Mechanics ideation

Since my game has a focus on narrative and experience, a primary part of the gameplay is the interactions the player has with NPCs. I decided to have a system where to NPCs appear in one state (Neutral) prior to any interaction, then based on the outcome of a mini game they either change asset to Positive or Negative, providing altering dialogue. This would contribute in some way to the ending of the game, either positive or negative.

Prior to determining the mini game I looked at the ways the NPCs dialogue would be displayed on screen. I experimented with the use of dialogue boxes, loose lettering, and varying shapes and compositions of text, as seen in the top four sketches. Bottom right is the primary concept I decided to go with; the ——— line indicated the invisible box in which the dialogue sits in, with the words moving up and down to express how schizophrenic people often struggle in interpret and understand people’s speech, as well as their own. Additionally, I looked back on my Visual hallucinations research, which stated that a common hallucinations was letters falling of a page. (See dialogue concepts below)

I wanted to use some kind of a text based mini game, to indicate how schizophrenics can sometimes struggle to interpreted meaning and what someone means. I figured it could some now function similar to a word search where the player has to select certain words they thing the NPC is saying out of a word search, with the correct answer warranting a positive NPC alteration in asset and a change in dialogue. However, I felt as though a word search wouldn’t provide a very interesting piece of gameplay, so I decided to look at alternatives. When I thought about misinterpreting meaning, I wanted to look at what can alter the meaning in a sentence, a blog post on demonstrated how punctuation can greatly alter what a sentence means. An example they gave was the sentence “Stop clubbing baby seals” which, without punctuation, is a direct statement not to hurt seals. However, if a comma is added in between clubbing and seals, it becomes an order to get baby seals to stop going out clubbing. It was at this point, a friend who was with me suggested taking this idea in a different direction, providing ‘stress’ predictions as the players decision in the mini game. For example, choosing the correct place the stress is placed in the sentence becomes the mechanic, deterring the positive or negative outcome. The sentence in question would need more than one potential stress points per sentence that alter the meaning enough to warrant negative outcomes if the player ‘misunderstands’ the NPC. An article on shows a few examples of which.

I don’t think he should get the job.

Meaning:Somebody else thinks he should get the job.

I don’t think he should get the job.

Meaning:It’s not true that I think he should get the job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:That’s not really what I mean. OR I’m not sure he’ll get that job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:Somebody else should get that job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:In my opinion it’s wrong that he’s going to get that job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:He should have to earn (be worthy of, work hard for) that job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:He should get another job.

I don’t think he should get that job.

Meaning:Maybe he should get something else instead.”

After deciding on this mechanic I looked at how the stress will appear on screen when highlighted, trying to visually outline the confusion the character would feel. (See highlight concepts below)

Although I liked the 3rd design, I felt as though on screen it may appear too confusing to look at in a text based game, as it didn’t just distort the words, it made them almost un-illegible. I also did some light experimentation of the various shapes the stress cloud could fit into, to make the text look the best. I decided to go for a narrow diamond. (See shapes below) I decided on the cloud, as it metaphorically shows the cloud of judgement schizophrenics can sometimes have. I took to the iPad to design the cloud. (See stress cloud below)



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