Prototype 1: Who Am I?
The printable cards, audio and video files as well as instruction manual required for this prototype can be accessed through the link below:
This first prototype of our game involves a deck of cards that looks like a tarot deck, with simple icon illustrations on the back and text on the front, and audio and video files that one can view and listen to on a laptop or a phone. Each piece of text, audio and/or video simulates letters, diaries, audio and video journals, and memos.
The "theme" for the game was 'space as memory'. The game narrative was therefore deigned to look into the character's mindset while the player guessed what was happening, piecing the narrative together in the order they see fit. This open world narrative was achieved not only by giving the player the freedom to start the game in any order they wished, but also by making the cards and their narrative roles play out and continue without requiring the player to have the knowledge they would have gained by reading the other cards.
The player's goal is to unravel the story and discover 4 different endings as well as 1 true ending. They do this by following the clues mentioned in the different pieces until they hit what they think is a dead- end. The clues are all symbolic and match the illustrations on the back of the cards. The player has free reign over which card he/she wants to pick up and which direction of the story they want to follow. There is no specific or fixed direction that a player has to move in. The only note is that the player cannot control, affect or change the narrative.
The choice of not giving the player any control over the narrative was a deliberate one. Most games revolve around the main character - the player, their choices and influences. The question then became - If the player had no control over the game world, only being able to piece together and understand the world they stumbled upon, how would the player feel? Would the player feel a sense of achievement for piecing together the story in the order they felt was the correct one? Would the players be unable to relate to the game character if the character is not a blank slate made for the player to effect? Would the players be immersed in the narrative if they cannot influence the outcome/end?
While testing the prototype, we found that different styles of play began to come about; there were some players who would follow what little instructions we gave to the dot, while there were other players who did not appreciate the path that we had set for the character and so deliberately moved away from what they believed was the most obvious choice to move towards and actively tried to avoid the direction the story was going in if they did not like it. Players also began to count any and all repeated words or numbers, going so far as to add any repeated numbers they found, checking to see if these numbers or words pointed to another card.
Upon questioning the players about the game character, players said that they noticed 2 if not 3 distinct personalities of the 5 personalities present in the game. Players found the concept and story interesting enough, but their curiosity wasn't satisfied with where they had ended the game. The players had hoped for a resolution that explained why and how the character in the game contracted these personalities, along with more insights and character depth for each individual personality.
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