Centrenaut’s project, and it felt like a dive into a pool of information. Time was dedicated to the search of books that relate to the area of history our group wishes to convey. That area being World War II, specifically spies in the war. The first concern of our group, was if the library would even have enough resources for our subject matter. To our surprise though, we ended up finding seven books about spies, espionage, and secret wars. Now, it was time for the dive.

There was one book that I found particularly interesting, The Double Cross System In The War of 1939 to 1945, by J.C. Masterman.  In this book, I was drawn to the chapter 11, Deception For France. This chapter focuses on the work that spies did to cover up the plans for the Normandy invasion. At first, the spies did their jobs so well that the Germans considered attacks coming from Northwest Africa or in the Mediterranean. Eventually though, it became impossible to disguise that the assault would be somewhere in between the Cherbourg peninsula and Dunkirk. With this, the spies developed a deception policy that consisted of three points: postpone the believed date of the attack, indicate that the attack would come in the east rather than in the west, and to suggest that another assault even stronger would occur after the first. Just this morsel of information offers up so many potential ideas and concepts that can be implemented into our game. The deception policy specifically establishes goals of the spies, which is extremely valuable information. The goal of our group now, is to keep researching and pulling information from our books that will add to the historical accuracy of our game.

With a typical dive into a pool, one feels shock as the cool water hits, but then it is exhilarating. The dive that my fellow group members and I took today yielded the same results. Shock, exhilarating potential, and finally excitement to dive further in.

Historical Accuracy of Call of Duty World War II

For the past week and a half, I have been thinking about the historical validity of various video games. Mainly Call of Duty World at War. I have played this game for a few hours and have actively thought about many historical aspects of the game. I have also looked at the portrayal of the Nazis. Juxtaposing online multiplayer and campaign, it is instantly apparent that campaign is more historically realistic than online multiplayer. Although the campaign is more accurate than multiplayer, it is still historically inaccurate. Both game modes over glorify war by making fighting into a competition. For the most part, a player’s score is based on how many kills a player gets. I have noticed that the two game modes diverge from reality on many occasions, most notably with customization. In online, the main way to show ones skill is through gun camouflage. This is not historically accurate. One of the most prestigious camouflages in the game is solid gold. Preliminary research into whether or not soldiers used vibrant camouflages on their guns show it did not happen. The historical accuracy of online multiplayer is so limited, a review pointing out all of the flaws would be too long for a blog post. Therefore, I will focus mostly on the campaign. The campaign is thoroughly enjoyable and very marketable as well. War is over-glorified in campaign mode, which likely one of the reasons the game is enjoyable. The game wouldn’t have been as fun if it was less action packed, which makes the over-glorification of the game understandable for marketing purposes. Another inaccuracy of the game is the type of weapons used. On campaign, many German soldiers used Russian weapons, which is historically inaccurate. One common occurrence is on the Western Front, many German soldiers used the PPSh-41. The PPSh-41 is a Russian weapon and was never used by the German forces. There also weren’t any swastikas on German soldiers’ fatigues. The use of swastikas was blocked in the United States, Canada, and in Germany. This is interesting because many other countries heavily affected by Nazi influence have the swastika in the game. The swastika is still very taboo throughout the world, but is still especially stigmatized by the Germans and the North Americans.

I asked one of my friends about his thoughts regarding the historical accuracy of the game. He said, “I have never really thought about it, I just like the combat and first person shooter aspects of the game.” He went on to agree that the game is over-dramatized and over-glorified.

I believe that it is interesting to think about the historical significance of games, rather than mindlessly running around shooting people.

Group update: Team Senseless violence is making rapid progress. We have begun to write dialogue and are edging closer to the use of twine. Hard work and camaraderie have been good catalysts for Team Senseless Violence.

All the best,

Leland Gray